Oral History Interview with
Matthew J. Connelly
Chief investigator for the Senate Special Committee
to Investigate the National Defense Program (the Truman Committee), 1941-44,
Executive Assistant to Senator and Vice President Truman, July 1944-April
1945; and Appointments Secretary to the President, 1945-53.
New York, New York
August 21, 1968
By Jerry N. Hess
[Notices and Restrictions | Interview
Transcript | Additional Connelly Oral History
This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview conducted for the Harry
S. Truman Library. A draft of this transcript was edited by the interviewee
but only minor emendations were made; therefore, the reader should remember
that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written
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This oral history transcript may be read, quoted from, cited, and reproduced
for purposes of research. It may not be published in full except by permission
of the Harry S. Truman Library.
Opened May 1969
Harry S. Truman Library
[Top of the Page | Notices
and Restrictions | Interview Transcript
| Additional Connelly Oral History Transcripts]
Oral History Interview with
Matthew J. Connelly
New York, New York
August 21, 1968
By Jerry N. Hess
HESS: Mr. Connelly, I'd like to go over a list of the men who served
on the Cabinet during the Truman administration, and ask a few questions
about each man. In most cases we might have specific questions that may
apply only in that individual case, but a few general questions would
be such items as: Why were those particular men chosen for the post; how
effective were they in carrying out the responsibilities of their positions,
what were their relationships with the President, and why were they replaced,
if that was the case?
Our first one starting with the Department of State would be a holdover
that Mr. Truman had from the Roosevelt days: Edward Stettinius. What can
you tell me about Mr. Stettinius?
CONNELLY: Mr. Stettinius was Secretary of State
under Roosevelt, and
when Truman took over he had to work with the Cabinet that was in office
until he could evaluate the performance of each one. Mr. Stettinius did
not remain very long after Mr. Truman took over. He resigned from the
position of Secretary of State to enjoy private business. Mr. Truman did
not have complete confidence in Mr. Stettinius because his thinking and
Mr. Stettinius' thinking were not in total agreement.
HESS: Could you give me an example of that?
CONNELLY: There were several matters of policy that Mr. Truman felt he
could not go along with, which Mr. Stettinius advocated. In other words,
Mr. Stettinius was brought up to represent the thinking of Mr. Roosevelt.
Altogether, Mr. Truman did not agree, and as a result his departure was
not disagreeable to Mr. Truman.
HESS: The next man was James F. Byrnes.
CONNELLY: James F. Byrnes was sent for by Mr. Truman after he arrived
at the White House. He had a great deal of confidence in Mr. Byrnes because
of their association in the Senate. Mr. Byrnes came from South Carolina,
and talked to Mr. Truman and immediately decided that he would take over.
Mr. Truman to Mr. Byrnes, I'm afraid, was a nonentity, as Mr. Byrnes thought
he had superior intelligence. It later was proved that the opposite was
true. So Mr. Byrnes' appointment was based on the association that they
had in the United States Senate, but after being sworn in as Secretary
of State several disagreements exerted themselves and Mr. Truman eventually
had to request the resignation of Mr. Byrnes over clashes in policy and
thinking and in politics.
HESS: Some historians have said that Mr. Truman's appointment of Mr.
Byrnes was in the nature of a consolation because Truman had received
the 1944 nomination instead of Mr. Byrnes and had it been the other way
around, Byrnes would have been President at that time. What do you think
CONNELLY: I don't believe that's true. Mr. Byrnes was placed in nomination,
or suggested for nomination as Vice President by Mr. Truman. Mr. Byrnes
had previously called Mr. Truman and suggested that he introduce him as
a nominee for Vice President under Roosevelt. Mr. Truman left for Chicago
with the intention of nominating Mr. Byrnes. However, things as they developed
at the convention, ruled out Mr. Byrnes and Mr. Truman received the nomination.
Mr. Truman was completely loyal to Senator Byrnes because of their Senate
association, but it was not very long before Mr. Byrnes thought that he
had become President and Mr. Truman had not. Conflicts developed and Mr.
Byrnes was later asked to relieve himself of the position of Secretary of State.
HESS: The next man is George C. Marshall.
CONNELLY: George C. Marshall was a great American, highly respected by
Mr. Truman, looked upon by Mr. Truman as the Chief of Staff, and Mr. Truman
regarded himself as a colonel. He had great reverence for the Chief of
Staff and he believed General Marshall could do no wrong. General Marshall
was brought into the administration by Mr. Truman, and Mr. Marshall performed
with intelligence, and integrity and with good faith, all of which were
appreciated by Mr. Truman. And George C. Marshall in Mr. Truman's eyes
could never do anything wrong.
HESS: We have a couple of questions on the Marshall plan, but we'll take
those up a little later.
The next Secretary of State was Dean Acheson.
CONNELLY: Dean Acheson became Secretary of State at the departure of
General Marshall, who went back. to the Defense Department as Secretary
of Defense. Dean Acheson was highly regarded by Mr. Truman. He was an
intellectual, he knew foreign policy, he knew the operation of the State
Department, but in my own opinion, Dean Acheson, more or less because
of his intellect, educational background, and his experience around Washington,
impressed Mr. Truman to the end that anything that Mr. Acheson did, as
far as Mr. Truman was concerned, was correct. I never quite held that
opinion myself. In my book Mr. Acheson was above and beyond the normal realms of
Government operation. Mr. Acheson, in my vernacular, would be
considered an egghead, not a practical administrator, and not a man who
represented the opinion of America, or of the people of America. Mr. Acheson,
for some reason, was more or less beholden to the operations of the British
Government. In my opinion, these things conflicted with the viewpoint
of Mr. Truman, who was all American.
HESS: In your opinion, why would Mr. Acheson's views be so closely correlated
with the British viewpoint?
CONNELLY: Over a period of many years, the State Department was patterned
after the British Government. They thought British, they acted British,
and they were under a peculiar phobia that the British way was the right
way, and the American's patterned themselves after that. That is true
of the history of the
HESS: All right. Moving over the page to the Secretary of the Treasury,
the first one was also a Roosevelt holdover, Henry Morgenthau, Jr.
CONNELLY: Henry Morgenthau, Jr. was a holdover. Henry Morgenthau, Jr.
was a man with ideas of his own, all of which Mr. Truman did not always
agree with. He was conscientious, but he was a dreamer. He was also petty
in many ways. For instance, he would personally supervise the Secret Service
protection of the President. He would personally take trips around at
night to find out if the Secret Service were on their posts, which was
unbeknown to Mr. Truman. I found out from the Secret Service that he had
done the same thing under the Roosevelt administration. This, to Mr. Truman,
was quite obnoxious.
However, I think one of the things that Mr. Morgenthau
presented to Mr. Truman in the early stages of his administration was
a plan for Germany, in which he wished to reduce Germany to an agricultural
state. Mr. Morgenthau gave me a memorandum which he had drawn up incorporating
his ideas. I checked that memorandum out with several officials who disagreed.
As a result of these consultations I had with these different officials,
Mr. Truman refused to accept Mr. Morgenthau's plan. Mr. Morgenthau was
very unhappy about the President's decision not to accept this plan.
HESS: Was there ever any serious consideration given to accepting the
CONNELLY: Not beyond me confirming with other members of the existing
staff in Washington the value of such a plan, none of whom I consulted
were in agreement, whether he felt
that Mr. Truman rejected it I do not know.
HESS: Did Mr. Morgenthau wish to continue on as Secretary of the Treasury
for Mr. Truman?
CONNELLY: After that disappointment of Mr. Morgenthau on his brainchild,
he gradually lost interest. And Mr. Truman knowing about that background,
and knowing about the discussions that I had with various members of the
administration, declined to accept Mr. Morgenthau as a permanent member
of his Cabinet.
HESS: The next man was Fred Vinson. Why was he chosen to replace Mr. Morgenthau?
CONNELLY: Fred Vinson was a member of Congress for many years, he had
known President Truman for many years, President Truman admired him greatly,
and after President Truman found out that Mr. Morgenthau was not the man he wanted,
he thought in his own mind that the man that he would put in
that position would be a man he could trust and who would be for him;
therefore, Mr. Truman offered the post of Secretary of Treasury to Mr. Vinson.
HESS: In your opinion, did he make an effective Secretary of the Treasury
for the time that he was there?
CONNELLY: Mr. Vinson made a very effective Secretary of the Treasury.
Mr. Vinson reported regularly to President Truman, explained things, worked
things out with him, and as far as I know they never left in any disagreement.
HESS: What is your opinion of Fred Vinson as a person?
CONNELLY: Fred Vinson as a person was one of the most human beings I've
ever known. He was
highly regarded by anybody who knew him. He was highly
qualified, not only in the science of government, but as a legislator
he had achieved a great reputation. Mr. Truman, naturally having been
in the Congress for many years, liked those things about Mr. Vinson. And
after Mr. Vinson was appointed Secretary of the Treasury, he fulfilled
his job so well that Mr. Truman had nothing but high regard for him and
HESS: When the post as Chief Justice became empty, were there others
that were considered for that position besides Mr. Vinson?
CONNELLY: Mr. Truman made a personal decision on that. As far as I know,
he did not discuss it with many people, if any, but due to Fred Vinson's
performance, Mr. Truman respected his integrity, his honesty, and decided
that Fred Vinson would make an ideal candidate for
the Supreme Court of the United States.
HESS: Why was John Snyder chosen to succeed Mr. Vinson?
CONNELLY: John Snyder was chosen to succeed Mr. Vinson because for many
years he had been a personal friend of Mr. Truman's. He was in the banking
industry in Missouri, and Mr. Truman had high regard for his financial
ability and integrity. And when Mr. Vinson was moved up to the Supreme
Court, Mr. Snyder was Mr. Truman's first thought as his successor.
HESS: What was your opinion of Mr. Snyder's effectiveness as Secretary
of the Treasury?
CONNELLY: Mr. Snyder made an effective Secretary of the Treasury. As
far as I know--and that was not my bracket to evaluate him, he reported
directly to the President, and not to
me. I knew nothing about his activities,
except what the President told me he wanted me to do in connection with that department.
HESS: What was your opinion of him as a person?
CONNELLY: Mr. Snyder, in my book was a very petty, small-minded, small
town banker, and I never thought he had the stature to carry this job
of Secretary of the Treasury of the United States.
HESS: In your opinion, what was the general opinion of the other Cabinet
members concerning Mr. Snyder? Do you recall?
CONNELLY: I believe that Mr. Snyder was so self-involved and secretive,
that none of the other members of the Cabinet really got to know him.
HESS: All right, he served until the end of the administration. Our next
category is Secretary
of War, and Mr. Henry M. Stimson was also a holdover
from the Roosevelt administration.
CONNELLY: Mr. Stimson was what you might call an international statesman.
Mr. Truman had high regard for him because he believed him to be a man
of integrity, and his first interest was the United States. He respected
his judgment, he respected his sense of fair play, and he had nothing
but admiration for him.
HESS: He resigned in September of 1945. Did he wish to stay on or not?
CONNELLY: No, Mr. Stimson actually initiated the resignation himself.
HESS: He was replaced by Robert Patterson. Why was Mr. Patterson chosen
for the position?
CONNELLY: Mr. Patterson was already in the Defense Department, and Mr. Truman thought
that he was the logical successor, because he knew the
operation of the Pentagon, and the military establishment. He was an outstanding
lawyer, and he had in the meantime developed the great respect of Mr.
Truman during his performance as Secretary of War.
HESS: The next man who served for just a short period of time until the
unification was Kenneth C. Royall. He appears again as Secretary of the
Army so we'll discuss him as Secretary of the Army, if that's all right.
The next category is Secretary of Defense. Of course, the first Secretary
of Defense under the unification act was James Forrestal. Why was he chosen
as the first Secretary of Defense?
CONNELLY: Forrestal was Secretary of the Navy prior to the merger of
the branches of the Army, Navy and Air Force. Mr. Forrestal had
Washington under the Roosevelt administration, was a highly intellectual
fellow, and was a good administrative officer. When the merger was completed
to create the Defense Department, Mr. Truman looked on him as the superior
of the other members of the military establishment and appointed him as
Secretary of Defense, which office he held very successfully until an
illness overtook him.
HESS: Do you recall any instances, any evidences on the job of the mental
deterioration that overtook Mr. Forrestal, unfortunately?
CONNELLY: Yes, I recall Mr. Forrestal called me and told me that his
telephones were being bugged, his house was being watched, and he would
like me to do something about it. So I had the chief of the Secret Service
detail at the White House make an investigation of Mr. Forrestal's home;
I had him observe it,
I had him check his phones, and found out that he
was just misinformed, that it wasn't being watched, and there was no indication
that there was any wiretapping in Mr. Forrestal's home. That really upset
me, because I realized that the Secret Service would do a thorough job,
and I told the President that I was worried that Mr. Forrestal might be
a little bit wrong.
HESS: What did the President say at that time? Do you recall?
CONNELLY: He asked me what I thought and I said, "I think Mr. Forrestal
is cracking up."
So he said, "Why don't we arrange to have him go down to Key West and
take a little vacation?"
So, Mr. Forrestal did go to Key West. There was a repetition down
there. Mr. Forrestal had hallucinations about things that
were going wrong
at Key West and he called me from Key West and told me that something
was wrong down there. So I checked very carefully with the Navy, who supervises
Key West, and Mr. Forrestal later was transferred from Key West to the
naval hospital in Bethesda.
HESS: Do you recall what he thought was going wrong at Key West at this time?
CONNELLY: He thought that the same things were happening, that people
were annoying him, and he felt he was under surveillance down there, he
felt that he was being watched, and in other words, he was being personally
persecuted. So as a result of that, we had him very quietly removed to
Bethesda hospital in Washington. .And history will disclose that is where
he jumped out a window.
HESS: The next man to hold the position was Louis
Johnson. Why was he
chosen for that position?
CONNELLY: Louis Johnson was chosen for two reasons. Number one, Louis
Johnson had been Commander of the American Legion. He was a perennial
candidate for President. He was a very effective political organizer,
and during the campaign of 1948 when things were not very good for Mr.
Truman, Louis Johnson accepted the position as treasurer of the Democratic
National Committee. He gave up his law practice. He devoted all of his
time to raising money for the campaign in '48. He was a highly successful
lawyer in Washington, and Mr. Truman turned to him after the death of
Mr. Forrestal to take over the Pentagon operation.
HESS: During this time, two important events took place, the cutting
back of the Armed Forces and the invasion of Korea. Some people had blamed
Louis Johnson for the reduction in
the Armed Forces. Is that valid?
CONNELLY: That is valid. He had promised that he would cut to the bone
the expenditures of the Defense Department and set out to do so, with
the result that when the Korean war developed we found ourselves very
unable to meet our commitments for our appearance in Korea.
HESS: Was this done strictly for reasons of economy? Wasn't it seen that
this was a dangerous thing to do in the world situation at that time, or not?
CONNELLY: Well, World War II was over and Mr. Johnson thought that the
appropriation for the Defense Department could be cut to reduce the overhead
we had in maintaining the equipment over here and overseas, and he put
on an economy program and without the Korean war at that time being imminent,
he succeeded in his
objectives. However, when the Korean thing developed
we were too thin on supplies and materiel.
HESS: In the Korean war the North Koreans invaded South Korea, we'll
get to that a little bit later, on June the 24th, on a Saturday, of 1950.
Just when was the decision made to replace Louis Johnson . What can you
tell me about the resignation of Louis Johnson?
CONNELLY: I don't recall.
HESS: Was that offered willingly, do you recall?
CONNELLY: I don't believe so. I think that the President by this time
became dissatisfied with Johnson because of his inability to get along
with other members of the Armed Forces.
HESS: How did he got along with the other members of the Cabinet?
CONNELLY: Louis Johnson was somewhat of an individualist, and Louis Johnson
was not what you would call a cooperative member of the Cabinet. He was
running his own show, and he didn't want any interference from anybody
else, and I don't think he asked very often for opinions from anybody else.
HESS: Would he interfere in other departments?
CONNELLY: No, not that I know of. He was running his own show and was
satisfied to do that.
HESS: All right. Now, George Marshall was the next Secretary of Defense.
Why was he chosen to replace Louis Johnson?
CONNELLY: Marshall had been Chief of Staff during World War II, and Truman
had complete confidence in his ability as a soldier, and as an administrator.
After Louis Johnson left the Cabinet, Truman knowing Marshall, appointed him as
Secretary of Defense because he realized that Marshall had more
knowledge of the Defense Department operations than anybody else he knew
of, and that he would be a natural to take over the management of the
HESS: He served approximately one year. Did he wish to retire at this time?
CONNELLY: That I don't know.
HESS: The last man to hold the position was Robert Lovett. Why was he chosen?
CONNELLY: Robert Lovett had been Under Secretary with Marshall. Robert
Lovett was a very brilliant administrator. Robert Lovett had pleased Truman
with his opinions on things at Cabinet meetings when he appeared on behalf
of Marshall, and Robert Lovett had become very close to Truman because of his ability
and his intelligence. Truman figured him as a logical replacement for Marshall.
HESS: Did he make a fairly effective Secretary of Defense?
CONNELLY: He was very effective.
HESS: All right. He served until the end of the administration.
HESS: The next three lists are gentlemen who did not hold full Cabinet
positions. We'll just go over those lightly. The Secretary of the Army,
Kenneth C. Royall. He was named Secretary of the Army at the time of the
unification, shortly thereafter, in August of 1947. Do you recall why
he was chosen first Secretary of the Army.
CONNELLY: No, I do not recall why he was chosen.
However, I believe he
performed well and intelligently as Secretary of the Army. In the convention
in 1948, Mr. Royall indicated that because of his southern background
and connections that he had to support General Eisenhower, under whom
he had served during World War II, and that his loyalty in that campaign
would have to be for General Eisenhower.
HESS: On that subject, on pages 196 and 197 of The Truman Presidency
by Cabell Phillips, it is mentioned that President Truman asked Kenneth
Royall to go to talk to Eisenhower and offer: Eisenhower first place on
the Democratic ticket and that Mr. Truman would take the Vice President's
position on that ticket with Eisenhower. Is the report as given in Phillips'
book factual, is that the truth?
CONNELLY: One part of it may be the truth. One
part of it that he may
have suggested to Kenneth Royall because of his personal knowledge and
relationship to Eisenhower, that he talk to Eisenhower. At that point
he thought that Eisenhower should be offered the nomination as President,
but the second part that he would step down to Vice President, I don't
HESS: All right. Royall was replaced by Gordon Gray in 1949.
CONNELLY: Gordon Gray had been an assistant. And after the departure
of Kenneth Royall, Gordon Gray was moved up by President Truman, because
Gordon Gray had demonstrated great administrative ability and Mr. Truman
suggested that he should be the man because of his knowledge and background
in the Pentagon.
HESS: The next man to hold the position was
CONNELLY: Frank Pace had been in the Budget Bureau, and Frank Pace had
developed Mr. Truman's confidence in that position. He came to know him
very well, and when the vacancy occurred, it occurred to him that because
of his administrative and financial ability as chief of the Budget Bureau,
he was the ideal man to put in that spot to keep an eye on the operation
of that department, particularly in view of the financial structure, and
the amount of money involved.
HESS: In April of 1951, during the situation revolving around the dismissal
of General MacArthur, as I understand it, a message was sent to Frank
Pace to deliver the message to General MacArthur that he had been relieved,
but Mr. Pace could not be found. Is that correct?
CONNELLY: That is correct. Frank Pace, I believe was in Korea at that
time, on an inspection tour. He was sent word to contact General MacArthur
and inform him of the decision of the President. Frank Pace could not
be reached and finally a message was sent, I think it was supervised at
that time by General Bradley on how it should be released. Through that
channel, I believe, the notice was sent to General MacArthur.
HESS: There are some historians who think that Mr. Pace did this intentionally,
and made himself unavailable at this time. What do you think about that?
CONNELLY: That's a question I couldn't answer, because anything I would
say about it would be problematic.
HESS: All right, fine. Now the next group, the
Secretary of the Navy,
and we've already covered James Forrestal. He was Secretary of the Navy
from 1944 until 1947, and then John L. Sullivan from '47 to '49.
CONNELLY: John Sullivan had been in the Treasury Department for many
years, I believe he was General Counsel and then later Under Secretary
of the Treasury Department. Mr. Truman got to know him pretty well and
had, great faith in his ability and his judgment. Mr. Truman nominated
him for Secretary of the Navy.
HESS: The next person is Francis P. Matthews.
CONNELLY: Francis P. Matthews was suggested originally to me for the
position of Secretary of the Navy by Louis Johnson. Louis Johnson thought
that he would be the right man for that spot. I called Mr. Matthews and
told him that the President would like him to be
Secretary of the Navy.
So he said he'd have to think about it, and he'd have to talk to his family
about it, and Mr. Matthews finally came to Washington to see the President
and agreed to take the appointment.
HESS: The next man is Dan Kimball.
CONNELLY: Dan Kimball was from California and he had been highly recommended
to Mr. Truman by several of the other members of the Cabinet who knew
him personally, and by some of the people in California that Mr. Truman
had great confidence in.
HESS: Who were they?
CONNELLY: Some of them were people like Ed Pauley, George Killion, and
other people that were known and liked by Mr. Truman and he had respect
for their judgment and as a result Kimball became Secretary of the Navy.
HESS: All right. Two gentlemen held the post as Secretary of the Air
Force, Stuart Symington from 1947 to 1950.
CONNELLY: Stuart Symington was also from Missouri, and Mr. Truman had
brought him in to Washington in connection with the disposal of surplus
after World War II. I believe he was chairman of the commission set up
to supervise the disposal of the surplus, most of which was overseas.
And on that basis, and because of his background in manufacturing, he
was suggested to Mr. Truman for this position by a Cabinet member named John Snyder.
HESS: And he was replaced by Thomas Finletter in 1950.
CONNELLY: Now the Finletter appointment, I'm not familiar with how that
was arranged. He had been an important lawyer in New York City, and
had also been in the Democratic Party for many years; he had great intelligence
and Mr. Truman interviewed him and thought that he would fill the bill.
HESS: Did he do a pretty, good job?
CONNELLY: He did a good job.
HESS: Back to our full Cabinet positions, the Attorney General. The first
Attorney General was Francis Biddle, a Roosevelt holdover.
CONNELLY: That's correct. Mr. Biddle served in the Cabinet under President
Truman until he could find out who he wanted himself who would be his man.
HESS: Did Mr. Biddle want to continue on in that post?
CONNELLY: I don't believe so. I think Mr. Biddle was continuing in the
post due to the fact
that we wanted some continuity in the operation of
HESS: Why was Tom Clark chosen to replace him, do you recall?
CONNELLY: Tom Clark had been in the Department of Justice as an Assistant
Attorney General, and during his course of operations, he became known
to Mr. Truman who liked his ability and liked the way he operated, and
Mr. Truman personally selected him as a successor to Mr. Biddle.
HESS: And when he went to the Supreme Court in 1949, J. Howard McGrath
was chosen as Attorney General. Why was Mr. McGrath chosen at this time?
CONNELLY: Mr. McGrath had been chairman of
the Democratic National Committee,
had displayed a great deal of ability and Mr. Truman had observed him
as chairman of the national committee, and there was another little political
reason. When Mr. Clark moved up to the Supreme Court to fill a vacancy
(I believe caused by the death of Justice Murphy), Mr. McGrath was appointed
to the Cabinet, and Mr. Truman thereby solved the problem of ignoring
the Catholic people and appointed Mr. McGrath and it was the first time
that two members of the Catholic faith were members of Mr. Truman's Cabinet.
HESS: I believe we mentioned that in one of our previous interviews.
Now, the events revolving around the resignation of Mr. McGrath bring
up the name of Newbold Morris. Just what happened at the time of the resignation
of J. Howard McGrath?
CONNELLY: Well, during the administration of Howard McGrath, there was
a series of congressional investigations, there was considerable press,
criticizing the department, criticizing people taking money and favors
in Government, and Mr. McGrath, without consulting with Mr. Truman, called
Mr. Morris, who was an official in New York and I believe had been a candidate
for mayor of New York, to Washington, to appoint him, without consultation
with Mr. Truman, to set up a division in the Department of
investigate all Government employees. Mr. McGrath had made that agreement
with Mr. Morris without consulting the President. And when Mr. Morris
approached the White House one day on the invitation of Mr. McGrath, Mr.
Truman was totally unaware of the fact that it had already been published
that Mr. Norris had been appointed.
HESS: I understand there was some question about a questionnaire also
that Mr. Morris had worked out.
CONNELLY: Mr. Morris had worked out a questionnaire to require each member
of the Cabinet, each key staff member of the administration to file a
report indicating how many clothes, how many dresses each Cabinet wife had...
HESS: Did you ever see one of those questionnaires?
CONNELLY: I never saw one but I knew about it. One
night we were discussing
it at Key West, we were down there on a trip, the staff members were discussing
it after Mr. Truman went to bed. We did not know that Mr. Truman had not
gone to bed. The Naval Aide said he didn't want any part of this, he'd
go back to the Navy. The Air Force Aide said he would too. And while this
discussion was held we didn't know Mr. Truman was listening.
HESS: He was listening in at the time.
CONNELLY: So after we got into it pretty deeply, he came in and said,
"Don't worry about it. That questionnaire will not be sent." Whereupon
he advised Attorney General McGrath that that questionnaire would not
be sent, and it never was.
HESS: Do you recall if that is the time that he talked to Attorney General
McGrath at the
airport after they got back?
CONNELLY: I don't know. I believe it was at the airport after we came
back from that trip and the Attorney General was out to meet him and he
told the Attorney General that the decision was his and Mr. Morris would
have to go.
HESS: Why was James P. McGranery selected to replace J. Howard McGrath?
CONNELLY: That was an interim appointment until Mr. Truman could find
out who he actually wanted as his next Attorney General.
HESS: Who chose Mr. McGranery?
CONNELLY: Mr. McGranery was then a Federal judge and Mr. Truman had known
Mr. McGranery since his legislative days. Mr. McGranery had always proven
himself to be a friend and loyal
to Mr. Truman, and because of the hurry
that existed at that time, it was suggested to Mr. Truman by me, that
Mr. McGranery would be available. Whether he would give up his judgeship
in Philadelphia to take the job I didn't know.
HESS: All right, he served until the end of the administration.
The Postmaster General. The first one, who was also a Roosevelt holdover,
was Frank Walker.
CONNELLY: Frank Walker was a holdover and was former chairman of the
national committee. Frank Walker wanted to resign. He was very close to
Mr. Truman and was for Mr. Truman when he was elected Vice President.
They were very close. But he wanted to resign and did.
HESS: Why was Robert E. Hannegan chosen?
CONNELLY: Robert E. Hannegan had been chairman of the national committee,
was an old personal friend of Mr. Truman's from St. Louis. And Mr. Truman
was instrumental, originally, in getting Mr. Roosevelt to appoint Hannegan
as Commissioner of Internal Revenue. He had previously been Collector
of Internal Revenue over in St. Louis.
HESS: And he was replaced in 1947 by Jesse M. Donaldson.
CONNELLY: Jesse M. Donaldson was a career man of the Post Office Department,
and Mr. Truman thought that somebody who had been in the Department would
know the problems (and they had plenty), that Donaldson was more qualified
to evaluate the inner workings of the Post Office Department, and he was
a career man, and Mr. Truman believed that Donaldson was the best choice
for the appointment.
HESS: And he served until the end of the administration.
The next department is the Department of Interior and the holdover from
the Roosevelt days was Harold L. Ickes. What kind of a man was Mr. Ickes?
CONNELLY: Mr. Ickes was saddled with a title which always stayed with
him as "The Old Curmudgeon." Mr. Ickes was personally envious of every
other Cabinet officer of Mr. Roosevelt's. Mr. Ickes was soon known to
Mr. Truman as being a troublemaker, because nobody wanted to talk before
Mr. Ickes in a Cabinet meeting.
HESS: What kind of trouble would he cause?
CONNELLY: He used a nice habit of leaking Cabinet stories to Washington
HESS: And he was repla