Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. '38 resigned yesterday as a Special Assistant to President Johnson. He will leave the White House on March 1 to write a personal account of the Kennedy Administration.
Schlesinger said yesterday that he has no plans for the next six months except to write his book, but he revealed that he has accepted an invitation to come to Cambridge in March to discuss his future plans with Dean Ford and Donald S. Fleming, chairman of the History Department.
Fleming said last night that the History Department "would like to have Schlesinger back," but stressed that the historian "will have to decide what he wants to do with his career" before any definite arrangements can be made.
Schlesinger is reportedly not anxious to resume teaching duties, although he said yesterday that if he does teach anywhere, he "would prefer to do it at Harvard."
After he writes the book on Kennedy. Schlesinger intends to finish his history of the age of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Schlesinger will write the Kennedy book in Washington. Whether he can combine later writing with limited teaching assignments at Harvard will presumably be the subject of his conversations with Ford and Fleming in March.
Schlesinger stressed yesterday that his book about Kennedy's presidential years "will not be a formal history. It will be a personal account of the kind of President he was." Schlesinger said. The book will be published by HoughtonMifflin probably late next fall.
Schlesinger is the second key Kennedy aide to leave the Johnson Administration in order to write a book about the late president. The resignation of Theodore C. Sorennon, perhaps the closest of Kennedy's advisers also becomes effective on March 1.
Although Schlesinger declined to comment on whether anyone will succeed him at the White House, he said he had suggested the names of several historians as possible replacements. President Johnson will make the final decision this spring. Schlesinger said. Most observers believe that Princeton historian Eric F. Goldman will be offered the job.
In his letter of resignation, dated Jan. 25, Schlesinger told the president, "I had long since resolved that in any case the time had come to return to scholarly work."
Schlesinger praised the president for his "wise and strong leadership in these shadowed weeks since Nov. 22...you can count on me for any assistance I can render in forthcoming presidential campaigns."
The president accepted Schlesinger's resignation "with much regret" and declared that "the academic world will be richer for your return...."
"But the White House will not be quite the same without you," Johnson wrote. "We shall miss the fresh insights of your scholarship and the liberality of your spirit.