On 26 July 1948 President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981, calling on the armed forces to provide equal treatment and opportunity for black servicemen. This act has variously been described as an example of presidential initiative, the capstone of the Truman civil rights program, and the climax of the struggle for racial equality in the armed forces. But in some ways the order was simply a practical response to a presidential dilemma.
The President's order was related to the advent of the cold war Developments in the Middle East and Europe testified to the ambitions of the Soviet Union, and many Americans feared the spread of communism throughout the world, a threat more ominous with the erosion of American military strength since World War II. In March 1947 Truman enunciated a new foreign policy calling for the containment of Soviet expansion and pledging economic and military aid to Greece and Turkey. A year later he asked Congress to adopt the Marshall Plan for economic aid to Europe, authorize military training, and enact a new selective service law to maintain the armed forces at expanded levels. That same month his principal military advisers met at Key West, Florida, to discuss new military roles and missions for the armed forces grapple with paralyzing divisions among the services, and re-form the military establishment into a genuinely unified whole. l As if to underscore the urgency of these measures, the Soviet Union began in April 1948 to harass Allied troops in Berlin, an action that would develop into a full-scale blockade by June.
Integration of the armed forces hardly loomed large on the international scene, but if the problem of race appeared insignificant to military planners, the sheer number of Negroes in the armed forces gave them new prominence in national defense. Because of postwar racial quotas, particularly in the Army and Air Force, black servicemen now constituted a significant segment of the service population, and consequently their abilities and well-being had a direct bearing on the nation's cold war defenses. The black community represented 10 percent of the country's manpower, and this also influenced defense planning. Black threats to boycott the segregated armed forces could not be ignored, and civil rights demands had to be considered in developing laws relating to selective service and universal training. Nor could the administration overlook the fact that the United States had become a leading protagonist in a cold war in which the sympathies of the undeveloped and mostly colored world would soon assume a special importance. Inasmuch as integration of the services had become an almost universal demand of the black community, integration became, willy-nilly, an important defense issue.
A second stimulus to improvement of the black serviceman's position was the Truman administration's strong civil rights program, which gave executive sanction to a national movement started some years before. The civil rights movement was the product of many factors, including the federal government's increased sense of responsibility for the welfare of all its citizens, a sense that had grown out of the New Deal and a world war which expanded horizons and increased economic power for much of the black population. The Supreme Court had recently accelerated this movement by broadening its interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment. In the black community itself greater participation in elections and new techniques in community action were eroding discriminatory traditions and practices in many communities.
The civil rights movement had in fact progressed by 1948 to a stage at which it was politically attractive for a Democratic president to assume a vigorous civil rights stance. The urban black vote had become a major goal of Truman's election campaign, and he was being pressed repeatedly by his advisers to demonstrate his support for black interests. A presidential order on armed forces integration logically followed because the services, conspicuous practitioners of segregation and patently susceptible to unilateral action on the part of the Chief Executive, were obvious and necessary targets in the black voters' campaign for civil rights.
Finally, the integration order resulted in part from the move toward service unification and the emergence of James V. Forrestal as Secretary of Defense. Despite misgivings over centralized control of the nation's defense establishment and overconcentration of power in the hands of a Secretary of Defense, Forrestal soon discovered that certain problems rising out of common service experiences naturally converged on the office of the secretary. Both by philosophy and temperament he was disposed to avoid a clash with the services over integration. He remained sensitive to their interests and rights, and he frankly doubted the efficacy of social change through executive fiat. Yet Forrestal was not impervious to the aspirations of the civil rights activists; guided by a humane interest in racial equality, he made integration a departmental goal. His technique for achieving integration, however, proved inadequate in the face of strong service opposition, and finally the President, acting on the basis of these seemingly unrelated motives, had to issue the executive order to strengthen the defense secretary's hand.
Executive and legislative interest in the civil rights of black Americans reached a level in 1948 unmatched since Reconstruction. The President himself was the catalyst. By creating a presidential committee on civil rights and developing a legislative program based on its findings, Truman brought the black minority into the political arena and committed the federal government to a program of social legislation that it has continued to support ever since. Little in the President's background suggested he would sponsor basic social changes. He was a son of the middle border, from a family firmly dedicated to the Confederate cause. His appreciation of black aspirations was hardly sophisticated, as he revealed to a black audience in 1940: "I wish to make it clear that I am not appealing for social equality of the Negro. The Negro himself knows better than that, and the highest types of Negro leaders say quite frankly they prefer the society of their own people. Negroes want justice, not social relations."2
Nor did his attitude change drastically in later years. In 1961, seven years after the Supreme Court's vital school integration decision, Truman was calling the Freedom Riders "meddlesome intruders who should stay at home and attend to their own business." His suggestion to proprietors of lunch counters undergoing sit-ins was to kick out unwelcome customers.3 But if he failed to appreciate the scope of black demands, Truman nevertheless demonstrated as early as 1940 an acute awareness of the connection between civil rights for blacks and civil liberties for all Americans:
In giving Negroes the rights which are theirs we are only acting in accord with our own ideals of a true democracy. If any class or race can be permanently set apart from, or pushed down below the rest in political and civil rights, so may any other class or race when it shall incur the displeasure of its more powerful associates, and we may say farewell to the principles on which we count our safety.4
He would repeat these sentiments to other gatherings, including the assembled delegates of the NAACP's 1946 convention.5 The President's civil rights program would be based, then, on a practical concern for the rights of the majority. Neither his social philosophy nor his political use of black demands should detract from his achievements in the field of civil rights.
It was probably just as well that Truman adopted a pragmatic approach to civil rights, for there was little social legislation a reform president could hope to get through the postwar Congresses. Dominated by a conservative coalition that included the Dixiecrats, a group of sometimes racially reactionary southerners, Congress showed little interest in civil rights. The creation of a permanent Fair Employment Practices Commission, the one piece of legislation directly affecting Negroes and the only current test of congressional intent in civil rights, was floundering on Capitol Hill. Truman conspicuously supported the fair employment measure, but did little else specifically in the first year after the war to advance civil rights. Instead he seemed content to carry on with the New Deal approach to the problem: improve the social condition of all Americans and the condition of the minorities will also improve. In this vein his first domestic program concentrated on national projects for housing, health, and veterans' benefits.
The conversion of Harry Truman into a forceful civil rights advocate
seems to have come about, at least partially, from his exposure to what
he later called the "anti-minority" incidents visited on black servicemen
and civilians in 1946.6 Although the lynchings,
property destruction, and assaults never matched the racial violence that
followed World War I, they were enough to convince many civil rights leaders
that the pattern of racial strife was being repeated. Some of these men,
along with a group of labor executives and clergymen, formed a National
Emergency Committee Against Mob Violence to warn the American public against
the dangers of racial intolerance. A delegation from this committee, with
Walter White as spokesman, met with the President on 19 September 1946
to demand government action. White described the scene:
The President sat quietly, elbows resting on the arms of his chair and his fingers interlocked against his stomach as he listened with a grim face to the story of the lynchings.... When I finished, the President exclaimed in his flat, midwestern accent, "My God! I had no idea it was as terrible as that! We've got to do something!"7
But the Truman administration had nearly exhausted the usual remedies open to it. The Attorney General had investigated the lynchings and Klan activities and the President had spoken out strongly and repeatedly against mob violence but without clear and pertinent civil rights legislation presidential exhortations and investigations counted for very little. Civil rights leaders like White understood this, and, given the mood of Congress, they were resigned to the lack of legislative support. Nevertheless, it was in this context that the President decided to create a committee to investigate and report on the status of civil rights in America.
The concept of a federal civil rights group had been circulating in the executive branch for some time. After the Detroit race riot in 1943, presidential assistant Jonathan Daniels had organized a committee to deal with racial troubles. Proposals to create a national organization to reduce racial tensions were advanced later in the war, principally by Saul K. Padover, a minority specialist in the Interior Department, and David K. Niles of the White House staff. Little came of the committee idea, however, because Roosevelt was convinced that any steps associated with integration would prove divisive and were unwise during wartime.8 With the war over and a different political climate prevailing, Niles, now senior White House adviser on minority affairs, proposed the formation of a committee not only to investigate racial violence but also to explore the entire subject of civil rights.
Walter White and his friends greeted the idea with some skepticism. They had come demanding action, but were met instead with another promise of a committee and the probability of interminable congressional debate and unproductive hearings.9 But this time, for several reasons, it would be different. In the first place the civil rights leaders underestimated the sincerity of Truman's reaction to the racial violence. He had quickly agreed to create Niles's committee by executive order to save it from possible pigeonholing at the hands of a hostile Congress. He had also given the group, called the President's Committee on Civil Rights, a broad directive "to determine whether and in what respect current law enforcement measures and the authority and means possessed by Federal, State, and local governments may be strengthened and improved to safeguard the civil rights of the people.'' 10 The civil rights leaders also failed to gauge the effect Republican victories in the 1946 congressional elections would have on the administration. Finding it necessary to court the Negro and other minorities and hoping to confound congressional opposition, the administration sought a strong civil rights program to put before the Eightieth Congress. Thus, the committee's recommendations would get respectful attention in the White House. Finally, neither the civil rights leaders nor the President could have foreseen the effectiveness of the committee members. Serving under Charles E. Wilson, president of the General Electric Company, the group included among its fifteen members distinguished church leaders, public service lawyers, the presidents of Dartmouth College and the University of North Carolina, and prominent labor executives. The committee had two black members, Sadie T. M. Alexander, a lawyer from Philadelphia, and Channing H. Tobias, director of the Phelps-Stokes Fund. Its members not only prepared a comprehensive survey of the condition of civil rights in America but also presented to the President on 29 October 1947 a far-reaching series of recommendations, in effect a program for corrective action that would serve as a bench mark for civil rights progress for many years.11
WALTER WHITE [Photograph not included.]
The group recommended the concentration of civil rights work in the
Department of Justice, the establishment of a permanent civil rights commission,
a federal antilynching act, a permanent Fair Employment Practices Commission,
and legislation to correct discrimination in voting and naturalization
laws. It also examined the state of civil rights in the armed forces and
incidentally publicized the long-ignored survey of black infantry platoons
that had fought in Europe in 1945.l2 It concluded:
The injustice of calling men to fight for freedom while subjecting them to humiliating discrimination within the fighting forces is at once apparent. Furthermore, by preventing entire groups from making their maximum contribution to the national defense, we weaken our defense to that extent and impose heavier burdens on the remainder of the population.13
The committee called for sweeping change in the armed forces, recommending that Congress enact legislation, followed by appropriate administrative action, to end all discrimination and segregation in the services. Concluding that the recent service unification provided a timely opportunity for revision of existing policies and practices, the committee proposed a specific ban on discrimination and segregation in all phases of recruitment, assignment, and training, including selection for service schools and academies, as well as in mess halls, quarters, recreational facilities, and post exchanges. It also wanted commissions and promotions awarded on merit alone and asked for new laws to protect servicemen from discrimination in communities adjacent to military bases.l4 The committee wanted the President to look beyond the integration of people working and living on military bases, and it introduced a concept that would gain considerable support in a future administration. The armed forces, it declared, should be used as an instrument of social change. World War II had demonstrated that the services were a laboratory in which citizens could be educated on a broad range of social and political issues, and the administration was neglecting an effective technique for teaching the public the advantages of providing equal treatment and opportunity for all citizens.l5
President Truman deleted the recommendations on civil rights in the services when he transmitted the committee's recommendations to Congress in the form of a special message on 2 February 1948. Arguing that the services' race practices were matters of executive interest and pointing to recent progress toward better race relations in the armed forces, the President told Congress that he had already instructed the Secretary of Defense to take steps to eliminate remaining instances of discrimination in the services as rapidly as possible. He also promised that the personnel policies and practices of all the services would be made uniform. 16
To press for civil rights legislation for the armed forces or even to mention segregation was politically imprudent. Truman had two pieces of military legislation to get through Congress: a new draft law and a provision for universal military training. These he considered too vital to the nation's defense to risk grounding on the shoals of racial controversy. For the time being at least, integration of the armed forces would have to be played down, and any civil rights progress in the Department of Defense would have to depend on the persuasiveness of James Forrestal.
TRUMAN'S CIVIL RIGHTS CAMPAIGN as seen by Washington Star cartoonist Clifford K Berryman, March 14, 1948. [Illustration not included.]
The basic postwar reorganization of the National Military Establishment,
the National Security Act of 1947, created the Office of the Secretary
of Defense, a separate Department of the Air Force, the Central Intelligence
Agency, and the National Security Council. It also reconstituted the War
Department as the Department of the Army and gave legal recognition as
a permanent agency to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The principle of military
unification that underlay the reorganization plan was muted in the legislation
that finally emerged from Congress. Although the Secretary of Defense was
given authority to establish general
policies and to exercise general direction and control of the services, the services themselves retained a large measure of autonomy in their internal administration and individual service secretaries retained cabinet rank. In effect, the act created a secretary without a department, a reorganization that largely reflected the viewpoint of the Navy. The Army had fought for a much greater degree of unification, which would not be achieved until the passage of the National Security Act amendments of 1949. This legislation redesignated the unified department the Department of Defense, strengthened the powers of the Secretary of Defense, and provided for uniform budgetary procedures. Although the services were to be "separately administered," their respective secretaries henceforward headed "military departments" without cabinet status.
The first Secretary of Defense, James Forrestal, was a man of exceptional administrative talents, yet even before taking office he expressed strong reservations on the wisdom of a unified military department. As early as 30 July 1945, at breakfast with President Truman during the Potsdam Conference, Forrestal questioned whether any one man "was good enough to run the combined Army, Navy, and Air Departments." What kind of men could the president get in peacetime, he asked, to be under secretaries of War, Navy, and Air if they were subordinate to a single defense secretary?l7 Speaking to Lester Granger that same year on the power of the Secretary of the Navy to order the Marine Corps to accept Negroes, Forrestal expressed uncertainty about a cabinet officer's place in the scheme of things. "Some people think the Secretary is god-almighty, but he's just a god-damn civilian."18 Even after his appointment as defense secretary doubts lingered: "My chief misgivings about unification derived from my fear that there would be a tendency toward overconcentration and reliance on one man or one-group direction. In other words, too much central control. " 19
Forrestal's philosophy of management reinforced the limitations placed on the Secretary of Defense by the National Security Act. He sought a middle way in which the efficiency of a unified system could be obtained without sacrificing what he considered to be the real advantages of service autonomy. Thus, he supported a 1945 report of the defense study group under Ferdinand Eberstadt that argued for a "coordinated" rather than a "unitary" defense establishment. 20 Practical experience modified his fears somewhat, and by October 1948, convinced he needed greater power to control the defense establishment, Forrestal urged that the language of the National Security Act, which limited the Secretary of Defense to "general" authority only over the military departments, be amended to eliminate the word general. Yet he always retained his basic distrust of dictation, preferring to understand and adjust rather than to conclude and order.21
Nowhere was Forrestal's philosophy of government more evident than in his approach to the problem of integration. His office would be concerned with equal opportunity, he promised Walter White soon after his elevation to the new post, but "the job of Secretary of Defense," he warned, "is one which will have to develop in an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary manner." Further dashing hopes of sudden reform, Forrestal added that specific racial problems, as distinct from general policy matters, would remain the province of the individual services.22 He retained this attitude throughout his tenure. He considered the President's instructions to end remaining instances of discrimination in the services "in accord with my own conception of my responsibilities under unification," and he was in wholehearted agreement with a presidential wish that the National Military Establishment work out the answer to its racial problems through administrative action. He wanted to see a "more nearly uniform approach to interracial problems by the three Services," but expedience had demonstrated, he believed, that racial problems could not be solved simply by publishing an executive order or passing a law. Racial progress would come from education. Such had been his observation in the wartime Navy, and he was ready to promise that "even greater progress will be made in the future." But, he added, "progress must be made administratively and should not be put into effect by fiat."23
Executive fiat was just what some of Forrestal's advisers wanted. For example, his executive assistant, John H. Ohly, his civilian aide, James C. Evans,24 and Truman Gibson urged the secretary to consider establishing an interservice committee along the lines of the old McCloy committee to prepare a uniform racial policy that he could apply to all the services. They wanted the committee to examine past and current practices as well as the recent reports of the President's Advisory Commission on Universal Training and the Committee on Civil Rights and to make specific recommendations for carrying out and policing department policy. Truman Gibson went to the heart of the matter: the formulation of such an interservice committee would signal to the black community better than anything else the defense establishment's determination to change the racial situation. More and more, he warned, the discrepancies among the services' racial practices were attracting public attention. Most important to the administration was the fact that these discrepancies were strengthening opposition to universal military training and the draft.25
A. PHILIP RANDOLPH. (Detail from painting by Betsy G. Reyneau..) [Photograph not included.]
Gibson was no doubt referring to A. Philip Randolph, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and organizer of the 1940 March on Washington Movement, who had spoken out against the pending legislation. Randolph was particularly concerned that the bill did not prohibit segregation, and he quoted a member of the Advisory Commission on Universal Training who admitted that the bill ignored the racial issue because "the South might oppose UMT if Negroes were included." Drafting eighteen-year olds into a segregated Army was a threat to black progress, Randolph charged, because enforced segregation made it difficult to break down other forms of discrimination. Convinced that the Pentagon was trying to bypass the segregation issue, Randolph and Grant Reynolds, a black clergyman and New York politician, formed a Committee Against Jim Crow in Military Service and Training. They planned to submit a proposal to the President and Congress for drafting a nondiscrimination measure for the armed forces, and they were prepared to back up this demand with a march on Washington—no empty gesture in an election year. Randolph had impressive backing from black leaders, among them Dr. Channing H. Tobias of the Civil Rights Committee, George S. Schuyler, columnist of the Pittsburgh Courier, L. D. Reddick, curator of the Schomburg Collection of the New York Public Library, and Joe Louis.26
Black spokesmen were particularly incensed by the attitude of the Secretary
of the Army and his staff. Walter White pointed out that these officials
continued to justify segregated units on the grounds that segregation was—he
quoted them—"in the interest of national defense." White went to special
pains to refute the Army's contention that segregation was necessary because
the Army had to conform to local laws and customs. "How," he asked Secretary
can the imposition of segregation upon northern states having clear-cut laws and policies m opposition to such practices be justified by the Army? . . .
In view of President Truman's recent report to the Congress and in view of the report of his Committee on Civil Rights condemning segregation in the Armed Forces, I am at a loss to understand the reluctance on the part of the Department of Defense to immediately eliminate all vestiges of discrimination and segregation in the Armed Forces of this country. As the foremost defender of democratic principles in international councils, the United States can ill afford to any longer discriminate against its Negro citizens in its Armed Forces solely because they were fortunate or unfortunate enough to be born Negroes.27
Forrestal stubbornly resisted the pleas of his advisers and black leaders that he assume a more active role. In the first place he had real doubts concerning his authority to do so. Forrestal was also aware of the consequences an integration campaign would have on Capitol Hill, where he was in the midst of delicate negotiations on defense measures. But most of all the role of crusader did not fit him. "I have gone somewhat slowly," Forrestal had written in late October 1947, "because I believe in the theory of having things to talk about as having been done rather than having to predict them, and . . . morale and confidence are easy to destroy but not easy to rebuild. In other words, I want to be sure that any changes we make are changes that accomplish something and not merely for the sake of change. " 28
To Forrestal equal opportunity was not a pious platitude, buts practical means of solving the military’s racial problems. Equal opportunity was the tactic he had used in the Navy where he had encouraged specialized training for all qualified Negroes. He understood that on shipboard machinists ate and bunked with machinists, firemen with firemen. Inaugurated in the fleet, the practice naturally spread to the shore establishment, and equal opportunity led inevitably to the integration of the general service. Given the opportunity to qualify for all specialties, Negroes—albeit their number was limited to the small group in the general service—quickly gained equal treatment in off-the-job activities. Forrestal intended to apply the same tactic to achieve the same results in the other services.29
As in the past, he turned first to Lester Granger, his old friend from the National Urban League. Acting on the recommendation of his special assistant, Marx Leva, Forrestal invited Granger to the Pentagon to discuss the department's racial problems with a view to holding a general conference and symposium on the subject. As usual, Granger was full of ideas, and he and the secretary agreed that Forrestal should create a "critics group," which would discuss "Army and general defense policies in the use of Negro personnel."30 Granger suggested a roster of black and white experts, influential in the black community and representing most shades of opinion, but he would exclude those apt to make political capital out of the issues.
The Leva-Granger conference idea fitted neatly into Forrestal's thinking. It offered the possibility of introducing to the services in a systematic and documented way the complaints of responsible black leaders while instructing those leaders in the manpower problems confronting the postwar armed forces. He hoped the conference would modify traditionalist attitudes toward integration while curbing mounting unrest in the black community. Granger and Forrestal agreed that the conference should be held soon. Although Granger wanted some "good solid white representation" in the group, Forrestal decided instead to invite fifteen black leaders to meet on 26 April in the Pentagon; he alerted the service secretaries, asking them to attend or to designate an assistant to represent them in each case. 31
Announcement of the conference was upstaged in the press by the activities of some civil rights militants, including those whom Granger sought to exclude from the Forrestal conference because he thought they would make a political issue of the war against segregation. Forrestal first learned of the militants' plans from members of the National Negro Publishers Association, a group of publishers and editors of important black journals who were about to tour European installations as guests of the Army.32 At Granger's suggestion Forrestal had met with the publishers and editors to explain the causes for the delay in desegregating the services. Instead, he found himself listening to an impassioned demand for immediate change. Ira F. Lewis, president of the Pittsburgh Courier and spokesman for the group, told the secretary that the black community did not expect the services to be a laboratory or clearinghouse for processing the social ills of the nation, but it wanted to warn the man responsible for military preparedness that the United States could not afford another war with one-tenth of its population lacking the spirit to fight. The problem of segregation could best be solved by the policymakers. "The colored people of the country have a high regard for you, Mr. Secretary, as a square shooter," Lewis concluded. And from Forrestal they expected action.33
While black newspapermen were pressing the executive branch, Randolph and his Committee Against Jim Crow were demanding congressional action. Randolph concentrated on one explosive issue, the Army's procurement of troops. The first War Department plans for postwar manpower procurement were predicated on some form of universal military training, a new concept for the United States. The plans immediately came under fire from Negroes because the Army, citing the Gillem Board Report as its authority, had specified that black recruits be trained in segregated units. The Army had also specified that the black units form parts of larger, racially mixed units and would be trained in racially mixed camps.34 The President's Advisory Commission on Universal Training (the Compton Commission), appointed to study the Army's program, strongly objected to the segregation provisions, but to no avail.35 As if to signal its intentions the Army framed an experimental universal military training unit in 1947 at Fort Knox that carefully excluded black volunteers.
The showdown between civil rights organizations and the administration
over universal military training never materialized. Faced with chronic
opposition to the program and the exigencies of the cold war, the administration
quietly shelved universal training and concentrated instead on the reestablishment
of the selective service system. When black attention naturally shifted
to the new draft legislation, Randolph was able to capitalize on the determination
of many leaders in the civil rights movement to defeat any draft law that
countenanced the Army's racial policy. Appearing at the Senate Armed Services
Committee hearings on the draft bill, Randolph raised the specter of civil
to openly counsel, aid, and abet youth, both white and Negro, to quarantine any Jim Crow conscription system, whether it bear the label of universal military. training or selective service ....
From coast to coast in my travels I shall call upon all Negro veterans to join this civil disobedience movement and to recruit their younger brothers in an organized refusal to register and be drafted....
I shall appeal to the thousands of white youths . . . to demonstrate their solidarity with Negro youth by ignoring the entire registration and induction machinery....
I shall appeal to the Negro parents to lend their moral support to their sons, to stand behind them as they march with heads held high to Federal Prisons as a telling demonstration to the world that Negroes have reached the limit of human endurance, that, in the words of the spiritual, we will be buried in our graves before we will be slaves. 36
Randolph argued that hard-won gains in education, job opportunity, and housing would be nullified by federal legislation supporting segregation. How could a Fair Employment Practices Commission, he asked, dare criticize discrimination in industry if the government itself was discriminating against Negroes in the services? "Negroes are just sick and tired of being pushed around," he concluded, "and we just do not propose to take it, and we do not care what happens."37
When Senator Wayne Morse warned Randolph that such statements in times
of national emergency would leave him open to charges of treason, Randolph
replied that by fighting for their rights Negroes were serving the cause
of American democracy. Borrowing from the rhetoric of the cold war, he
predicted that such was the effect of segregation on the international
fight for men's minds that America could never stop communism as long as
it was burdened with Jim Crowism. Randolph threw down the gauntlet.
"We have to face this
thing sooner or later, and we might just as well face it now."38 It was up to the administration and Congress to decide whether his challenge was the beginning of a mass movement or a weightless threat by an extremist group.
The immediate reaction of various spokesmen for the black community supported both possibilities. Also testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Truman Gibson, who was a member of the Compton Commission that had objected to segregation, expressed "shock and dismay" at Randolph's pledge and predicted that Negroes would continue to participate in the country's defense effort.39 For his pains Gibson was branded a "rubber stamp Uncle Tom" by Congressman Adam Clayton Powell. The black press, for the most part, applauded Randolph's analysis of the mood of Negroes, but shied away from the threat of civil disobedience. The NAACP and most other civil rights organizations took the same stand, condemning segregation but disavowing civil disobedience.40
Although the administration could take comfort in the relatively mild reaction from conservative blacks, an important element of the black community supported Randolph's stand. A poll of young educated Negroes conducted by the NAACP revealed that 71 percent of those of draft age would support the civil disobedience campaign. So impressive was Randolph's support—the New York Times called it a blunt warning from the black public—that one news journal saw in the campaign the specter of a major national crisis.41 On the other hand, the Washington Post cautioned its readers not to exaggerate the significance of the protest. Randolph's words, the Post declared, were intended "more as moral pressure" for nondiscrimination clauses in pending draft and universal military training legislation than as a serious threat.42
Whatever its ultimate influence on national policy, the Randolph civil disobedience pledge had no visible effect on the position of the President or Congress. With a draft bill and a national political convention pending, the President was not about to change his hands off policy toward the segregation issue in the services. In fact he showed some heat at what he saw as a threat by extremists to exploit an issue he claimed he was doing his best to resolve.43 As for members of Congress, most of those who joined in the debate on the draft bill simply ignored the threatened boycott.
In contrast to the militant Randolph, the Negroes who gathered at Secretary Forrestal's invitation for the National Defense Conference on 26 April appeared to be a rather sedate group. But academic honors, business success, and gray hairs were misleading. These eminent educators, clergymen, and civil rights leaders proved just as determined as Randolph and his associates to be rid of segregation and, considering their position in the community, were more likely to influence the administration. That they were their own men quickly became apparent in the stormy course of the Pentagon meeting. They subjected a score of defense officials44 to searching questions, submitted themselves to cross-examination by the press, and agreed to prepare a report for the Secretary of Defense.
While the group refrained from endorsing Randolph's position, it also refrained from criticizing him and strongly supported his thesis that segregation in itself was discrimination. Nor were its views soft-pedaled in the press release issued after the conference. The Secretary of Defense was forced to announce that the black leaders declined to serve as advisers to the National Military Establishment as long as the services continued to practice segregation. The group unanimously recommended that the armed services eliminate segregation and challenged the Army's interpretation of its own policy, insisting that the Army could abolish segregation even within the framework of the Gillem Board recommendations. The members planned no future meetings but adjourned to prepare their report.45
This adamant stand should not have surprised the Secretary of Defense. Forrestal could appreciate more than most the pressures operating on the group. In the aftermath of the report of the President's Committee on Civil Rights and in the heightened atmosphere caused by the rhetoric of the Randolph campaign, these men were also caught up in the militants' cause. If they were reluctant to attack the services too severely lest they lose their chance to influence the course of racial events in the department, they were equally reluctant to accept the pace of reform dictated by the traditionalists. In the end they chose to side with their more radical colleagues. Thus despite Lester Granger's attempt to soften the blow, the conference designed to bring the opponents together ended with yet another condemnation of Forrestal's gradualism.
Forrestal himself agreed with the goals of the conferees, he told Granger, but at the same time he refused to abandon his approach, insisting that he could not force people into cooperation and mutual respect by issuing a directive. Instead he arranged for Granger to meet with Army leaders to spread the gospel of equal opportunity and ordered a report prepared showing precisely what the Navy did during the late months of the war and "how much of it has stuck—on the question of non-segregation both in messing and barracks." The report written by Lt. Dennis D. Nelson, was sent to Secretary of the Army Royall along with sixteen photographs picturing blacks and whites being trained together and working side by side.46
NATIONAL DEFENSE CONFERENCE ON NEGRO AFFAIRS. Conferees prepare to
with the press, 26 April l 948. [Photograph not included.]
Given the vast size of the Army, it was perfectly feasible to open all training to qualified Negroes and yet continue for years racial practices that had so quickly proved impossible in the Navy's smaller general service. Of course, even in the Army the number of segregated jobs that could be created was limited, and in time Forrestal's tactics might, it could be argued, have succeeded despite the Army's size and the intractability of its leaders. Time, however, was precisely what Forrestal lacked, given the increasing political strength of the civil rights movement.
Sparked by Randolph's stand before the congressional committee, some members of the black community geared up for greater protests. Worse still for an administration facing a critical election, the protest was finding some support in the camps of the President's rivals. Early in May, for example, a group of prominent civil rights activists formed the Commission of Inquiry with the expressed purpose of examining the treatment of black servicemen during World War II. Organized by Randolph and Reynolds, the commission boasted Arthur Garfield Hayes, noted civil libertarian and lawyer, as its counsel. The commission planned to interrogate witnesses and, on the basis of the testimony gathered, issue a report to Congress and the public that would include recommendations on conscription legislation. Various Defense Department officials were invited to testify but only James C. Evans, who acted as department spokesman, accepted. During the inquiry, which Evans estimated was attended by 180 persons, little attention was given to Randolph's civil disobedience pledge, but Evans himself came in for considerable ridicule, and there were headlines aplenty in the black press.47
These attacks were being carried out in an atmosphere of heightened political interest in the civil rights of black servicemen. Henry A. Wallace, the Progressive Party's presidential candidate, had for some time been telling his black audiences that the administration was insincere because if it wanted to end segregation it could simply force the resignation of the Secretary of the Army.48 Henry Cabot Lodge, the Republican senator from Massachusetts, called on Forrestal to make "a real attempt, well thought out and well organized," to integrate a sizable part of the armed forces with soldiers volunteering for such arrangements. Quoting from General Eisenhower's testimony before the Armed Services Committee, he reminded Forrestal that segregation was not only an undeserved and unjustified humiliation to the Negro, but a potential danger to the national defense effort. In the face of a manpower shortage, it was inexcusable to view segregation simply as a political question, "of concern to a few individuals and to a few men in public life and to be dealt with as adroitly as possible, always with an eye to the largest number of votes."49
Yet as the timing of Senator Lodge's letter suggests, the political implications of the segregation fight were a prime concern of every politician involved, and Forrestal had to act with this fact in mind. The administration considered the Wallace campaign a real but minor threat because of his appeal to black voters in the early months of the campaign.50 The Republican incursion into the civil rights field was more ominous, and Forrestal, having acknowledged Lodge's letter, turned to Lester Granger for help in drafting a detailed reply. It took Granger some time to suggest an approach because he agreed with Lodge on many points but found some of his inferences as unsound as the Army's policy. For instance Lodge approved Eisenhower's comments on segregation, and the only real difference between Eisenhower and the Army staff was that Eisenhower wanted segregation made more efficient by putting smaller all-black units into racially composite organizations. Negroes opposed segregation as an insult to their race and to their manhood. Granger wanted Forrestal to tell Lodge that no group of Negroes mindful of its public standing could take a position other than total opposition to segregation. Having to choose between Randolph's stand and Eisenhower's, Negroes could not endorse Eisenhower. Granger also thought Forrestal would do well to explain to Lodge that he himself favored for the other services the policy followed by the Navy in the name of improving efficiency and morale.51
A reply along these line was prepared, but Marx Leva persuaded Forrestal not to send it until the selective service bill had safely passed Congress.52 Forrestal was "seriously concerned," he wrote the President on 28 May 1948, about the fate of that legislation. He wanted to express his opposition to an amendment proposed by Senator Richard B. Russell of Georgia that would guarantee segregated units for those draftees who wished to serve only with members of their own race. He also wanted to announce his intention of making "further progress" in interracial relations. To that end he had discussed with Special Counsel to the President Clark M. Clifford the creation of an advisory board to recommend specific steps his department could take in the race relations field. Reiterating a long-cherished belief, Forrestal declared that this "difficult problem" could not be solved by issuing an executive order or passing a law, "for progress in this field must be achieved by education, and not by mandate."53 The President agreed to these maneuvers,54 but just three days later Forrestal returned to the subject, passing along to Truman a warning from Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio that both the Russell amendment and one proposed by Senator William hanger of North Dakota to prohibit all segregation were potential roadblocks to passage of the bill.55 In the end Congress rejected both amendments, passing a draft bill without any special racial provisions on 19 June 1948.
The proposal for an advisory board proved to be Forrestal's last attempt to change the racial practices of the armed forces through gradualism. In the next few weeks the whole problem would be taken out of his hands by a White House grown impatient with his methods. There, in contrast to the comparatively weak position of the Secretary of Defense, who had not yet consolidated his authority, the full force and power of the Commander in Chief would be used to give a dramatic new meaning to equal treatment and opportunity in the armed forces. Given the temper of the times, Forrestal's surrender was inevitable, for a successful reform program had to show measurable improvements, and despite his maneuvers with the civil rights activists, the Congress, and the services, Forrestal had no success worth proclaiming in his first eight months of office.
This lack of progress disappointed civil rights leaders, who had perhaps overestimated the racial reforms made when Forrestal was Secretary of the Navy. It can be argued that as Secretary of Defense Forrestal himself was inclined to overestimate them. Nevertheless, he could demonstrate some systematic improvement in the lot of the black sailor, enough improvement, according to his gradualist philosophy, to assure continued progress. Ironically, considering Forrestal's faith in the efficacy of education and persuasion, whatever can be counted as his success in the Navy was accomplished by the firm authority he and his immediate subordinates exercised during the last months of the war. Yet this authority was precisely what he lacked in his new office, where his power was limited to only a general control over intransigent services that still insisted on their traditional autonomy.
In any case, by 1948 there was no hope for widespread reform through a step-by-step demonstration of the practicality and reasonableness of integration. Too much of the remaining opposition was emotional, rooted in prejudice and tradition, to yield to any but forceful methods. If the services were to be integrated in the short run, integration would have to be forced upon them.
Although politics was only one of several factors that led to Executive Order 9981, the order was born during a presidential election campaign, and its content and timing reflect that fact. Having made what could be justified as a military decision in the interest of a more effective use of manpower in the armed forces, the President and his advisers sought to capitalize on the political benefits that might accrue from it.56 The work of the President's Committee on Civil Rights and Truman's subsequent message to Congress had already elevated civil rights to the level of a major campaign issue. As early as November 1947 Clark Clifford, predicting the nomination of Thomas Dewey and Henry Wallace, had advised the President to concentrate on winning the allegiance of the nation's minority voters, especially the black, labor, and Jewish blocs.57 Clifford had discounted the threat of a southern defection, but in the spring of 1948 southern Democrats began to turn from the party, and the black vote, an important element in the big city Democratic vote since the formation of the Roosevelt coalition, now became in the minds of the campaign planners an essential ingredient in a Truman victory. Through the efforts of Oscar Ewing, head of the Federal Security Administration and White House adviser on civil rights matters, and several other politicians, Harry Truman was cast in the role of minority rights champion. 58
Theirs was not a difficult task, for the President's identification with the civil rights movement had become part of the cause of his unpopularity in some Democratic circles and a threat to his renomination. He overcame the attempt to deny him the presidential nomination in June, and he accepted the strong civil rights platform that emerged from the convention. The resolution committee of that convention had proposed a mild civil rights plank in the hope of preventing the defection of southern delegates, but in a dramatic floor fight Hubert H. Humphrey, the mayor of Minneapolis and a candidate for the U.S. Senate, forced through one of the strongest civil rights statements in the history of the party. This plank endorsed Truman's congressional message on civil rights and called for "Congress to support our President in guaranteeing these basic and fundamental rights . . . the right of equal treatment in the service and defense of our nation. " 59
Truman admitted to Forrestal that "he had not himself wanted to go as far as the Democratic platform went on the civil rights issue." The President had no animus toward those who voted against the platform; he would have done the same if he had come from their states. But he was determined to run on the platform, and for him, he later said, a platform was not a window dressing. His southern colleagues understood him. When a reporter pointed out to Governor Strom Thurmond of South Carolina that the President had only accepted a platform similar to those supported by Roosevelt, the governor answered, "I agree, but Truman really means it."60 After the platform fight the Alabama and Mississippi delegates walked out of the convention. The Dixiecrat revolt was on in earnest.
Both the Democratic platform and the report of the President's Civil Rights Committee referred to discrimination in the federal government, a matter obviously susceptible to presidential action. For once the "do-nothing" Congress could not be blamed, and if Truman failed to act promptly he would only invite the wrath of the civil rights forces he was trying to court. Aware of this political necessity, the President's advisers had been studying the areas in which the President alone might act in forbidding discrimination as well as the mechanics by which he might make his actions effective. According to Oscar Ewing, the advisers had decided as early as October 1947 that the best way to handle discrimination in the federal government was to issue a presidential order securing the civil rights of both civilian government employees and members of the armed forces. In the end the President decided to issue two executive orders.61
Clifford, Ewing, and Philleo Nash, who was a presidential specialist on minority matters, worked on drafting both orders. After consulting with Truman Gibson, Nash proposed that the order directed to the services should create a committee within the military establishment to push for integration, one similar to the McCloy committee in World War II. Like Gibson, Nash was convinced that change in the armed forces racial policy would come only through a series of steps initiated in each service. By such steps progress had been made in the Navy through its Special Programs Unit and in the Army through the efforts of the McCloy committee. Nash argued against the publication of an executive order that spelled out integration or condemned segregation. Rather, let the order to the services call for equal treatment and opportunity—the language of the Democratic platform. Tie it to military efficiency, letting the services discover, under guidance from a White House committee, the inefficiency of segregation. The services would quickly conclude, the advisers assumed, that equal treatment and opportunity were impossible in a segregated system.62 After a series of discussions with the President, Nash, Clifford, and Ewing drew up a version of the order to the services along the lines suggested by Nash.63
The draft underwent one significant revision at the request of the Secretary of Defense. In keeping with his theory that the services should be given the chance to work out their own methods of compliance with the order to integrate, Forrestal wanted no deadlines set. To keep antagonisms to a minimum he wanted the order to call simply for progress "as rapidly as feasible." The President agreed.64
The timing of the order was politically important to Truman, and by late July the White House was extremely anxious to publish the document. The President now had his all-important selective service legislation; he was beginning to campaign on a platform calling for a special session of Congress—a Congress dominated by Republicans, who had also just approved a party platform calling for an end to segregation in the armed forces. Haste was evident in the fact that the order, along with copies for the service secretaries. was sent to the Secretary of Defense on the morning of 26 July—the day it was issued—for comment and review by that afternoon.65 The order was also submitted to Walter White and A. Philip Randolph before it was issued.66
Actually, the order had been read to Forrestal on the evening of the previous day, and his office had suggested one more change. Marx Leva believed that the order would be improved if it mentioned the fact that substantial progress in civil rights had been made during the war and in the years thereafter. Since a sentence to this effect had been included in Truman's civil rights message of February, Leva thought it would be well to include it in the executive order. Believing also that policy changes ought to be the work of the government or of the executive branch of the government rather than of the President alone, he offered a sentence for inclusion: "To the extent that this policy has not yet been completely implemented, such alterations or improvements in existing rules, procedures and practices as may be necessary shall be put into effect as rapidly as possible." Although Forrestal approved the sentence, it was not accepted by the President.67
Approvals were quickly gathered from interested cabinet officials. The Attorney General passed on the form and legality of the order. Forrestal was certain that Stuart Symington of the Air Force and John L. Sullivan, Secretary of the Navy, would approve the order, but he suggested that Oscar Ewing discuss the draft with Kenneth Royall. According to Ewing, the Secretary of the Army read the order twice and said, "tell the President that I not only have no objections but wholeheartedly approve, and we'll go along with it."68
The historic document, signed by Truman on 26 July 1948, read as follows:
Whereas it is essential that there be maintained in the armed services of the United States the highest standards of democracy, with equality of treatment and opportunity for all those who serve in our country's defense:
Now, therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States, and as Commander in Chief of the armed services, it is hereby ordered as follows:
1. It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin. This policy shall be put into effect as rapidly as possible, having due regard to the time required to effectuate any necessary changes without impairing efficiency or morale.
2. There shall be created in the National Military Establishment an advisory committee to be known as the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services, which shall be composed of seven members to be designated by the President.
3. The Committee is authorized on behalf of the President to examine into the rules, procedures and practices of the armed services in order to determine in what respect such rules, procedures and practices may be altered or improved with a view to carrying out the policy of this order. The Committee shall confer and advise with the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Army, the Secretary of the Navy, and the Secretary of the Air Force, and shall make such recommendations to the President and to said Secretaries as in the judgment of the Committee will effectuate the policy hereof.
4. All executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government are authorized and directed to cooperate with the Committee in its work, and to furnish the Committee such information or the services of such persons as the Committee may require in the performance of its duties.
5. When requested by the Committee to do so, persons in the armed services or in any of the executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government shall testify before the Committee and shall make available for the use of the Committee such documents and other information as the Committee may require.
6. The Committee shall continue to exist until such time as the President shall terminate its existence by Executive Order.
As indicated by the endorsement of such diverse protagonists as Royall and Randolph, the wording of the executive order was in part both vague and misleading. The vagueness was there by design. The failure to mention either segregation or integration puzzled many people and angered others, but it was certainly to the advantage of a president who wanted to give the least offense possible to voters who supported segregation. In fact integration was not the precise word to describe the complex social change in the armed forces demanded by civil rights leaders, and the emphasis on equality of treatment and opportunity with its portent for the next generation was particularly appropriate. Truman, however, was not allowed to remain vague for long. Questioned at his first press conference after the order was issued, the President refused to set a time limit, but he admitted that he expected the order to abolish racial segregation in the armed forces.69 The order was also misleading when it created the advisory committee "in" the National Military Establishment. Truman apparently intended to create a presidential committee to oversee the manpower policies of all the services, and despite the wording of the order the committee would operate as a creature of the White House, reporting to the President rather than to the Secretary of Defense.
The success of the new policy would depend to a great extent, as friends and foes of integration alike recognized, on the ability and inclination of this committee. The final choice of members was the President's, but he conspicuously involved the Democratic National Committee, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of the Army. He repeatedly solicited Forrestal's suggestions, and it was apparent that the views of the Pentagon would carry much weight in the final selection. Just four days after the publication of Executive Order 9981, the President's administrative assistant, Donald S. Dawson, wrote Forrestal that he would be glad to talk to him about the seven members.70 Before Forrestal replied he had Leva discuss possible nominees with the three military departments and obtain their recommendations. The Pentagon's list went to the White House on 3 August. A list compiled subsequently by Truman's advisers, chiefly Philleo Nash and Oscar Ewing, and approved by the Democratic National Committee, duplicated a number of Forrestal's suggestions; its additions and deletions revealed the practical political considerations under which the White House had to operated
By mid-September the committee was still unformed. The White House had
been unable to get either Frank Graham, president of the University of
North Carolina, a member of the President's Committee on Civil Rights,
and the first choice of both the White House and the Pentagon for chairman,
or Charles E. Wilson, second choice, to accept the chairmanship. Secretary
of the Army Royall was particularly incensed that some of the men being
considered for the committee "have publicly expressed their opinion in
favor of abolishing segregation in the Armed Services. At least one of
them, Lester Grainger [sic], has been critical both of the Army
and of me personally on this particular matter."72
Royall wanted no one asked to serve on the President's committee who had
fixed opinions on segregation, and certainly no one who had made a public
pronouncement on the subject. He wanted the nominees questioned to make
sure they could give "fair consideration" to the subject.73
Royall favored Jonathan Daniels, Ralph McGill of the Atlanta Constitution,
Colgate Darden, president of the University of Virginia, and Douglas
Southall Freeman, distinguished
Richmond historian.74 Names continued to be bruited about. Dawson asked Forrestal if he had any preferences for Reginald E. Gillmor, president of Sperry Gyroscope, or Julius Ochs Adler, noted publisher and former military aide to Secretary Stimson, as possibilities for chairman. Forrestal inclined toward Adler; "I believe he would be excellent although as a Southerner he might have limiting views."75
With the election imminent, the need for an announcement on the membership of the committee became pressing. On 16 September Dawson told Leva that a chairman and five of the six members had been selected and had agreed to serve: Charles Fahy, chairman, Charles Luckman, Lester Granger, John H. Sengstacke, Jacob Billikopf, and Alphonsus J. Donahue. The sixth member, still uninvited, was to be Dwight Palmer. Dawson said he would wait on this appointment until Forrestal had time to consider it, but two days later he was back, telling the secretary that the President had instructed him to release the names. There was final change: William E. Stevenson's name was substituted for Billikopf's.76
Although only two of Forrestal's nominees, Lester Granger and John Sengstacke, survived the selection process, the final membership was certainly acceptable to the Secretary of Defense. Charles Fahy was suggested by presidential assistant David K. Niles, who described the soft-voiced Georgian as a "reconstructed southerner liberal on race." A lawyer and former Solicitor General, Fahy had a reputation for sensitive handling of delicate problems, "with quiet authority and the punch of a mule." Granger's appointment was a White House bow to Forrestal and a disregard for Royall's objections. Sengstacke, a noted black publisher suggested by Forrestal and Ewing and supported by William L. Dawson, the black congressman from Chicago, was appointed in deference to the black press. Moreover, he had supported Truman's reelection "in unqualified terms." William Stevenson was the president of Oberlin College and was strongly recommended by Lloyd K. Garrison, president of the National Urban League. Finally, there was a trio of businessmen on the committee: Donahue was a Connecticut industrialist, highly recommended by Senator Howard J. McGrath of Rhode Island and Brian McMahon of Connecticut; Luckman was president of Lever Brothers and a native of Kansas City, Missouri; and Dwight Palmer was president of the General Cable Corporation.77
These were the men with whom, for a time at least, the Secretary of Defense would share his direction over the racial policies of the armed forces.
1On the development of cold war roles and missions for the services, see Timothy W. Stanley, American Defense and National Security (Washington: Public Affairs Press, 1956), Chapter VIII.
2Jonathan Daniels, The Man of Independence (Philadelphia Lippincott, 1950), p. 338. The quotation is from a speech before the National Colored Democratic convention, Chicago. reprinted in the Congressional Record, 76th Gong., 3d sees., vol. 86, 5 Aug 1940, Appendix, pp. 5367-69.
3Quoted in James Peck, Freedom Ride (New York Simon and Schuster. 1962), pp. 154-55.
4Quoted in Daniels, Man of Independence, pp. 339-40.
5Msg, HST to NAACP convention, 29 Jun 47, Public Papers of the President, 1947 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1963), pp. 311-13.
6Harry S. Truman, Memoirs (New York: Doubleday, 1958), 11:180-81; White, A Man Called White, pp. 330-31. Truman's concept of civil rights is analyzed in considerable detail in Donald R. McCoy and Richard T. Ruetten, Quest and Response: Minority Rights and the Truman Administration (Lawrence, Kansas: University of Kansas Press, 1973), Chapter 111.
7White,A Man Called White, pp. 330-31.
8Intervs, Nichols with Oscar Ewing, former federal security administrator and senior presidential adviser, and Jonathan Daniels, 1954, in Nichols Collection, CMH; see also McCoy and Ruetten, Quest and Response, p.49.
9White, A Man Called White, pp. 330-31.
10Executive Order 9808, 5 Dec 46.
11In addition to Chairman Wilson, the following people served on the committee: Sadie T. M. Alexander, James B. Carey, John S. Dickey, Morris L. Ernst, Roland B. Gittelsohn, Frank P. Graham, Francis J. Haas, Charles Luckman, Francis P. Matthews, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., Henry Knox Sherrill, Boris Shishkin, Dorothy Tilly, and Channing Tobias.
12Parts of the survey of attitudes of participants in the World War II integration of platoons were included in remarks by Congresswoman Helen G. Douglas, published in the Congressional Record, 79th Cong., 2d sees., 1 Feb 1946, Appendix, pp. 432-443.
13To Secure These Rights, p. 162.
14Ibid., pp. 162-63.
15Ibid., p. 47.
16Truman, Special Message to the Congress on Civil Rights, 2 Feb 48, Public Papers of the President, 1948, pp. 121-26.
17Quoted in Walter Millis, ea., The Forrestal Diaries (New York: Viking Press. 1951), p. 88.
18Quoted by Granger in the interview he gave Nichols in 1954.
19Quoted in Millis, Forrestal Diaries, p. 301.
20Ibid., pp. 117, 147. Timothy Stanley describes the Eberstadt report as the Navy's "constructive alter" native" to unification. See Stanley's American Defense and National Security, p. 75; see also Hewes, From Root to McNamara, pp. 276-77. For a detailed analysis of defense unification, see Lawrence Legere, Jr., "Unification of the Armed Forces. " Chapter Vl, in CMH.
21Willis, Forrestal Diaries, pp. 301, 497.
22Ltr, Forrestal to White, 21 Oct 47, Day file, Forrestal Papers, Princeton University Library.
23Remarks by James Forrestal at Dinner Meeting of the National Urban League, 12 Feb 48. copy in Misc file. Forrestal Papers; see also Ltr, Forrestal to John N. Brown, 27 Oct 47, Day file, ibid.
24In addition to his duties as Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army, Evans was made aide to the Secretary of Defense on 29 October 1947. (See Memo, SecDef for SA et al., 29 Oct 47, D70-1-5, files of Historian, OSD.) Evans was subsequently appointed "civilian assistant" to the Secretary of Defense by Secretary Louis Johnson on 28 Apr 49. (See NME Press Release. 1 7-49-A.)
25Ltr, Gibson to Ohly, 25 Nov 47, D54-1-3, SecDef files.
26New York Times, November 23, 1947; Herald Tribune, November 23. 1947. See also L. D. Reddick. "The Negro Policy of the American Army Since World War 11," Journal of Negro History 38 (April 19533:194-215.
27Ltr, White to Forrestal, 17 Feb 48, D54-1-3, SecDef files.
28Ltr, Forrestal to Rear Adm W. B. Young, 2 3 Oct 47, quoted in Millis, Forrestal Diaries, p. 3 34.
29Interv, Blumenson with Marx Leva, Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (1947-49) and later Assistant Secretary of Defense (Legal and Legislative Affairs), 4 May 64, CMH files.
30Handwritten Memo, Leva for Forrestal, attached to Ltr, White to Forrestal, 17 Feb 48; Ltr, Leva to Granger, 19 Feb 48; Ltr, Granger to Forrestal, 2 Mar 48. All in D54-1-3, SecDef files. The quotation is from the 2 March letter.
31Memo, Marx Leva for SA et al., 13 Apt 48; idem for Forrestal, 24 Apt 48; Ltr, SecDef to All Invited, 10 Apr 48. All in D54-1-3, SecDef files. Those invited were Truman Gibson, Dr. Channing Tobias, Dr. Sadie T. M. Alexander; Mary McLeod Bethune; Dr. John W. Davis of West Virginia State College; Dr. Benjamin E. Mays of Morehouse College; Dr. Mordecai Johnson of Howard University; P. B. Young, Jr., of the Norfolk Journal and Guide; Willard Townsend of the United Transport Service Employees Rev. John H. Johnson of New York; Walter White; Hobson E. Reynolds of the International Order of Elks; Bishop J. W. Gregg of Kansas City; Loren Miller of Los Angeles; and Charles Houston of Washington, D.C. Unable to attend, White sent his assistant Roy Wilkins, Townsend sent George L. P. Weaver, and Mrs. Bethune was replaced by Ira F. Lewis of the Pittsburgh Courier.
32Representing eight papers, a cross section of the influential black press, the journalists included Ira F. Lewis and William G. Nunn, Pittsburgh Courier; Cliff W. Mackay, Afro-American Louis Martin and Charles Browning, Chicago Defender; Thomas W. Young and Louis R. Lautier, Norfolk Journal and Guide; Carter Wesley, Houston Defender; Frank L. Stanley, Louisville Defender; Dowdal H. Davis, Kansas City Call; Dan Burley, Amsterdam News. See Evans, list of Publishers and Editors of Negro Newspapers, Pentagon, 18 Mar 48, copy in CMH.
33Sentiments of the meeting were summarized in Ltr, Ira F. Lewis to Forrestal, 24 Mar 48; see also Ltr, Granger to Forrestal, 2 Mar 48; both in D54- 1-4, SecDef files.
34WD Ltr, AGAO—S 353 (28 May 47), WDGOT-M, 11 Jun 47.
35A Program for National Security: Report of the President's Advisory Commission on Universal Training 29 May 1947 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1947), p. 42.
36Senate, Hearings Before the Committee on Armed Services, Universal Military Training, 80th Cong., 2d sees., 1948, p. 688.
37Ibid., p. 689.
38Ibid,, pp.691-94. The quotation is from page 694.
39Ibid p. 645.
40The Philadelphia Inquirer, April it, 1948; PM, April 11, 1948. see also McCloy and Ruetten, Quest and Response, pp.107-08; "Crisis in the Making U.S. Negroes Tussle With the Issue," Newsweek, June 7, 1948, pp. 28-29; L. Bennett JR Confrontation Black and White (Chicago Johnson Press, 1965), pp. 192-94; Grant Reynolds, "A Triumph for civil Disturbance, Nation 167 (August 28,1948):228-29.
41New York Times, April 1, 1948.
42Washington Post, April 2,1948.
43McCoy and Ruetten, Quest and Response, p. 107.
44Department of National Defense, "National Defense Conference on Negro Affairs," 26 Apr 48. This document includes the testimony and transcript of the news conference that followed. Officials appearing before the committee included James Forrestal, Secretary of Defense; Robert P. Patterson, former Secretary of war, Marx Leva, Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense; James Evans, Adviser to the Secretary of Defense; Kenneth C. Royall, Secretary Of the Army; John N. Drown, Assistant Secretary of the Navy; W. Stuart Symington, Secretary of the Air Force; and personnel officials and consultants from each service.
45NME Press Releases, 26 Apr and 8 Sep 48.
46Memo, Forrestal for Marx Leva, 30 Apr 48; Ltr, Nelson to Leva, 24 May 48; Memo, Leva for SA, 25 May 48. All in D54-1 - 3, SecDef files.
47Ltr, Grant Reynolds and Randolph to Evans, 3 May 48; Memo, Evans for SecDef 13 May 48 sub commission Of Inquiry; both in SecDef files. See also A. Philip Randolph, Statement Before commission Of Inquiry, 8 May 48, Copy in USAF Special Files 35, 1948, SecAF files.
48New York Times, February 16, 1948.
49Ltr, Sen. Henry C. Lodge, Jr. (Mass.), to SecDef, 19 Apr 48, D54-1-3, SecDef files.
50McCoy and Ruetten, Quest and Response, pp. 98-99.
51Ltr Granger to Leva, 14 May 48, D54- 1 -3, SecDef files.
52Memo, Leva to Forrestal, 18 May 48, D54-1-3, SecDef files. Forrestal's response, suggesting that Lodge meet with Lester Granger to discuss the matter, was finally sent on 24 Jun 48. See also Memo, Leva for Forrestal, 22 Jun 48, and Ltr, SecDef to Sen. Lodge, 24 Jun 48, both in D5 1-1-3, SecDef files.
53Memo, James Forrestal for President, 28 May 48, Secretary's File (PSF), Harry S. Truman Library.
54Memo, President for SecDef, 1 Jun 48, Secretary's File (PSF), Truman Library.
55Note, SecDef for President, 31 May 48, sub: Conversation with Senator Taft, Secretary's File Truman Library.
56Interv, Nichols with Ewing; Interv, Blumenson with Leva.
57Memo, Clark Clifford for President, 19 Nov 47; ibid., 17 Aug 48, sub The 1948 campaign, both in Truman Library. See also Cabell A. Phillips, The Truman Presidency (New York Macmillan, 1966), pp. 198-99, and McCoy and Ruetten, Quest and Response, Ch. Vl.
58Interv, Nichols with Ewing.
59Quoted in Memo, Leva for SecDef, 15 Jul 48, D54-1-3, SecDef files.
60Quoted in Truman, Memoirs, Il: 183; see also Interv, Nichols with Truman, and Millis, Forrestal Diaries, p. 458.
61Interv, Nichols with Ewing.
62Memo, Niles for Clifford, 12 May 48; Memo, Clifford for SecDef, 13 May 48, Nash Collection, Truman Library.
63 Interv, Nichols with Ewing.
64Nichols, Breakthrough on the Color Front, p. 86.
65Ltr, Donald S. Dawson, Admin Asst to the President, to SecDef, 26 Jul 48. The executive order on equal opportunity for federal employees was also issued on 26 July.
66Columbia University Oral Hist Interv with Wilkins.
67Memo, Leva for Forrestal, 26 Jul 48, SecDef files.
68 Interv, Nichols with Ewing; Ltt. Atty Gen to President. 26Jul 48. 128S -0. copy in Eisenhower Library.
69Presidential News Conference, 29 Jul 48, Public Papers of the President, 1948, p. 422.
70Ltr, Dawson to Forrestal, 30 Jul 48, SecDef files.
71Memos, Leva for Forrestal, 3 and 12 Aug 48; Ltr, Forrestal to President, 3 Aug 48, D54-1-3, SecDef files.
72Ltr, Royall to President, 17 Sep 48, OSA 291.2 (17 Sep 48).
74Memo, Royall for Forrestal, 10 Sep 48, OSA 291.2 (10 Sep 48).
75Memo, Leva for Forrestal, I Sep 48, and Handwritten Note by Forrestal, D54-1-3, SecDef files.
76Memo, Leva for Forrestal, 18 Sep 48, D54- 1-3, SecDef files.
77Interv, Nichols with Ewing; Interv, Blumenson with Leva. Donahue resigned for health reasons shortly after the committee began its work; see Ltr, Donahue to Truman, 23 May 49, Truman Library. Luckman did not participate at all in the committee's work or sign its report. The committee's active members, in addition to its chairman, were Granger, Sengstacke, Palmer, and Stevenson.