Eleanor Roosevelt to Helen Bush

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Eleanor Roosevelt to Helen Bush

16 January 1947 [New York City]

My dear Mrs. Bush:

Americans United for Democratic Action is really a group to stimulate progressive action in the Democratic Party, and I have asked Mr. James Loeb, the secretary to send you as soon as the organizing committee has formulated its principles and plans, full information on the projects which they are going to undertake.

A group of twenty-five was named to work on formulating these projects.13

At the same time it was suggested to the few remaining progressives in Congress that they get together and start some kind of educational plan for the benefit of all of us working in the state and local party organizations. We should feel that our people have a plan for promoting legislation, and for opposing certain legislation and we should be able to get information from this group and carry it back to our communities.

Mr. Henry Wallace is a fine person and I believe in his complete integrity, but I have been a little troubled by the fact that he hasn't always gone to the root of questions and got the fact completely straight.14 That is probably the fault of some of the younger people whom he has had around him, and I hope that they have had a lesson.

The New Republic does not reach a very large audience, but it was originally designed to reach leaders and perhaps that is the way in which Mr. Wallace can make his greatest contribution.

                                       Very sincerely yours,


1. Gillon, 6, 16.

2. Truman appointed Wilson Wyatt (1905–1996), the former mayor of Louisville, as his national housing administrator in December 1945 and Wyatt developed an ambitious veterans housing program. Wyatt resigned on December 4, 1946, after Truman failed to back his proposals to retain government controls on housing materials and to fully back federal aid to the housing program (Robert McG. Thomas, Jr., "Wilson Wyatt, 90, Politician and Louisville Civic Leader," NYT, 13 July 1996, D24; Walter H. Waggoner, "Wyatt Out, Government Policy on Housing Control to be Eased," NYT, 5 December 1946, 1).

3. Leon Henderson (1895–1986), an economist who played an influential role in economic policy during the New Deal, headed the Office of Price Administration (OPA) in 1942, but resigned because of public and congressional opposition to his strict imposition of rationing and price controls (ANB).

4. Theodore Bilbo (D-MS), the Senate's staunchest segregationist, was the only Senator to vote against ER's appointment to the UN. John Rankin (1882–1960), Democratic congressman from Mississippi from 1920 to 1950, played a leading role on the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), which he helped create ("John Rankin Dies," NYT, 27 November 1960). For more on Rankin, see n13 Document 389.

5. Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971), who became a socialist and advocate for the labor movement while serving as pastor of the Bethel Evangelical Church in Detroit, Michigan, from 1915 to 1928, emerged as a leading American theologian in the 1930s. As editor of Christianity and Crisis, a journal that examined labor, civil rights, and other issues from a religious perspective, and as a founder of ADA he became an influential voice among anti-Communist liberals (DAB).

6. James A. Wechsler (1915–1983), one of the nation's leading non-Communist liberal journalists, began his career with Columbia College's the Spectator. After graduation he edited the American Student Union's the Student Advocate until 1937, when, after becoming disenchanted with American Communists, he joined the Nation as assistant editor. In 1940, he joined the staff of PM as assistant labor editor, ultimately serving as its national affairs editor and Washington bureau chief. In 1947, protesting that Communists had taken control of PM, he left the magazine to edit the liberal New York Post (Wolfgang Saxon, "James Wechsler, a Columnist and Ex-Editor of Post, Dies," NYT, 12 September 1983, D13).

7. Cornelia Bryce Pinchot (1881–1960), a long-time Republican political activist and advocate of women's rights who began her career as a suffragist, served as US representative to the International Women's Conference in Paris in 1945 and president of the Americans United for World Organization, Washington chapter. Described as "one of the liveliest and most talked about political women" of the 1930s by the New York Times, Pinchot had twice run for elected office and walked picket lines with members of the National Women's Trade Union League. Her husband, the former Pennsylvania governor and noted conservationist Gifford Pinchot, died in 1946 (NAWMP).

8. Frances McStay Adams would later direct the Fulbright program in Egypt, review films for the United States Information Agency, and coordinate education programs for Americans in England. Her husband, J. Wesley Adams, a State Department foreign service officer, served in the UN Bureau of United Nations Affairs ("J. Wesley Adams," WP, 4 January 1990, D5; Judith Martin, "No Job Shortage for Her," WP, 15 July 1962, F8).

9. UDA chair Ethel Epstein, aware of the UDA's limited membership compared to other groups, urged the group not to continue under the UDA mantle. Others rejected "liberal" for its ties to "19th century laissez-faire liberalism" while others rejected "progressivism" for its "connotation of third-partyism." After debating several names, the delegates adopted Americans United for Democratic Action, which the CIO's James Carey had presented on behalf of the labor caucus. The organization would soon go by a shorter version, Americans for Democratic Action (Gillon, 20).

10. The delegates also debated how overtly the group should be tied to the Democratic Party. ER's pronouncement here reflects the argument Franklin, Jr., made to the delegates: "The surest way to make the Democratic Party a liberal party … is to go into the Democratic Party" (Gillon, 19; MD, 6 January 1947).

11. Helen Bush to Eleanor Roosevelt, 8 January 1947, AERP.

12. In his address to the closing session of the PCA meeting, Wallace told the delegates that it was "wrong to divide the progressive movement on minor issues." Progressives "should have no allegiance outside the country of any sort, except to One World, peaceful and prosperous." Arguing that progressives should work with "Russian haters and Russophiles," Wallace urged progressives "not to allow the attacks of the enemy to stampede us into foolish red-baiting nor … [to] allow those who owe their primary allegiance to some foreign power to determine our course" (quoted in Gillon, 16).

13. The twenty-five individuals named to the organizing committee were Charles G. Bolte; Elmer Davis; George Edwards; Ethel Epstein; Leon Henderson; Hubert Humphrey; Mrs. Clyde Johnson; Reinhold Niebuhr; Edward Prichard, Jr.; Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr.; Frank W. McCulloch; Mrs. Gifford Pinchot; Bishop William Scarlett; Walter White; Wilson W. Wyatt; Harvey Brow; David Dubinsky; Hugo Ernst; B. F. McLaurin; James Killen; John Green; Walter P. Reuther; Willard Townsend; Samuel Wolchok; and James Loeb, Jr. For a complete list of those attending the meeting, see "130 Liberals Form A Group On Right," NYT, 5 January 1947, 5.

14. See also n2 Document 194.

Bipartisanship and Foreign Policy

When ER learned that her colleague, Senator Arthur Vandenberg, who had just been elected president pro tempore of the Senate and chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, did not want to return to the United Nations and that he saw no reason for both major political parties to be represented in the American delegation, she urged him to reconsider.

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Eleanor Roosevelt to Helen Bush

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Eleanor Roosevelt to Helen Bush