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THE PRESIDENCY: Pomp & Precedence

4 minute read

Five formal dinners and five formal receptions are the toll of ceremonial entertainment which custom and etiquet demand of a President. Last week President Roosevelt began his seasonal duty, to end only with Lent. The new White House china was not yet ready, but the old White House wine glasses were polished up and brought out for the first time since before Prohibition. Two kinds of light domestic wine were served. The occasion was the Cabinet Dinner but this year it became the Cabinet & Alphabet dinner and the State Department’s division of protocol made social history by deciding what New Deal agencies sat above other New Deal agencies in the realm of political politeness.

First, as ever, came the Cabinet, in order of importance headed by Secretary of State Hull, tailed by Madam Secretary of Labor Perkins, (She was the only Cabinet member unaccompanied by her spouse, Mr. Paul Wilson.) Second came Congress, as represented by Senator Pat Harrison. Third, to the surprise of many a guest, came Presidential Secretaries Louis McHenry Howe and Stephen T. Early, ahead of the diplomats home for the holidays: Ambassador Long from Rome, Ambassador Weddell from Buenos Aires, Ambassador Bullitt from Moscow, Minister Emmet from The Hague. Others with their relative places in the social scale: Episcopal Bishop Freeman of Washington, Federal Reserve Governor Eccles, Comptroller General McCarl, Reconstruction Finance Chairman Jesse Jones, Tennessee Valley Authoritarian Arthur Ernest Morgan, Federal Emergency Relief Administrator Harry Hopkins, National Industrial Recovery Board’s Samuel Clay Williams, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s Leo T. Crowley, National Labor Relations Board’s Francis Biddle, National Emergency Council’s Donald Richberg, Federal Alcohol Control Administration’s Joseph H. Choate Jr. Tail-enders in precedence were Mrs. Malvina Thompson Schneider, Mrs. James M. Helm and Miss Marguerite Le Hand, private secretaries to Mrs. Roosevelt and the President.

¶ Dr. Ross T. Mclntire, naval physician in attendance at the White House, rendered an interim report on his duties: the President is “in better physical shape” than at any time since March 4, 1933.

¶ Around the President’s desk last week assembled Myron Taylor of U. S. Steel, Eugene Gifford Grace of Bethlehem, Tom Mercer Girdler of Republic, many another steelmaster. Also on hand were Michael F. Tighe of the Amalgamated Iron, Steel & Tin Workers and William Green of the American Federation of Labor. They were all at the White House to report a deadlock over steel labor peace. The sticking point: Labor’s demand that if a majority in a steel plant voted for the A. F. of L. union, the union should then represent all employes. The President told them to be good boys and try again, ordered the Steel Labor Relations Board to “continue its good offices.”

¶ To friends and relations throughout the land President and Mrs. Roosevelt sent their Christmas Card: a photographic portrait of themselves sitting on a couch beside a White House fireplace. Another portrait of the President was also being distributed last week by the U. S. Government. It was a photograph of the President in profile sitting at his desk, looking into space, pen in hand to sign a paper. Its inscription: “To the pupils and teachers of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt.” Copies may be obtained from the Government Printing Office for 10¢ each, 100 for $7.50. U. S. Commissioner of Education John Ward Studebaker’s first print order called for 30,000, but he estimates he will need at least 50,000 more.

¶ Up from White Sulphur Springs scurried Charles Bismark Ames, chairman of Texas Corp., bearing a copy of a Recovery program drafted by 90 U. S. tycoons (see p. 10). Into the White House he rushed eagerly, expecting to present his document at once to the President. Instead Pat McKenna, Presidential switchman, shunted him in to see Presidential Secretary Marvin Mclntyre. The President, said Mr. Mclntyre, just had too many appointments to see Mr. Ames that day. Perhaps Mr. Ames could stay over a day or two? Mr. Ames could not. So he left his program with Secretary Mclntyre.

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