LINDLEY MILLER GARRISON was born on November 28, 1864, in Camden, New Jersey, the son of the Rev. Jospeh Fithian Garrison. He had three older brothers, Charles G., William, and Joseph. Charles G. Garrison served on the New Jersey Supreme Court for 35 years, beginning in 1888.
Lindley Garrison was educated at public schools in Philadelphia, as well as at Episcopal Academy and Exeter, before spending a year at Harvard University in 1885. Garrison studied law at the Philadelphia law offices of Redding, Jones, & Carson, while earning a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1886. Garrison practiced law in New Jersey, becoming a senior partner in the Jersey City firm of Garrison, McManus, & Enright in 1899. Moving to the public sector in 1904, Garrison became the youngest lawyer in history to be appointed vice chancellor of New Jersey.
He entered the cabinet of President Woodrow Wilson on March 5, 1913, serving as secretary of war until February 10, 1916. Garrison and Wilson never fit well together. Garrison was much more willing to intervene militarily overseas than was the President. This was especially evident in regard to Mexico. Garrison urged American intervention into the Mexican revolution to restore order. During the Preparedness campaign of 1916, when Wilson was trying to convince Congress to raise military spending, Garrison supported a plan for expanding the US military with what he called the Continental Army Plan. Garrison’s proposal would establish a standing army of 140,000 and a national, volunteer reserve force of 400,000 men. Wilson initially gave the plan tepid support, but Garrison ran into opposition from both those who felt his plan went too far in creating a large standing army, as well as from those who felt it did not go far enough. Wilson was convinced by allies in Congress to back an alternative plan which emphasized not Garrison’s national volunteer force, but a continued role for the states’ National Guard. Garrison resigned in February 1916 over these differences.
Garrison returned to the practice of law with the firm of Hornblower, Miller and Garrison. following his time in Wilson’s cabinet. In December of 1918 he was appointed to the receivership of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company, a post he held until 1923. He died in Seabright, New Jersey, on October 19, 1932.
Lindley M. Garrision entered the cabinet of President Woodrow Wilson on March 5, 1913, serving as secretary of war until February 10, 1916. Garrison and Wilson never fit well together. Garrison was much more willing to intervene militarily overseas than was the President.