Franklin D. Roosevelt

Resignation of the Chairman of the Social Security Board.

September 29, 1936

Dear Governor Winant:

Your letter tendering your resignation as a member of the Social Security Board greatly distresses me. You are, of course, right in regarding the Social Security Act as "America's answer" to the "great human need" of "effective social machinery for meeting the problems of dependency and unemployment."

Like you, also, "I have never assumed that the Social Security Act was without fault. I had assumed and even hoped that time and experience might dictate many and important changes."

The Act was conceived and passed by the Congress as a humanitarian measure. Its passage transcended party lines. The opposition in both houses was, practically speaking, negligible. I share your regret that the evanescent passions of a political campaign have fanned the flames of partisan hostility to this nonpartisan legislation.

Equally right are you in recognizing the "intention of Congress to create a non-partisan board, with personnel protected under civil service, and to insure non-partisan administration of the Act." Your appointment was intended to insure that it would be so administered. And, as you state, "it has been so administered."

Under such conditions I should have thought that you might have felt free to correct any misconception of the purpose of the legislation or any misinterpretation of its details. Appropriate education of the public mind regarding public measures is one of the inherent duties of an administrator.

For that reason I have hesitated to accept your resignation. I did not wish to lose the benefit of your devoted and disinterested service in the administration of the social security program. Yet, upon reflection and after talking with you, I have come to appreciate your position and the sense of public duty which impelled your resignation and your wish to be free as a citizen, not simply to clear up misconceptions and misinterpretations of the Act, but actively to defend the "constructive provisions" of the Act and to oppose spurious substitutes.

It is, therefore, with the deepest regret that I yield to your wish and accept your resignation. My regret is tempered by the knowledge that you have resigned only in order the better to defend the great work which you have so well begun.

Very sincerely yours,

Hon. John G. Winant,

Washington, D. C.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Resignation of the Chairman of the Social Security Board. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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