Privately, bitterly. Dwight Eisenhower described it as "the most hurtful, the hardest, the most heartbreaking decision" of his 5½ years in office. The decision: to ask for the resignation of hard-bitten little Sherman Adams, Assistant to the President, next to Ike the most powerful man in the Administration, and the only person of whom Dwight Eisenhower had ever said, "I need him."

The Sherman Adams verdict was one of the most dramatic behind-the-scenes stories in recent U.S. political history. In a sense, as TIME'S Washington Bureau Chief John Steele reported this week, it had been inevitable ever since last June,...

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