Oscar S. Cox (1905-1966), an official in the Roosevelt administration, helped Treasury Department staffers in their behind the scenes efforts to promote the rescue of Jewish refugees.
From 1941 to 1943, Cox served as general counsel of the Lend-Lease
Administration and the Foreign Economic Administration. In the summer of 1943, Cox and his assistant, Milton Handler, prepared a memo suggesting creation of a government rescue agency, but the proposal gained no traction in government circles. In December of that year, as the rescue resolution controversy was erupting on Capitol Hill, Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, Jr. invited Cox to participate in staff meetings to discuss the rescue problem.
Cox, who previously had met with Peter Bergson and was closely watching the Bergson Group’s efforts in Congress on the rescue issue, pressed Morgenthau to take the matter directly to the president. He warned that the fight in Congress over the rescue resolution could cause “a domestic political problem” for FDR.
Cox also argued that a rescue agency would have a “stronger foundation” if it were established via an executive order from the president. On December 20, Cox presented Morgenthau with a draft of the order, asserting that “getting the Executive Order signed would forestall some of the action on the Hill in connection with the Rogers-Gillette resolution.” President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9417, issued on January 22, 1944, closely followed Cox’s draft.