Eleanor Roosevelt to Allen Smith

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Eleanor Roosevelt to Allen Smith

24 April 1946 [Hyde Park]

My dear Mr. Smith:

I have never preached nor advocated "social" equality. I do not believe in segregation in public places or conveyances. I think a person's behavior should be the only criterion.

I am glad you believe negroes are entitled to the fundamental rights guaranteed to all citizens.

There was mingling of the races and "mixed" children long before I was born. That is something you can't legislate apparently.

It doesn't do much good to urge negroes to be proud of their heritage when they are denied the right to be proud.

Many of us who never belonged to a minority group find it difficult to understand what it means to be barred from places because of race or religion especially in a country which boasts of our freedom.

Perhaps if we had made domestic work more pleasant and paid higher wages, we would not find people so unwilling now to enter it.3

                                  Very sincerely yours,


1. "Hyde Park Party," Ebony 1, no. 5 (March 1946), 2.

2. Allen C. Smith to ER, 12 April 1946, AERP.

3. Rumors that ER encouraged African American domestics to form Eleanor Clubs, loose organizations of African American women organized to oppose exploitative working conditions, swirled around the South with such consistency that the media treated them as fact, prodding ER to ask the FBI to investigate whether such organizations existed. Here she makes the same point she was accused of making when she (according to rumor) encouraged African American domestics to confront the families that employed them (A. Black, Courage, 87).

On Immigration to Palestine

James G. McDonald served as one of ER's most knowledgeable informants about refugee matters.1 In November 1945, Truman appointed McDonald, who was sympathetic to the Zionist cause, to the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry. The committee's April 1946 report recommended that Great Britain admit 100,000 European Jews to Palestine as soon as possible (a figure Truman had proposed to Attlee in August 1945),2 but failed to make a recommendation on the future government of Palestine.3 Although the report was unanimous, deep and bitter divisions between the six British and six American members existed within the committee, and Truman remained uncertain. McDonald, worried that increased Zionist criticism would derail Truman's support for the immigration proposal, found himself having to lobby Ben-Gurion and other Zionist leaders not to push for a larger immigration quota—hence ER's reference below to the "terrible time" McDonald was having.4

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Eleanor Roosevelt to Allen Smith

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Eleanor Roosevelt to Allen Smith