Dean Rusk to Eleanor Roosevelt

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Dean Rusk to Eleanor Roosevelt

12 July 1948 [Washington, DC]

Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

I was very much disturbed upon returning from a month in California to learn that Jim Hendrick had resigned.3 I was even more disturbed by your letter of July 2 to Mr. Kotschnig which was the first intimation I had that Mr. Hendrick's resignation was connected with difficulties which he had encountered in the Department.

When I first came to the Department of State last year I talked human rights matters over with Mr. Hendrick and his staff and was satisfied that they could be counted upon to keep a strong human rights program moving along as fast as circumstances would permit. I specifically urged them to exercise strong leadership in that field and to press for an adequate program. In addition to that, I know that the Department and the White House wished to leave you yourself maximum freedom of action in the same field.

Both Mr. Sandifer and Mr. Kotschnig made a strong effort to persuade Mr. Hendrick to stay on his assignment. Although promotions are "frozen" by the administrative side of the Department at the present time, it was indicated to Mr. Hendrick that we thought we could get a promotion through for him within a period of two months. Our anxiety to keep him was due not only to his abilities as such but also to the fact that he was carrying responsibilities with you and with the forthcoming session of ECOSOC for which we had no replacement.

I feel certain that there is a misunderstanding somewhere because in a note of June 28 to me Mr. Hendrick said, "In the last analysis it seemed to me that the best thing to do was to be guided principally by Mrs. Roosevelt's advice, and her advice on the subject was so very definite that my decision to leave became inevitable."4

If there is any likelihood that Mr. Hendrick wishes to reconsider his resignation, his desk is here waiting for him. Perhaps you know of factors which have escaped me and which you could discuss with Mr. Hendrick and bring about his return. As a matter of fact, his resignation has not been formally tendered and formally accepted; there would be no red tape about his return.

On your general feeling that the Department is not interested in human rights, again I believe that there is some misunderstanding—possibly in the Department. Unfortunately, my own time is completely occupied by the specific disputes before the Security Council and the General Assembly and I have had to rely upon Jim Hendrick and his staff to carry on in the field of human rights. The only instances I know of in which any difference of view had developed between you and the Department resulted, I was assured, in an agreement entirely satisfactory to you.5

I shall get in touch with Jim Hendrick immediately to discover what his real wishes are in the matter of his appointment and very much hope that he will return to his work. In his note to me he intimated that he would eventually like to return.6 Would you be willing to see me at your earliest convenience to go over our work on human rights in order that I might learn more about the differences which you feel have developed between the Department and yourself on this subject? I know that the Department is interested in a vigorous human rights program and any impression to the contrary on your part suggests that something has slipped down here.

                                            Sincerely yours,

                                              Dean Rusk