2. Return of Herbert Hoover
Less than two months had elapsed since the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt when, on the morning of May 28, 1945, Herbert Hoover entered the White House for the first time in twelve years.
Hoover was a few minutes early for his appointment wdth President Truman, and, while waiting, he strolled slowly through some of the rooms he had not seen since March 1933. The former President was now seventy years old; his white hair was sparse, his face wrinkled and pudgy; but, as the journalist Sidney Shallet was to report a few months later. Hoover felt like “a new man” . . .
The conference between Truman and Hoover lasted for three quarters of an hour. The news photographers were then called in to take pictures of the two men shaking hands and smiling affably at each other.
As Hoover left the White House, newsmen crowded around him. “What did you discuss?” asked one of them.
Hoover’s face crinkled into a smile. “The President of the United States,” he said, “has the right to make his own announcement concerning anything he may have said to his visitors or what visitors may have said to him. I think that is all you will get from me at the present time.”
But Truman’s action in summoning the ex-President to the White House spoke for itself.
“The capital;” reported Time magazine on June 4, “buzzed with rumors that Herbert Hoover . . . was to be put back into harness, if only as an adviser. Whatever the outcome, Harry Truman’s invitation had been as shrewd as it was generous. In one master stroke, he had won the applause of Republicans . . . [and] had made it plain that he is not mad at anybody, an attitude which he further dehneated by inviting both Thomas E. Dewey and Alfred Landon to confer with him ‘any time they might be in Washington.’ ”
Two days after the conference between Truman and Hoover, an editorial in the Wall Street Journal enthusiastically observed:
“The crusading days of the New Deal as directed from the White House are over.”
At the time of Hoover’s visit to the White House, a number of New Dealers, including three former members of the Roosevelt cabinet, had already been dropped from office, and many more such changes were in the immediate offing.
“The Truman Cabinet appointments are regarded in Congressional circles as constituting a major alignment in Government policy,” reported the official publication of the National Association of Manufacturers on July 7, 1945. “Quietly, the new President is removing the New Deal element from high authority and replacing it with men recognized as Democrats in the sense this word was used before 1932. The effect upon business will be a definite lessening of much of the sticky humidity which has prevailed for the last 12 years.”
Among the “Democrats in the sense this word was used before 1932” and the non-Democrats, in any sense of the word, to assume key posts in the Truman Administration were the following individuals:
James V. Forrestal, Secretary of Defense: former president of the investment banking firm of Dillon, Read & Co., and ex-Secretary of the Navy. In the words of Time, Forrestal was “a lone wolf who came up the hard way.” *
* During the 1920’s Forrestal’s firm, Dillon, Read & Co., floated several hundred million dollars in loans to German and Italian trusts, and to South American dictatorships. (See page 8i). At the same time, Dillon, Read was making major investments in the Stinnes’ coal and iron interests and in the Vereinigte Stahlwerk steel trust in Germany, two concerns which were helping finance the growing Nazi movement.
Regarding the Deutsche Bank and the Dresdner Bank, two German banking houses with which Dillon, Read & Co. was associated, the American Military Government’s Weekly hiformation Bulletin reported on June 30, 1947: ‘They participated actively in building the Nazi war machine, and the exploitation of Europe . . . Certain top officials of the Dresdner Bank are facing indictment and trial at Nuernberg for crimes.”
On Forrestal’s resignation from the post of Secretary of Defense in March .1949, Louis A. Johnson was appointed as his successor. An affluent corporation lawyer and former Assistant Secretary of War, Johnson— like his predecessor—had for some time been a prominent figure in international financial circles. In March 1943, Johnson was appointed a director of Consolidated Vultee Corp., which had been heavily backed by the Anglo-GermanAmerican Schroeder banking interests. In April 1943, Johnson became a director of I. G. Farben’s U.S. subsidiary. General Aniline and Film Co., and subsequently president of a General Aniline affiliate.
In the summer of 1949, Johnson’s name was prominendy connected with a major scandal involving large Government orders for B-36 bombers, after the Army had practically decided to abandon building this model bomber. On June 6, 1949, Life magazine stated: “Congressman Van Zandt . . . pointed out that Louis Johnson was formerly a director of Consolidated Vultee, which builds the B-36, and that Secretary of Air Stuart Symington is reported to be a frequent house guest at the California ranch of Floyd Odium, the financier who now controls Consolidated Vultee. Odium, according to gossip Van Zandt had heard, had helped Louis Johnson raise anywhere from $1.5 to %6.$ million for the Democratic campaign chest.”
(See earlier for data on Louis Johnson’s alleged interest in the abortive fascist putsch exposed by General Smedley Butler in 1934.)
W. Averell Harriman, Secretary of Commerce: partner in the banking firm of Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.; chairman of the board of Union Pacific Railroad Co., and director in five other major railroads; director in Guaranty Trust Co., Western Union Telegraph Co., and other large concerns.
Arthur M. Hill, Chairman of the Natiojial Resources Board: president of the Atlantic Greyhound Corp.
Sidney W. Souers, Secretary of the National Security Council: former vice-president of the General American Life Insurance Corp.
Robert A. Lovett, Undersecretary of State: partner in the banking firm of Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.
Brigadier General Charles E. Saltzman, Assistant Secretary of State: former vice-president of the New York Stock Exchange
Lewis W. Douglas, Ambassador to Great Britain: former president of the Mutual Life Insurance Co., ex-vice president American Cyanamid Co., and director of General Motors
Archibald Wiggins, Undersecretary of the Treasury: former presi’ dent of the Trust Company of South Carolina, and former president of the American Bankers Association
Thomas B. McCabe, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board: president of the Scott Paper Co.
William M. Martin, Chairjnan of the Export-Import Bank: former president of the New York Stock Exchange
William S. Symington, Secretary of the Air Force: president of the Emerson Electrical Manufacturing Co.
Arthur Barrows, Undersecretary of the Air Force: former president of Sears, Roebuck & Co.
Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force: chairman of the board of Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company
Thomas H. Hargrave, Chairman of the Munitions Board: president of Eastman Kodak Corp.
Kenneth C. Royall, Secretary of the Army: Chairman of the Board of Mebane-Royall Co.
Major General William H. Draper, Undersecretary of the Army: former vice-president of the banking firm of Dillon, Read & Co.
Under the aegis of Secretary of State Marshall, a constantly growing number of professional soldiers joined the diplomatic corps and assumed key posts in the State Department. Before long, ten out of twenty of the Department’s executive officers were military men, and the Army and Navy Bulletin could claim, “Today the Army has virtual control of foreign affairs” . . .
“Into the vacuum created by the exodus of the New Dealers,” noted the New Republic, “two groups have moved— the Brass Hats and the Wall Streeters.”
There was a third group. Washington correspondents dubbed it the Missouri Gang.