Eleanor Roosevelt to Hugh Sanford

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Eleanor Roosevelt to Hugh Sanford

30 October 1946 [New York City]

My dear Mr. Sanford:

I read your letter and the reprint of your letter to the paper.

What are you suggesting as an alternative to strikes? The weapon of the strike should not be used except when collective bargaining, or labor-management committees2 where they exist, have been unable to find solutions. The strike has always been considered as the last weapon that any man had and the right to strike could not be denied him.

I am entirely in agreement with you that the rift in the ranks of labor which brings about jurisdictional strikes, costs both labor, management and the public much unnecessary loss and I hope that labor will see that it gets together before too long. There are signs that that is happening.

Nobody believes that strikes are the best answer to human relations but we haven't as yet found people who brought out a plan through which real cooperation exists between labor and management. Labor-management committees are the best plan that has been offered so far, but in many cases management has withstood introducing them.

I agree with you that there are some selfish labor leaders, but the vast majority is truly interest in seeing the interests of labor served.

You are right that production is important at the moment and that without production we can not possibly get back on our feet or help the rest of the world, that I think that is as much the responsibility of management as it is of labor. You can not with rising prices expect people to get along without asking for rising wages and wages always lag behind prices.

                                       Very sincerely yours,


1. Hugh W. Sanford to ER, 21 October 1946, and enclosed clipping from the Knoxville Journal, 9 October 1946, AERP.

2. The National War Labor Board established labor-management committees to arbitrate disputes between labor and management. Many business leaders, labor leaders, and politicians believed that the labor-management committees—composed of representatives of labor, management, and the public—helped avert strikes and contributed to high productivity levels during the war ("Believe Committees Will Stay," NYT, 5 September 1945, 28).

On Faith and Prejudice

In July 1945, Bishop William Scarlett1 asked ER to contribute an essay on racial discrimination for inclusion in a report of the Joint Commission on Social Reconstruction to the General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church, which was scheduled to convene in September 1946. "There is no one who can do this as you would do it," wrote Scarlett, "No one whom we would rather have speak for the Church on this issue." As a liberal theologian and social activist, Scarlett hoped the commission's report would reflect his conviction that "the solution to our problems is to be found only within a religious view of life and the world." By asking well-known individuals such as ER, Sumner Welles, Frances Perkins, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Arthur H. Compton to contribute essays on American-Soviet relations, the UN, control of atomic energy, treatment of enemy nations, full employment, and racial discrimination, Scarlett hoped the report would demonstrate to both members of the Episcopal Church and the general public that:

Christianity is not something irrelevant to life, not something that touches only the fringes of life, not something of little importance which we can take or leave as we like … It is either the Rock on which we build our civilization or else it is the Rock against which civilization will continue to pound itself to pieces.

The bishop thought the speech ER had recently delivered before the Southern Educational Foundation was "exactly what we want," and he asked her to forward her text to him. ER replied that she "had no notes and no manuscript when I spoke for the Southern Educational Foundation. It was extemporaneous." However, ER, who appreciated his work, promised to "try to write something for you, but perhaps not as long as you suggest," and hoped that "if it does not appeal to you that you will feel free to criticize it." She completed a draft of her essay in October 1945, revised in the following March, and in 1946, after presenting it as part of the report to the General Convention, Scarlett published her essay, along with the others that comprised the commission's report, as Toward a Better World.2

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Eleanor Roosevelt to Hugh Sanford

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Eleanor Roosevelt to Hugh Sanford