Eleanor Roosevelt to Catherine Gallagher

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Eleanor Roosevelt to Catherine Gallagher

21 December 1946 [New York City]

Dear Mrs. Gallagher:

I understand perfectly why you think Franco is better than Stalin. You seem to have forgotten that the difference is that Franco fought on the side of Germany and Italy, and in fact invited them to help him put down a government of the people. It was only when that government needed help, the Russians were the only power that gave them help and they began to be called communist. They did not start that way and today they are not, as far as I can see, communist, but they are grateful for the help which Russia gave them.4

Franco today is the repository of German wealth and of escaped Nazis.5 The difference between Franco and Stalin is that when Stalin needed more time to prepare, he made a temporary alliance with Germany, but finally fought magnificently against Hitler and we owe him and his people a great deal for their fighting saved thousands of lives which might have been sacrificed on the American side.

Russia is a dictatorship but she is a dictatorship of more than one person. Stalin is the leader but has a group of men with him and the people are gradually learning to take a greater part in their government. They could not be expected to do more after so many years under the Tzar when no education was permitted.6 I think there is a great deal of difference between Stalin and Franco.

I do not know what Governor Earl is talking about. I happen to know why he was recalled and it had nothing to do with what he saw.7

Certainly I am not afraid of the Russians. I have been arguing with them steadily for two months because I believe in certain things and they believe in others, but it is essential that the two nations get on together and I think the arguments have been constructive education.

Of course, you saw Hitler and Molotov shaking hands.8 You have seen many other people shaking hands when they represented their nations and the nations were not at war. That does not always mean they love each other.

I have never liked what Tito's men did in shooting down our airplanes but I also know that we went where we were not supposed to go because our young men who fly planes are adventurous and saw no reason why they should not take the straightest line to their destination, and they forgot that Yugoslavs shoot before they think. I do not know just what you would have done about it beyond what has been done. I do not think it was taken lightly and I am quite sure the Yugoslavs did not think so.9

If the United States decides that communism is better than their own democracy it will be because we do not always make democracy serve the needs of all of the people. If the liberal press which you have been reading is an organ of the Liberal Party which of course, I do not know since I have never seen a copy, then I can assure you that Mr. Dubinsky who is more or less the moving light in the Liberal Party, is very anti-communist. Of course it may represent some other communist controlled union but it certainly would not, if it was communist, represent any large section of labor.10

As to your question about formal prayers opening the meetings of the UN, it has nothing to do with the Russians.11 There are fifty four nations represented and many different religions. I do not question but what a great many delegates open every meeting with a prayer in their hearts, but how would you advise opening a meeting with many different religions?

I never saw anyone cringe or shout in a meeting of the UN, and I am sure it does not happen in the meetings of the Ministers. Your fear of communism is certainly not seen or felt in the UN, or in our own government. I do not have to ask Mr. Molotov what Mr. Franco has done because I know quite well as I told you in the first part of this letter.12

If you do not want to see your sons go to war, you had better learn more about the work of the UN and back it with all you have because that is the one hope, and learning to work with the Russians, whether we like their form of government or not, is essential because they are next to ourselves, the strongest nation in the world today and the peace of the future depends on our being able to work together.

Your mother went through what many other mothers went through. I am sorry if she was not able to stand it, and I hope she will be well again if her boys are now at home. I know it can be a terrible strain when they are away.

After three years of war, it will take a long time to come back to normal and a peaceful world. One has to build an atmosphere in which peace can grow and after that it will take patience and understanding and perseverance to keep the peace. It is fortunate for us in the UN that we do not feel it is a "Tower of Babel." Most of us understand at least the two languages which are the working languages.

There are many mothers serving in the UN in one capacity or another from other lands and from our own, whose voices are heard so you need not be fearful that they have no chance to speak.

                                      Very sincerely yours,


1. Catherine Gallagher to ER, 11 December 1946, AERP.

2. MD, 10 December 1946.

3. Catherine Gallagher to ER, 11 December 1946, AERP.

4. For Franco see n13, Document 71. For Spain and ER's views on Franco, see Documents 160 through 163.

In 1937, Franco united the disparate nationalist militias with Falange (the Spanish Fascist party) troops into an army dedicated to ousting the working-class focused Republican government. Seeing an opportunity to oust an anti-Fascist government, Germany and Italy promptly violated their noninterventionist agreements with Spain. Hitler dispatched his elite Condor Legion of 100 combat aircraft and Mussolini sent 50,000 infantry troops, tanks, and artillery. The USSR, concerned more with stopping Franco and limiting Germany's advance, provided supplies and urged the International Brigade to supply troops (OEWH).

5. Both the Spanish Republican government in exile and the US State Department reported that between 9,000 and 15,000 former Nazi agents fled to Spain, where under assumed names and with Franco's strong support, they found sanctuary, reestablished their lives, and protected their wealth. However, US Ambassador Norman Armour reported the Franco government "was helping the Allies dissolve the Nazi establishment in Spain, with German Government and private property and businesses being confiscated in the name of the Allies" ("Franco's Changes Toward Democracy Not Yet Satisfactory, Armour Declares," NYT, 22 December 1945, 20; Thomas J. Hamilton, "Spain as Republic Seen in UNO Role," NYT, 9 January 1946, 11).

6. Russia experienced a long history of oppression under tsarist rule, beginning with the reign of Ivan the Terrible in 1547. Although some tsars supported more liberal programs than others, the majority of the Russian citizenry remained tied to the land through a system of peasant serfdom, which expanded in the seventeenth century, denying them an education and ensuring a persistent state of poverty. Russia abolished serfdom in 1861, but many of the people still suffered from the legacy of autocratic rule and the majority remained uneducated (OEWH).

7. Gallagher asked ER why George Howard Earle III (1890–1974), who served as US minister to Austria and Bulgaria and as naval attaché to Turkey, left the diplomatic corps the previous September after his recent posting to Samoa. In an April 1946 radio broadcast, Earle claimed "there would have been no World War II if Premier Stalin had not signed his friendship pact with Germany in August, 1939." Stalin, he continued, only entered into the agreement to "bring about war in Europe so that the non-Bolshevist countries should destroy each other, thus bringing world domination to Russia." Convinced of an imminent Russian attack, Earle worked to have Congress appropriate $2 billion per year to develop "great fleets of atomic bombers" in order to prepare for the Soviet onslaught. Why, Gallagher wanted to know, had he "who spent much time in the territory now so firmly gripped by Soviet talons and well behind the iron curtain [who] saw first-hand what happened there" been "exiled to Samoa for trying to warn our government." The reasons for Earle's departure are unclear. However, he had just completed a very public divorce, in which his wife accused him of "desertion by telephone" (Catherine Gallagher to ER, 11 December 1946, AERP; "George H. Earle 3d, 84, Dead; Ex-Governor of Pennsylvania," NYT, 31 December 1974, 24; "Stalin-Hitler Pact Called War Cause," NYT, 26 April 1946, 2; "Ex-Gov. Earle Divorced," NYT, 1 July 1946, 18).

8. Gallagher recalled "seeing pictures of Molotov and Hitler shaking hands—the same Molotov you can shake hands with there at Lake Success. If Franco collaborates with Hitler did not Stalin and Molotov do just the same even more recently?" (Gallagher to ER, 11 December 1946, AERP).

9. For the US-Yugoslav dispute over American planes shot down by Yugoslavia in August 1946, see Document 140, especially n1 ("Yugoslavia to Pay $30,000 Each to Dead Fliers' Families," WP, 10 October 1946, 8).

10. Gallagher voted Republican "after hearing Earl Browder eulogize F.D.R. and after reading for months previous the 'Liberal Press' sent to my husband by his Union. It was so un-American and so pro Russian editorially that I actually feared all candidates endorsed by them" (Catherine Gallagher to ER, 11 December 1946, AERP).

11. Gallagher asked ER, "Do you United Nations delegates have more respect for Russian atheism than you have respect for God and the religion of most of the delegates that you fail to conduct meetings with a formal prayer for God's blessings on your efforts?" (Catherine Gallagher to ER, 11 December 1946, AERP).

12. Gallagher argued, "If news coming from your meetings wasn't so tragic it would be amusing to see how … you seem to cringe when they shout, and now the latest is you echo them when they exclaim with sham horror at Franco's dictatorship and his threat to World Peace … How can you honestly toady to one dictator and go through the elaborate procedure of condemning another, lesser one at the same time?" (Gallagher to ER, 11 December 1946, AERP).

On the Progressive Citizens of America

December 17, Morris Cooke, chair of the Philadelphia chapter, Independent Citizens Committee of the Arts, Sciences and Professions (ICCASP),1 wrote ER, "Something tells me that you realize the importance of emphatically disassociating ourselves from American Communists and American Communism." Convinced that there was "no very gentle way of handling this situation," he concluded, that "unless, we can muster the nerve to really attack the problem, in my opinion we will necessarily pay a heavy price in our future activities." Cooke enclosed a copy of the letter he sent to the national chairs of ICCASP and NCPAC2 which he thought ER "might be interested in seeing."3

"Now that our organizations are planning to unite," Cooke's letter to the chairs began, "it is time to take stock." He then argued that that a direct correlation existed between the "catastrophic defeat … the liberal movement" suffered in the 1946 election and ICCASP and NCPAC's refusal to remove their Communist members:

[T]he leadership of nearly all our liberal groups was sufficiently tolerant of the affiliation of American Communists or indifferent as to the damage such associations might cause, as to give a malicious opposition with its preponderant and unwavering press support a wide open opportunity to smear us as "fellow travelers." We did not invite the cooperation of these people, but we realize now that in instances they insinuated themselves into our organizations and a certain baneful aroma was thus quite unnecessarily created. This can and must be corrected.

Our own national interest and world interest demand that American policies be formulated within our own borders, without outside dictation of any sort whatever, whether it be from Downing Street, Moscow or Rome. There is nothing in this to suggest that we should not be as cognizant of the problems of other countries as we are of our own or that we should not be fully sympathetic and cooperative in foreign fields. But the initiation and execution of our own American policies must rest with us … Liberals generally emphasize the necessity for learning how to get along with the USSR in spite of all the difficulties—some of our own making.

But an American Communist party, or even an individual American Communist, is inconceivable without USSR ties of one sort or another … American Communism is a political faith quite alien to American thought and American institutions because unlike other political faiths such as Republicanism, Socialism and Democracy, it has its roots in a foreign land. Our Constitution wisely gives a hearing at election time to almost any political group so that in some states Communists have a place on the ballot. But even so, it is clear that American liberalism seeking to regain its dominance in American political affairs can have no traffic of any kind whatsoever with American Communism or American Communists.

Cooke then went on to insist that when the two organizations merged (into what would become the Progressive Citizens of America) that they explicitly denounce any association with American Communism or American Communists, exclude Communists from participation, and disqualify anyone with past Communist affiliations from employment with the organization.4

After reading both Cooke's letter to her and his letters to NCPAC chair Jo Davidson and ICCASP chair Frank Kingdon, ER noted in the margin, "I agree completely and it's a fine letter."5

December 28, NCPAC and ICCASP merged to form the Progressive Citizens of America, and tapped former NCPAC vice-chair C. B. "Beanie" Baldwin to be PCA's vice-chair and national political director. The following day, ER sent Baldwin, whom she knew from his work with the Roosevelt Agriculture Department, his close ties to Sidney Hillman, and his efforts to keep Wallace on the 1944 ticket, the following letter seconding Cooke's letter to NCPAC.

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Eleanor Roosevelt to Catherine Gallagher

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Eleanor Roosevelt to Catherine Gallagher