War-dated letter, explaining to a New York Post reporter his use of
an alias on a trip to Europe
Typed Letter signed: "Harold L. Ickes" as Secretary of the
Interior, 1 page, 8x5¼. Washington, D.C., 1943 April 19. On official
letterhead to Leonard Lyons, New York Post, New York, N.Y. In full: "I
remember that I had the pleasure of meeting you at the Book and Author luncheon
in New York last week. The answer to the question in your letter of April 13 is
a simple one. Harry Slattery, who was then my Under Secretary, arranged for my
passage to Liverpool on the Normandie. He had a friend by the name of George
Sucher, and when I was looking about for a nom de guerre, because I did not want
the newspapers to discover what I was up to, he asked for, and obtained, the
consent of this friend to the loan of this name to me. I tried to give him back
his name as untarnished as it was when I loaned it and I believe that I did
because, after all I used it for less than a week's time. Sincerely yours".
Harold L. Ickes (1874-1952), a Chicago journalist, lawyer and civic
reformer, was local head of the NAACP. Originally a progressive Republican, he
headed the Presidential campaign of Senator Hiram Johnson in 1924. Named by
President Franklin Roosevelt as Secretary of the Interior, he served in that
office throughout FDR's terms and into Truman's (1933-1946), the longest tenure
of any Interior Secretary in history. In that office he oversaw much of the
New Deal program. His son, Harold M. Ickes, also a veteran political activist,
was Deputy Chief of Staff in the Clinton administration. Although this letter
is dated during World War II, his voyage with an alias was not. Harry
Slattery was Ickes' Under Secretary, held that office from 1938 to 1939,
during which he made the unusual, never implemented proposal to resettle Jewish
refugees from Nazi Germany in Alaska. The Normandie, France's premier ocean
liner of the 1930s, was seized by the US after the fall of France in 1940.
It burned in New York Harbor while being converted to a troop ship. Multiple
mailing folds. Adhesive residue at left edge. Lightly worn. Top right corner
torn. Otherwise, fine condition.
For more documents by these signers click the names below:
HAROLD L. ICKES
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