1946: June–December

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1946: June–December

If You Ask Me [excerpt]...328
My Day...329
Eleanor Roosevelt to Harry Truman...332
Harry Truman to Eleanor Roosevelt...333
Eleanor Roosevelt to James Byrnes...335
Dean Acheson to Eleanor Roosevelt...335
Katharine, Duchess of Atholl, to Eleanor Roosevelt...338
Eleanor Roosevelt to Katharine Atholl...339
Eleanor Roosevelt to Peggie Wingard...341
My Day...342
My Day...345
Statement by the National Committee for Justice in Columbia, Tennessee...347
Eleanor Roosevelt to Stephen Feeley...349
Eleanor Roosevelt to Malcolm Parker and Friends...352
Eleanor Roosevelt to Tom Clark...352
Tom Clark to Eleanor Roosevelt...352
Eleanor Roosevelt to Harry Truman...356
Harry Truman to Eleanor Roosevelt...357
"Why I Do Not Choose To Run"...359
Eleanor Roosevelt to Florence Kitchelt...362
My Day...363
On American Values and Foreign Aid...365
Eleanor Roosevelt to Stella Reading...368
Stella Reading to Eleanor Roosevelt...369
Keynote Speech, Democratic State Convention...371
Eleanor Roosevelt to George Van Horn Moseley...378
Eleanor Roosevelt to William Schafer...380
Telephone Message from Bernard Baruch for Eleanor Roosevelt...382
Eleanor Roosevelt to Arthur Murray...384
Thurgood Marshall to Eleanor Roosevelt...386
Tom Clark to Eleanor Roosevelt...388
Eleanor Roosevelt to Hugh Sanford...390
"The Minorities Question"...392
U.S. Position on International Refugee Organization Statement by Representative of the U.S. Delegation to the United Nations...396
Eleanor Roosevelt to Harry Truman...402
Harry Truman to Eleanor Roosevelt...402
Nora Stanton Barney to Eleanor Roosevelt...404
Eleanor Roosevelt to Nora Stanton Barney...405
Eleanor Roosevelt to Harry Truman...407
Harry Truman to Eleanor Roosevelt...407
Eleanor Roosevelt to Louise Grant Smith...409
Freda Kirchwey to Eleanor Roosevelt...411
Eleanor Roosevelt to Freda Kirchwey...412
Freda Kirchwey to Eleanor Roosevelt...412
Eleanor Roosevelt to Freda Kirchwey...413
Eleanor Roosevelt to G. Bromley Oxnam...418
Eleanor Roosevelt to G. Bromley Oxnam...419
Jan Masaryk to Eleanor Roosevelt...421
My Day...423
Speech to the General Assembly on the International Refugee Organization6...424
Eleanor Roosevelt to Edward Flynn...426
Eleanor Roosevelt to Clarence Pickett...427
Eleanor Roosevelt to Vincent Burns...431
Eleanor Roosevelt to Catherine Gallagher...434
Eleanor Roosevelt to C. B. Baldwin...438
C. B. Baldwin to Eleanor Roosevelt...438
Eleanor Roosevelt to C. B. Baldwin...439

"In our haste to get back to the business of normal living, have we forgotten to be the great people that we were expected to be?"

Eleanor Roosevelt played many roles in addition to serving as a delegate to the UN and often pursued the same objective through more than one channel. As tensions rose both at home and abroad, she increasingly expressed her concerns and lobbied those officials most capable of influencing policy. For example, she advised Truman that one must "always talk things out absolutely sincerely" with the Russians before taking action1 and urged him to persuade Edward Stettinius to reconsider his resignation as US representative on the UN Security Council. She lobbied Secretary of State Byrnes to implement the recommendations of the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Jewish settlements in Palestine and suggested to both the president and Attorney General Tom Clark that they release those conscientious objectors still in prison. She arranged a meeting between Bernard Baruch, then US representative to the UN Atomic Energy Commission, and Secretary of Commerce Henry Wallace after Baruch strongly objected to Wallace's public remarks about the atomic bomb and Wallace refused to see him. She also acted as an intermediary between Attorney General Clark and the NAACP leaders Walter White and Thurgood Marshall when, as co-chair of the National Committee for Justice in Columbia, Tennessee, she pressed their concern regarding the failure of the federal grand jury investigation to bring any of those responsible for the violence against African Americans and the destruction of their property to trial.

ER addressed issues of discrimination on a number of other fronts as well. In her essay, "The Minorities Question," she acknowledged that "racial and religious tensions in this country are becoming more acute." The "basic thing we must do is to stop generalizing," she suggested. "When we look at each individual without thinking of him as a Jew or as a Negro … he stands on his own feet as an individual and we stand with him on an equal basis."2 In correspondence included in this section she responded to one writer who characterized Jews as "unscrupulous" and "cunning" and another who asked her for her solution to the Jewish "problem."3

In the area of women's equality, ER pressed Truman to appoint more women to positions within his administration, just as she had urged governments to appoint more women to represent them at the UN. She did not support, however, efforts to establish a separate UN Commission on the Status of Women because she thought it more effective to have women represented in all discussions where they could work with men "in definite positions within the government and within their parties." Yet once the commission was established, she dropped her objections.4 She continued to object to the Equal Rights Amendment on "purely practical grounds," explaining her reasoning in both private correspondence with Florence Kitchelt and Nora Stanton Barney and in My Day.

The documents in this section also illustrate ER's continuing engagement in liberal politics. Although ER used Look magazine to reiterate that she would not run for public office, she remained active in the Democratic Party, serving as temporary chair and keynote speaker at the New York State Democratic Convention. In the aftermath of the decisive Republican victory in the 1946 election, many liberals, including ER, concluded that allowing Communists to hold positions in unions and progressive political organizations hurt those organizations and the liberal cause. Although ER continued to believe that Americans should have the right to join the Communist Party, in December, she joined others in urging the Independent Citizens Committee of the Arts, Sciences and Professions (ICCASP) and the National Citizens Political Action Committee (NCPAC), which were about to merge into the Progressive Citizens of America (PCA), to "make up their minds to remove from their membership all people affiliated with, or supposed to have communist leanings to the American Communist Party."5

ER also continued to object to the intense support American clergy offered Martin Niemöller. When the German pastor ultimately arrived in the US for his lecture tour, ER once again questioned his beliefs as well as his conduct. When Bishop G. Bromley Oxnam, with whom she had worked on other social justice issues, objected to what he thought her bigoted stance, she replied that "bringing this gentleman here" is "stupid beyond words" because it might "lull" Americans into forgetting that "the German people are to blame, that they committed horrible crimes."6

The documents also detail how ER pressed for action on UN-related issues—such as the international control of atomic energy, providing adequate relief supplies for Europe, the repatriation or resettlement of refugees, and the escalating crisis in Palestine—even when the organization was not in session. For example, when British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin alleged that Americans favored the admission of Jewish refugees to Palestine because "we do not want them in New York," ER urged Americans to do their part, pointing out that it would be "quite possible to absorb far more than our share of the displaced people in Europe," but insisting that the "particular point at issue … is that there are 100,000 Jews in Europe who must find homes immediately and they want to go to Palestine."7

When the shooting down of two American planes by Yugoslavia threatened to end American aid to Yugoslavia, ER wrote in My Day: "I do not want food and medical supplies confused with military supplies" and hoped "that we will always distinguish between the people and their governments in countries which are not our type of democracies." She then wondered if the American people themselves were partly responsible for some nations ceasing to trust and respect the United States: "In our haste to get back to the business of normal living, have we forgotten to be the great people that we were expected to be?"8

After the UN reconvened that fall, ER played a role in the founding of the International Refugee Organization (IRO) and the United Nations International Children's Fund (UNICEF). When, during the UN debates, the Soviets and their allies objected to the provision in the IRO constitution that permitted refugees to choose not to return to their countries of origin, ER again rose to counter their objection. As soon as the UN adopted the IRO constitution and established UNICEF, she used her column and personal contacts to promote US participation in the new agencies and to secure the public and private funding the agencies needed to begin operations. Tensions over Spain at the UN led Freda Kirchwey, who objected to US recognition of Franco's Spain, to hope that ER would use her "enormous" influence to persuade the Truman administration to take a tougher stance on the issue.9 Although ER "as an individual" supported the recognition of the government in exile, she told Kirchwey that as a delegate she did "not feel actually conversant enough … to set my opinion up against those of the Department of State. On the other hand, I do recognize that to just tell them to have a free election, and to do nothing about obtaining one, is a futile gesture which has worried me from the beginning."10

1. See Document 121, ER to Harry Truman, 1 June 1946.

2. See Document 151, "The Minorities Question," November 1946.

3. See Document 127, ER to Peggie Wingard, 14 June 1946 and Document 144, ER to George Van Horn Moseley, 5 September 1946.

4. See Document 159, ER to Louise Grant Smith, 3 December 1946.

5. See Document 173, ER to Calvin B. Baldwin, 29 December 1946.

6. See Document 165, ER to G. Bromley Oxnam, 21 December 1946.

7. See Document 129, My Day, 22 June 1946.

8. See Document 140, My Day, 23 August 1946.

9. See Document 160, Freda Kirchwey to ER, 3 December 1946.

10. See Document 161, ER to Freda Kirchwey, 4 December 1946.

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1946: June–December

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1946: June–December