Sherman Adams (January 8, 1899 – October 27, 1986) was an American politician, best known as White House chief of staff for President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Prior to assuming his office in the White House, he served as governor of New Hampshire.
Adams began his political career as a Republican legislator in 1941. He assumed the position as Speaker of the House in 1944.
He relinquished his career as a representative and succeeded in becoming governor of New Hampshire. As governor he called for increased state aid for the aged and for legislation which would enable the state’s seniors to qualify for Federal Old Age and Survivors Insurance.
Adams took control of the Eisenhower campaign in the New Hampshire primary, winning all the delegates to the national convention. He took charge of the campaign for Eisenhower across the country, and was Eisenhower’s floor leader at the convention in running against Senator Robert A. Taft. For this work in the campaign, Adams was the first person in this position to hold the title of “chief of staff.” This term was used by Eisenhower from his days in the military.
Eisenhower adopted the military model, which emphasizes the importance of the chief of staff in handling all of the paperwork and preliminary decisions.
With rare exceptions, anyone who spoke with Eisenhower had to have Adams’ prior approval.
Adams was one of the most powerful men in Washington during the six years he served as chief of staff. Due to Eisenhower’s highly formalized staff structure, it appeared to many that Adams had virtual control over White House staff operation and domestic policy.
Eisenhower often depended upon him for the evaluation of candidates for top-level positions. Adams handled much of the patronage and appointments that Eisenhower found boring and also was in charge of firing people when he deemed it necessary.
Movie critic Michael Medved wrote a book on presidential aides called 'The Shadow President' that stated Adams was probably the most powerful chief of staff in history.
A humorous statement circulating in Washington states that when two Democrats were talking and one said, “Wouldn’t it be terrible if Eisenhower died and Nixon became president?” The other replied, “Wouldn’t it be terrible if Sherman Adams died and Eisenhower became president!”
Following his days in the White House, Adams returned to New Hampshire where he started Loon Mountain Corporation, today a major ski resort. Together with his wife and one son and three daughters, they ran the resort.