Ex-Governor Blanton Winship, of Puerto Rico, was summarily removed by the President of the United States on May 12, 1939. I had filed charges against Mr. Winship with the President during two visits that I had with him, and subsequently, on April 27, 1939, I wrote a letter to the President filing additional charges in support of my request for the removal of Mr. Winship.
During my visits at the Executive Office of the President of the United States I informed him of many acts of misfeasance as well as nonfeasance, among which were the tyrannical acts of the Governor in depriving the people of Puerto Rico of their civil rights, the corruption and rackets that existed, and were made possible only by the indulgence of the governor, and the extraordinary waste of the people’s money…. My written, as well as oral, charges were transmitted by the President to Secretary Ickes, of the Department of the Interior.
The Secretary of the Interior, by code, wired Mr. Blanton Winship to return to the United States. In response to this wire, Mr. Winship came here and visited the Secretary of the Interior. The Secretary of the Interior demanded that Mr. Winship resign. Mr. Winship flatly refused to resign, and stated that inasmuch as he was a Presidential appointee, he would not resign until he had had an opportunity to appeal to the President.
After various unsuccessful efforts, Mr. Winship finally saw the President, and pleaded that he be permitted to remain Governor of Puerto Rico on the ground that his resigning while he was under fire might be misinterpreted. What the President told Mr. Winship I do not know. I do know, however, that he made a very unfavorable impression on the President. When Mr. Winship left the White House with the bravado which is characteristic of a swivelchair general, he invited friends of his and newspapermen to visit him in Puerto Rico in September of 1939, thereby giving the impression that he would remain as Governor.
On May 11, 1939, I took the floor in the House of Representatives, objecting to exempting Puerto Rico from the provisions of the wage-and-hour amendment, and in that speech I made an attack on Mr. Winship, and revealed that I had made charges against him, and stated specifically that the charges were being investigated by the Department of the Interior at the request of the President of the United States.
The following day the President made the announcement that Admiral William D. Leahy would succeed Mr. Winship as Governor of Puerto Rico. Up to and including the time that this terse announcement was made, Mr. Winship had not resigned. Even a school child knows that the announcement of one’s successor before one has resigned is tantamount to dismissal. Blanton Winship was dismissed by the President of the United States.
He devoted all of his time since he was kicked out as Governor to two tasks: first, to that of selfglorification; and second, to further damage the best interests of the people of Puerto Rico.
In the second category, his activities were in keeping with his 5 years of terror in Puerto Rico. He acted the part of a slimy lobbyist, and fought by means fair and foul to have the wageand hour law amended so that the sugar companies could continue to pay 12 1/2 cents an hour instead of 25 cents an hour, and thereby gain $5,000,000 a year; so that the exploiters of labor in Puerto Rico could continue to pay the intolerable wages they have been paying, a wage system which was made possible under his regime; so that the system of abysmal wage slavery could be perpetuated in Puerto Rico.
Up to the very closing days of Congress this kickedout governor fought to have Puerto Rican workers removed from the protection of the wage-and-hour law. He made a frantic appeal to the Speaker, Hon. William Bankhead, to suspend the rules and recognize someone who would offer the amendment which would have removed Puerto Rico from the provisions of the wageandhour law. This was done after he, together with his stooge and personal lobbyist, James J. Lanzetta, had made all efforts and failed to have the Barden and other amendments considered by the House, which not only would have affected the workers of Puerto Rico but would have also exempted 2,000,000 workers in the United States from the protection of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The welfare of 2,000,000 workers in the United States meant nothing to Blanton Winship or his appointee.
The sacrificing of 2,000,000 workers in the States and the sacrificing of labor’s welfare in the States, as well as in Puerto Rico, meant nothing to these gentlemen who were hellbent on doing the bidding of the financial and industrial corporations of Wall Street that have kept the workers of Puerto Rico in the tentacles of imperialism and wage peonage. I take this occasion to praise the patriotism and statesmanship of our Speaker, Hon.
William Bankhead, who treated the dismissed and disgraced axGovernor of Puerto Rico with a flat and patriotic “no.” This “no” was given after I had spoken to the Speaker, who had promised me that there would be no suspension of the rules, or the considering of any legislation that would exempt Puerto Rico from the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, at this session of Congress.
In the face of these activities, treacherous and detrimental to the people of Puerto Rico, I felt that I should no longer remain silent. I felt that I should not permit this axGovernor or his stooges to any longer use the prestige of his office which he so disgraced, to the benefit of the exploiters of the Puerto Rican people. I would be derelict if I did not tear off the cloak of virtue in which this destroyer of liberty, protector of grafters, and exploiter of the people of Puerto Rico had enshrouded himself. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, here is his record: