Harold Ickes Offers to Resign (11-7-40)

The Pittsburgh Press (November 7, 1940)


Follows Custom to Give Roosevelt Free Hand

Washington, Nov. 7 –

Secretary of Interior Harold L. Ickes said today that, following custom, he had rendered his resignation to President Roosevelt to allow the Chief Executive a free hand in appointing a new Cabinet.

Mr. Ickes said at a press conference:

My resignation is at the White House. This is customary and I did it four years ago.

…The President has a mighty task before him. My resignation was made in good faith.

Mr. Ickes said he did not know whether other cabinet officers would follow his example.

Silent on Willkie

Asked if he favored the suggestion that Wendell L. Willkie be included in the Cabinet, Mr. Ickes replied:

I am not going to offer public suggestions to President Roosevelt on that.

He handed reporters the following statement:

Today, through the correspondents at this press conference, I wish to address a friendly inquiry and also an invitation to the newspaper publishers of this nation.

We have just come through a great presidential campaign with the result that you know now. During the campaign, much was said of the function of a free press in a democracy. Now we find, according to Editor & Publisher, a trade paper, that eight years ago, our citizens elected a President who was supported by only 40% of our daily press.

Percentage Decreases

Four years ago, we elected a President who was supported by only 36% of the press. Last Tuesday, we elected a President who was supported by less than 23% of our daily press.

This reveals an unprecedented and progressively perilous situation requiring public consideration. Although we are fortunate in having free communication over the air, I am convinced that our democracy needs, more than ever, a truly free press that represents no class or economic group and that will re-win the confidence of our citizens because it is worthy of re-winning that confidence.

As the heat of political controversy dies, and the wounds of strife heal and we seek national unity in this crowded hour of our history, there comes a great opportunity to our publishers to meet this challenge.

I commend the situation to them for calm self-examination. I invite them, through their columns, to comment.

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