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As Secretary of Transportation, he outlines his Department's current policies for a journal editor. The letter contrasts strikingly with what a Republican Cabinet officer would write today.
Typed Letter signed: "John A. Volpe" as Secretary of Transportation, 2 pages (front and verso), 8x10½. Washington, D.C., 1970 January 8. On official letterhead to Richard Hall, Editor, 'The Pen and Quill', Painesville, Ohio. In full: "Thank you for this opportunity to review the accomplishments of the Department of Transportation. Throughout the year we have worked within four broad areas of concern. We found that this nation will have to double its transportation capacity in the next twenty years. Second, we keyed each of our activities to safety (in all modes). Third, we emphasized a sincere concern for the human and the natural environment. And fourth, we applied the obvious need for planning. We cannot build haphazardly. With these four overall guidelines in mind, we set about to solve our most immediate problems: urban congestion, airway congestion, aviation safety, railroad safety, and boating safety. There were also immediate environmental problems; problems with railroad passenger service; and the tragic fact that we slaughter 55 thousand people every year on our streets and highways. These problems, listed in no particular order, represent parallel priorities. Our first initiative was the Public Transportation Assistance Act, now before Congress. Rail safety legislation is pending. We are also on the verge of final passage of our airport-airways bill, which will have a significant long-range impact. Our Coast Guard has drafted and submitted a wide-ranging boating safety bill. Few realize that the Coast Guard performed almost 50 thousand search and rescue missions in 1969. In conjunction with our concern for the environment, including air and water pollution, and preservation of parks and historic sites, we established the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Environment and Urban Systems. To strengthen our highway safety effort, the major functions of the National Highway Safety Bureau are being moved to a position directly under the Office of the Secretary. We are strengthening our vehicle testing and enforcement activities. And we are making available to consumers much more safety material than has ever been published before. These are the highlights. Some of these accomplishments are farther advanced than others. Some are still in the preparatory stage, such as our upcoming rail passenger legislation that will go to Congress in 1970. But perhaps the most significant aspect of the Department of Transportation in 1969 is our belief that we are fostering - for the first time in the history of the nation - a transportation system that is truly intermodal and balanced. Such a national system is essential to providing the kind of efficient and economical transport service that the American people deserve. Our start in 1969 toward developing that system is our greatest accomplishment. It is also our greatest challenge in the months and years ahead. Sincerely". John Anthony Volpe (1908-1994) the son of Italian immigrants, had started his own construction firm in 1930, and during WWII, he volunteered to serve as a stateside U.S. Navy Seabees training officer. Named Massachusetts Commissioner of Public Works in 1953, Volpe became the first Federal Highway Administrator in 1956. He served as Governor of Massachusetts from 1961-1963 and 1965-1969, during which time he was President of the National Governors Association (1967-1968). Volpe was Nixon's Secretary of Transportation (1969-1973), serving in the Cabinet post during the time that Amtrak was created. Volpe was Ambassador to Italy from 1973-1977. This letter is remarkable in showing the transformation of American politics in the four decades since. Volpe, a Nixon Republican, supplies a long list of goals and achivements centered on new federal programs and bureaucratic re-organization. There is no mention of any de-regulation, or of relying on the private sector to improve transportation. It's difficult to imagine a Cabinet officer today, especially a Republican one, drafting a letter in this vein. Multiple mailing folds. Staple holes at top left corner. Corners lightly creased. Fine condition.

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Born: December 8, 1908 in Wakefield, Massachusetts
Died: November 11, 1994 in Nahant, Massachusetts

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