June 2, 1941-November 30, 1941
This portion of the correspondence, when Stimson was in the thick of administering a very sensitive department at a very sensitive time, reveals his efforts to further his strong pro-British views under the existing legal limitations. Following Germany's invasion of Russia in June, 1941, he sent Roosevelt a series of letters (June 23, July 3, 8) all substantially urging Roosevelt to go to Congress and get greater aid for "those free nations who are still fighting for freedom." A handwritten letter by Stimson to Roosevelt on Atlantic naval strategy (June 19) is in this reel, but was not delivered. The ongoing business of the War Department is displayed in the reports on new radio and radar equipment, orders for bomb sights, and memoranda on the distribution of planes to England, the United States and Russia.
On September 2 Stimson invited Grenville Clark, a New York lawyer and an old friend, to become his advisor in the War Department at a nominal salary. Clark, who was on intimate terms with high Washington officials, had been actively promoting the interventionist cause. Stimson's personal correspondence reveals similar loyalties to other long-standing friends C.C. Burlingham, Gifford Pinchot, J.S. Muirhead, and A. Phimister Procter. His attachments also included political allegiances, and on October 14 he sent a brief statement and a contribution to the re-election campaign of Fiorello H. LaGuardia. Also on this reel are letters from Chiang Kai-shek, Henry Luce, Felix Frankfurter, Clarence Streit and Henry Morganthau, Jr.
December 1941-May 29, 1942
During this first half year following the United States' entry into war, Stimson's mail was marked by an avalanche of letters from individuals asking for special favors in connection with enlistment or for Stimson's intervention in some private difficulty. Charles A. Lindbergh's attempt to enter the air force is recorded here with interesting documentation between December 31 and January 13. One week after Pearl Harbor, the President began to assemble a committee to investigate the attack, and on December 16 Stimson sent him his suggestions. The reel also includes a report on April 1 from General D.S. Wilson on a visit to Hawaii and the West Coast, and two long handwritten letters from General Joseph W. Stilwell from Burma (March 23, May 25). On home front issues, Stimson wrote to Roosevelt on January 7 and May 18 about arms production, on April 12 about the development of the air forces, and on January 29 about army morale. In a letter to Alfred E. Stearns (January 30), he outlined his views on Negroes in the army. The problems of hemispheric defense are taken up in memoranda of March 6 and April 8, although the Panama Canal is considered separately in a letter to Roosevelt (March 14). There are also exchanges with Douglas MacArthur, Harry Hopkins, and George S. Patton, Jr. A long letter from Fiorello LaGuardia on military policy was enclosed in a letter from C.C. Burlingham (April 25).
June 1942-December 31, 1942
Against a background of a world at war, Stimson's life at this point is identified with his office. Word from the Far East included two long memoranda from Joseph Stilwell (June 27, October 6) appraising the Chinese situation. Another long letter on China came from H.H. Kung in Chungking. Patrick Hurley, the newly appointed minister to New Zealand, wrote on June 3 about Douglas MacArthur. A memorandum in November and two letters in December from George Patton, Jr. describe the surrender of the Vichy French forces holding North Africa. The main issue on the home front during this period was manpower. Stimson wrote to the president and to George C. Marshall on this question in October and November when he was preparing to testify before the Senate Military Affairs Committee on their pending manpower bills. The Japanese evacuation from the West Coast and the use of their labor power raised political problems that Stimson discussed in a letter to Roosevelt on July 6. On September 21 Stimson celebrated his 75th birthday, and the list of well-wishers ran to six typed pages. There are also letters in this reel from Winston Churchill, Felix Frankfurter, Carlos P. Romulo, and a report from the Chinese American Institute of Cultural Relations.
January 1943-July 31, 1943
During the first half of 1943 the controversy over how to supply manpower for both the army and the war industries crystallized around the Austin-Wadsworth manpower bill. Stimson, supporting the bill, wrote a letter that was published in the Washington Star on February 23, and sent a detailed argument to the president on July 1. In March and April the question of a civilian administrator for North Africa led to an acrimonious three-cornered correspondence over Fiorello H. LaGuardia among President Roosevelt, Stimson and C.C. Burlingham. This exchange includes the copy of a letter from LaGuardia to Burlingham. George Patton, then in North Africa, sent Stimson his appraisal of the military situation on February 28, and General Lawrence Kuter reported in May. Joseph Stilwell in the Far East sent Stimson long handwritten reports, one on March 21 and another in July following a visit to Washington. Shortly after the Attu landing in the Aleutians, Stimson received a detailed report and evaluation of the event, dated June 2. In the latter half of July Stimson went to England and to North Africa, with a stop-over to inspect bases in Iceland. Five handwritten letters to his wife summarize the major events. Included also is a letter from Churchill to Stimson on his departure from England with Churchill's proposals for Allied military strategy. There is also correspondence with Walter Lippmann, Winthrop Aldrich, Douglas MacArthur, George C. Marshall, William Bullitt and Herbert Hoover..
August 1, 1943-January 31, 1944
The incident of General George Patton slapping a soldier in a hospital on August 8, 1943, caused a sufficient uproar for the general to send Stimson his own account on November 27. Further correspondence on this event with Patton, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and others appears in November and December. The projected Allied cross-channel invasion was, at this time, in the making under the code name Overlord, and Stimson sent Roosevelt long memoranda in August, September and November outlining military and political considerations. On December 2 John J. McCloy, in North Africa, sent Stimson a summary of the debate on the invasion at the Teheran Conference. Stimson advocated an American, preferably George C. Marshall, as the supreme commander for the operation and wrote this frankly in his letter to General Eisenhower on December 24 when he congratulated him on his appointment. Correspondents from many fronts reported informally to Stimson. From North Africa Patton sent snapshots of captured German weapons and scenes of fighting (September 7, 27). From New Delhi Joseph Stilwell wrote in longhand on the Chinese army and his frustrating relations with Chiang Kai-shek (October 12). At home, Stimson canvassed the Italian situation with Roosevelt in September and October. In October he wired Douglas MacArthur for advice on political tactics in the Philippines. Other correspondents in this reel include Felix Frankfurter, Herbert Hoover, Bernard Baruch and Grenville Clark..
February 1944-May 14, 1944
The preparations for the invasion which were actually dominating Stimson's activities in this period appear only fleetingly in the correspondence. In March he sent John J. McCloy on an inspection trip, and his report is in this reel (April 8). By May Stimson was thinking ahead to a possible winter stalemate and wrote to George C. Marshall about military reserves. Projecting even further into the future is a memorandum from Vannevar Bush (February 24) on the S-1 program, the code name for the atom bomb. George Patton once again attracted attention with a tactless speech in London, and Stimson reprimanded him in a letter of May 5, a position backed Dwight D. Eisenhower and accepted by Patton in a letter of May 13. Italian politics were reopened by a long memorandum from Count Dino Grandi, then in Lisbon, to Stimson recounting his own political history. On April 22 Stimson commended Grandi to Cordell Hull. In his personal life Stimson suffered a blow in the death of his sister Candace on February 9. The succeeding week are filled with letters of condolence, both personal and official. His reappointment to the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague (February 22) was clouded by the discovery that one of his American fellow judges had a "shady" character. In a letter of March 27, Stimson asked the attorney general to investigate this.
May 15, 1944-September 30, 1944
With the successful advance of Allied forces in Europe, Stimson made a flying trip to North Africa, Italy, England and France in July. His letters to his wife between July 2 and 16 record the major events. The increasing confidence in victory, however, began to threaten war production in the United States, and this problem is discussed by Robert F. Patterson (July 21). Stimson's personal correspondents from abroad provided vivid accounts of various theaters of operation. Nelson Trusler Johnson reported from New Guinea on June 7. W. H. S. Wright wrote on June 17 and July 8 with an eye-witness account of the invasion and again on September 13 about German prisoners of war. On August 16 George Patton wrote and sent a photograph describing the capture of the German General Spang. Postwar policies toward Germany were warmly debated in cabinet meetings. During September Stimson sent Roosevelt four memoranda outlining his views. Also included in this reel is an elaborate parody of the Morgenthau Plan (September 19). The role of Fiorello H. LaGuardia as a civilian administrator in conquered territory was also discussed in memoranda during September. In connection with the congressional investigation of Pearl Harbor, Harvey Bundy prepared a memorandum for Stimson showing the War Department's role in developing radar.
October 2, 1944-January 31, 1945
Although the war was not yet won, the problems of administering conquered territory began to enter the deliberations of the War Department. In October the possibility of using Fiorello H. LaGuardia was discussed and later in the month both Roosevelt and George C. Marshall wrote to Stimson about "making MacArthur High Commissioner to the Philippines." In December John J. McCloy opposed naming Anna Rosenberg to the projected Control Commission for Germany arguing that a civilian would not be sufficiently authoritative in German eyes. A postwar United Nations was discussed by Grenville Clark in October and by Stimson (January 23) in a long memorandum to Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., the secretary of state. Stimson continued to receive informal reports from Europe in letters from George Patton (December 9 and January 10), and another from Omar Bradley on December 31 appraising the German advance in the Battle of the Bulge. At home the issue of the National Service Act remained controversial. Grenville Clark sent memoranda in December, and on January 11 Robert P. Patterson discussed it further. On the same date Roosevelt sent Stimson for comment a draft of his message to Congress advocating passage of the act.
February 1, 1945-June 30, 1945
The war was being pressed forward on both fronts and letters and photographs from George Patton in February, March and April graphically illustrate the progress in Europe. From the Pacific Stimson received a letter from General A.D. Bruce showing the raising of the American flag over Ie Shima (April 26), while a correspondent in the Philippines discussed the problems that followed in the wake of liberation (February 16). The death of President Roosevelt on April 12 is reflected in the correspondence in only a few references, but there is a handwritten draft of a letter of condolence from Stimson to Eleanor Roosevelt. V-E Day on May 8 was marked by a mass of congratulatory messages and was followed by discussions of the problems of reconstruction. Herbert Hoover wrote repeatedly on the question of food relief in liberated countries (May 7, 14, 30 and June 9). The disposition of the Nazi war criminals took on a practical significance with the appointment of Robert H. Jackson as United States chief counsel for the prosecution of Axis criminality. On June 25 Stimson wrote Jackson approving the text of his indictment. Winning the war in Japan became the next prime target of the War Department and on May 16 Stimson wrote President Truman with his proposals on Japan as well as on European rehabilitation. Other aspects were discussed by Joseph C. Grew (June 26) and John J. McCloy (June 29). Correspondents during this period include Grenville Clark, Bernard Baruch, and the Cornell Medical College.
July 1, 1945-September 30, 1945
The Potsdam Conference in July brought Stimson to Berlin. Although he did not sit in on the meetings, he was called upon by President Truman both for written policy papers and for informal conferences. Two of these papers are in this reel: one on the war with Japan (July 16) and another on European rehabilitation (July 22). Four handwritten letters to his wife describe the atmosphere of the meetings. The dropping of the atom bomb in August and the surrender of Japan permitted Stimson to offer his resignation on September 1. The last official papers for this period are reports on cabinet meetings (August 17 and 31) and a memorandum from Stimson to Truman (September 11) on sharing the bomb with the Russians. After that, Stimson was concerned with winding up his affairs, and considering the award of medals and commendations to his staff. Stimson's last day in office, September 21, 1945, coincided with his 78th birthday. During the remainder of the month messages of good wishes on both these events filled the mail. Included are newspaper clippings from all over the country and an excerpt from a broadcast by Raymond Swing on September 19, 1945. Many publishers also wrote to solicit his biography or memoirs.
October 1, 1945-December 31, 1945
Stimson's retirement to his Long Island farm got off to a grim start; on October 26 he suffered a coronary occlusion. The correspondence of this period includes many letters from friends and associates who continued to keep him informed on official business. Robert P. Patterson, secretary of war, sent bulletins on the department in October and November. General N.H. Arnold wrote from the Far East enclosing maps and one hundred photos of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the atomic bomb (October 26). Despite his close confinement, Stimson maintained an active correspondence on both business and personal matters. During October and November he was in touch with Vannevar Bush on the question of international control of atomic energy. In November he wrote to George C. Marshall who was preparing to go off to China offering his appraisal of the Chinese situation. The pending nomination of an American candidate to the Permanent Court of International Justice brought Stimson some forty letters from advocates of Manley O. Hudson. But, having consulted with Cordell Hull (November 30, December 3, 14), on December 18 Stimson wrote Hull that he would nominate G.H. Hackworth. Numerous organizations continued to solicit him for his name or his presence, and in November his political life was popularized in a radio series called "One Man's Destiny." The script, filmed in this reel, was sent to Stimson on November 29. In the same month, The American Council on Public Affairs printed 50,000 copies of Prelude to Invasion, a compilation of his War Department press releases, for distribution in Germany.
January 1946-July 31, 1946
In February, 1946, Stimson resumed his law practice with his old firm. He was besieged during this time by publishers, and although chary of public utterances, he did publish an article, "The Bomb and the Opportunity" in the February issue of Harper's Magazine. In June he decided to engage McGeorge Bundy to work with him in the preparation of a biography, with Harper and Brothers as publishers. The issue of civilian versus military control of atomic energy, then under congressional consideration, dominated Washington politics, and Stimson received first hand reports from his friends: in March from Robert P. Patterson and Dean Acheson, and on June 2, from Leslie Groves who sent the public report of the Manhattan project. At the same time his Washington friends solicited his support on controversial issues. On March 28 he sent an equivocal telegram on bomb control, wrote Patterson on May 13 on the move toward "a single department of Common Defense," and issued a statement of congratulation on June 14 on Philippine independence. He also corresponded with Robert H. Jackson on the Nuremberg Trials (May 13, June 5, July 25). Other correspondents are Lord Halifax, Gifford Pinchot, Felix Frankfurter, C.C. Burlingham, Luther Evans and Bernard Baruch.
August 1946-February 14, 1947
In his retirement Stimson turned to retelling the past, working systematically with McGeorge Bundy on the arrangement of his papers and his biography. The dropping of the atom bomb remained a significant public issue, and Stimson, as the principal actor in that drama, was called upon to speak. In an exchange with Senator Kenneth McKellar (September 9, 16), Stimson corrected McKellar's false memory of participating in the meeting at which the existence of the atom bomb project was first disclosed. While preparing an article on the bomb for Harper's, Stimson drew on important official sources. Two letters from President Truman (November 13 and December 31) give a schematic outline of the history of the decision to use the bomb, while Robert Patterson wrote on November 10 on how targets were chosen for the bombings. Rudolph A. Winnacker in the War Department sent Stimson several documents: on internal Japanese politics before surrender and on American and Japanese troop deployment (November 12, 14, 18). The article was released to the press at the end of January and was widely reprinted, bringing in its wake a large number of letters. Hardly less significant than the bomb at this time was the trial of war criminals. In January Stimson published an article in Foreign Affairs on the Nuremberg trial, which also brought many letters of praise. When General Marshall was appointed secretary of state on January 10, Stimson wrote him a confidential letter of advice, citing his own experience. In October he severed his last tie with Washington by giving his estate there, Woodley, to Phillips Academy.
February 15, 1947-August 29, 1947
While largely occupied during this period with pushing his memoirs forward with McGeorge Bundy, Stimson also corresponded in March and April with Robert P. Patterson on a bill for a unified military establishment. On April 21, he sent its proposer, Senator Chan Gurney, a strong statement in its favor. He continued to correspond with George C. Marshall on his new responsibilities as secretary of state and prepared a memorandum (May 19) for a talk with Assistant Secretary J.H. Hildring on the functions of the State Department. During the spring of 1947 Stimson corresponded with Rudolph Winnacker, James J. McCloy and General Marshall on policy toward postwar Germany. On June 4 Stimson sent Marshall a telegram opposing a bill to raise the tariff on wool. He also sent his views on the bill to Truman on June 26, and Truman's reply and veto statement appear in this reel (June 28). In August he submitted another article to Foreign Affairs, this time on American foreign policy toward Russia. His correspondents in this period included Elmer Thomas, Herbert Hoover, Raymond Swing, Herbert Feis, Joseph C. Grew, Cass Canfield and Lord Halifax.
September 1947-December 31, 1947
Stimson's eightieth birthday on September 21 and the publication of his article on Russia in Foreign Affairs brought the usual storm of congratulatory letters. Many organizations, both local and national, continued to solicit his support. Apart from financial contributions to many causes, the only new committee he consented to join was the committee for the Marshall Plan to Aid Europe, for which he accepted the nomination as chairman (October 16, 31). His book, On Active Service, with McGeorge Bundy was nearing completion in these months and Bundy wrote on last minute editorial problems (November 18, December 7, 12). Stimson also concluded arrangements with the Ladies' Home Journal to serialize the book at the beginning of 1948. In November, when Kenneth C. Royall solicited his advice on Japan (November 17, 21), he declined to make more than general comments. Other correspondents in this period were Herbert Hoover, Edward L. Bowles, Harol Ickes, W. Kingsland Macy, and his old Scottish friend J. S. Muirhead to whom Stimson sent a most unguarded letter on December 12 summarizing his postwar views.
January 1948-May 10, 1948
The outpouring of mail that followed the publication of On Active Service in April provides an evocation of Stimson's life in the varied collection of letters from classmates, friends, government officials and associates of many nations and many eras. His Washington friends in high places continued to keep him informed; George C. Marshall on March 11 wrote on State Department relations with Congress, and Kenneth Royall wrote a long confidential "round-up" of War Department problems (April 21). Grenville Clark, who was promoting a policy of détente with Russia, sent Stimson his correspondence with Truman, correcting Truman's reference to a spurious "will of Peter the Great" (March 25). Bruce Bliven also wrote Stimson with his "Plan for Peace with Russia" (March 29). A running correspondence with Henry Luce (January 15, March 31, April 20) discussed their disagreement on Chiang Kai-shek. Eyewitness accounts of events abroad came from General Eugene L. Harrison with impressions of Japan, and from Bertram D. Hulen (May 2) with an account of a revolution in Bogota in April.
May 11, 1948-November 30, 1948
Although Stimson spent most of his time poring over old papers and letters, his friends in Washington continued to consult him. In May, Robert P. Patterson, who was consultant to the Hoover commission investigating the structure of the federal government, wrote Stimson his observations on the executive branch of the government. On November 18 Harvey H. Bundy and James Grafton Rogers sent Stimson their comprehensive report on "government organization for the conduct of foreign affairs." Stimson sent his own observations on the report to Hoover on November 22. On November 26 John J. McCloy sent Stimson his comments on the "reorganization of national defense." A correspondence with George C. Marshall between May and September shows Stimson as an affectionate counselor. In the spirit of a man settling his affairs, Stimson resigned from the Permanent Court of Arbitration in July. He also arranged to leave his papers to Yale University (November 12). On Truman's reelection he wrote him a warm letter of congratulation (November 5) and later in the month (November 24) wrote to an old friend, Thomas Ripley, an account of his feelings about the election and Truman.