Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice

    Description

    Franklin D. Roosevelt: Typed Letter Signed as President.
    -January 22, 1941. Washington, D.C. One page. 7" x 9". White House letterhead.
    -To: James Forrestal, Under-Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D.C.
    -Light toning, minor stains, mounting traces on verso, else very good.

    FDR thanks the Secretary for supporting his historic third inauguration as President of the United States. James Vincent Forrestal (1892 -1949) had a laudable record of public service when he became Secretary of the Navy in 1944. His fortunes plummeted, however, following the war. In 1948 the journalist Drew Pearson revealed in his newspaper column that during the 1930s Forrestal had been guilty of tax evasion and share manipulation. Other journalists made claims that he had owned shares in large companies in Nazi Germany and had used his influence to stop the bombing of German cities during the Second World War. Harry S. Truman was unhappy with Forrestal's performance as Secretary of Defense and on March 28, 1949 forced him to resign from office. Soon afterwards, Forrestal, suffering from depression, was admitted to Bethesda Naval Hospital. On May 22, 1949 James Forrestal committed suicide by throwing himself out of a 16th-floor hospital window.


    More Information:

    The extended description below was supplied by the consignor. We are making it available to our web bidders who are interested in more in-depth research and broader historical perspective. Please note that presentation (i.e. framing), lot divisions, and interpretations of condition and content may occasionally differ from our descriptions. Assertions of fact and subjective observations contained in this description represent the opinion of the consignor. These remarks have not been checked for accuracy by Heritage Auctions, and we assume no responsibility for their accuracy; they are offered purely to allow the bidder insight into the way the consignor has viewed the item(s) in question. No right of return or claim of lack of authenticity or provenance based upon this extended description will be granted.

     

    A terrific letter from FDR as President of the United States to then-Under Secretary of the Navy the Honorable James V. Forrestal, dated January 22, 1941 on The White House Washington stationery, thanking the Secretary for his correspondence in support of FDR's historic third inauguration as President of the United States. FDR writes: "Dear Jim:/ Your little note is indeed heart-warming – the kind I truly appreciate./ Sincerest thanks./ As ever yours,/ Franklin D. Roosevelt." James Vincent Forrestal, the son of an Irish immigrant, was born in Matteawan, New York on February 15, 1892. After attending local schools he joined the Matteawan Journal at the age of sixteen. He also worked as a reporter on the Mount Vernon Argus before becoming city editor on the Poughkeepsie News Press. Aware that progress would be slow without a college education, in 1912 he went to Princeton University. Three years later Forrestal left Princeton without getting a degree and went to work for the New York World. In 1916 Forrestal joined the banking firm Dillon, Read & Company as a bond salesman in New York. The following year he moved to Canada where he joined the Royal Flying Corps. By 1918 he qualified as a pilot but did not see active service in the First World War.  After the war Forrestal returned to Dillon, Read & Company. Progress was rapid. He was appointed head of the New York office's sales department and in 1923 was a partner in the firm. Three years later he became Vice President and in 1938, when he was forty-six years old, he became its President. In 1940 Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Forrestal as one of his advisers. His duties included working as a liaison officer between the president, the Treasury Department and other governmental financial agencies. Roosevelt was impressed with Forrestal and in August 1940 he was appointed Under Secretary of the Navy with special responsibility for procurement and production. In 1941 Forrestal went to London to negotiate the Lend-Lease agreement. When William Knox died on April 23, 1944, Forrestal became the new Secretary of the Navy. In this post he visited the Pacific three times and Europe twice and watched the D-Day landings in June, 1944. Forrestal held the post until September, 1947 when he became Secretary of Defense. After the War Forrestal became associated with the campaign against communism. This upset liberals in Washington who still believed it was possible to develop good relations with Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union. In September, 1946 he joined with James F. Byrnes to get Henry Wallace sacked after he made a speech calling for an end to the Cold War. In 1948 the journalist Drew Pearson revealed in his newspaper column that during the 1930s Forrestal had been guilty of tax evasion and share manipulation. Other journalists made claims that Forrestal had owned shares in large companies in Nazi Germany and had used his influence to stop the bombing of German cities during the Second World War. Harry S. Truman was unhappy with Forrestal's performance as Secretary of Defense and on March 28, 1949 forced him to resign from office. Soon afterwards, Forrestal, suffering from depression, was admitted to Bethesda Naval Hospital. On May 22, 1949 James Forrestal committed suicide by throwing himself out of a 16th-floor hospital window.



    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2008
    7th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 477

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.

    Sold on Jun 7, 2008 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    VIEW BENEFITS
    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
      winnings 
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2021 September 26 Autumn Luxury Accessories Signature Auction - Dallas.

    Learn about consigning with us

    Heritage has gone above and beyond my expectations in handling all of my transactions in a thoroughly professional manner. I would not hesitate to recommend them to anyone worldwide for the exemplary auction and valuation services they provide.
    Richard H.,
    Corsicana, TX
    View More Testimonials

    HA.com receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source: Similarweb.com)

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search