Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum

Transcripts of White House Office Conversations, 08/22/1940 - 10/10/1940

2. President Roosevelt Discusses the Activities of Roy Howard. Side 1, 1066-1375. Friday, September 6, 1940.

FDR: Now, what do we do about this? "Roy Howard, newspaper publisher, stopped in Bangkok last night between planes en route to various points in the Far East, including Chungking, Manila, and possibly Tokyo." ( Aide: Yup.) Of course he's going to Tokyo. "Accompanied by the leading American businessman in Siam, Howard called to see me at the legation and launched into a bitter attack on the President, accusing him of bad faith in inviting him, Howard, to go on a mission to South America, alleging that he, the President, was down and out physically and mentally, that he had made a mess of our foreign affairs during the crisis, and that he is desirous of leading the country into war. Apparantly Howard is out on a political junket to discredit the administration among the political and business leaders in the far East, and at the same time to collect data for a subsequent attack on the administration's Far Eastern policy. He made a base statement to the effect that the administration had bungled the Japanese section and that the U.S. equivocally asked for relations between High Commissioner ------- and President Quezon on the basis of my recent contacts to the individuals in the mail." (Umhum) What do we do about a thing like this?

Aide: Mr. President, I just think that the best thing to do with that would be to put it into the speech-material file along with the other letters of record. ( FDR: Yeah) I don't see that you can do anything else with it.

FDR: Yeah, but it is interesting.

Aide: Yes, very much. It ought to be made part of that record.

FDR: Now, here's one other thought. Who's running the U.P.? Who?...Now, who is who is this man who is behind. Deak Parker?

Aide: Yes sir.

FDR: The Deacon.

Aide: What?

Aide 2: Deak Parker.

FDR: Now, I'm wondering if it isn't the best and most honorable thing to do, not to quote that it came from an American minister, but to the effect that we have received advices - we're not going to say the place - from the Far East that Howard is going around and saying in effect - then paraphrase it - and that we know about it.

Aide 2: No sir, I wouldn't tip him off. I wouldn't tip him off because he in turn would tip Howard off. I'd rather let Howard carry on for a little while.

FDR: He may do an awful lot of harm out there.

Aide 2: It's the harm that he'll do after he's getting back because undoubtedly if this is a political junket trip, as Grant says, what he's doin' is getting this material for Willkie. There's no doubt about that. ( FDR: Sure.) But I, what I believe is that there's no chance whatever of stopping Howard. ( FDR: No.) And to ah tip him off that we know about it - ah I think might operate to his advantage. ( FDR: Yeah) At the present time, I'm afraid it would.

FDR: Um, Grace, I'll need that cabinet today.

Aide: And ah later on, Mr. President, we can make a paraphrase of that. ( FDR: Yeah) We can hand it to Harold Ickes or somebody. ( FDR: Yeah) You see, that's what I'd do. ( FDR: That's right.) (chatter)

Southerner: It is sneaky ( FDR: What?) It is sneaky when you go around with that physical stuff.

FDR: Yeah, I'm willing to admit my mentality is slipping, but that's alright! (laughter) Well, tell him to come on in.

Southerner: I've got some things right here. general wants to speak to you about the cabinet in a few minutes. Bob also has some important things. ( FDR: Who?) Bob Jackson. (chatter) He wants to speak to you and ----- after the cabinet ( FDR: Yes.)

Grace: ...about her husband. Doesn't he? ( FDR: No, he doesn't need a job.) Well, I thought it would be a good idea as long as he'd be going home to this thing tomorrow.

FDR: Is Harry going himself? Alright, then ask, ask Jesse, and we ought to administrate it. Connolly, call and confirm, (Yes) but if they're not here, they'll want a substitute.

Visitor: And now, to speak, she says she has an urgent message for you and anyone who wants to ----- ( FDR: Sure).

Southerner: (sound of writing) Fine, that's my special handwriting. This is a ----------------- over my dead dog (laughter)...(chatter and conversation)...that's a legal thing...Ah TR, there's certain things about the new spelling way back, forty, thirtyfive years ago, that's crazy, and there were so many things that I could say abbreviated by commas in the sentence (cut off).