Eleanor Roosevelt to George Marshall

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Eleanor Roosevelt to George Marshall

26 November 1947 [New York City]

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I read in the press of the action taken by the Department and I was very glad. I am grateful to you for your letter and for the sense of security it gives me to know that you are watching out for the preservation of certain fundamental democratic procedures.

One of the other rumors which has come to me is that the accusation primarily urged against one of the people under suspicion was that he was an active member of the P.C.A. It happens that I have given up any activities with P.C.A. because I am convinced that there are people in the top level in that organization that still are closely connected with the Communist Party in this country, or who are too chicken hearted and afraid of being called red-baiters.19 Therefore, they serve the purposes of the party. Nevertheless, I do know a great many people who are active in P.C.A. who are just straight liberals and are sincerely troubled by the hysteria on Communism which is sweeping the country at the present time as well as by certain government actions which rightly or wrongly they feel tend to create an atmosphere which may bring about war. I do not think that any man can just be condemned because he is a member of P.C.A. unless one finds something on which to question his loyalty.

Of course, I am so familiar with rumors I sometimes discount too much and therefore I had not thought about this very seriously, but when two or three people spoke to me about it I decided it was worth mentioning it. I do not doubt that some of these people have questionable things in their record, but I remember when my husband and I heard about a list the F.B.I. had of organizations that were considered subversive and anyone who had contributed to those organizations was automatically considered by the Dies Committee to be questionable.20 My husband told me I could ask to see it and we spent an evening going through it and believe it or not, my husband's Mother was one of the first people named because she had contributed to a Chinese Relief organization and both Secretary Stimson and Secretary Knox were listed as having contributed to several organizations.21 Of course it is evident that they could stand up under those accusations but little people would be condemned for as flimsey a reason.

Forgive me for writing a long letter again, but I have been troubled by what looks like a real chance that some of the methods of the Russians might be coming our way.

                                   Very cordially yours,

                                   Eleanor Roosevelt


1. For information on the federal loyalty program, see n6 Document 271. For information on the firing of the ten State Department employees and on the federal loyalty program, see Document 253, especially n3 (Bert Andrews, "A State Department Security Case," NYHT, 2 November 1947, 1).

2. The Civil Service Commission's Loyalty Review Board consisted of nongovernmental employees who heard the cases of employees accused of disloyalty. Dr. Meta Glass (1881?–1967), an educator and president of Sweet Briar College in Virginia for twenty-one years, served on this board. ER's suggestion of Mrs. Geraldine Thompson (1872?–1967) as an appointee to the Loyalty Review Board reflected her close friendship with and confidence in a woman who had been a politically active social worker in New Jersey since 1917. Thompson served on state and county committees and remained a delegate at every Republican National Convention from 1920 to 1952 (Donovan, Conflict, 294-95; "Dr. Meta Glass, Educator, Dead," NYT, 22 March 1967, 47; "Geraldine M. Thompson Dies; Social Worker and G.O.P. Aide," NYT, 10 September 1967, 82; Hamby, Man, 428-29).

3. In March 1946, the Canadian government revealed the existence of an organized espionage network directed by agents based in the Soviet embassy in Ottawa who had recruited Canadian government employees to obtain secret information on radar and uranium development, the atomic bomb, and other military matters. The government eventually detained thirteen Canadians, including a Communist member of the Canadian parliament. On July 15, 1946, a report prepared by two Canadian Supreme Court judges appointed to look into the circumstances of the case, stated that "perhaps the most startling single aspect of the entire fifth-column network is the uncanny success with which the Soviet agents were able to find Canadians who were willing to betray their country and to supply to agents of a foreign power secret information to which they had access in the course of their work despite oaths of allegiance, of office and of secrecy which they had taken" (P. J. Philip, "4 Named in Ottawa," NYT, 5 March 1946, 1; "Rose Called Spy Ring Key," NYT, 29 May 1946, 4; P. J. Philip, "Russian Espionage in Canada Called Highly Organized," NYT 16 July 1946, 1).

4. The Loyalty Review Board, chaired by Seth W. Richardson (1880–1953), a well-known Republican corporate lawyer, consisted of twenty representatives. The members of the board were: George W. Alger; John Harlan Amen; Harry A. Bigelow; Aaron J. Brumbaugh; John Kirkland Clark; Harry Colmery; Tom J. Davis; Burton L. French; Meta Glass; Earl Harrison; Garrett Hoag; Wilbur La Roe, Jr.; Arthur W. McMahon; Charles E. Merriam; Henry Parkman, Jr.; Albert M. Sames; Charles Sawyer; Murray Seasongood; and Henry L. Shattuck. Of the twenty, eleven were lawyers, two law professors, and one a judge ("20 Lawyers and Scholars Named to Review Federal Loyalty Cases," NYT, 9 November 1947, 1; "Guardians of Civil Rights," NYT, 10 November 1947, 28; "Seth Richardson, Attorney, Is Dead," NYT, 18 March 1953, 31).

5. Truman never appointed Thompson to the Loyalty Review Board and Dr. Meta Glass remained the only woman who served in that capacity ("Guardians of Civil Rights," NYT, 10 November 1947, 28).

6. Marshall left on November 20 for the Big Four conference of foreign ministers in London.

7. The United States and the Soviet Union had just reached an agreement at the UN about Palestine; meanwhile, the Russians were showing signs of wanting to reach a settlement on Germany (George Barrett, "U.S.-Soviet Accord on Palestine Asks British Go by May 1," NYT, 11 November 1947, 1; Delbert Clark, "Russians in Germany Show Hope for Accord: Signs Multiply that Soviet May Be Preparing to End the Deadlock," NYT, 9 November 1947, E4).

8. ER was an employee of the US State Department only when the United Nations was in session.

9. For background on the federal loyalty program and firing of ten State Department employees, see n3 Document 253. Truman initiated the loyalty program by issuing Executive Order 9835 on March 22, 1947. The order authorized the dismissal of federal employees on "reasonable grounds" for either holding disloyal political beliefs or for being actually subversive ("State Department Affirms Dropping 7," NYT, 4 October 1947, 7; HSTE). For the article in the Herald Tribune, see the header to Document 277.

10. Republican Congressman John Taber (R-NY) (1880–1965), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee ("Ex-Rep. John Taber Dies at 85; 'Fiscal Vigilante' Led Committee," NYT, 23 November 1965, 45).

11. ER's letter to Truman is Document 277.

12. In the draft of this letter retained in ER's papers at the FDR Library, this sentence reads, "… I am not quite sure that I think our country is preserving its freedoms as carefully as I would like" (Draft Letter from ER to George C. Marshall, 1947, AERP).

13. "Marshall Leaves Today By Air for Big 4 Talks," NYT, 20 November 1947, 22.

14. The November 17 press release reported that three of the ten State Department employees who had been dismissed as security risks had been allowed to resign without prejudice after an internal review. The other seven sought to appeal to the newly established Loyalty Review Board in the Civil Service Commission but the board ruled on November 15 that it had no jurisdiction in their cases. Since no other avenues of appeal existed for them, the State Department "has concluded that in order to avoid a possible injustice to them, they should be permitted to resign without prejudice. Furthermore, in view of the great importance which the Department attaches to the right of appeal for its employees, it is taking all steps to insure that its employees will have the right of appeal to the Loyalty Review Board in the future" (For the Press, Department of State, 17 November 1947, No. 909, AERP).

15. President Truman appointed the Loyalty Review Board on November 8 ("20 Lawyers and Scholars Named to Review Federal Loyalty Cases," NYT, 9 November 1947, 1). For background on the loyalty program, see n3 Document 253 and n6 Document 271. For the membership of the Loyalty Review Board, see n4 above.

16. Lovett assumed office as undersecretary of state on July 1, 1947 (Edward B. Lockett, "Robert Lovett—Co-Pilot of 'State,'" NYT, 17 August 1947, 112).

17. The "extra-sensitive" agencies included the Department of State and the newly formed Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) ("The Nation," NYT, 9 November 1947, E2).

18. The New York Times, for example, reported on the shift in State Department policy on November 18 ("7 'Bad Risks' Allowed to Resign in Shift by State Department," NYT, 18 November 1947, 1).

19. For background on the PCA and ER's position on Communists within the leadership of the organization, see the header to Document 173, Document 214, and Document 284.

20. The Dies Committee, established in 1938 and named after its chairman, Representative Martin Dies of Texas, was the House Committee for the Investigation of Un-American Activities (HUAC) (FDRE).

21. FDR appointed Henry Stimson as secretary of war and William Franklin ("Frank") Knox (1874–1944) as secretary of the navy in 1940; both were Republicans (FDRE).

On Religion in Yugoslavia and Allegations of Anti-Catholic Bias

Reader reaction to ER's suggestion that "Religion in Yugoslavia" be read "carefully and impartially" ranged from mild rebuke to intense criticism. When referencing ER's source, Edward W. Scully of the Bronx, New York, said, "I gather your friend who advised you … is a Protestant missionary pursuing a work of proselytizing among the Spaniards, Italians and other Europeans. I am sure he is a good man. But can he be accepted as an unbiased reporter on affairs concerning the Catholic Church?"1 Former FBI agent T. C. Kirkpatrick, managing editor of a new anti-Communist newsletter, "Counterattack," criticized three members of the delegation—the Rev. Claude Williams, the Rev. William Howard Melish, and Dr. Guy Emery Shipler—for their alleged Communist affiliations and asked, "Do you really think that this group of clergymen could possibly issue a 'Fair Report'…?" Francis Griffith, president of the Committee for the Liberation of Archbishop Stepinac, told ER that she was "seriously misinformed about the extent of religious freedom in that unhappy country," and hoped "that in some succeeding column you will find it possible once more to … speak out boldly on behalf of Archbishop Aloysius Stepinac … and persecuted Yugoslav Catholics."

Mrs. H. Kinerk's letter was more pointed. "When I read your column in this morning's paper I at first could hardly believe what I was reading. I have finally come to the conclusion that either you are extremely credulous or are just out and out following the Communist party line."2

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