Franklin D. Roosevelt

Letter Accepting the Secretary of Agriculture's Resignation.

August 17, 1940

Dear Henry:

IN DIFFERENT circumstances I should have deep regret in consenting to your withdrawal as Secretary of Agriculture. But, giving due weight to the consideration that the step you are impelled to take represents rather a change in relations than a severance of close ties, I have no alternative. Therefore, in accordance with the terms of your letter of August fifteenth, I accept your resignation effective at the close of business on September 5, 1940.

You and I are content to leave determination of the issues in the campaign this year to the calm judgment of the voters. Under our form of Government there is no higher arbitrament than the bar of public opinion.

I am delighted that you are to be freed of all official duties so that you can devote your time and talents exclusively to an interpretation of your agricultural program to the American people. You found agriculture prostrate in March, 1933. The vicious wheel had turned full circle when you came to the rescue. Markets had been ruined; purchasing value was gone; the farmer was penniless. Foreclosures and tax sales had done the rest.

The farmers of the country are not likely to forget this. Their minds are seared with bitter memories of official neglect and official incompetence which brought them and the Nation close to disaster.

I know, and the farmers of the Nation likewise have knowledge, of the deliberation, true wisdom and statesmanship which have gone into the formulation of your agricultural program. I know and they know that bankruptcy, ruin, despair and disaster, which had been their previous portion through long years of neglect and incompetence at Washington, gave way under your guiding hand to a greater prosperity, security and, above all else, to a return to self-respect and sane thinking.

Although you have devoted years to the study of our agricultural problems and brought rich experience to their solution, yours has not been a narrow specialization. You have been able to view the problem of the farmer in its relation to other problems—economic, industrial and international. You have adhered without deviation to the settled processes of democracy. You and I remain unshaken in our faith in those processes and in the efficacy of the policy of the good neighbor in the field of foreign affairs. Your habit of thought has enabled you always to see with singular clarity the needs of the country as a whole.

I think it particularly fortunate that throughout the weeks of the autumn you are to be free and unhampered to go about at will. This will give you an excellent opportunity in public addresses, and through conferences with groups and individuals, to discuss the work you have been doing in behalf of agriculture.

Such a presentation will be of benefit alike to the farmers, and to the rank and file of the citizens. With them rests judgment as to the work you have been doing during the past seven years and more, in behalf of agriculture and in behalf of the Nation.

Very sincerely yours,

Honorable Henry A. Wallace,

Secretary of Agriculture,

Washington, D. C.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Letter Accepting the Secretary of Agriculture's Resignation. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under



Simple Search of Our Archives