Chester Bowles to Eleanor Roosevelt

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Chester Bowles to Eleanor Roosevelt

18 June 1948 [Essex, CT]

Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

Helen Gahagan Douglas called me last night to talk about the political situation. Helen feels, as I do, that we still have a chance—perhaps 1 out of 3—for an open convention at Philadelphia2 and the nomination of Eisenhower, or possibly even Bill Douglas.3

Like many others, I have certain misgivings on General Eisenhower principally because his ideas on domestic issues are so little known. I talked with him about ten days ago and it was my feeling that he was by no means sure exactly where he stands himself on the questions which are so important to all of us. I believe his instincts, however, are good and if he chose liberal advisers there would be every reason to be optimistic. In addition, of course, he would give us a liberal Congress, which would be a tremendous safeguard in the next few years.4

Of course, you know a great deal more about him than I.5

Helen has prepared a statement which she would like to see published a few days before the Convention signed by eight to twelve liberal Democratic leaders who have some political support. She read it to me over the telephone and it sounded excellent. It was in no sense an anti-Truman statement but simply called for an open convention and the nomination of our strongest candidate.6

Helen asked me if I would write to you and urge you to sign this statement. I told her that I was sure that much would depend on whom the Republicans nominate next week at their Convention but that I would be glad to write to you to say that if you were willing to sign it, I am sure we would get some other really top people who would carry real weight with the delegates.

I am going to be away for the next ten days but I will be back in Essex a week before the National Convention, and if there is anything you think I can do I hope that you will call on me.

My best regards.


                                       Chester Bowles


Republicans had gathered in Philadelphia June 21 to begin selecting their presidential ticket. However, the day ER replied to Bowles's query, the convention had not yet selected its presidential candidate, and Governors Thomas Dewey and Harold Stassen competed with Senators Robert Taft and Arthur Vandenberg for their party's nomination. As the Washington Post reported, although Dewey showed "heavy" support, the convention was "still wide open."7