A Supreme Court justice who left the bench to lead a war mobilization board during World War II, Byrnes received The American Legion's Distinguished Service Medal in 1965.

"In that post, he assumed many duties and was invested with greater power than any other individual in the country except the president," said National Commander Donald Johnson, presenting the honor. "His fellow Americans, in fact, came to know him in this demanding role as the assistant president."

Byrnes began his career as a public servant in the U.S. House from 1911 to 1925. He served in the Senate from 1931 to 1941, until Roosevelt appointed him to the High Court. When asked to help with the war effort in late 1942, he chose to resign from the bench over a leave of absence.

Byrnes moved to the White House in 1945, when Truman named him secretary of state. They grew apart in principle, resulting in Byrnes' resignation. Between his times in government service, he returned to the private practice of law, but at 72, he became governor of South Carolina, serving until 1955.

Byrnes died in South Carolina in 1972, at 92.

For more on Byrnes, click here (www.answers.com/topic/james-f-byrnes).


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