Prominent American business executive, serving as president of International Harvester from 1922-1933. He performed public service during World War I on the War Industries Board and at the Versailles Peace Conference, and again during the Great Depression on the Federal Farm Board.
1866-1933 | Artist: Robert Wadsworth Grafton (1876-1936)
Impact & Accomplishments
Born in Wisconsin, Alexander Legge’s family moved to a ranch in Nebraska when he was a boy.
As a young man, he worked as a cowboy in Wyoming.
Legge accepted a position as an apprentice claim collector with the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company in 1891. He so impressed Harold McCormick that he was appointed head of worldwide claims collection in Chicago in 1899. When McCormick merged with International Harvester Company in 1902, Legge was promoted to assistant manager of sales and then general manager. In 1922, Harold McCormick became chairman of the board, and Legge was tapped to be president of International Harvester. He served in that capacity until his death in 1933.
President Woodrow Wilson selected Legge as vice chairman of the War Industries Board during World War I, and when the war ended, he developed the economic section of the Treaty of Versailles. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for wartime service—an exceptional honor for a civilian.
During President Hoover’s administration, Legge was chairman of the Federal Farm Board, assisting the agricultural sector during the Great Depression.
Before his death, Alex Legge directed substantial personal funds to establish the Farm Foundation, a public charity “devoted to the general welfare of the farming population of the United States and improvement of the conditions of rural life.”
Did You Know?
Young Alexander grew up tall and strong with a quick mind, although he had little formal education. Nicknamed "Sandy," he was especially good at mathematics and read as many books as he could. He also was fascinated by machinery.
Standing at right is 13-year-old Alexander “Sandy” Legge with his brothers. Photo credit: The Early History of Alexander Legge - Let's Talk Rusty Iron: International Harvester buisnessman started young.
By Sam Moore | December 2006
In 1887, Legge and his best friend, Charlie Wertz, traveled to Douglas, Wyo., to work as hands on the huge V-R Ranch for $35 per month and their keep. The V-R ran about 12,000 head of cattle and more than 1,500 horses for the U.S. Cavalry. In the late 1880s, Wyoming was full of outlaws, and each month the V-R payroll (sometimes as much as $5,000 cash) had to be brought to the ranch from Douglas, some 90 miles over rough terrain. Legge often acted as courier on these trips, and always succeeded in outwitting the bad guys.
Taken September 20, 1923. This image appeared in Harvester World magazine (Jan.-Feb. 1930, pg.7). Alexander Legge (1866-1933) with a pitchfork full of hay at a Thresher demonstration at International Harvester's Hinsdale farm. Men are milling around a tractor in the background. Legge was president of International Harvester Company from 1922 to 1929. He was vice chairman of the War Industries Board during World War I and later appointed chairman of the Federal Farm Board by President Hoover in 1929. He became president of International Harvester again in 1931 and remained in that position until his death in 1933. Photo credit: Wisconsin Historical Society.