Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Bala Cynwyd, Montgomery County
Haig spent his career with the US Army and worked with several presidential administrations, serving as the White House Chief of Staff under Richard Nixon and Secretary of State under Ronald Regan.
Awards: Distinguished Service Cross, Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Man of the Year Award, Medal of King Abdel-Aziz, Grand Cross Order of Merit
Born in Bala Cynwyd, Alexander Haig, Jr. had an extensive military and political career. After graduating from West Point, Haig rose to the rank of full general with service in Korea and Vietnam. In 1973, he began a political career, serving Richard Nixon as White House Chief of Staff and Ronald Reagan as Secretary of State. He also assessed the American political scene in his books: Caveat: Realism, Reagan, and Foreign Policy (1984) and Inner Circles: How America Changed the World: A Memoir (1992).
Alexander Meigs Haig, Jr. was born in Bala Cynwyd, a suburb of Philadelphia, on December 2, 1924. His parents were Alexander Meigs, a lawyer, and Regina Anne (Murphy) Haig. Haig married Patricia Antoinette Fox in 1950, and the couple had two sons and a daughter.
Haig attended the University of Notre Dame in 1943, but graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point in 1947. He also graduated from the Naval War College in 1960, and received his MA from Georgetown University in 1961. Haig graduated from Army War College in 1966. After graduation from West Point, Haig was assigned to General Douglas MacArthur’s personal staff in the Pacific area. From 1950 to 1951 he served in the Korean War, and served in Vietnam from 1966 to 1967. In 1969, Haig became Senior Military Adviser to Henry Kissinger, and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. Haig was made a four-star general in 1972, and left the army in 1973 to act as White House Chief of Staff under President Nixon. Haig served as Supreme Commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s forces in Europe from 1974 to 1979, retiring from military service in 1979 to act as President and Chief Operating Officer of United Technologies Corporation. Haig became President Reagan’s Secretary of State in 1981, but resigned in 1982 due to disagreements over foreign policy. In 1988, Haig campaigned for the Republican presidential nomination, but withdrew early in the race due to weak voter support.
In his first book, Caveat: Realism, Reagan, and Foreign Policy (1984), Haig wrote about his 18 months as Secretary of State in the Reagan Administration, and the challenges and issues that he and the department encountered. In Caveat, Haig described a chaotic administration controlled by a handful of the president’s staff members. Haig’s second book, Inner Circles: How America Changed the World: A Memoir (1992), is an insider’s account of historical events that took place during his career, including Watergate, the war against Castro’s Cuba, and the attempted assassination of President Reagan. Haig also voiced his opinions on politicians of the early 1990s, the growing power of the Japanese, and the fall of Eastern Europe.
Haig has received many awards, including a Distinguished Service Cross, Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Man of the Year Award from the Air Force Association, the Medal of King Abdel-Aziz from Saudi Arabia, Grand Cross Order of Merit from West Germany, and honorary law degrees from the universities of Utah and Nevada.
Haig resided in Washington, DC, with his wife until February 20, 2010, when a staphylococcal infection ended his life at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He is survived by his wife, three children, and eight grandchildren.
Caveat: Realism, Reagan, and Foreign Policy. New York: Macmillan, 1984.
Inner Circles: How America Changed the World: A Memoir. (with Charles McCarry) New York: Warner Books, 1992.