Oral History Interview with
Assistant to the General Counsel of the War Production Board,
1941-43; Captain, United States Marine Corps, 1943-45; Special Assistant
to the Attorney General of the United States, 1945; Executive Assistant
to the Attorney General, 1945-48; Assistant Attorney General and head
of the Civil Division, 1948-50; Assigned to establish the Office of Economic
Stabilization, 1950; Acting Deputy Attorney General, 1950; Assistant Attorney
General and head of the Anti-Trust Division, 1950-52; and private law
practice in Washington, D.C., 1952-76.
H. Graham Morison
August 16, 1972
by Jerry N. Hess
[Notices and Restrictions | Interview
Transcript | Additional Morison 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
Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. ) within the transcript
indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the Morison
oral history interview.
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 It may not be published in full except by permission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.
Harry S. Truman Library
[Top of the Page | Notices
and Restrictions | Interview Transcript
| Additional Morison Oral History Transcripts]
Oral History Interview with
H. Graham Morison
August 16, 1972
by Jerry N. Hess
Fourth Oral History Interview with H. Graham Morison, Washington, D.C.,
August 16, 1972. By Jerry N. Hess, Harry S. Truman Library.
HESS: To begin today, Mr. Morison, do we have anything more on antitrust
that we want to put down?
MORISON: Yes, Mr. Hess, there's one matter that I recall which was a
unique experience for me. When I was head of the Antitrust Division in
'50 or -- in '51.
HESS: August of '50 I believe according to my list.
MORISON: Sometime during that period, when J. Howard McGrath was the
Attorney General, he requested me rather than the Deputy Attorney General
(who I think at that time was Peyton Ford), to attend a Cabinet meeting
called by President Truman since it would relate to the issue of limitation
of foreign oil imports. I did attend. And there was Louis Johnson,
Secretary of Defense, lined by numerous
officers of the services; the Secretary of Commerce, a man from Ohio,
what was his name?
HESS: Charles Sawyer.
MORISON: Sawyer, who I had tangled with before; Oscar Chapman, who I
had known and been on fairly friendly terms with, and...
HESS: John Snyder, Secretary of the Treasury?
MORISON: I'm sure John Snyder and the other Cabinet members.
HESS: Was Dean Acheson there that day?
MORISON: I do not believe Dean Acheson was there, but an Under Secretary
was. As to most of the issues that came up, I felt in view of my role
that I should not comment or engage in discussions about such issue
until it had been presented by Oscar Chapman and the other members. Secretary
Chapman urged that the President authorize the Secretary of the Interior
to limit the amount of crude oil imported from foreign sources. He had
inherited from World War II the remainder of the Oil Policy Board set
up to see to the supply of oil for the war. The oil industry had worked
hard to maintain this advisory agency after the war because the oil industry
had its men well entrenched there. Secretary Chapman urged that because
of the distress that domestic oil companies were facing from foreign imports,
that he should be authorized to establish quotas and limitations upon
the import of foreign crude oil.
And I am sure by agreement this issue was then picked up by the military
representatives there who stated what their requirements were and that
authority was needed to establish import
quotas to assist in the stabilization of American oil and its availability
for the military. When
all of this had concluded, Secretary Sawyer said he also thought this
delegation of executive
authority was a good idea. The President then turned to me and said,
"Mr. Morison, as the head
of the Antitrust Division, and speaking for the Attorney General, I'd
like your views about this."
I thanked him and stated about as follows: "Well, Mr. President, to put
it bluntly, I think this suggested program is not only wrong, but
an outrage to our citizens. This oil policy setup that was authorized
by Congress and established in World War II might have been a necessary
instrumentality to see that we had enough domestic oil reserves to sustain
our naval vessels, our
planes, tanks and all the rest, and also to supply oil to Hawaii and
oil to Europe, and to
retain enough oil reserves in the United States
for the domestic needs of the country. But," I said, "now that the war
is over, there is no justification for quota limits on all imports. Oil,
like any other commodity, should be free of any restraint in seeking its
level of price based upon the worldwide supply available for import. The
proposals for you to authorize such quotas would mean the end of any competition
in the price of oil and oil products." I further said, "Mr. President,
it's often forgotten, but after the Harding administration and the Elk
Hills oil deals of Secretary [Albert] Fall, a quiet arrangement and agreement
was made, sparked by the major U.S. oil companies, for the oil producing
states using as the example the establishment of the Navy's Elk Hill oil
reserve, that each of these states enact laws to provide that an official
appointment by their Governors be responsible for oil and oil production
in such states and be
empowered to limit production of oil. Subsequently these states joined
in establishing an interstate oil compact to limit the amount of oil extracted
by each state. That plan was the creation of the major oil companies and
has persisted ever since except during the war. Annually these State Commissioners
meet and fix quotas as to how much oil should be extracted in each state
on the theory that such limitations are necessary in order to be sure
that the Nation will have enough oil in reserve to defend the United States
in time of war, etc." I pointed out that during the war, if that arrangement
had operated properly, then there would have been unlimited production
for the defense of the United States. But there was not full production
in our oil states. Thus, had it not been for the oil wells at Maricaibo
in Venezuela, we would have never been able to support our war efforts
in western Europe and in
the Pacific. I stated that "The interstate oil compact, in my opinion,
was established to keep the price of oil up and to avoid price competition
that the free importation of foreign oil would make possible and that
the taxpayers then and now who are consumers of oil and oil products have
been paying through the nose." As head of the Antitrust Division of the
Department of Justice, I concluded that these proposals, if authorized,
would be in direct violation of the antitrust laws. I have no doubt that
if the Department of Justice made a Grand Jury investigation, we will
find that the major American oil companies, the British Petroleum Corporation,
which is a Government-owned facility, the Shell group in Holland and the
other major oil companies, all of which are international in scope and
which include all of the major oil companies in America, that there is
a combination and conspiracy to limit
production and maintain a non-competitive price, and this proposal you
are asked to approve would support the high dividends of all those companies
at the expense of the consumer. We are supporting them in the limitation
of availability of oil which is the prime factor as to a competitive price.
In truth there is no competition in oil and oil products. I concluded
by stating, "Mr. President, for the reasons stated, I oppose .this program.
I think it is contrary to law and the public interest."
Well, Chapman interrupted to say, "Oh, this is not so," and so forth.
But, the President quickly ended further debate when he said, "Now, Oscar,
just wait a minute." Then he said, "Morison, I fully agree with your position
and such authority will not be granted."
This really amazed and pleased me -- that the
President would be so blunt. It took seven months of hard work by the
oil lobby using every pressure available to turn the President away from
this position so as to at least get some limitation on oil imports. But
for the President of the United States -- his stand called for the greatest
amount of fortitude to "buck" the most powerful lobby that exists
in our country.
HESS: How did they turn him around?
MORISON: I do not know the details after that because I was so deeply
involved in getting antitrust suits filed that had been lying "fallow"
in the Antitrust Division "off the gound," including the suit that I filed
against the international oil cartel in the Federal Court in New
York City. After years of litigation that case was lost because the British
petroleum interests plead "sovereign immunity" and would not reveal or
turn over to the Court, its records, which the
Court by law was compelled to sustain. The records of the British Petroleum
Company was the sanctuary where these international agreements were kept.
The British Petroleum Company, being an entity of the British Government,
we could not compel the production of these agreements and had to try
to prove the illegal agreements between all the companies by inference
and not by the actual written agreements we knew were there.
HESS: Why, in your opinion, did Oscar Chapman, as Secretary of Interior,
take the view that he did?
MORISON: I think that, as a political animal, he realized that he had
to "go along" with such a powerful commercial combine or he would jeopardize
his relationship with these giant companies. I thank that he was fearful
of that and felt
compelled to take the position he did. He was not a Harold Ickes. Ickes
made mistakes but he was never afraid to "buck" any business combine.
Oscar was -- as are most Interior Department Secretaries -- a politician.
HESS: Were the political parties tied closely to political contributions
from the oil interest industry?
MORISON: This I don't know. Logic would impel me to have a lot of suspicions
as to this factor, but I have no facts about that.
HESS: What did Secretary Sawyer say at that Cabinet meeting?
MORISON: He just said he approved. His taciturnity might well have had
a relationship to my profound disagreement with him and Federal Trade
Commissioner Lowell Mason and their inspired idea to "sell" to
the President the establishment of a review board on all antitrust complaints.
This, lacking an act of Congress, would not be legal and also it would
have purported to override the judgment of the Attorney General (and his
Assistant in charge of the Antitrust Division), as to whether the department
would bring an antitrust suit or whether the Federal Trade Commission
would handle the complaint, etc. When complaints came in, so I was advised,
it was proposed that no action be taken until a conference was held by
the Secretary of Commerce, the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission
and the Attorney General.
HESS: Do you recall if John Snyder had anything to say at that Cabinet
MORISON: No, as far as I recall, he said nothing but stated that he approved
the oil quota.
HESS: In your opinion, do you think that some of Mr. Truman's Cabinet
members were perhaps too
closely tied to the business community?
MORISON: I then had no opinion one way or another about them, I just
don't know. The only thing I did know, I think was that, for the first
time (possibly for the first time), except through memorandas maybe,
that's being sent to the staff at the White House, I verbally laid out
the guts of the problem, and put it pretty bluntly, and I was not the
favorite man at that meeting I must say.
HESS: Did anyone there speak up, besides the President, who said he agreed
with what you had to say?
MORISON: When he said that, everybody shut up.
HESS: They may have had other views, but no one spoke out after that.
MORISON: No one took exception. No one took exception to what I said.
Apparently I wrecked the plan
at least for awhile. And there was a degree of coolness after the meeting
broke up and we left, which I could expect, you understand, on the part
of some of them.
HESS: Okay, ready to move on?
MORISON: All right.
HESS: We are on page seven of the list I have prepared and our next subject
deals with Mr. Newbold Morris. He was brought in to head a probe of the
Government in 1952. What do you recall of the Newbold Morris episode?
Perhaps we should first say a few words as to why it was felt necessary
to have an investigation of the Government at that time.
MORISON: We were approaching a presidential election year, and this always
generates, usually in the Congress, attacks on the incumbent administration,
trying to find some way of achieving newspaper notoriety to discredit
the executive department. And the most useful one, of course, is to make
a charge that there has been fraud, favoritism, breach of official duty
and so forth.
For the life of me I can't remember all the details, but I think at about
that time was when the President fired Lamar Caudle, Assistant Attorney
General in charge of the Tax Division.
HESS: That's right.
MORISON: And I think this was seized upon as the center of a controversy
in which there was a demand for a clean sweep and there should be a full
investigation not only of the Department of Justice, but other departments
of the executive department, other agencies of the executive department
as to alleged improprieties. I am not privy to why, or who selected Newbold
but I'm sure others in the White House will know. This idea I'm sure
was brought to the attention of Attorney General McGrath, and that he
may have had conversations about it.
HESS: How did Morris and McGrath seem to get along in the first few days
of Morris' investigation?
MORISON: Well, I had briefed McGrath on Newbold Morris, because I had
known him in New York. He was a socialite, with money, and had been a
member of the City Council. He very much wanted to be mayor, and he was
looking for some opportunity (he was classified as an independent), some
opportunity to get enough notoriety somewhere that would give him
the basis for running for mayor.
HESS: Hadn't he at one time ran a similar investigation in New York City
or in New York State?
MORISON: I recall that he had headed an investigation of Tammany Hall
and its members and the relationship of its chief [Carmine G.] DeSapio
to city paving and other public works.
In any event, through a number of friends that I had in New York, one
who was a very wealthy man, who had been a member of the City Council
under LaGuardia and whose daughter married a classmate of mine, he had
expressed a very low regard for Newbold Morris as a man, and considered
him to be a man who had no real dedication to the public interest but
sought publicity for political purposes. Newbold Morris had no great following.
He had made a lot of noise, but had not been a stellar performer in the
city government of New York.
HESS: Had you met him in New York?
MORISON Oh, yes, I had met him, but we had never
been close enough to be friends, I had just met him. In any event I tried
to brief McGrath something about his background, and suggested to him
that he do a lot of listening and to welcome his advice, and then after
giving him full access to the Department I suggested that one of the staff
members in the Attorney General's office accompany Morris, to assist him
and so forth and to keep tabs on his interviews and press conferences.
HESS: Who was that, do you recall?
MORISON: For the life of me I cannot recall now who it was.
HESS: Do you recall why the decision was made to place this operation
in the Department of Justice? He was made Special Assistant
to the Attorney General and he was given office space there.
MORISON: I think the idea was that it had to be an operation, a legal
operation of investigation and that Morris should have a free hand, without
the need of subpoena to investigate, and to question and so forth, and
to make any recommendations to the President that he thought ought
to be done, this was the initial thing.
During this period, prior to Morris' coming, and because I had an affection
for McGrath, I had prepared as many as five memoranda stating to him the
internal problems that I saw developing, which in a presidential year,
were things that might cause difficulty and how I thought he should rectify
HESS: Do you recall what those problems were?
MORISON: No, I do not. But I remember working at home, late at night,
trying to prepare these things and submitting them to him, but he never
took any action on them nor did he call me.
On one occasion I came up the elevator and just went into his office
and he said, "I thank you for what you are doing," and that was it. He
didn't want to discuss it for some reason.
In any event, I was desperately busy at that time with some very mean
antitrust cases, and I had little or no time to really get into the middle
of this, and he didn't assign me any job. He said, "You're busy
enough with your antitrust, and," he said, "it's important." But it finally
got to a point that, at least in an oral conference with the Attorney
General, Morris in the style that I had anticipated told McGrath that
he would, made extensive demands which were just nonsensical.
HESS: What were his demands?
MORISON: Oh, he wanted every person, whether civil servant or appointment
under presidential authority, in the executive department, to file with
Internal Revenue Service, the Attorney General of the United States,
and in a public register to be maintained for the inspection of the public,
all of their sources of income, other than their Government pay.
HESS: That had to do with his questionnaire. Did you ever see Newbold
MORISON: I saw it. I saw it, and of course, it was...
HESS: We have a copy here.
MORISON: It was outrageous. Let's assume that there were four or five
rotten apples in a barrel, if you think of the barrel as a whole total
of all civil servants and appointed officials in the various agencies
and departments of the executive department, which were embraced, depending
upon what they were earning, this would have been an
outrageous invasion of privacy, this would have made everyone per
se suspect. And it was just administratively impossible,
it was under any reasonable conclusion, an impossible burden to impose
for what they were attempting to do. On truth, it was sound and fury meaning
HESS: One of the people that Mr. Morris brought with him was Mr. Harold
Seidman. Did you ever meet him?
MORISON: I had met Seidman, but didn't know him.
HESS: You met him at this time?
MORISON: Yes. This is the document that I recall.
HESS: That's right, fifteen pages...
MORISON: This goes to the present day proposition of snooping into the
privacy of the individual, which is now being raised by the knowledge
that banks are turning over to the FBI and agencies
of the Government the checks and records of deposits of bank accounts
of citizens. This is the kind of nonsense that was involved.
HESS: On February the 4th Morris announced that the Justice Department
would be the first agency probed. Do you recall that?
MORISON: Yes. We gave him a full and free hand. He never came
to the Antitrust Division.
I might say that he never talked to anybody in the Division because
I sent out word that I wanted to know (because I knew that this man wouldn't
come to me) if Morris, or his agents, came in to interview anybody in
the Antitrust Division, I wanted to be notified immediately to be on hand,
because these were my people and I felt an obligation to be present.
This was a great administrative mistake. Morris was not a man
seeking to do a dispassionate
job of investigation and recommendation, he was there to make Newbold
Morris a household name. It resulted in his being fired, he had
to be fired.
HESS: How did that come about, how was that decision arrived at to fire
MORISON: This I do not know,. except that I think from all departments
and department heads, the same problem that I have mentioned as to my
reaction to this, that this was a surrender of the executive department
to a non-governmental investigation of the operations of the executive
department of the United States, which would be publicized and made use
of to the detriment and damage of a multitude of faceless civil servants
in the higher brackets. And the whole panoply of career people who were
objecting, saying, "Damned if I will sign this thing. I'm not going to
make this out,
it's none of his business. It's nobody's business but my own."
HESS: Did McGrath fire Morris?
MORISON: No. Now this I'm not certain, whether the direction for it to
be done came from the White House. I'm reasonably confident that's so.
That they had come to realize not only from Justice, but from all of the
other departments of the executive department, you see, that there was
a genuine sense of outrage.
HESS: You say White House; do you think that President Truman thought
he should be fired?
MORISON: I have no actual knowledge one way or another. I'm sure that
if it was done, it was done with his approval.
HESS: In his press conference on April the 3rd. (that was the day that
Attorney General McGrath
resigned), the President was asked if Morris was fired with his knowledge,
with the President's knowledge, and Mr. Truman's answer was, "I saw it
in the paper. It was under discussion, but I wasn't consulted when it
MORISON: Well, the details of this I don't know. I'm sure that Charlie
Murphy will be able to tell you precisely what it is. Mind you now, I
didn't have the closeness of relationship with McGrath -- if I had been
his executive assistant I would have been in on all of this. I only came
in as a friend. I mean I was up to my ears going forward with antitrust.
This was a nonsensical thing in my view.
HESS: A11 right. How was the handling of the Morris matter tied up with
the resignation of Howard McGrath?
MORISON: Well, I think it was the start for there
was unfavorable publicity and editorials about the dismissal.
It was a very unusual thing. McGrath with such a magnificent record,
so well-regarded and respected by all, he just had an inertia about taking
any drastic steps, except the one -- as I said, if I came up with an antitrust
request for a Grand Jury, seeking to indict criminally under the antitrust
laws, or a civil action, laid it out, he just said, "Show me where to
sign." He never questioned my judgment, and he would defend it when it
But he was not an activist as an Attorney General. He had fewer conferences
than was usual in the past. Attorney General Clark was one that maintained
these, and during the interim, the Acting Attorney General, Phil Perlman,
who was Solicitor General. We would all convene and discuss the problems
of every department so that the acting, or the Attorney General, would
of what was going on. We tried to keep it briefly only to mention important,
significant things, but McGrath did not have those conferences. On one
occasion or a couple of occasions he had a dinner for all of the assistants
and their wives, but that was social.
HESS: Would you rate his administrative ability somewhat lower than Tom
MORISON: He had the administrative ability, but he didn't have the zeal
to do it for some reason, because I had seen him when he operated under
two hats, as chairman of the Democratic National Committee and as Senator
from Rhode Island. And I know that even though he was not a scholar the
lawyers on the staff of the Solicitor General -- and you've got an elite
corps in the staff of the Solicitor General's office, when he occupied
that position, they had a high regard for him,
because he had a quick mind, and the view often expressed was, he wanted
to keep things quiet in anticipation that before Truman -- before the
end of the year, he felt that Truman would not run, that...
HESS: He did not think President Truman would run in '52?
MORISON: He didn't think so because he was privy to the fact that Truman
opposed any third term and he considered even though he only had part
of the first year of...
HESS: He had almost all of Roosevelt's fourth term.
MORISON: That's right, but this was his thinking, but the principle was
still there, it deteriorated, the party had deteriorated, the executive
department needed new blood. But he expected that a Supreme Court justice
(now I've forgot which member) would resign from the Supreme Court and
that he would be appointed to the vacancy. Oh, I know who it was, Murphy,
that he would be appointed as the Catholic member of the Court, that was
the kind of, you know, they made a division and this was what he was hoping
for and waiting for and therefore he kept a low profile, but it worked
against him. Now, whatever may have happened, I am quite certain that
Charlie Murphy or some of the others can fill in the details. I just can't
believe but that the Attorney General at least had said, if not to the
President, at least to the staff people in the White House, "Look, however
well-intentioned this may be, this is a 'Wrong way Corrigan,' and if I
was requested and did ask Mr. Morris to come down there, then presumably
I've got a right if I don't like what he's doing to get rid of him, and
I propose to do it." Now if that was conveyed to the President or not
don't know. But knowing Howard McGrath
HESS: But was Morris brought in by someone else?
MORISON: Well, he was suggested, and the suggestion evidently emanated
from the White House to McGrath, and McGrath said, "I'll take anybody
you want." He didn't know anything about Newbold Morris, and then I boned
him up on Morris. But now I'm speculating on this, Jerry.
HESS: Okay, on April the 2nd, that was the day before the resignation...
HESS: ...the President was at the National Airport to welcome Queen Juliana
of the Netherlands, and it was reported in the press. There were photographers
there, they were not close enough to the official welcoming party to hear
what was said, but it seemed like there was an argument
going on between President Truman and J. Howard McGrath. This was the
day before the resignation. Have you ever heard what was being discussed
at National Airport, was it Newbold Morris?
MORISON: No. No, I do not. I know nothing of the details and I never
felt that I should intrude upon Howard McGrath to ask him. I was the first
one there, and then Perlman, to commiserate with him, and shortly after
that I arranged a dinner at my home for him and invited all of the assistants.
HESS: Just after his resignation?
MORISON: Within ten days after that. I invited J. Edgar Hoover and he
said he would come. And he sent out, for three days, FBI men going all
over that back country roads to see the route, the timing and everything,
and scared my wife to death, but he didn't show up.
HESS: What seemed to be Mr. McGrath's attitude the night of your party?
MORISON: One of fortitude and jocularity and, you know, saying that this
is the best antidote for a pretty heavy blow that I could have that I
have the confidence of you people who are my assistants, who really carry
the burden of the Department. And I have no animus about the President's
action, he's President of the United States, and I think it's unfortunate,
but that's neither here nor there, that's his prerogative. Let's be clear,
I have no bitterness about it and you must not have any bitterness about
it, and you must carry on that department, and he spoke to Phil, and said,
"Phil, you have these actions, and you can do it. You've got all of the
qualities of a good Attorney General acting until, the President appoints
one. I want all of you to, get a tight grip."
HESS: The President had already appointed McGrath's replacement.
MORISON: No, no, no, no. No, there was an interlude there. There was
an interlude in that time, before he came in...
HESS: There may have been an interlude in the time between when he was
appointed and when he came to town, but in the same press conference,
in the same paragraph practically, when Mr. Truman announced the resignation
he also announced McGranery's appointment.
MORISON: Well, you see, what had happened was, if my recollection serves
me right, in the first week of April this had been conveyed to McGrath,
probably by the President, McGrath went to the
White House and when he came back and told us. But it was not announced
until a day or so after that. In the interim and the moment he left, got
his papers and left, Phil Perlman moved over there as "Acting Attorney
General" and I had my dinner. Now by that time I think that the announcement
may have been made. But McGranery's nomination was not confirmed for several
weeks -- and he was not confirmed until late in May.
HESS: I have heard that Charles Murphy, your law partner, early can the
morning of April the 3rd, the same day as the press conference, was assigned
to go from the White House to the Justice Department and relay the message
to Mr. McGrath that his resignation was requested.
MORISON: That may be so, that may be so.
HESS: Have you ever heard Mr. Murphy make any comments on that?
MORISON: No, I've never discussed it with Charlie, but if he says it
is so, you can be sure it's right.
In any event, these are the sequence of events that I recall.
HESS: All right.
MORISON: I remember most particularly that dinner, and -- of course,
this blow was one, although he, Howard McGrath, maintained his outward
Irish pleasantry and outgoing character. It did him in, and it eventually
killed him, he just couldn't take it. He started the practice of law here.
HESS: That was the last major office that he held here in town, wasn't
it, before he moved back to Rhode Island?
MORISON: Well, he stayed here quite awhile, had a law office. Peyton
Ford was with him for awhile, and a couple of others. I would see him
as I could, but after I resigned there were far and few occasions when
I could arrange to see him. He no longer attended the dinners they used
to have at the Armory for the Democratic National Committee, or took any
part in things, it was a great tragedy.
HESS: Previously we have discussed Mr. McGranery. He came in in April
of '52, and I believe you left in June of '52.
MORISON: That's right. I have explained that his wife sat on his right
hand, and she was the determined hatchet woman and last word.
I had been trying to resign, you understand, from the Department after
the second John Lewis case, and as long as President Truman would get
on my blind side, I could never say no to him. I would have been happy
to resign, but I wasn't going to give up, because I knew of the McCarran
incident, which I have related to you, in which he said to McGranery,
"I'm the only guy that can get you confirmed."
HESS: To McGranery.
MORISON: Right, because the Pennsylvania delegation was just bitterly
opposed to McGranery. I had obtained for him this judgeship to get him
off their back, and out of twenty-seven opinions that he wrote, that went
up, three-fourths of them were reversed, and every Saturday he was down
here at the White House, and I knew that
HESS: That was during the time that he was U.S. District judge for the
eastern district of Pennsylvania.
MORISON: Yes. I knew that he came down here and sat outside the President's
office every weekend
and Rowena came with him, and how it occurred (Matt Connelly told me
that), and that he was determined that he had to pay back McCarran by
doing what he said, which was dismiss the RCA case and many other cases.
Well, it had gone to a point where it couldn't be dismissed. As to the
Dollar Steamship case I no longer had anything to do with; for it was
in the Civil Division the international oil cartel case, and there were
a couple of others. And he would call me to his office with Mrs. McGranery
there and say, "What about this case?" And say to me, "I don't think you've
got a case."
I said, "Well, Mr. Attorney General, I of course appreciate your view,
you've just come here, I'm sure you haven't gone over the records," but
in spite all the toughness that his wife was trying to instill in him
he didn't quite have the guts to direct me to dismiss these
HESS: Was she present most of the time?
MORISON: Most of the time. She would get up and leave, but she was there
when I came in, and maybe she'd say, "Excuse me for a minute."
HESS: Sort of in and out?
MORISON: So I pretty well began to see what was happening, and one of
the assistants came to me and said that he was persuaded that McGranery
was going to fire me. I was too much of an activist (I didn't tell him
about the other thing, about what I knew, that there were others he was
going to fire). And so before I got ready on that Saturday to go over
and turn my resignation in, I submitted plenary documentation on every
one of these cases, with underlinings to the citations of law of
the facts known, and said, "Mr. Attorney General, it is
conscience that will be bothered in trying to see that justice is done
in the United States as required by law. I hope your successor will equate
to this and take the action that properly should be taken."
HESS: How did you know about the conditions that Pat McCarran had told
McGranery that he would have to make to receive his support?
MORISON: A man who was one of the chief staff members of the Senate
Judiciary Committee became a good friend of mine. He had been in the Marine
Corps, as I was, and I'd ran through the Judiciary Committee many nominees
-- like getting Ed Tamm, who set the record straight for Edgar Hoover
as to Tom Clark's orders as to that Kansas City thing, on the bench and
many others. This senior staff man had been most helpful and useful to
me in the past. We were friends. He called
me and asked me to come up and have lunch with him, and I went out with
him, didn't go to the dining room there in the Senate building, we went
outside and he told me what he knew.
HESS: So that's how you found out?
MORISON: That's it.
HESS: All right, now moving on, although you had left the Government
by the time the political events of '52 got underway, the convention and
the campaign, let's just say a few words about them anyway. Now you have
mentioned that Mr. Truman did not want to run for a third term because
he felt it would be violating the spirit of the Constitution if not the
MORISON: That discussion came up when I wouldn't let Tom Clark send up
the first request for nomination as Assistant Attorney General of the
Civil Division, until I could tell the President about my participation,
my feeling for the third term, that is. This issue had stuck in my craw,