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Letter Accepting Resignation of James Forrestal as Secretary of Defense.

March 03, 1949

[Released March 3, 1949. Dated March 2, 1949]

Dear Jim:

Your letter received this day confirms our many previous conversations and discussions. I am therefore fully cognizant of the considerations which prompt your desire to relinquish your duties as the Secretary of Defense. At my personal urging you have agreed to remain in Washington far beyond the time when you had expressed a hope of leaving government service.

Your service to your country covering a period of almost nine years during this administration and that of my predecessor has been as varied as it has been distinguished. It embraced those momentous months that preceded Pearl Harbor, as well as all the war years and the critical period that has followed the cessation of hostilities.

First, as Under Secretary and during a term as Secretary of the Navy which bridged two administrations, you directed a production program which made the American Navy the greatest sea power in history. It then fell to you to assume even larger responsibilities as the country's first Secretary of Defense. You discharged all these duties well and faithfully.

While hostilities were in progress you gained firsthand knowledge of war problems through personal visits to the principal areas of war. Your entire service has been characterized by vision, foresight, and a broad appreciation of the vital importance of relating our military potential to the requirements of our national policy. As a member of the National Security Council your competent service has been a major contribution to the successful operation of that organization.

Because of those urgent personal considerations about which you have spoken to me so many times, I accept your resignation effective at the close of business on March thirty-first. Although I take this action reluctantly, I do so with less misgiving because I know you will be standing by to give advice and counsel as we go forward in the work of enhancing the national security.

For all that you have done in your country's behalf and for the service which you will continue to give out of your abundant experience, I tender you heartfelt assurance of my gratitude and appreciation.

With every good wish,

Very sincerely yours,


Note: Secretary Forrestal served as Under Secretary of the Navy from August 22, 1940, through May 19, 1944; as Secretary of the Navy from May 19, 1944, through July 26, 1947; and as Secretary of Defense from July 26, 1947, through March 31, 1949.

Secretary Forrestal's letter, dated March 2, was not released by the White House.

Harry S Truman, Letter Accepting Resignation of James Forrestal as Secretary of Defense. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/229969

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