Tag Archives: Franklin D. Roosevelt

Jackson List: Time for a New U.S. Secretary of State (1944)

In late November 1944, United States Secretary of State Cordell Hull, nearly twelve years in office, tendered his resignation to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Secretary Hull, age 73, did not wish to leave office before World War II was won, but the reality of his recurring, worsening problems with pulmonary sarcoidosis and strong advice from his doctors dictated his decision.

On Sunday, November 26, President Roosevelt visited Secretary Hull at Bethesda Naval Hospital, where he had been receiving treatment for more than a month, for a long conversation.

The following day, the President held a news conference to announce Hull’s resignation.  The White House then released the texts of the letters of resignation and reluctant acceptance that Hull and the President had exchanged.

Later that day, the President nominated the Under Secretary of State, Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., age 44, who had been Acting Secretary in Hull’s absence, to succeed him.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously and favorably reported Stettinius’s nomination to the full Senate on November 29.

The next day, the Senate confirmed Stettinius by roll call vote, 67 to 1.  Notified of his confirmation, Stettinius travelled promptly to Bethesda to pay his respects to Secretary Hull.

Secretary Stettinius signed his commission and took his oath of office on Friday, December 1, 1944.  The ceremony occurred in the Office of the Secretary of State, in the State, War, and Navy Building (today the Eisenhower Executive Office Building) next to the White House.

At Stettinius’s request, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson administered the oath.

At the conclusion of the oath, after Stettinius said “I do,” Jackson asked “So help you God?,” prompting Stettinius to respond “So help me God.”

Secretary Hull was of course unable to attend the ceremony.  It was attended by other senior officials, including General George C. Marshall, Jr., the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, and Senator Harry F. Byrd (D.-VA).  Stettinius’s wife and children attended, as did Jackson’s wife Irene.

The ceremony was well-lit and photographed by still and newsreel photographers.  For newsreel film of the occasion, including Justice Jackson administering the oath and then he and Secretary Stettinius signing the commission, click here:

http://www.criticalpast.com/video/65675037150_Edward-R-Stettinius_Secretory-of-States_swear-in_Justice-Jackson_General-George-C-Marshall

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Coincidentally, December 1, 1944, was also the date on which Alfred A. Knopf published Harvard Law School professor Sheldon Glueck’s book War Criminals: Their Prosecution & Punishment (jacket price $3.00).

In the months ahead, Secretary Stettinius and Justice Jackson each worked on the challenges of prosecuting war criminals.  Indeed, Professor Glueck became one of Jackson’s consultants in his work as U.S. chief prosecutor at Nuremberg of Nazi war criminals.

The enormity of that undertaking might have been present, at least elliptically, when Stettinius stated to the cameras on December 1, 1944, that building world peace following the war would “need active participation and support of all….”

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This post was emailed to the Jackson List, a private but entirely non-selective email list that reaches many thousands of subscribers around the world. I write to it periodically about Justice Robert H. Jackson, the Supreme Court, Nuremberg and related topics. The Jackson List archive site is http://thejacksonlist.com/.  To subscribe, email me at barrettj@stjohns.edu. Thank you for your interest, and for spreading the word.

 

Jackson List: Voting for the Last Time (1940)

In early 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was planning, at least to some degree, to return to private life after two terms in office.  Robert H. Jackson was F.D.R.’s newly-appointed United States Attorney General.  Jackson also was, according to private remarks by the President and many New Dealers, and thus according to many press reports that were trial balloons, F.D.R.’s choice to succeed him as the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, and then in the White House.

Events took other courses.  Many, including very publicly Jackson, urged Roosevelt to seek a third term.  In springtime, Nazi Germany invaded and soon conquered the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France.  In late June, the Republican Party nominated businessman Wendell Willkie as its presidential candidate.  In July, the Democrats nominated, again, Roosevelt.

That fall, Attorney General Jackson took numerous short trips away from his Washington work to campaign actively—as was legally permitted then—for the President and other Democratic candidates.  In early October, for example, Jackson spoke to a large crowd in Buffalo, New York, once his home.  In this speech, Jackson decried Willkie’s phoniness, noting that “only when he talked to workmen did he find profanity and vulgarity in order,” which lost him “any opportunity he ever had to create anything like unity among the American people.”  In mid-October, Jackson gave a law and politics address in Boston.  Later that month he travelled to Jamestown, New York, his adult hometown, to speak alongside U.S. Senator Robert F. Wagner (NY) at a large Democratic Party rally.  Jackson also spoke that month in Richmond, Virginia, and a number of times from Washington on nationwide radio broadcasts.  In the first days of November, Jackson travelled back to New York State to give political speeches in Binghamton and in Yonkers.

And then, finally, it was time to vote.  On Monday, November 4, 1940, Robert and Irene Jackson travelled from Washington, where they lived in a rented Wardman Park apartment, to Jamestown, where they still owned a house and were registered to vote.  They voted in Jamestown on Tuesday, November 5, 1940—both for Roosevelt and his running mate Henry Wallace, I’m sure.

In Jamestown at that time, Democrats such as the Jacksons were a political minority and usually their candidates lost.  That was true in 1940.  Willkie carried Jamestown by over 1,500 votes, and he won all of Chautauqua County, where Jamestown is located.  Indeed, Republicans across the county won every race.

But that was not true statewide.  Although the race was tight, Roosevelt carried New York State, his home, with 50.5% of the vote.

Nationwide, the race was not so close.  F.D.R. won 54.7% of the popular vote, to Willkie’s 44.8%.  Overall, Roosevelt carried 38 of the 48 States.  He was reelected with 449 electoral votes to Willkie’s 82.

In the new year, President Roosevelt was inaugurated, beginning his unprecedented third term.

Wendell Willkie, to his great credit, went to work for President Roosevelt as an international emissary and adviser.

In July 1941, Robert Jackson also took on a new government position—he was appointed by Roosevelt and confirmed by the Senate to serve as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and thus he resigned his position as Attorney General.

Justice Jackson of course cast many, many votes in the Supreme Court’s conference room, on cases, petitions, and other judicial matters.

But he never again entered a voting booth.  In his view, holding judicial office was a responsibility not to be involved in politics, even at the private level of voting.

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This post was emailed to the Jackson List, a private but entirely non-selective email list that reaches many thousands of subscribers around the world. I write to it periodically about Justice Robert H. Jackson, the Supreme Court, Nuremberg and related topics. The Jackson List archive site is http://thejacksonlist.com/.  To subscribe, email me at barrettj@stjohns.edu. Thank you for your interest, and for spreading the word.

Jackson List: Four Freedoms, Newly Alive at Seventy-Five

Today marks the 75th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s January 6, 1941, State of the Union address—the “Four Freedoms” speech.

In a Jackson List post five years ago (click here), I described the occasion and the speech—and the presence, in the first row of the House chamber, of Attorney General Robert H. Jackson.

I continue to recommend the following resource links, all on the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum website:

In addition, or first, please watch this newly enhanced, audio-synced, High Definition video of that key passage in the speech:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrNDwyj4u1w.

In this post, Paul M. Sparrow, Director of the FDR Library, describes the creation of this new treasure:   http://fdr.blogs.archives.gov/2016/01/06/four_freedoms/.

Jackson List: Messages for Democrats (August 1940)

This post, including a historic postcard image of Celoron’s Pier Ball Room, now is on the Jackson List archive site in “book look” PDF file form.

Jackson List: Presidential Assignment (May 1945)

This post, with photos of President Truman, Judge Rosenman and Justice Jackson, now is on the Jackson List archive site in “book look” PDF file form.

Jackson List: Department of Justice Farewell to F.D.R. (1945)

This post, with some footnotes added, now is on the Jackson List archive site in “book look” PDF file form.

Jackson List: Fortieth Wedding Anniversary (1945)

This post, tweaked a little and containing a few footnotes and a photograph of the Roosevelts with Princes Juliana, now is on the Jackson List archive site in “book look” PDF file form.