US Attorneys General


The US Attorney General (AG) is the head of the US Department of Justice and is the chief law enforcement officer of the US government. This is part two of a series; see part one, 1980-2008.

Griffin Boyette Bell, 72nd Attorney General

Griffin B. Bell
Georgia Public Broadcasting

Bell served as attorney general (President Carter) from 26 Jan 1977 - 16 Aug 1979. He was born in Americus, GA (31 Oct 1918) and attended Georgia Southwestern College and Mercer Univerity Law School. He was a major in the US Army in WWII. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed Bell to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Bell led the effort to pass the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978. He served on President George H.W. Bush's Commission on Federal Ethics Law Reform and was counsel to President Bush during the Iran-Contra affair.

Edward Hirsch Levi, 71st Attorney General

Edward Hirsch Levi
University of Chicago Photo

Levi served as attorney general (President Bush) from 14 Jan 1975 - 20 Jan 1977. He was born in Chicago, IL (9 May 1942) and attended the University of Chicago and Yale University. During WWII, he served in the DOJ Anti-Trust Division. Before being named AG, he was served in various leadership roles at the the Univeristy of Chicago, being named president in 1968. He was also a member of the White House Task Force on Education, 1966-1967. Died 7 March 2000.

William Bart Saxbe, 70th Attorney General

William Bart Saxbe
DOJ Photo

Saxbe served as attorney general (Presidents Nixon, Ford) from 17 Dec 1973 - 14 Jan 1975. He was born in Mechanicsburg, OH (24 June 1916) and attended Ohio State University. He served in the military from 1940-1952. Saxbe was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in 1946 and and served as speaker of the house in 1953 and 1954. He served three terms as Ohio AG. He was US Senator when Nixon appointed him AG. John Glenn (D) was replaced Saxbe in the Senate.

Elliot Lee Richardson, 69th Attorney General

Elliot Lee Richardson
Dept. of Commerce Photo

Richardson served as attorney general (President Nixon) from 25 May 1973 - 20 Oct 1973. He was born in Boston, MA (20 July 1920) and attended Harvard University. He served in the Army from 1942-1945. He was Assistant Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare for Legislation 1957-1959. From 1959-1961 he was US Attorney for Massachusetts. Before being named AG, he was Nixon's Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare and, for four months, Secretary of Defense. He resigned rather than execute an order from Nixon to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox during the Watergate investigation (Saturday Night Massacre). Ford made him Secretary of Commerce; he is the only American to serve in four Cabinet-level positions. Died 31 Dec 1999

Richard G. Kleindienst, 68th Attorney General

Richard G. Kleindienst
DOJ Photo

Kleindienst served as attorney general (President Nixon) from 15 Feb 1972 - 25 May 1973. He was born in Winslow, AZ (5 August 1923) and attended Harvard University. He served in the Army from 1943-1946. Kleindienst served in the Arizona House of Representatives from 1953 - 1954. He was in private practice before becoming Deputy AG in 1969. He resigned in the midst of the Watergate scandal, the same day (30 April 1973) that John Dean was fired and H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman quit. He was convicted of a misdemeanor for perjury during his testimony in the Senate during his confirmation hearings. Died 3 February 2000.

John Newton Mitchell, 67th Attorney General

Mitchell served as attorney general (President Nixon) from 20 January 1969 - 15 Feb 1972. He was born in Detroit, MI (5 Sept 1913) and attended Fordham University and St. John's University Law School. He served in the Navy during WWII. He was Nixon's former law partner and 1968 campaign manager. A principal during Watergate, Mitchell became the first AG to be convicted of illegal acts -- conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury. He served 19 months before being released on parole for medical reasons. Died 9 November 1988.

Ramsey Clark, 66th Attorney General

Ramsey Clark
White House Photo

Clark served as attorney general (President Johnson) from 10 March 1967 - 20 Jan 1969. He was born in Dallas, TX (18 Dec 1927) and attended the University of Texas and the University of Chicago. He was the son of Tom C. Clark, the 59th AG and Supreme Court Justice. Clark served in the Marine Corps 1945-1946. He was in private practice before joining DOJ in 1961. As Attorney General, he oversaw prosecution of the Boston Five for "conspiracy to aid and abet draft resistance." In 1974, he unsuccessfully ran for the Senate (in NY) as a Democrat. Died 20 January 1969.

Nicholas deBelleville Katzenbach, 65th Attorney General

White House Photo

Katzenbach served as attorney general (President Johnson) from 28 Jan 1965 - 30 Sep 1966. He was born in Philadelphia, PA (17 Jan 1922) and attended Princeton University and Yale University. From 1947 to 1949 he was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford. He was in private practice and a law professor before joining DOJ in 1961. He was Under Secretary of State from 1966-1969. After leaving public service, he worked for IBM and became an MCI director. He testified on behalf of President Clinton during his House impeachment hearing.

Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy, 64th Attorney General

Robert Kennedy
White House Photo

Kennedy served as attorney general (Presidents Kennedy, Johnson) from 20 Jan 1968 - 3 Sep 1964. He was born in Boston, MA (20 Nov 1925) and attended Harvard University and the University of Virginia Law School. He served in the US Naval Reserve as from 1943-1944 and joined the DOJ in 1951. He managed John F. Kennedy's presidential campaign. As AG, he persued an active and public fight against organized crime and for civil rights. He successfully ran for Senator from NY in 1964, positioning himself for a run for the White House. Died 6 June 1968 while campaigning for president.

William Pierce Rogers, 63rd Attorney General

William Rogers
Dept. of State Photo

Rogers served as attorney general (President Eisenhower) from 23 Oct 1957 - 20 Jan 1961. He was born in Norfolk, NY (23 June 1913) and attended Colgate University and Cornell University Law School. From 1942 to 1946 he served as lieutenant commander in the US Navy. He was chief counsel of the Senate War Investigating Committee and chief counsel of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He was in private practice before joining DOJ in 1953. He was Secretary of State from 1969-1973; he led the the Rogers Commission, which investigated the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. Died: 2 January 2002.