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BEP Directors

James L. Wilmeth Portrait

James L. Wilmeth

Life: (1870 - 1959)
Director, Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Years in Office: 1917-1922

James Wilmeth was born in Chewallah, Tennessee, and he was raised there and in Arkansas.  He attended college in Arkansas and taught public school for several years prior to joining the Treasury Department as a clerk in 1895.  While working at the Treasury, he earned a Bachelor of Law degree from the National University in Washington, DC.  Wilmeth became Assistant Chief of the Money Order Division and was later a law clerk in the Office of the Comptroller of the Treasury.  In 1910, he served as Chief Clerk of the Treasury and worked in Europe as the Custodian of Gold before his appointment as Director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in 1917.  Wilmeth was dismissed by Presidential executive order along with 28 other top Bureau officials in 1922 as a result of controversial charges involving the improper duplication of bonds. Later exonerated of wrongdoing and offered reinstatement to the Director position in 1924, Wilmeth declined the appointment.  After leaving the BEP, he worked for an insurance firm, served as National Secretary of the Junior Order of American Mechanics, and won election to the office of mayor in Takoma Park, Maryland.  Wilmeth later moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he lived until his death at age 88.