That the late Charles W. Eliot, president of Harvard University, favored the appointment of Louis D. Brandeis as his successor, and that it was Mr. Brandeis, then Supreme Court justice, who was largely responsible for the appointment of Herbert Hoover as food administrator during the World War are two of the hitherto unknown chapters in the career of Justice Brandeis that are revealed for the first time in Norman Hapgood’s new book, The Changing Years, just published by Farrar & Rinehart.
In his chapter on The Harvard of Eliot, Mr. Hapgood tells how Dr. Eliot hailed with delight the suggestion that Mr. Brandeis, a distinguished son of Harvard, should succeed him. Mr. Hapgood writes that Dr. Eliot frankly told him he did not favor the leading possibility, Mr. Lowell, now president “and brought out his own choice, Mr. Jerome Green. I then presented the name of Mr. Louis D. Brandeis. Dr. Eliot was delighted.
OVERSEERS WOULD OBJECT
“The question of social prejudice was far from giving him concern. Rather it added to his enthusiasm. On that part of the subject he said: ‘I am a Unitarian. It would please me to be followed by a Jew. You know those seven men (the overseers) and what chance he will have, but I shall be please to put his name before them.’”
Devoting an entire chapter to Mr. Brandeis, Mr. Hapgood recalls that Justice Brandeis was President Wilson’s first choice for secretary of commerce and the appointment was side-tracked by political maneuvering. Citing as one of the few occasions on which Justice Brandeis permitted himself to act in a case not connnected with his judicial duties, Mr. Hapgood recounts the momentous role played by Justice Brandeis in the naming of Hoover as food administrator.
After Mr. Hoover had been called to Washington there was an interminable delay before he saw President Wilson and the future president was ready to quit Washington in disgust, Mr. Hapgood says. The matter was finally settled, Mr. Hapgood writes by “a telephone message from Mr. Brandeis to Mr. McAdoo, saying that, in the emergency of war, Hoover was too valuable a force to let slip away, and that McAdoo ought to make it his responsibility to see that the President acted. Mr. McAdoo did; and of course the chances are slight that if Mr. Hoover had not been food-controller he would ever have become our President.”