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Franklin Roosevelt, glancing over his morning newspapers one day last week, suddenly frowned in displeasure. He had come upon a report saying that he was planning to stump the country on behalf of his plan to appoint six new members to the Supreme Court. A few minutes later Secretary Steve Early was out handing a bulletin to the press. It denounced the report as “false” and “hostile”: the President had no intention of making such a stumping tour.

One good reason why he had no such intention was that the best remembered precedent for it was Woodrow Wilson’s stumping expedition for the League of Nations. To that method belonged the stigma of failure and the bad aftertaste of an unpopular issue. Another reason was that if Franklin Roosevelt made such a tour it would be construed as an admission that the fate of his Court plan was precarious. Best reason of all was that Franklin Roosevelt had something that Woodrow Wilson did not have: the all-pervasive radio. He had scheduled a radio “fireside talk” for next week, and the Senate committee hearing on his Court bill had been postponed a day to let him plead his case in the public forum and headlines.

What arguments President Roosevelt would muster in two-syllable words for that important appeal were last week foreshadowed by an interview he gave. Arthur Krock, No. 1 Washington correspondent of the New York Times, was admitted to the Presidential presence and given the benefit of a pontifical discussion of the issue by the man most interested. Mr. Krock managed to get one paragraph for quasi-direct quotation (“the President this week has been saying to his friends”): “When I retire to private life on Jan. 20, 1941, I do not want to leave the country in the condition Buchanan left it to Lincoln.—If I cannot, in the brief time given me to attack its deep and disturbing problems, solve those problems, I hope at least to have moved them well on the way to solution by my successor. It is absolutely essential that the solving process begin at once.”

This implied two important points: 1) Talk of Franklin Roosevelt’s running for a third term is untrue. 2) His chief argument for his Court proposal will be a repetition of that which he used in his Message on the State of the Union two months ago: that Democracy must take all steps necessary for its very preservation. This he now interprets specifically to mean that laws which he believes necessary must not be declared unconstitutional by the courts.

One contention was entirely missing from the President’s brief as put to Mr. Krock, his original and now badly mangled argument that more and younger judges were needed on the Supreme Court in order to help the Court keep abreast of its work. Of that, apparently, no more will be heard.

¶ Two important visitors called at the White House. One was Georges Bonnet, new Ambassador from France (who year ago helped negotiate the Franco-U. S. trade agreement), suspected of being sent to attempt some arrangement of the French War Debt to the U. S. so that France can again borrow in this country. The other important visitor was President Roosevelt’s confrere, President Manuel Quezon of the Philippine Commonwealth, who came chiefly to seek tariff concessions, had luncheon off a tray on President Roosevelt’s desk, was introduced to the Cabinet.

¶ To the Governors of all 48 States Franklin Roosevelt last week sent the draft of a law which he suggested that each State adopt: a law to authorize the creation of local soil conservation districts in which, provideda majority of landholders approved, all farmers would be required to undertake practices to check erosion or be subject to fines.

¶ From Kansas, home of Alf Landon, President Roosevelt was pleased to hear the news that the Child Labor Amendment had been ratified—making the 28th State to do so. To New York, his own State, where the Amendment had so far been approved only by the State Senate, the President sent a telegram urging ratification by the Lower House. He was displeased to hear that Cardinal Hayes and the six Roman Catholic bishops of New York had come out against the Amendment with the result that 15 Democratic legislators had turned against it, seriously endangering passage.

¶ The President received a telegram from six Governors who supported him in last year’s campaign, Benson of Minnesota, Horner of Illinois, Hurley of Massachusetts, La Follette of Wisconsin, Lehman of New York, Quinn of Rhode Island. Having just held a get-together in Manhattan, they wired their protest against expected WPA reductions (TIME, Feb. 8) and said: “We would very much like at the earliest opportunity to confer with you.” The President agreed, set the date for March 6.

—James Buchanan believed in strict construction of the Constitution and a laissez-faire Federal policy on slavery. He accepted the pro-slavery Dred Scott decision and sponsored “explanatory” (or, as they would now be called, “clarifying”) amendments of the Constitution. Chief criticism of his administration has been aimed at its final months when Buchanan temporized, asserted that South Carolina had no right to secede yet failed until too late to reinforce the U. S. garrison at Fort Sumter, leaving to his successor, Lincoln, a civil war half started and wholly unprepared against.

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