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Letter to Henry A. Wallace and Jesse H. Jones on Economic Warfare.

July 15, 1943


I have come to the conclusion that the unfortunate controversy and acrimonious public debate which has been carried on between you in the public press concerning the administration of foreign economic matters make it necessary, in the public interest, to transfer these matters to other hands.

In the midst of waging a war so critical to our national security and to the future of all civilization, there is not sufficient time to investigate and determine where the truth lies in your conflicting versions as to transactions which took place over a year and a half ago.

My action today is not intended to decide that question. The important thing is to clear the decks and to get on with the war at once. To do this requires a fresh start with new men, unencumbered by interagency dissension and bitterness.

I am persuaded that the present controversy indicates that future cooperative action between your two agencies is impossible, and that without full cooperation between you the program of economic warfare cannot be carried out.

I am sure that the American people understand that both of you have attempted to do your duty as you have seen it; but we must go forward without any further public debate as to matters which are now academic so far as winning the war is presently concerned.

I have therefore issued today an Executive Order of which I am attaching a copy for your information and guidance.

Very sincerely yours,

Dear Sir:

On August 21, 1942, I sent to the head of each department and agency of the Federal Government a letter, copy of which is attached.

I call your attention to the statement contained in that letter that "disagreements either as to fact or policy should not be publicly aired, but are to be submitted to me by the appropriate heads of the conflicting agencies." Notwithstanding these positive instructions, disagreements between agencies have been publicly aired on several occasions.

I realize the nervous strain under which Government officials are working in wartime but I cannot overlook any further violations of my instructions. By this letter I do not place any restriction upon your furnishing statements in response to Congressional inquiries. But if when you have a disagreement with another agency as to fact or policy, instead of submitting it to me or submitting it to the Director of War Mobilization for settlement under the terms of the Order creating that office, you feel you should submit it to the press, I ask that when you release the statement for publication, you send to me a letter of resignation.

If any subordinate of yours violates my instructions in this regard, I shall expect you to ask for his immediate resignation.

I am sending identical letters to the heads of every department and agency of the Government.

Sincerely yours,

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Letter to Henry A. Wallace and Jesse H. Jones on Economic Warfare. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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