A Stern FDR Aims to Plug Leaks to the Press
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“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.” FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT.
Typed Letter Signed, to William M. Leiserson. Washington D.C., July 15, 1942 [typo for ‘1943’]. 1 p., 8½ x 11 in. On White House stationery, stamped in purple ink: “RECEIVED National Railway Labor Panel JUL 17 1943.”
With contemporary pencil and pen acknowledgements of reading in upper right hand corner.
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 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 war time 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 of 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.
[signed] Franklin D Roosevelt
Honorable William M. Leiserson,
National Mediation Board,
Franklin Delano Roosevelt upbraids William Leiserson, chairman of both the National Mediation Board and the National Railway Labor Panel, for failing to heed his presidential instructions from a prior letter that instructed department and agency heads to not publicly air disagreements.
The National Railway Labor Panel was created in 1942 as a source to mediate railway disputes during the World War II. Roosevelt sent this stern and reproachful letter during Congressional proceedings held during a case involving a railway wage increase. Other board members signed off in pencil at top right: “Cook, Schwartz, and Bickers.”
Fine. Old folds, pen and pencil notations, and date stamp. Minor rust from paper clip and staple holes in upper left corner not affecting text. Several small stains.