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Letter Accepting Resignation of Charles E. Wilson as Director of Defense Mobilization.

March 30, 1952

My dear Charlie:

I regret very much the circumstances which make you feel it is necessary to submit your resignation as Director of Defense Mobilization. I consider that it was an act of sincere patriotism on your part to accept this position when I offered it to you in December, 1950. I have felt that you fully justified my confidence in you, and have carried out your duties with vigor, competence, and effectiveness. I believe the Nation owes you a deep debt of gratitude for your untiring and unselfish efforts to place the Nation's economic system in the necessary state of readiness to handle the defense emergency we are in, and to meet the larger emergency which would confront us if further Soviet aggression forced us into large-scale war.

Under present circumstances, however, I feel I have no choice but to accept your resignation, effective March 31, 1952.

Since you have discussed at length in your letter certain matters relating to the current wage negotiations in the steel industry, I feel that I should make certain comments on that situation, although I fear that no real gain for the public interest can come from airing such confidential matters at this time.

As far as steel wages are concerned, our discussion last week end at Key West covered among other things what you described to me as the very unstabilizing effects of the wage settlement recommended to the parties by the Wage Stabilization Board. Since that time, I have had a chance to go into the matter more thoroughly, and I find that the proposed changes in wages and working conditions are by no means unreasonable and do not, in fact, constitute any real breach in our wage stabilization policies.

As far as steel prices are concerned, it is true that I agreed as to a "possible necessity" of allowing some price increase. However, I understood the necessity for doing this was to be thoroughly explored in your talks with the steel companies and otherwise, before a final decision was reached on this matter.

The price control law requires that price ceilings be fair and equitable. I expect to see that that law, like every other one, is faithfully executed. If the eventual settlement of the wage negotiations is such that a price ceiling increase is required on grounds of fairness and equity or otherwise in the interest of the defense effort, it will be granted; otherwise, it will not. Such a determination should obviously be made only after a thorough examination of the facts. For example, it seems to me to be quite material and important that the profits of the steel industry are continuing at extraordinarily high levels--that their profits amount to a good many times as much as any increased costs they would incur under the recommendations of the Wage Stabilization Board.

I appreciate your attitude that both wage and price controls should be administered fairly and without regard to the special demands of pressure groups. I feel exactly the same way. I consider it my duty and my responsibility to see that the public interest in a strong defense economy is placed above any private interest. I believe this should be done on the basis of the facts as they actually exist. I expect to continue to do my best to see that this is accomplished.

I shall be sorry not to have you at my side, but I wish you success and happiness in whatever future work you undertake.

Sincerely yours,


Note: Mr. Wilson served as Director of Defense Mobilization from December 21, 1950, through March 31, 1952. His letter of resignation, dated March 28, was released with the President's reply.

Harry S Truman, Letter Accepting Resignation of Charles E. Wilson as Director of Defense Mobilization. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231579

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