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Although a wealthy financier and broker on Wall Street, Bernard Baruch's most lasting legacy is that of a public servant and elder statesman. He used his wealth and influence to affect policy for a span of some 60 years, advising presidents on major issues that shaped U.S. society during peace and war. Baruch was an economic, industrial and foreign-policy adviser to many presidents, including Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, Roosevelt and Truman. He was a member of Woodrow Wilson's war cabinet, serving on the Advisory Commission of the Council of National Defense during World War I; he also served as chairman of the War Industries Board and worked with Wilson on brokering peace agreements at the Paris Peace Conference at the end of the war. He was a trusted adviser to President Roosevelt, helping shape the New Deal and the formation of the National Recovery Administration; Roosevelt stayed as a guest at Hobcaw Barony, Baruch's family estate in the low country of South Carolina, in 1944, shortly before his death.

After World War II, Baruch was appointed to the Atomic Energy Commission under President Truman, where he proposed the "Baruch Plan" to the United Nations, asking for international control of nuclear energy and weapons, a plan that was rejected by the Soviet Union. He later coined the term "cold war" during a speech before the South Carolina House of Representatives, a term popularly adopted to describe the undeclared struggle between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

Bernard Baruch in his later years was described as the "park bench statesman" because he often discussed politics on a bench in Lafayette Park near the White House. He died on June 20, 1965, at the age of 94.

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