Posted: 2:33 am ET
On November 15, 1944, Robert M. Scotten, a career Foreign Service Officer serving as U.S. minister to the Dominican Republic, submitted his resignation to President Roosevelt “in accordance with traditional usage” according to The Text Message blog of the National Archives. Upon receipt, FDR sent a copy of the letter to Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles requesting preparation of a response for the President’s signature.
The Under Secretary sent the draft to the President under cover of a letter that read, in part:
It had been my understanding that during your Administration you have not expected chiefs of mission who have been promoted by you from the ranks of the Foreign Service to present their resignations before the commencement of your new term of office. In 1936, and again in recent weeks, I have told certain chiefs of mission who come within this category that that is my understanding.
In that belief I have drafted a reply for you to send to Scotten along these lines.
If I am mistaken in this understanding, will you let me know accordingly?
President Roosevelt responded with the following long memorandum:
According to The Text Message blog, a similar directive went out after the election of 1944. The Under Secretary of State Edward Stettinius asked President Roosevelt if he wanted to follow the same practice and FDR “said he thought it would be wise.” As a result, the Department of State sent the following telegram:Also see “In the Interest of the Efficiency of the Foreign Service”: Changes in U.S. Diplomatic Representation Abroad After the Election of 1944
The formal resignations by chiefs of mission has been the practice after every presidential election. We understand that a similar cable goes out even when there is a second presidential term. We are curious if the language of this cable has changed through the years. We will update if we are able to locate a copy of the current directive.