The Frank Knox Page

The New Hampshire Bass-Bridges Machine

"The late U.S. Sen. Styles Bridges once told his friend and confidente, Gov. Robert Bass, that he 'hit and killed a girl' with a car, Bass' son, Perkins, says... Bridges, perhaps the most powerful political figure ever to represent New Hampshire in Washington, has long been rumored to have been involved. But until these articles, his name was never published in connection with the case.

"The Bass-Bridges relationship was legendary in New Hampshire politics in the first half of the 20th century. Styles Bridges was both protege and employee of Robert Bass, who was a founder of the Progressive Republican movement. Bass was elected governor in 1910, serving a single term, and championed the 1912 'Bull Moose' presidential campaign of Theodore Roosevelt. He also encouraged Col. Frank Knox, a Roosevelt ally, to start a New Hampshire newspaper, which later merged with rivals and is now the Union Leader....

"B.J. McQuaid, co-founder of the New Hampshire Sunday News, had worked on the Manchester Union until its owner, Col. Frank Knox, brought him out to the Chicago Daily News in 1937. It was in Chicago, he said, that he got word that his father-in-law was in trouble. (New recollections point to Bridges as driver. By Joseph McQuaid, Publisher, Union Leader and Sunday News.)

McQuaid / Union Leader and Sunday News

1936 Presidential Election

"In 1936 (Roosevelt-Wallace versus Landon-Knox) Lasker was much more active, largely because he had a new political hero now - Frank Knox. Knox, a ruddy-faced extrovert with teeth which literally snapped when he talked, and who played golf with blunt fury, had become publisher of the Chicago Daily News, and was one of Lasker's intimates. Lasker, assisted by Colonel William J. ("Wild Bill") Donovan, played a considerable role in getting Knox the vice-presidential nomination, and then managed his campaign. He was also, of course, a leading member of the Illinois delegation at the convention. After the nominations Lasker called a meeting of a dozen Republican bigwigs, and asked for money to support Landon-Knox. He said, in his most winning impresario manner, 'I am putting up $50,000. I will judge whether you are better or worse off than I am by what you put in.' The only man to give more was Colonel Robert R. McCormick of the Chicago Tribune, but in half an hour the meeting produced $600,000. So were campaign funds raised in those happy days, before the Hatch Act limited contributions to a miserable $5,000." (Taken at the Flood, The Story of Albert D. Lasker. By John Gunther. Harper and Sons, 1960.)

The Chicago Sun

From The Colonel. The Life and Legend of Robert R. McCormick, 1880-1955. By Richard Norton Smith. Houghton Mifflin Co. 1997:

Department store heir Marshall Field III, who bankrolled Ralph Ingersoll's leftist New York journal PM, and launched the Sunday supplement Parade, "wanted to invade the Chicago market. He hoped to purchase both the Chicago Times and Frank Knox's Daily News,... and merge the two papers into a Tribune rival... Shrewdly, Knox concealed from Field the parlous state of his finances. By playing hard to get, he only inflamed his suitor. Field pursued his quarry to Washington, where he was taken out on the official yacht used as a residence by the secretary of the navy. Then he was taken. According to John S. Knight, who purchased the Daily News from the Knox estate in 1944, Roosevelt was the guiding force behind the sweetheart contract by which Knox agreed, for the princely sum of $400,000 a year, to lease Field three vacant floors of the Daily News Building, along with the use of presses idle during the overnight hours. (p. 410)

Fields recruited Silliman Evans, editor of the Nashville Tennessean, whose "political godfather" was Houston financier Jesse H. Jones. "Jones' methods of acquiring riches and denying them to competitors had raised eyebrows even in Texas. In 1928 he had helped bankroll the Democratic national convention in his city in the forlorn hope that weary delegates might be stampeded to a hometown favorite. Named to the board of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, he had used his power to rescue his faltering banks and mortgage companies. Roosevelt justifiably distrusted the ambitious Texan, whose pontifical manner won him mockery as Jesus H. Jones. Yet FDR raised Jones to the chairmanship of the RFC, and didn't hesitate to ask his appointee, 'as a special favor,' to liquidate substantial debts run up by Elliott Roosevelt in a bankrupt Texas radio network.

"Now, as part of a disinformation campaign, Silliman Evans spread stories through the Chicago grapevine that Field was prepared to sink at least $9 million into his as yet unnamed paper, with Jesus H. Jones and the full resources of the federal government ready to assist the venture if and when the liberal philanthropist flagged in his commitment. Frank Knox fed McCormick's paranoia by renting facilities to Field and bragging that the Morning Colonel had at last met his match. The war of nerves escalated throughout the autumn of 1941. A $10,000 contest to name the embryonic paper attracted 220,000 entries. Evans hired former Newsweek editor Rex Smith to oversee the newly christened Chicago Sun. To run the Washington bureau, he chose Bascom Timmons, a veteran capital reporter with close ties to Jesse Jones. Most spectacularly, he raided the New York Times, making off with the distinguished Turner Catledge as a roving 'world correspondent.' (p. 413). ...Field's audacious challenge to McCormick, said the London Daily Mail, represented 'the last great drive to torpedo isolationism' in the United States (p.414).

An unnamed colonel leaked a confidential report of Roosevelt's Victory Program to isolationist Sen. Burton Wheeler, who shared it with Chesly Manly of The Tribune. Incited by rivalry against the Sun, the Tribune published it as a sensational plan for total war on two oceans and three continents. The FBI, army and naval intelligence grilled Manly and other Tribune employees. But "Perhaps the most curious response to the Tribune story came from the White House. At a December 5 press conference, Roosevelt made no direct comment on the security breach. Instead, he directed press inquiries to the War Department, where Secretary Stimson read a prepared statement castigating McCormick without mentioning him by name. Back at the White House, Steve Early blandly acknowledged the right of a free press to print whatever came into its possession. And the Office of War Information employed its shortwave radio to rush the offending story to enslaved Europe and Nazi Berlin (to which the "Roosevelt War Plan" had already been cabled by the German embassy in Washington).

"At a cabinet meeting on December 6, Attorney General Francis Biddle observed that McCormick might be liable to prosecution under the World War I-era Espionage Act. Harold Ickes wanted to know if the Colonel was still a reserve officer and therefore subject to court-martial. Both men expected hearty agreement from the president. Yet Roosevelt seemed oddly detached. Could he know more than he was letting on? Was the story, disseminated abroad, a deliberate plant, designed to goad Hitler into a suicidal declaration of war on the United States? So asserted the author of A Man Called Intrepid. As William Stephenson had it, the Victory Program was a brilliant hoax concocted by British agents, then slipped to a credulous Senator Wheeler by a cooperative U.S. army officer and double agent.... What is beyond question is the unintended (by McCormick) consequence of the Tribune's exposé. On December 11, the fox in the White House provoked the Berlin crow into a fatal miscalculation. On that date, Hitler appeared before the Reichstag to declare war on the United states. He justified the step - to the historian Martin Gilbert, 'perhaps the greatest error, and certainly the most decisive act, of the Second World War - as a preemptive measure to forestall the huge invasion described by the Tribune and its sister publications in New York and Washington." (pp 418-419)

The War in the Pacific

From "FDR: Pacific Warlord," by Tom Mayock. "Like Stimson, Frank Knox was appointed as Navy secretary for his political ties to interventionist Republicans, and in a vain attempt to 'get real control' of the Navy. He was feisty in the Bull Moose tradition, sympathetic to Britain, jumped to conclusions and was a firm believer in Fifth Columns, especially Japanese. FDR apparently hoped that he would be more independent of the admirals than had been Edison. These Republicans gave the Third Term a nonpartisan veneer. FDR had tried to recruit the entire 1936 Republican ticket of Landon and Knox, and even offered to set up a Cabinet post -- "secretary for air" -- for Charles Lindbergh, presumably to muffle his isolationism."

Mayock Ch. 4 / Tom Mayock

"He had been negotiating with FDR since the previous December, but not until June 19, 1940 did Frank Knox agree to become Secretary of the Navy. A few weeks later, around the time Japan was concluding a defensive alliance with Germany and Italy, designed to discourage the United States from entering the war, he made a long, weary trip to Hawaii in a flying boat to visit Richardson, his most important, and obstreporous, admiral. Accompanying him was his mentor, William J. Donovan, "Wild Bill," the war hero FDR had sent to Britain to gauge its chances of holding out. On Donovan's return from England, newspaperman Knox had arranged for him to publish a series of articles on the Fifth Column's part in the German victories in Europe, echoing warnings the president had sounded in a speech in late May.

Richardson laid down a strenuous program for the visitors, even to flying them off the carrier Enterprise -- Donovan lost his wallet, watch, and four hundred dollars when his coat blew out of the cockpit. Knox, who had been appointed for his political ties but also to help tame the admirals, took up the argument with Richardson, who was still unhappy about keeping the fleet at Pearl. The secretary thought the fleet wasn;t war-minded enough, and the visit wasn't a success. Afterwards the unrepentent Richardson even complained to Knox that he had omitted the usual courtesy of thanking the fleet for its welcome....

"...At this point Richardson had finally had it with Knox and Roosevelt. On October 8th he took his complaints to lunch at the White House. To the astonishment and consternation of former CNO Bill Leahy, who happened to be eating with FDR, he ruined the president's lunch by deliberately telling him that senior naval officials lacked the trust and confidence in their civilian leaders necessary to wage a successful war in the Pacific..."

Mayock Ch. 5 / Tom Mayock

Artemus L. Gates, of Skull & Bones Class of 1918, was appointed Knox's Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Air in August 1941 (Names A.L. Gates to Navy Air Post. New York Times, Aug. 20, 1941). Gates was the son-in-law of Henry P. Davison, chairman of the Red Cross War Council in 1917 that sent the mission to Russia to aid the Bolsheviks in 1917.

Pearl Harbor Attack: The Great Deception. "To better understand why I believe events such as what happened on September 11, 2001 are allowed to happen, one can look all the way back to December 1941. Even then our government was under the control of a diabolical shadow government.... Internal army and navy inquiries in 1944 held Stark and Marshall derelict of duty for keeping the Hawaiian commanders in the dark. But the military buried those findings. As far as the public knew, the final truth was uncovered by the Roberts Commission, headed by Justice Owen Roberts of the Supreme Court, and convened eleven days after the attack. Like another investigative commission headed by a Supreme Court justice on a different topic more than twenty years later, the Roberts Commission appeared to have identified the culprits in advance and gerrymandered its inquiries to make the suspects appear guilty. The scapegoats were Kimmel and Short, who were both publicly crucified, forced to retire, and denied the open hearings they desired. One of the Roberts Commission panelists, Admiral William Standley, would call Roberts's performance 'crooked as a snake.'

"There were eight investigations of Pearl Harbor altogether. The most spectacular was a joint House-Senate probe that reiterated the Roberts Commission findings. At those hearings, Marshall and Stark testified, incredibly, that they could not remember where they were the night the war declaration came in. But a close friend of Frank Knox, the Secretary of the Navy, later revealed that Knox, Stark, and Marshall spent most of that night in the White House with Roosevelt awaiting the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the chance for America to join World War II..." (Link died:

New FOIA files imply Knox had prior knowledge

Do Freedom of Information Act Files Prove FDR Had Foreknowledge of Pearl Harbor? An Interview with Robert B. Stinnett by Douglas Cirignano, The Independent Institute March 11, 2002.

You write that in late November 1941 an order was sent out to all US military commanders that stated: 'The United States desires that Japan commit the first overt act.' According to Secretary of War Stimson, the order came directly from President Roosevelt. Was FDR's cabinet on record for supporting this policy of provoking Japan to commit the first overt act of war?

Stinnett: I don't know that he revealed it to the cabinet. He may have revealed it to Harry Hopkins, his close confident, but there's no evidence that anybody in the cabinet knew about this.

I thought you wrote in your book that they did... That some of them were on record for...

Stinnett: Well, some did. Secretary of War Stimson knew, based on his diary, and also probably Frank Knox, the Secretary of Navy knew. But Frank Knox died before the investigation started. So all we really have is Stimson, his diary. And he reveals a lot in there, and I do cite it in my book... You must mean his war cabinet. Yes. Stimson's diary reveals that nine people in the war cabinet - the military people - knew about the proocation policy.

[Stinnett also reveals that Japanese messages in the first week of December which indicated that Pearl Harbor would be attacked were intercepted: "They were intercepted. That is correct. They were sent by RCA communications. And Roosevelt had sent David Sarnoff, who was head of RCA, to Honolulu so that this would facilitate getting these messages even faster."]

Stinnett interview / The Independent Institute 2002

Knox was a correspondent of Karl Henry von Wiegand from 1928-35. Other correspondents of von Wiegand were Ernest F. Sedgwick Hanfstaengl, aka "Putzi," with whom he was a correspondent from 1924-1948; and Frank E. Mason, between 1921 and 1957. Von Wigand was Berlin correspondent for the United Press in 1914, and principal correspondent for Hearst's International News Service in Central Europe for 25 years.

Karl H. von Wiegand Papers / Online Archive of California

Letter from William E. Dodd, US Ambassador to Germany, to President Roosevelt, March 20, 1935, conveying von Wiegand's claim that the Hearst newspapers supported Mussolini and Hitler, and also noting von Wiegand's pro-German sympathies in the First World War.

Dodd to FDR, March 20, 1935 / FDR Presidential Library

Frank Mason (1893-1979) was a regimental intelligence officer and intelligence school instructor in World War I, and did "important assignments for General Pershing after the Armistice." He was an executive of the International News Service from 1920-31, and NBC from 1931-45; and was Knox's special assistant for public relations while Knox was Secretary of the Navy. He was also a correspondent of Lewis L. Strauss from 1945-75, and of Julius Klein after 1946.

Frank E. Mason Papers / Hoover Institution Archives

Ernest F. Sedgwick Hanfstaengl, aka "Putzi:" "In brief, Putzi was an American citizen at the heart of the Hitler entourage from the early 1920s to the late 1930s." He had been a friend of Franklin Delano Roosevelt since their Harvard days, and helped finance Hitler's "Mein Kampf." (Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler, by Antony Sutton. Chapter 8, Putzi: a friend of Hitler and Roosevelt.)

Putzi, Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler / Reformed Theology

Hitler's Americanization, by Nikos Raptis. Zmag, June 4, 1999.

Raptis / Zmag

Internment of Japanese-Americans

From Manzanar Historic Resource Study / Special History Study, Chapter 2: Exclusion of persons of Japanese ancestry from the west coast of the United States - Historic context for Executive Order 9066. US National Park Service Jan 1, 2002.

"A prewar agreement made the Department of Justice responsible for controlling enemy aliens in the continental United States in the event of war. During 1941, this department, primarily through its Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), scrutinized the records of prospective enemy aliens and compiled lists of those against whom there were grounds for suspicion of disloyalty. Three presidential proclamations of December 7 and 8, 1941, dealing with the control of Japanese and of German and Italian aliens, respectively, provided the basis for immediate action against those so suspected by the Department of Justice....

"During the first few days after Pearl Harbor a large number of reports - all later proven to be false - of enemy ships surfaced on the west coast, fanning the flames of racial hysteria and wartime panic. In this atmosphere, the first proposal for mass evacuation of the Japanese developed. On December 10, a Treasury Department agent reported to Army authorities that 'an estimated 20,000 Japanese in the San Francisco metropolitan area were ready for organized action.' Without checking the authenticity of the report, the Ninth Corps Area staff hurriedly completed a plan for the evacuation of the purported subversives that was approved by the corps area commander. The next day the local FBI chief stopped further local action by characterizing the report 'as the wild imaginings of a discharged former FBI man,' but the corps area commander reported the incident to Washington and expressed the hope that 'it may have the effect of arousing the War Department to some action looking to the establishment of an area or areas for the detention of aliens.' His recommendation that 'plans be made made for large-scale internment' was forwarded to military leaders in Washington.

"When Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox returned to the mainland from a visit to Hawaii on December 15, he told the press, 'I think the most effective Fifth Column work of the entire war was done in Hawaii with the possible exception of Norway.' His accompanying recommendation for the removal of all Japanese, regardless of citizenship, from Oahu was another of a growing series of calls for mass racial exclusion. The basis of Knox's statement was never made clear, and his official report on December 16 contained no reference to Fifth Column activities. Instead, it described espionage by Japanese consular officials and praised the Japanese Americans who had manned machine guns against the enemy. Nevertheless, his earlier comments to the press received widespread attention in major west coast newspapers, and nothing was promptly done at the highest levels of government to repudiate Knox's initial statement or publicly to affirm the loyalty of persons of Japanese descent.

Manzanar / National Park Service

Albert Lasker's son Edward, and Adlai Stevenson Jr. served as one of Knox's assistants in the office of the Secretary of the Navy. Another member of Knox's staff, Richard M. Paget, was a founder of Cresap, McCormick and Paget at 120 Broadway, New York City; an activist in the American Cancer Society - New York City Division; one of the creators of the Environmental Protection Agency; and a director of Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company.

The Frank Knox Memorial Fellowships at Harvard University

Official PR bio of Frank Knox, 1874-1944, emphasizes his anglophilia. "By 1927, Knox had become General Manager of all 27 of William Randolph Hearst's dailies," until 1931, when he became publisher and manager of the Chicago Daily News until appointed as Secretary of the Navy in 1940.

The Frank Knox Memorial Fellowships / Harvard University

Lasker ties with Frank L. Bennack Jr., President and CEO of the Hearst Corporation.

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cast 07-06-10