Franklin D. Roosevelt

Excerpts from the Press Conference

March 08, 1938

Q. Have you asked the three TVA directors in for a conference next week?

THE PRESIDENT: No, not next week; this week, Friday morning.

Q. All three?


Q. At the same time?

THE PRESIDENT: Right after I see you, at 11.00 o'clock.

Q. All three at the same time?

THE PRESIDENT: All three at the same time. If you want some-thing for background, this goes back. It is a long, long story. There have been all of these disagreements and disputes for about a year. Finally, last September, this disagreement between the majority and the minority came to a head in this way: There was an article in the Atlantic Monthly, the September number, if you remember. The majority of the Directors passed a resolution in regard to the article by the minority member, in effect asking that the allegations impugning the integrity of the majority should either be made good or be withdrawn.

That was sent to me and I sent a letter to Dr. Arthur Morgan on the third of September. There is no use in cluttering up the record and giving you the whole letter, but I called his attention to the resolution disavowing such methods in the discussion of TVA problems as injurious to the project and the public interest. Then I went on and I said this to Dr. Arthur Morgan:

"Naturally, I am concerned by this and do not think that the matter can properly rest where it is. May I suggest, therefore, that there is a very definite obligation on you either to withdraw what your colleagues believe to be an impugning of their integrity or that you present whatever specific facts you may have, if any, to justify your statements.

"After all, no great constructive work can be carried out if those in charge of the administration of the work feel that their integrity and motives have been challenged by a fellow member. I know that you will agree with me in this."

Well, in reply to that letter I got no reply, but Dr. Morgan came to see me about two weeks later on and I said, "It is a pretty serious thing to impugn the motives of your fellow members, their integrity." "Well," he said, "I did not mean it that way. I did not mean to impugn their motives. I have no question as to their personal integrity."

"Well," I said, "for Heaven's sake don't do it again. Go back and see if you cannot work in harmony with your two fellow members."

Well, that is about all that happened in the fall, but evidently conflict was going on underneath. Now it has come to a head in these statements to the public and to the press and on Friday all three members are going to appear before me. I am going to ask that the statements by all of them be justified, if they can justify them, but that I want facts and not opinions. I want nothing but facts.

To give you an illustration of the true awkwardness of the situation, I got two telegrams today. One was from New Jersey. It says-mind you, this is from a person who had absolutely no access to anything except the newspapers—"Please, Mr. President, you must vindicate Dr. Arthur Morgan." The other one, from Illinois, said, "Please, you must vindicate the majority and not surrender to the power interests."

Now, of course, that kind of public opinion is worth nothing at all because it is not based on any facts. There isn't one of you that has any facts. I haven't either. Let us stick to the facts. That is why we are having this meeting on Friday.

Q. What time is the meeting, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: Eleven o'clock.

Q. If they cannot justify the statements they have been making, then what?

THE PRESIDENT: Now you are asking a question before the case has been heard by the court.

Q. Do you expect any of them to remain in office?

THE PRESIDENT: That is asking the decision of the court before I have any evidence.

There you are! Aren't those last two questions absolutely typical? Did you ever know anything to beat it? "What are you going to do before you get the testimony?"

Q. How are we going to find out what did go on?

THE PRESIDENT: I am going to ask questions.

Q. How will we find out?

THE PRESIDENT: I will tell you all about it.

Q. When?

THE PRESIDENT: After we get through.

Q. Do we have a press conference?

THE PRESIDENT: At half past ten. You will get it, don't worry. You will get the facts.

Q. Mr. President, do you know whether you have power under the TVA Act to call for the resignation or require the resignation of a member of the Commission?

THE PRESIDENT: I have not the faintest idea, not the faintest. In other words, I have not investigated that end. I haven't the faintest idea. I am interested in the facts regarding these allegations, which are of a general nature, on both sides.

Q. Is Senator Norris going to sit in with you? Has he been invited to sit in with you?

THE PRESIDENT: He has not.

Q. Will you have anyone else there besides yourself and the three Commissioners?

THE PRESIDENT: I think Steve [Early] will be here so that he can give you a report on it. . . .

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Excerpts from the Press Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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