Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


Daniel F. Cleary Papers

Dates: 1947-1954

Chairman, War Claims Commission, 1949-1953

The papers of Daniel F. Cleary consist of correspondence, memoranda, newspaper clippings, printed material, a diary, and other items mostly pertaining to Cleary's work as chairman of the War Claims Commission from 1949 to 1953. The collection documents the U.S. government's response to claims for financial compensation from individuals and organizations affected by German and Japanese actions during World War II.

[Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List]


ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION

Size: 1.6 linear feet (about 3,200 pages)
Access: Open
Copyright: Mary C. Fleener has donated to the U.S. government her copyright interest in all writings in this collection, or in any other collection of papers in the custody of the National Archives and Records Administration. Documents created by U.S. government employees in the course of their official duties are also in the public domain. Copyright interest in other documents presumably belongs to the creators of those documents, or their heirs.
Processed by: Dennis Bilger and Randy Sowell (2003)


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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

1910 (June 4)Born, Chicago, Illinois
1934Received A.B. degree, Loyola University
1937 (April 10)Married Gertrude Scanlan
1937Received J.D. degree, Loyola University
1937-1942Practiced law in Chicago
1942-1945Served in U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II, rising to the rank of major
1945-1946 Retraining specialist, Retraining and Reemployment Administration, Department of Labor
1946-1949 Senior Attorney, Veterans' Administration
1949-1953 Chairman, War Claims Commission
1953 (December 5) Died, Chicago, Illinois

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COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

The papers of Daniel F. Cleary consist mostly of documents relating to his career as chairman of the War Claims Commission from 1949 to 1953. A native of Chicago, Cleary was educated in Catholic parochial schools and earned his baccalaureate and law degrees from Loyola University. After serving in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II, Cleary worked for the Retraining and Reemployment Administration and later became a senior attorney with the Veterans' Administration. In 1948-49, he actively sought appointment to the newly created War Claims Commission, receiving important support from such prominent Illinois Democrats as Senator Scott Lucas, Senator Paul Douglas, and Cook County Democratic Chairman Jacob Arvey. President Truman nominated Cleary for the post, and he was subsequently confirmed by the Senate and elected to serve as the commission's first chairman.

The War Claims Commission was created by the War Claims Act of 1948, and was responsible for investigating and adjudicating war claims arising out of World War II. Claims for financial compensation were filed with the commission by individuals and organizations that had been victimized by German and Japanese actions during the war. Many of the cases involved offenses committed by Japanese occupation forces in the Philippines; the claimants included ex-prisoners-civilians as well as military personnel-and religious organizations. The commission was charged with determining the appropriate amount of compensation for each claimant, based on the provisions of the War Claims Act. The commission was also required to submit semiannual reports on its activities to Congress, and prepare a general report to Congress on the problem of World War II claims that were not covered by the War Claims Act.

A quasi-judicial independent agency, the War Claims Commission was mandated by law to terminate its activities no later than March 31, 1955, and its three commissioners were appointed to serve for the duration of the commission's existence. In 1953, however, the new Eisenhower administration sought to replace the Truman appointees with commissioners of its own choosing. Cleary and his two colleagues resisted these efforts on legal grounds. The stress resulting from this controversy and from conflicts within the commission may have contributed to Cleary's fatal heart attack in December 1953. He was only forty-three years old.

Cleary's papers are organized into three series. The first series, the Correspondence File, contains correspondence, memoranda, printed material, and other items mostly documenting Cleary's chairmanship of the War Claims Commission. Included is his correspondence with organizations representing veterans, ex-prisoners of war, and former civilian internees; with individual claimants or their representatives; and with the President, members of Congress, and other government officials. The support Cleary received in his candidacy for appointment to the War Claims Commission in 1948-49 is reflected in correspondence with prominent political figures, Catholic clerics, and other friends. The Correspondence File also contains some documentation of Cleary's dispute with other members of the commission over the settlement of claims by religious organizations, and his conflict with the Eisenhower administration over the status of the Truman appointees. The series includes some personal correspondence and a considerable amount of biographical information concerning Cleary.

The Subject File includes a diary covering Cleary's career with the War Claims Commission from September 1949 to December 1953. Apparently maintained by Cleary's staff, the diary is not very informative concerning the first few months of his tenure, but beginning in January 1950 it provides a daily summary of the chairman's appointments, telephone calls, and other activities. This series contains a great amount of additional material documenting the work of the War Claims Commission, including memoranda, reports, application forms, press releases, and congressional testimony. The Subject File also features newspaper clippings and other printed material relating to Cleary, his work on the commission, and his involvement with the Democratic Party.

The last series, the Printed Materials File, contains published items mostly relating to the War Claims Commission. Included are relevant congressional hearings, as well as many of the semiannual reports of the War Claims Commission to Congress. In 1950, the commission submitted a report to President Truman and Congress in fulfillment of its assignment to consider the problem of claims not covered by the War Claims Act. Among other things, the commission concluded in the report that both Germany and Japan had engaged in wholesale violations of the rights of prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention. Both this report and a 1953 supplement are included in the Printed Materials File.

More information about Daniel F. Cleary, the War Claims Commission, and war claims arising out of World War II can be found at the Truman Library in the papers of Harry S. Truman (Official File 751) and Frank A. Waring.

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SERIES DESCRIPTIONS

Container Nos. Series
1 CORRESPONDENCE FILE, 1947-1954
Correspondence, memoranda, printed material, and other items. Arranged in alphabetical order.
2-3 SUBJECT FILE, 1947-1954
Memoranda, printed material, press releases, reports, a diary, and other items. Arranged in alphabetical order.
3-4 PRINTED MATERIALS FILE, 1950-1954
Congressional testimony, government reports, and other published items. Arranged in alphabetical order.

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FOLDER TITLE LIST
Box 1
  • Correspondence, A-H
      [1 of 3]
      [2 of 3]
      [3 of 3]
  • Correspondence, I-R
      [1 of 2]
      [2 of 2]
  • Correspondence, S-Z
Box 2
  • ACTU (Association of Catholic Trade Unionists)
  • Cleary, Daniel F.-Diary, War Claims Commission, 1949-53
  • Cleary, Daniel F.-General Information
  • Congressional Record, April 29, 1954
  • Democratic National Committee-Political Memorabilia
  • Eisenhower, Dwight D.-Letter to Daniel F. Cleary, October 28, 1953
  • Federal Register, December 29 and 30, 1949
  • Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner
  • Jefferson Jubilee and Truman Times, May 15, 1950
  • National Convention of the Workers of Wake, Guam and Cavite, Sir Francis Drake Hotel, San Francisco, December 8-10, 1950
  • Newspaper Clippings, Etc.
  • O'Hara Report from Congress (Congressman Barratt O'Hara)
  • War Claims Commission-The First Six Months, September 14, 1949 to March 13, 1950
  • War Claims Commission-Forms and Applications
  • War Claims Commission-Memoranda, Reports and Statements, 1952-53
  • War Claims Commission-Names and Addresses of Employees, November 20, 1952
  • War Claims Commission-News Release from Congressman Eugene J. McCarthy, October 3, 1953
  • War Claims Commission-Press Releases
Box 3
  • War Claims Commission-Programs and Performance
  • War Claims Commission-Religious Claims Under P.L. 303
  • War Claims Commission-Report to the President, January 9, 1953
  • War Claims Commission-Wake Island Case
  • War Claims Commission-" War Claims Act of 1948"
  • A Follow-Up Study of World War II Prisoners of War, by Bernard M. Cohen and Maurice Z. Cooper, September 21, 1954
  • Amendments to War Claims Act of 1948-Hearings Before a Subcommittee of the House Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee, 81st Congress, 2nd Session, 1950
  • Bills Relating to War Claims Act of 1948 and Trading with the Enemy Act-Hearings Before the House Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee, 82nd Congress, 1st and 2nd Sessions, 1951-1952
  • Congressional Directory, 81st Congress, 2nd Session, January 1950
Box 4
  • Independent Offices Appropriations for 1951-Hearings Before a Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, 81st Congress, 2nd Session, 1950
  • Independent Offices Appropriations for 1953-Hearings Before a Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, 82nd Congress, 2nd Session, 1952
  • Report of War Claims Commission-Message from the President of the United States Transmitting the Report of the War Claims Commission on War Claims Arising out of World War II. Submitted to the President, March 31, 1950. Transmitted to Congress, May 3, 1950
  • War Claims Arising Out of World War II-Letter from the War Claims Commission Transmitting the Supplementary Report of the War Claims Commission on War Claims Arising out of World War II. Transmitted to Congress, January 16, 1953
  • War Claims Commission: Second Semiannual Report to the Congress. For the Period Ending September 13, 1950
  • War Claims Commission: Third Semiannual Report to the Congress. For the Period Ending March 13, 1951
  • War Claims Commission: Fourth Semiannual Report to the Congress. For the Period Ending September 13, 1951
  • War Claims Commission: Fifth Semiannual Report to the Congress. For the Period Ending March 13, 1952
  • War Claims Commission: Seventh Semiannual Report to the Congress. For the Period Ending March 13, 1953

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