Charles Erwin Wilson

American secretary of Defence (1890-1961)

Charles Erwin Wilson (18 July 189026 September 1961) was an American engineer, businessman and politician. After working as the CEO of General Motors, he became the Secretary of Defense under President, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

For years I thought that what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa. The difference did not exist.


  • Nor do I understand how anyone can feel that industrial progress has been made at the expense of social progress nor why any American should suffer from the great delusion that any form of communism or statism, which promotes the dictatorship of the few instead of the initiative of the millions, can produce a happier and more prosperous society.
    • Charles E. Wilson in, The Commonwealth: A Forum for Creation of Public Opinion, p. 1946
  • The way to advance the nation's prosperity and achieve higher standards of living for all is through science and technology, taking advantage of better tools, methods and organization, and substituting machines and power for human backs.
    • Charles E. Wilson in, Michigan Business Review, (1949), Vol. 1-2, p. 3
  • Costs of manufactured articles importantly depend on the cost of raw materials as well as labor, and the prices of many raw materials do not fluctuate directly with the labor cost of producing them.
    • Charles E. Wilson cited in: Ernest Dale (1950), Sources of economic information for collective bargaining. p. 36
  • For years I thought that what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa. The difference did not exist. Our company is too big. It goes with the welfare of the country. Our contribution to the nation is considerable.
    • Charles E. Wilson (1952) in: Confirmation hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee, responding to Sen. Robert Hendrickson's question regarding conflicts of interest. Quoted in Safire's Political Dictionary (1978) by William Safire.
  • No plan can prevent a stupid person from doing the wrong thing in the wrong place at the wrong time - but a good plan should keep a concentration from forming.
    • Charles E. Wilson, quoted in: Louis E. Boone, ‎David L. Kurtz (1987), Management, p. 100

Quotes about Charles Erwin Wilson

  • For nearly five years, the positive leadership, sound judgment, and unceasing efforts of Secretary of Defense Charles Erwin Wilson, have been major factors in strengthening the security of the United States and its allies against aggression.
    Under his guidance, the effectiveness of the armed forces of the United States has been greatly increased. Their strategic deployment to endangered parts of the world has been a major factor in the preservation of peace. Military assistance programs, including the provision of modern weapons, carried out under his supervision, have bolstered the will and determination of our allies to resist aggression. The common defense of free nations has been greatly furthered by his frequent discussions with foreign leaders both abroad and at home.
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