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Letter to David Lilienthal on His Appointment as Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission

October 28, 1946

My dear Mr. Lilienthal:

I agree heartily with the observations regarding the awesome character of the work which faces the new Atomic Energy Commission, which you embody in your letter of October twenty-fifth. Since you acquiesce in my decision to appoint you as chairman of that Commission, I have less reluctance in accepting, effective at the close of business on November first next, your resignation as a Director and Chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The era in which we live is momentous and the problems with which you as Chairman, and your colleagues as members of the Atomic Energy Commission, will have to deal are of supreme importance. The character of the solution of these problems will determine the course of civilization. I view with particular satisfaction the fact that you are under no illusions regarding the responsibilities which I am calling upon you to assume.

You have labored long and faithfully to make the Tennessee Valley Authority a real instrument of democracy. For thirteen years, first as Director and since 1941 as Chairman, you have guided the destinies of the Authority and defended its operation against the attacks--insidious as well as open--of all foes. No one will minimize the strength of the powerful interests that were arrayed against you. But the beneficial results achieved are reflected today not only in the Tennessee Valley but throughout our entire country.

TVA stands as a monument to the vision and courage of two great liberals: Franklin D. Roosevelt and George W. Norris. I have every confidence that Mr. Gordon R. Clapp, whom I am appointing to succeed you, will carry the work forward in the tradition of Roosevelt, Norris and Lilienthal.

In expressing my thanks and the thanks of the Nation for your faithful and farseeing labors with TVA, I bid you Godspeed in the larger duties which you are about to undertake.

Very sincerely yours,


[Honorable David E. Lilienthal, Chairman, TENNESSEE Valley Authority, Norris, Tennessee]

Note: Mr. Lilienthal's letter was released with the president's reply. He served as a Director of the Tennessee Valley Authority from June 10, 1933, and as Chairman from September 15, 1941, through November 1, 1946.

Harry S Truman, Letter to David Lilienthal on His Appointment as Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232208

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