Eleanor Roosevelt to J. Marshall Cooper

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Eleanor Roosevelt to J. Marshall Cooper

24 October 1947 [New York City]

Dear Mr. Cooper:

I do not know what you mean when you say our State Department is not giving leadership and support to the United Nations.

I have been on the delegation for all of the General Assembly meetings and I assure you that no Foreign Office supports its delegation as well as does our State Department.

The Greek situation has two sides. I think perhaps if you would talk to some of the people in the Department you would understand some of the difficulties better and realize that it is not always what lies on the surface that is really the truth.2

Naturally this country was aware of the situation in Greece but it was not our responsibility until Great Britain asked us to take it over.

Mr. Shackford's article seems to me one of the stupidest articles I have ever read. I would like our Secretary of State to provide him with good copy by being the person who stands up and argues with Mr. Vishinsky Russia sent Vishinsky and not Mr. Molotoff to do that. We send Senator Austin, not our Secretary of State.3

We have provided all of the issues which are being fought out in the present session. We have brought the Greek question into the UN. We have suggested "The Little Assembly" and it is on our suggestions that other people are working.4 We do not try to dictate, we bring things to the UN and then let everybody argue them out. We could use our great force and prestige and simply push our suggestions through without discussion, but under Secretary Marshall's wise leadership, we do not even try to push things down the throats of the Latin American countries. It is wise to let people think for themselves—far wiser than to propose something and then give the answers.

[If]5 citizens do not have a little more faith in their own government and back up as good a Secretary as General Marshall with a little more enthusiasm, I do not know how they can expect their public servants to accomplish much for them.

                                      Very sincerely yours,


1. John M. Cooper to ER, 14 October 1947, AERP; R.H. Shackford, "Reds' Revival of Comintern Blow to U.N.," Seattle Times, 6 October 1946, 3.

2. Cooper chided the State Department for bypassing the UN in the US intervention in Greece. For additional information on Greece, see Document 87, Document 187, n5 Document 194, Document 210, n3 and n4 Document 219, n12 Document 220, Document 221, and Document 231 (John M. Cooper to ER, 14 October 1947, AERP).

3. Roland Herbert "R. H." Shackford (1908–1998), a United Press correspondent, disapproved of the State Department leadership, stating that according to UN representatives, "the United States' promised dynamic U.N. program designed to take the leadership has failed to jell. Secretary of State Marshall, instead of providing the leadership many delegates had hoped for, has remained aloof" (R. H. Shackford, "Reds' Revival of Comintern Blow to U.N.," Seattle Times, 6 October 1946, 3; "RH. Shackford," Biography and Genealogy Master Index. Farmington Hill, Mich.: Thomson Gale, 1980–2005).

4. Secretary of State Marshall proposed a plan for the Little Assembly, to be composed of one delegate from each country, which would serve as an "interim committee" when the General Assembly was out of session. The Soviets disagreed with the creation of the Little Assembly and thwarted efforts to supply a budget for it. Nevertheless, the interim committee convened in 1948. ER supported the creation of the Little Assembly, and described its role in a radio broadcast on November 2, 1947. ER explained that, "some people here said that the establishment of this Interim Committee would infringe on the functions of the Security Council." She therefore clarified the four main responsibilities of the interim committee, which was to meet in between General Assembly sessions:

1. It will consider matters in relation to the maintenance of international peace and security and friendly relations between nations which might be submitted for consideration at the next regular session … 2. It can observe what is being done under the recommendations of this present session throughout the world and in cases which deal with peace and security and friendly relations, assigned by the General Assembly to the interim committee, it can be prepared to report on progress made. 3. It can make long range studies for recommendations to the General Assembly on principles of cooperation in the interest of peace and international security and friendly relations among nations. 4. It can advise the General Assembly whether in the light of its own experience a permanent interim committee might [be] of value.

(ER, "For Broadcast, Sunday 2nd, 1947" from "World Security Workshop," AERP; John Foster Dulles, "Challenge of the Little Assembly," NYT, 4 January 1948, SM8; A. M. Rosenthal, "'Little Assembly' to Open on Jan. 5," NYT, 11 December 1947, 27; "The 'Little Assembly,'" NYT, 7 November 1947, 22; "Resolution on U.N. 'Little Assembly,'" NYT, 7 November 1947, 8; A. M. Rosenthal, "Russia Will Seek to Block Funds for 'Little Assembly' as Illegal," NYT, 8 November 1947, 1).

5. The first word of the sentence is missing from the original document. The typist apparently ran out of room on the carbon paper.

On Military Training

Mrs. Alma Sue Emrick of Burbank, California, wrote to ER October 10, 1947, to express her concerns about military expansion and the need for peace advocacy.

Being just a common housewife, I, like many millions of parents sitting "on the sidelines" am taking the opportunity to get off my chest what has heretofore been "taboo" for discussion. I, however, do not understand the reason why we common people cannot glorify peace by talking about it or in our common "horse-sense" manner try to suggest a system for instilling peaceful inclination into every heart in the world.

Emrick also enclosed a document that appeared to be a petition by the California Congress of Parents and Teachers, Inc.,1 which began:

We condemn warlike procedure—always have! Military Training will only incite suspicion on us of other nations and will put us in the same category of the Germans who always had military training for youth! How can we be sure that future militarists in power, will not instill glorification of war and hatred for other nations?

The document, which Emrick signed, called for the establishment of an international congress of parents and teachers, uniting PTAs with similar organizations in other nations, as a way to ensure that "every family in the world … be a strong 'peace advocate,' not afraid to 'sit down' on the war radicals."2

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Eleanor Roosevelt to J. Marshall Cooper