Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Ickes, Harold L. (Harold LeClair), 1874-1952; Pauley, Edwin W. (Edwin Wendell), 1903-1981; Hopkins, Harry L. (Harry Lloyd), 1890-1946; Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945; Forrestal, James, 1892-1949; Tobey, Charles William, 1880-1953
Cabinet officers; Presidential advisors; Legislators; Presidential appointments

Longhand Note of President Harry S. Truman, ca. 1946. President's Secretary's Files - Longhand Notes.

[Undated, 1946]

Just a statement of fact in regard to the Ickes-Pauley controversy. Mr. Ickes has a peculiar complex about himself when he speaks of any episode in which he takes a part. In his own mind he is always a hero and he usually manages to twist the facts so as to suit his own dramatic approach to the hero-complex in his own mind.

Time after time I've had him relate incidents to me about his contacts with the late President, with Harry Hopkins and with various other public figures.

A short time after I succeeded to the Presidency Mr. Ickes sent for Mr. Pauley and asked him what my attitude toward the Secretary of the Interior was at that time.

Pauley told him he knew I was friendly. I saw Mr. Ickes frequently both before and after I became President. In the latter part of July or the first part of August he told me he was going to quit. The gossip columnists were giving him some unpleasant moments.

I asked him to stay and assured him that I had no one in mind for the place he held. The conversation got around to Pauley and Mr. Ickes expressed high admiration for him and said that Mr. Pauley had been very helpful to him as petroleum administrator. Mr. Ickes seemed very much relieved that I was not considering Pauley for Sec. of the Interior at that time Pauley was handling reparations for the government and was doing an outstanding piece of work.

Mr. Ickes seemed very happy and very cooperative in the Cabinet. A few weeks ago he was talking to me about other matters and again he expressed a high regard for Mr. Pauley.

Mr. Forestal the Sec. of the Navy came to me one day about six or eight weeks ago and said that he would like very much to have Mr. Pauley as Undersecretary of the Navy, that Mr. Roosevelt had intended to appoint Mr. Pauley to that place when Mr. Bard, the great gentleman then heading that position quit, as he intended to do soon.

I sent Mr. Pauley's name to the Senate over his own protest. He only took the appointment because Sec. Forestal and I urged him to do it.

By the way Mr. Pauley has never discussed oil or land titles or campaign contributions with me and has never asked me to appoint or favor anybody for anything. Two weeks ago Mr. Ickes at a Cabinet meeting told me he had been summoned to appear and testify on Mr. Pauley's nomination. I told him to tell the truth but be as kind as possible to Mr. Pauley.

I said this because I knew his propensity for sensational statements making himself the hero. In his statement at his press conference he made it appear that I had asked him to perjure himself. Quite the contrary I told him to tell the truth.- and I don;'t think he told it. I am reliably informed that he and Sen Toby rehearsed his appearance before the Committee and edited his memo so as to take out the favorable statements in it about Mr. Pauley.

In his statement he left out my admonition to him to tell the truth. Ickes is an honest public servant in his actions but he is not intellectually honest about himself or anyone else if it makes him a hero to distort the truth.

I regret the necessity of having to make this statement-but I want the record straight. Mr. Ickes has tried to ruin an able public servant in Mr. Pauley and I have had to dispense with the service of another able public servant in Mr. Ickes.


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