Leslie Groves

Bernard Baruch Complains of Draft Exceptions for "Embryo Scientists"

Bernard Baruch Complains of Draft Exceptions for “Embryo Scientists”


BERNARD M. BARUCH, Typed Letter Signed, to Leslie R. Groves, April 3, 1948, New York, NY. 1 p., 7.75" x 9.875". Includes copy of Typed Letter to Bourke B. Hickenlooper, April 3, 1948. Very good.



Baruch to Groves:

“Yes, I am familiar with the difficulties of handling labor. I hoped to overcome all that by the Work-or-Fight clause which we did not have in the last Draft Act, but which we did have in the first World War. Furthermore, there were too many people engaged in needless occupations. You are quite right about the exemption of ‘embryo scientists.’ The total of these would make one think this whole nation were going to be composed of scientists.”


[Baruch?] to Hickenlooper:

“I have before me a copy of Bill S 2223, in reference to General Leslie Richard Groves. It would be a fine thing to see that put through. It is hard to realize what he accomplished in the most trying circumstances. It is going to be very difficult to get line officers to undertake the kind of work he did if they feel they will not be properly rewarded.”


Historical Background

Conscription in World War II began in the United States in 1940 and eventually drafted 11 million men. The choice of who got drafted and who got a deferment was largely up to local draft boards. Early work on the atomic bomb under the Office of Scientific Research and Development (before the Manhattan Project was organized) was not exempt from the threat of having its scientists and technicians drafted. Officials had to send letters to local draft boards requesting exemption for their scientists without explaining or even naming the project on which they worked.


In October 1942, General Leslie Groves authorized automatic deferments for any scientists or technicians working on the Manhattan Project. Even if they were not involved directly in secret research, they knew the U.S. was conducting secret research. If drafted, they could be captured by enemy forces and share whatever information they had. However, Groves and other leaders were opposed to making the project a haven for draft dodgers.


During World War I, the War Department established a “work or fight” rule in 1918, threatening any unemployed male with immediate draft into the armed services. During World War II, Baruch alone opposed as an attack on labor a variant “work or fight” rule within the War Manpower Commission to draft labor for war production. Baruch feared that if the government could conscript labor, it could also conscript capital and everything else. He saw a key distinction between punishing a man for not working at a job he chose and forcing a man to labor at an appointed job. In 1947, after the war, Baruch used the imprecise “work or fight” phrase as support for his mobilization plans to avoid future wars.


On February 25, 1948, Senator Bourke B. Hickenlooper of Iowa introduced Senate Bill 2223 to promote Leslie R. Groves Jr. to the permanent rank of Major General in the U.S. Army as final recognition of Groves’s accomplishments. Although he had a temporary wartime rank of lieutenant general, his permanent rank was that of brigadier general. The bill allowed him to retire at his wartime rank of lieutenant general, with the promotion backdated to July 16, 1945, the date of the Trinity nuclear test. On June 15, the House of Representatives passed the bill without amendment, and President Harry S. Truman signed the bill into law on June 26, 1948.



Bernard M. Baruch (1870-1965) was born in South Carolina into a Jewish family, but the family moved to New York City in 1881. Baruch graduated from the City College of New York and became a financier and investor. By 1910, he was one of the most well-known financiers on Wall Street. He advised President Woodrow Wilson during World War I on national defense. In 1918, Baruch became chairman of the War Industries Board. During the 1930s, he was an adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who appointed him as a special adviser to the Office of War Mobilization at the beginning of World War II. Baruch supported a “work or fight bill” and helped American industries mobilize to produce war materials. In 1946, President Harry S. Truman appointed Baruch as U.S. representative to the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission, where he proposed international control of atomic energy, but the Soviet Union rejected the plan. Baruch resigned from the Commission in 1947, but he continued to advise on international affairs until his death.


Leslie R. Groves Jr. (1896-1970) was a United States Army General with the Corps of Engineers who oversaw the construction of the Pentagon and directed the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb during World War II. Born in New York to a Protestant pastor who became an army chaplain, Groves graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1918 in a course shortened because of World War I. He entered the Corps of Engineers and gained promotions to major by 1940. In 1941, he was charged with overseeing the construction of the Pentagon, the largest office building in the world, with more than five million square feet. Disappointed that he had not received a combat assignment, Groves instead took charge of the Manhattan Project, designed to develop an atomic bomb. He continued nominally to supervise the Pentagon project to avoid suspicion, gained promotion to brigadier general, and began his work in September 1942. The project headquarters was initially in the War Department building in Washington, but in August 1943, moved to Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He and physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer selected the site in Los Alamos, New Mexico, for a laboratory, and Groves pushed successfully for Oppenheimer to be placed in charge. Groves was in charge of obtaining critical uranium ores internationally and collecting military intelligence on Axis atomic research. Promoted to major general in March 1944, Groves received the Distinguished Service Medal for his work on the Manhattan Project after the war. In 1947, Groves became chief of the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project. He received a promotion to lieutenant general in January 1948, just days before meeting with Army Chief of Staff Dwight D. Eisenhower, who reviewed a long list of complaints against Groves. Assured that he would not become Chief of Engineers, Groves retired in February 1948. From 1948 to 1961, he was a vice president of Sperry Rand, an equipment and electronics firm. After retirement, he served as president of the West Point alumni association and wrote a book on the Manhattan Project, published in 1962.



This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.





Item: 67377

Price: $500.00
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Leslie Groves
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