Benedict Crowell (October 12, 1869 – September 8, 1952) was a United States military officer and politician particularly influential in military organization during and following World War I. He was United States Assistant Secretary of War from 1917 to 1920.


Crowell was born on October 12, 1869, in Cleveland, Ohio, to William Crowell.

He attended Yale University, where he was admitted to the Zeta Psi fraternity, graduating in 1891 with both a Ph.D. and M.A. He returned to Cleveland to pursue a business career in steel and mining, and married Julia Cobb in December 1904.

As the First World War loomed, he rose quickly through the ranks of the United States Army Reserve, being made first an honorary major on his entry in 1916, and eventually a brigadier general before being tapped for political positions.

During the war he went on to serve as Assistant Secretary of War and Director of Munitions, founded the Army Ordnance Association in 1919, and eventually became a special consultant to the Secretary of War during World War II.

He remained influential and active in politics between the wars, serving as a principal framer of the National Defense Act of 1920, and was president of the Army Ordnance Association, a lobbying group, for a quarter of a century.

He served as president of the National Rifle Association 1930–1931.[1]

He died in Cleveland on September 8, 1952. Crowell is buried with his wife Julia Cobb Crowell, in Arlington National Cemetery.[2]

Air crash

On 8 October 1919, Crowell was involved in an aviation accident at Roosevelt Field, Long Island, New York.

MINEOLA, L. I., Oct. 8. – Benedict Crowell, assistant secretary of war, narrowly escaped injury this afternoon when an airplane in which he was riding, fell 50 feet to the ground here and overturned. Both Crowell and his pilot, Maurice Cleary, were buried under the machine, but escaped with a shaking up. The accident occurred when Cleary tried to avoid striking a hangar. Crowell announced his intention at once of going up in another machine.”[3]


  1. ^ Rodengen, Jeffrey L. (2002). NRA: An American Legend. Fort Lauderdale, Florida: Write Stuff Enterprises, Inc. 304 pp. ISBN 0-945903-81-2. ("The Presidents of NRA", p. 276).
  2. ^ Burial Detail: Crowell, Benedict – ANC Explorer
  3. ^ Wire service, “Two Accidents Mar Air Flight,” Riverside Daily Press, Riverside, California, 8 October 1919, Volume XXXIV, Number 240, p. 1.
National Rifle Association of America Preceded byPatrick J. Hurley President of the NRA 1930–1931 Succeeded byG. A. Fraser