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Letter in Reply to Florida Republicans Protesting an Appointment.

October 21, 1929

[Released October 21, 1929. Dated September 26, 1929]

Dear Sir:

I have your letter of September 21st.

I cannot believe that you and the many friends of Mr. Skipper who have protested the appointment of Mr. Hughes, overlook the primary [p.342] responsibility which rests upon the President of the United States. That responsibility is one of the most sacred which he assumes upon his oath of office. It is that he shall, to his utmost capacity, appoint men to public office who will execute the laws of the United States with integrity and without fear, favor or political collusion. The appointive responsibility rests in the President, not in any organization.

For seven months, the Department of Justice has investigated first one candidate and then another who were proposed by the Florida organization. The Department did not feel that they could conscientiously recommend to me any one of the names presented. Mr. Hughes, with many years of tried service in the Department as an important member of the Division devoted to enforcement of the 18th Amendment, was not appointed at the request or recommendation of any political organization whatever. He was appointed because he had proved himself an able and vigorous law enforcement officer. Furthermore, all three of the Federal Judges of Florida attested to Mr. Hughes' ability and standing.

It is the natural desire of the Administration to build up and strengthen the Republican Party in the state of Florida. That can be done in cooperation with the state organization if the organization presents candidates who measure up to my requirements of public service. This is an obligation in the interest of the people of the state, and the first tenet in that program is that no longer shall the laws of the United States be flouted by federal officials; no longer shall public office be regarded as mere political patronage but that it shall be public service.

The success of the Republican Party rests upon good government, not on patronage, and Florida will have good government so far as it is within my powers to give it. My own belief is that the people of Florida supported me in the past election because they expected that from me.

I note your demands that the organization shall dictate appointments in Florida irrespective of merit or my responsibility, and that you appeal to the opponents of the Administration to attack me. I enclose [p.343] herewith copy of a statement which I issued last March. That statement was no idle gesture.

Yours faithfully,


[Mr. Fred E. Britten, Stuart, Florida]

Note: The President's letter concerned the appointment of Wilburn P. Hughes as United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. Mr. Britten, Republican State Chairman, objected to the appointment on grounds that the Florida party organization had not made the recommendation. Six candidates had been offered by the State committee and all were rejected by the President. Glenn B. Skipper, to whom the letter referred, was a Republican National Committeeman from Florida. The statement referred to in the last paragraph was issued to the press on March 26, 1929 (see Item 16).

Herbert Hoover, Letter in Reply to Florida Republicans Protesting an Appointment. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/208350

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