Title Harry S. Truman
Number 53333
Size Various
Date March 29, 1947
Place Washington, D.C.
Category Presidential
Price $22,500.00
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Truman signed ornate Certificate and White House Citation for Secretary of the Treasury John W. Snyder’s Significant Role in “the successful prosecution of the war” providing the tools “with which to forge the weapons for victory…” – Snyder directed the financing of the facilities at Oak Ridge for the construction of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki which effectively ended World War II.
Custom-made Scrapbook, five black sheets, 14” x 11”, green morocco softcover, gilt-lined at perimeter of front cover. Imprinted in gilt in the center “The Medal for Merit” and in the lower right, “John W. Snyder.”

A color image of the Medal for Merit, 2.5” x 6”, is tipped to the first page. The following two signed documents are tipped to two separate sheets:

(1) Engraved Document Signed “Harry S Truman�� as “Commander-in-Chief” and “Dean Acheson” as Acting Secretary of State, one page, 12” x 9.75”. Washington, March 29, 1947. The words “Novus Ordo Seclorum” (“New Order for the Ages” – Latin) is embossed at top center. Appearing on the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States, it appears on the back of the one dollar bill. The text, (all in upper case) in full, “The United States of America / To all who shall see these presents, Greeting: / This is to Certify that / the President of the United States of America / in accordance with the Order issued by General / George Washington at Headquarters, Newburgh, / New York, on August 7, 1782, and pursuant to Act / of Congress, has awarded the Medal / For Merit / to / John Wesley Snyder / for extraordinary fidelity and exceptionally / Meritorious Conduct / Given Under My Hand in the City of Washington / this 29th day of March 1947.” Fine condition

(2) Typed Document Signed “Harry S Truman” as President, one page, 8” x 10”. The White House, March 29, 1947. Titled in upper case: “Citation of Accompany the Award/ of / the Medal for Merit / to / John Wesley Snyder.” In full, “JOHN WESLEY SNYDER, for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the United States from August, 1940 to August, 1943. Mr. Snyder, as Executive Vice President of the Defense Plant Corporation, effectively directed the detailed organization of the Corporation to provide for the financing and construction of facilities required for the successful prosecution of the war. As a result of his foresight, initiative, and great ability he played an outstanding part in providing American industry and the Armed Services with the machine tools and plants with which to forge the weapons for victory. Under his aggressive leadership and diligent efforts, aircraft plants were constructed and equipped in a minimum of time, and the productive capacity to support a modern air force was thus established. Mr. Snyder's achievements and patriotic devotion reflect the highest credit upon himself and the Government of the United States.” Fine condition.

Tipped to the next page:

(3) Photograph stamped “Acme Newspictures” on verso. Silver gelatin print, 9” x 7”. Pictures, left to right, Drucie Snyder, her father John W. Snyder, President Truman, Mrs. John W. Snyder (Evlyn Cook Snyder), and First Lady Bess Truman. Photographed just outside the White House, probably in the White House rose garden. A smiling President Truman is holding the Merit for Merit which he had just pinned on Secretary of the Treasury Snyder. Not signed.

The engraved certificate and citation are each dated March 29, 1947. The President’s Appointments Calendar for Saturday, March 29, 1947, lists “11 am Honorable John W. Snyder.” President Truman may or may not have presented these two documents to Snyder at that time. The Treasury Secretary did not receive his Medal for Merit until Wednesday, May 14, 1947. The Appointment Calendar for that day: “12:30 pm The President presented the Medal for Merit to Honorable John W. Snyder, the Secretary of the Treasury. This was a surprise to Mr. Snyder and Mrs. Snyder invited the following guests.” Ninety names are listed.

(4) News clippings from May 14, 1947, editions of “The Washington Post” and “New York Herald Tribune,” each taped to a 5” x 10” sheet of the respective newspaper’s stationery, are tipped to the next sheet. “The Post” notes that “the ceremony took place in the White House rose garden as Cabinet officers and friends looked on.” The “Tribune” story begins, “John W. Snyder, Secretary of the Treasury, was called to the White House at noon today on what was called urgent business. When he got there, President Truman pinned the Medal of [sic, for] Merit on him for his work as war-time executive vice president of the Defense Plants Corporation…” The article concludes, “the President , grinning broadly, told Mr. Snyder informally: ‘You certainly deserved it. That medal board had no instructions from any one. It is an independent board. And it is the hardest medal to get within the gift of the government.’ Today’s medal was the 283d [sic 238th] awarded under an act of Congress of July 20, 1942, creating the medal. It is the highest honor to civilians for aid in the war, and ranks with the Distinguished Service Medal which is conferred only on military personnel.” The three-member Medal for Merit Committee, appointed by President Truman on October 3, 1945, was composed of retired Supreme Court Justice Owen D. Roberts, U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Justice Lawrence D. Groner, and former FDR and Truman Press Secretary Stephen Early.

(5) An eight page. 11.75” x 9.25”, listing of the 238 recipients of the Medal for Merit has been tipped to the next sheet. Also present, is a four page, 9” x 11.25” reprint from the “Congressional Record” of “Remarks of Hon. Eugene J. Keogh of New York in the House of Representatives Wednesday, July 23, 1947,” titled “Medal for Merit.” It lists the names of 263 recipients, including John W. Snyder. Each listing is alphabetical.

From John W. Snyder’s Oral History Interview in Washington, D.C., May 28, 1969, with Jerry N. Hess for the Truman Library:

“HESS: When did you first find out about the bomb?
SNYDER: I don't know whether I've ever told you this story, but that was one of the great secrets that I tried hardest not to know about.
HESS: Was it that difficult not to know about it?
SNYDER: Yes. You see I was running the Defense Plant Corporation and I was being called on to finance plants with some rather large expenditures and – ‘Well, don't ask about this.’ This was not on the project exactly, but on some plants and equipment connected with the project.
HESS: Hanford?
SNYDER: Yes, for one. The Defense Plant Corporation was called on to do some of the financing there. I had a friend Earl Stewart, who was the president of Comstock Company who had been given the contract to install some of the highly top secret electrical machinery that went into...
HESS: Oak Ridge?
SNYDER: Oak Ridge and also Hanford. And Earl used to come and want to sit down and talk about the problems that he had. I'd say, ‘I don't want to know about it. Please don't tell me.’ Frankly, I had all sorts of notions and I just wanted to keep it that way that I didn't know precisely what they were up to. Many of my British and French friends would ask me a good number of questions. You see, we didn't have a French government to deal directly with, but we had some friends of the French people who were always around trying to find out what was going on. I had known them in the banking business and so on, and they would keep coming in and, ‘There's some thing big going on. The United States is working on something now. You ought to know about it.’ ‘Well,’ I said, ‘I know nothing about it.’ I remember going down to Knoxville to address the Tennessee Bankers Association and, oh, the pressure they put on me about that Oak Ridge plant. They said, ‘Great carloads, trainloads of stuff pour in there and we never see anything come out. What'’ going on over there?’ Well, it was fascinating and when I actually knew about it, I think was along in the spring when I knew precisely what was going on. I think it was in the spring of ‘45…
HESS: About the same time Mr. Truman did, or perhaps a little before that?
SNYDER: Well, I don't want to measure the days but I think it was along about the same time…”
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