Eleanor Roosevelt to James Byrnes

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Eleanor Roosevelt to James Byrnes

30 August 1945 [Hyde Park]

Dear Mr. Secretary:

The United Feature Syndicate for which I write a column, would like to have me go to Russia next Spring. I have also been asked by Madame Chaing to come to China in the early Spring.3 I have not asked the syndicate whether they would like me to take the trip to China as well.

Before I make any positive arrangements I wanted to ask you about it. I did ask President Truman about going to Russia and he sent me word through Judge Rosenman4 he would be glad to have me make any trip I wanted to make and that he wanted it facilitated in any way possible.

This, however, is not exactly the ordinary kind of a trip. I am going as a newspaper writer, but I realize that I can not shed the fact that I am my husband's widow. I would like to make the trip useful in as many ways as possible and to do that I must ask your advice. First, would you be willing to ascertain if the powers-that-be in Russia really would like me to come and will give me the usual writers' freedom and facilities for moving about and seeing things? My object, of course, would be to see what they plan to do for women and children in the social field and that would include education, hospitals, etc. I realize that they can not be actually accomplishing a great deal but what they plan should be of great interest to us.

Also, if I have to stop anywhere on the way, do you have any preference as to where I go and where I stop? Would you have to notify anyone of my passing through?

Please understand that I am not asking for any special privileges. I am only asking to be helpful and to do what you think would be helpful. I do not want to travel any differently from any other correspondent. If I have to attend any type of receptions I should hope you would arrange to have them kept at a minimum. On the other hand I do not want to hurt anyone's feelings.

Madame Chaing assured me that I would be given no surveillance and every facility to see and to travel if I would come to China but I do not even want to mention this to the syndicate until I get your advice, as that trip might have implications that you would like to consider.5

                                              Very sincerely yours,

                                               Eleanor Roosevelt


Byrnes then delegated the request to Undersecretary of State Dean Acheson, who, at Hopkins and ER's suggestion, contacted Averell Harriman, the US ambassador to the Soviet Union, for his assessment. Acheson then reported back to ER.

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Eleanor Roosevelt to James Byrnes

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Eleanor Roosevelt to James Byrnes