319. Editorial Note
On the morning of June 6, 1970, Under Secretary of State Eliot Richardson telephoned U. Alexis Johnson, Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, to tell him he “had a rather startling piece of information—the President called me over yesterday afternoon to tell me he is bringing [Robert] Finch into the White House as Counselor and wanted me to take Finch’s place as Secretary of HEW. I had to respond very promptly.” Richardson’s move to the Department of Health, Education and Welfare was to be “announced at noon.” The news left Johnson “speechless.” (Notes of telephone conversation; National Archives, RG 59, Executive Secretariat, U. Alexis Johnson Files: Lot 96 D 695, Telcons, Personal)
Richardson resigned as Under Secretary on June 23. During June and July a number of candidates were given serious consideration as his replacement. For a time President Nixon favored his assistant Peter Flanigan, and Flanigan himself liked the idea, but in mid-August the President and Secretary of State Rogers settled on John N. Irwin II. Irwin’s selection was announced August 19, and he entered on duty September 21. On October 14 he assumed the Chairmanship of the Under Secretaries Committee. Irwin served as Under Secretary of State [Page 712] and then Deputy Secretary of State (the position was retitled in July 1972) until February 1, 1973. Documentation on the selection of Richardson’s successor is in The Haldeman Diaries: Multimedia Edition, and in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, Subject Files, EX FG 11.