Tag Archives: resignation

Jackson List: Resignation Offer, Presidential Response (1941)

In January 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt nominated his number two official in the United States Department of Justice, Solicitor General Robert H. Jackson, to move up into the Department’s top job.  It was becoming vacant due to the President’s simultaneous appointment of Attorney General Frank Murphy to become an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the U.S.

The U.S. Senate swiftly confirmed the appointments.  President Roosevelt signed Jackson’s commission and he was sworn in as Attorney General on January 18, 1940.

Later that year, war engulfed the European continent.  By June, the United Kingdom stood alone as unconquered by Nazi Germany.  The U.S. pursued significant rearmament, provided desperately needed aid to the U.K., and reinstituted military conscription.  The prospect that world war would engulf the U.S. was real and alarming.  And in November, President Roosevelt was reelected to an unprecedented third term.

In January 1941, as Inauguration Day approached, Attorney General Jackson was battling illness.  In the end, it caused him to miss the inauguration ceremony and related events.  But Jackson made it a point, on January 16, to dictate, sign, and send this a formal letter to the White House:

            My dear Mr. President:

I hereby present my resignation as

Attorney General of the United States effective

at your pleasure.

                        You are about the enter a new admin-

istration significant because of the problems peculiar

to these rapidly moving times.  It seems appropri-

ate to relinquish a position for which I was

chosen in very different conditions and for

qualifications which may no longer be appropri-

ate.

            It would be impossible in words to

express my appreciation for the honor of your

confidence.

                        Respectfully yours,

                        [/s/ Robert H. Jackson]

President Roosevelt responded two days later by writing, in longhand, this note:

Dear Bob

            I do hope you’re feeling

better – Don’t try to attend

anything Monday [January 20] unless the

M.D. really says yes.

            Thank you for your note.  It

can only have one answer:

Stay put

                        Affec.

                        FDR

—————–

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.