Chapin, Roy Dikeman

Chapin, Roy Dikeman

(1880–1936) automobile executive, cabinet officer; born in Lansing, Mich. He left the University of Michigan in 1901 to join Olds Motor Works and later that year attracted wide publicity by making the first automobile trip from Detroit to New York. In 1906, in partnership with designer Howard Coffin, he became general manager of E. R. Thomas Detroit Company, later Chalmers-Detroit Motor Company. He soon sold the firm and organized Hudson Motor Car Company. As president (1910–23, 1933–36) and chairman (1923–33), he introduced the successful popular-priced "Essex" (1919) and his new, cheaper closed cars (introduced 1922) hastened the demise of the open touring car. In his second term as president he restored the ailing company's financial fortunes. As chairman of the highway transport committee of the Council of National Defense during World War I, he promoted the use of cars to ease railroad congestion. Briefly U.S. secretary of commerce (1932–33), he spearheaded Herbert Hoover's reemployment strategy for stimulating recovery from the depression.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.