Kenneth Claiborne Royall, Sr. (1894-1971) Typed Letter Signed, " Kenneth Royall", 7 x 9, on "Secretary of War, Washington" letterhead, 29 July 1947, in part: "...I appreciate greatly your congratulations upon my appointment as Secretary of War. The interest and confidence of my friends will aid and encourage me greatly in the discharge of my duties....", by the United States Army general and the last person to hold the office of Secretary of War, as that position was abolished in 1947. Royall served as the first Secretary of the Army, (the successor position) from 1947 to 1949, until forced into retirement for refusal follow the President’s order to desegregate the military. In fine condition.
In 1942 eight Nazis bent on mayhem came ashore on Long Island but were soon caught and ordered to stand trial in a secret military tribunal. US President Franklin Roosevelt appointed Royall to defend them, but Roosevelt wanted no foolishness. He wanted the Nazis executed as soon as possible. Royall's orders were to stay away from civilian courts. Royall wrote to Roosevelt that he thought that the president had no authority to convene a secret court to try his clients, and Royall asked Roosevelt to change his order. The president refused, Royall and other lawyers in his office appealed to the Supreme Court, and argued that the secret tribunal was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court rejected Royall's argument in a brief announcement in July 1942 and upheld the right of the president to appoint a secret tribunal. However, Royall had succeeded in getting civilian court review of the tribunals' constitutionality despite the president's preference to hush things up. The Supreme Court published a more detailed opinion in October, saying, "Constitutional safeguards for the protection of all who are charged with offense are not to be disregarded." By then, six of Royall's clients were dead. They were tried, convicted, and executed in August 1942, only days after the Supreme Court's brief announcement upholding Roosevelt's tribunals. Two were sent to prison. Royall later said he believed his defense of the Nazis was his most important work in a long and illustrious career. He was promoted to brigadier general.