Rugged public servant
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In the summer of 1974, as the Watergate crisis reached its apogee, Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger, fearing that President Richard Nixon had become unstable, ordered the military to disregard White House orders unless they were cleared by him or Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. When Nixon resigned, Schlesinger drew up plans to deploy troops to Washington in case of problems with the presidential succession. After that long national nightmare, Schlesinger remained Defense Secretary and, according to historian Walter Isaacson, “set himself up as Kissinger’s intellectual rival in the Ford Administration.”
Schlesinger served as a Cabinet officer under three Presidents through often stormy times.