Born: September 25, 1909
Richmond, Indiana

Died: January 2, 2003
Washington, D.C.

Summary by
Genevieve Beske

Interviews Conducted by
William B. Schultz, Esq.

 Warner W. Gardner, Esq.

Oral History Text & Documentation

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Oral History Summary

BIOGRAPHY – October 16, 1998

I was born in 1909, graduated from Swarthmore College in 1930, from Rutgers University (M.A. economics) in 1931, and from Columbia Law School in 1934.

On Columbia’s recommendation I served as law clerk to Justice Harlan F. Stone of the Supreme Court during its 1934-1935 Term. There followed six years in the Office of Solicitor General, where I served under Solicitors General Reed, Jackson and Biddle. From 1938 to 1941 I was First Assistant to the Solicitor General.

I became Solicitor of Labor in October 1941 but after ten months moved five blocks west to become Solicitor of Interior. A year later I joined the Special Branch of the Army Military Intelligence.  I was shortly assigned to the British “code-breaking” unit at Bletchly, England, which after a half-year reassigned me to handle their “Ultra” intelligence at the 6th U.S. Army Group, forming the southern flank of the Allied movement across Europe. I returned to the Pentagon on the German surrender and to the Interior Department of the Japanese surrender.

Secretary Ickes resigned in February 1946 after a quarrel with President Truman. As the offices of Under Secretary and one of the two Assistant Secretaries happened to be vacant at the time, I was thrust into administrative and policy work, becoming Assistant Secretary in the spring of 1946. I resigned a year later n order to resume the practice of my profession.

I had expected to join the Columbia faculty but was persuaded by Frank Shea to join him in forming a new law firm. We had an unusually interesting calendar of litigation for a two-man firm, but for the first four or five years, having no significant clients of my own, I was perforce an assistant to Shea. By one accident or another that situation changed and there followed a half century of interesting but hardly momentous work at Shea & Gardner.

My last Supreme Court argument was in 1982, my last Court of Appeals argument was in 1988 and my last proceeding before an administrative agency was in 1989. The subsequent decade has been pleasant enough but lacks the promise of spring necessary to call it a time of hibernation.