Eleanor Roosevelt to James Roosevelt

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Eleanor Roosevelt to James Roosevelt

26 June 1947 [Hyde Park]

Dearest Jimmy,

I've never written to thank you since I returned, nor to tell you of later developments. You and Rommie were sweet and with the addition of fussing over me when the kids were ill I think you were both wonderful.12

I wrote the President after I got home and said I did not feel I could be insulted but I thought it was regrettable for the party and for him.13 I did not mince words on Pauley.14 Fjr went in to see Gael Sullivan who told him he hoped I was not annoyed and that he had called Ross at the W.H. from Pauley's house and Ross had told him to come back.15 Are you going to the meeting Mr. Sullivan has called or is it over?16 He has not written so I haven't written him. Sunday the President and I speak for the N.A.A.C.P. together and I see him at three and drive over with him at his request. I suppose to disprove all idea of a break!

How are Rommie and the children? Elliott's children are here and a joy to have. Chandler is very pretty, Tony a sturdy, handsome youngster and David altogether charming.17 We all go to Campo on the 15th and stop to see Faye in her play that night.18

Will you send me now the $1200. as I think I'll do some things to the playhouse this coming month?19

Much, much love to you dear and I hope you get some rest in spite of political battles.

                                     Devotedly, Mother


1. James Roosevelt, "Statement of Policy of the Democratic Party of California," 25 May 1947, JRP, FDRL; James Roosevelt to ER, 27 May 1947, AERP.

2. Gladwin Hill, "Democratic Schism Growing in California; Shunning of Dinner Held Insult to Roosevelts," NYT, 7 June 1947, 14; United Press notice, 6 June 1947, 14; "James Roosevelt Finds Fault With Greek Aid," LAT, 5 June 1947, 1; Lorania K. Francis, "Democratic Rift Laid to Pauley," LAT, 7 June 1947, 2; Gladwin Hill, "2 Democrat Chiefs Avoid Coast Dinner," NYT, 6 June 1947, 15.

3. For ER's earlier criticisms of Pauley, see Document 97.

4. Gael Sullivan.

5. ER thought highly of Helen Douglas, calling her "one of my favorite members of Congress" (MD, 3 April 1946).

6. Secretary of State George Marshall delivered the commencement speech at Harvard University on June 5, 1947, outlining a program of US aid to feed and rebuild postwar Europe that became known as the Marshall Plan. It proposed that Europe draft a plan for economic aid that would become a joint program of the European countries and the United States. The Marshall Plan aspired to achieve "the revival of a working economy in the world so as to permit the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist." Although ER thought Marshall's proposal constructive, she had serious reservations about its approach, particularly concerning its apparent circumvention of the UN. For more on ER's views on the Marshall Plan, see Document 239, Document 242, and Document 243. For ER's relationship to Marshall, see header to Document 198 ("The Address of Secretary Marshall at Harvard," NYT, 6 June 1947, 2; OCAMH; MD, 9 June 1947; Lash, Years, 99-100).

7. ER made a similar point in her July 5 column, criticizing Molotov's June 30 announcement of Soviet nonparticipation in the Marshall Plan. ER stated, "The Marshall Plan is a bona fide offer to help Europe get back on its feet. Mr. Molotov, in refusing to join the rest of Europe, is creating the very thing he says he fears, which is division instead of cooperation" (Harold Callender, "Molotov Adamant; Bevin and Bidault to Act Alone on Aid," NYT, 1 July 1947, 1; MD, 5 July 1947).

8. The Politbureau was a committee comprised of the highest-ranking policymakers in the Soviet Union, essentially consisting of Stalin and his most trusted cohorts, including Molotov. The term is a contraction of the Russian words for "political" and "bureau" ("Politbureau," OED; Dziewanowski, 170).

9. On "Greece and Turkey" (i.e., the Truman Doctrine), see Document 208 and Document 210.

10. Truman had spent June 10-12 on a "good will visit" to Canada, during which he met with Governor General Viscount Alexander and Prime Minister W. L. Mackenzie King, and delivered a speech to the Canadian Parliament reiterating the goals of the Truman Doctrine and exhorting Canada to stand by the United States "in the forefront of those who share these objectives and ideals" ("Truman Gets Welcome of Cheering Canadians," LAT, 11 June 1947, 1; "Text of President Truman's Address Before the Canadian Parliament," NYT, 12 June 1947, 2).

11. Sullivan's announcement of the June 26 Democratic National Committee meeting, to be held in Washington but focusing on the California party, appeared in the June 13 New York Times. The "peace" Truman sought did occur. James Roosevelt called for an interim meeting of the Democratic State Central Committee on July 26 in Los Angeles to determine the California party's official platform and to "air differences and re-establish harmony" among California Democrats. On July 27 the state party officially endorsed the Truman campaign, over the objections of the pro-Wallace faction leader Robert W. Kenney, and devised their domestic and international platform, revising Roosevelt's June 3 policy statement by cutting out his criticisms of the Truman Doctrine. Despite the criticism he received following the Jackson Day Dinner, this revised declaration lauded James Roosevelt's "efforts in promoting the party and laying a solid foundation for its success" (Clayton Knowles, "Democrats Work to Repair Breach," NYT, 13 June 1947, 14; "Divided Democrats Meet on Coast," NYT, 26 July 1947, 2; "Coast Democrats Endorse Truman," NYT, 28 July 1947, 7).

12. James Roosevelt married his nurse and second wife Romelle Theresa Schneider (1916–?, deceased) in 1941. Their children, at this time, were James Roosevelt, Jr., born 1945, and Michael Anthony Roosevelt, born 1946 ("James Roosevelt Weds His Ex-Nurse," NYT, 15 April 1941, 46; "Milestones," Time, 16 December 1946; "Milestones," Time, 19 November 1945; "James Roosevelt," http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/child2.html, accessed 1 March 2006).

13. While polite to ER, Truman remained furious with James Roosevelt, telling him in a brusque face to face exchange later recalled by Secret Service agent Henry Nicholson:

Your father asked me to take this job. I didn't want it. I was happy in the Senate. But your father asked me to take it, and I took it. And if your father knew what you are doing to me, he would turn over in his grave. But get this straight: whether you like it or not, I am going to be the next President of the United States. That will be all. Good day.

Truman then turned around and left the room before Roosevelt could respond (Donovan, 401).

14. See ER to Harry Truman, Document 231.

15. "Fjr" is Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jr., who saw Truman on July 23. Charles "Charlie" Griffith Ross (1885–1950) was Truman's press secretary from 1945 until his death in 1950 ("The Day in Washington," NYT, 24 July 1947, 13; "Charles G. Ross Collapses and Dies in White House," NYT, 6 December 1950, 1).

16. See n11 above.

17. Elliott was married to Ruth Josephine Googins from 1933 through 1944; together they had three children: Ruth Chandler Roosevelt ("Chandler"), born May 1934; Elliott Roosevelt, Jr. ("Tony"), born July 1936; and David Boynton Roosevelt, born January 1942 ("Elliott Roosevelt," http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/child3.html, accessed 20 September 2005).

18. Faye Emerson Roosevelt (1917–1983), an actress and third wife of Elliott Roosevelt. They married in 1944. On July 15, 1947, ER and Elliott's family attended Emerson's performance in State of the Union at the Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine while on their way to Campobello Island, New Brunswick, to visit the Roosevelts' cottage there ("Faye Emerson Seen at Ogunquit," NYT, 15 July 1947, 26; "Elliot Roosevelt," http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/child3.html, accessed 20 September 2005).

19. James served as executor of FDR's estate and thus held responsibility for dispensing its funds.

Criticizing Taft-Hartley and John L. Lewis

In June, Congress passed the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947, most commonly known as the bill named for its sponsors Rep. Fred Hartley (R-NJ) and Sen. Robert Taft (R-OH). Truman vetoed the bill. June 23, Congress then promptly overrode his veto and the Taft-Hartley Act became law in August.1

ER strongly supported the president's decision; however, her staunch opposition to the Taft-Hartley Act did not mean that she remained completely uncritical of labor. She was particularly critical of John L. Lewis, president of the United Mine Workers. Immediately after Congress passed the bill, she wrote:

In many ways I think labor leaders have themselves to blame for some of their present difficulties—John L. Lewis chief among them, because the people as a whole have come to dread what he can do to our economy. And there are certain union rules which irk the people and which I do not think really help organized labor. These regulations have made the relations between the public and the unions increasingly unsympathetic and should have been studied and corrected long ago.

This critique, and the Cleveland Press's choice of headline for the column,2 prompted Alexander Fell "A. F." Whitney (1873–1949), president of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, to write a letter to ER on June 17. He agreed with her criticism of the Taft-Hartley bill but took umbrage at her blaming labor leaders for labor's political troubles—though he did agree that Lewis used "poor judgement" when he broke the UMW contract with the government—and wished that labor's "virtues" were emphasized in ER's column, rather than its "errors." He asked, "Why do so many writers, directly and indirectly, criticize labor and labor leaders and fail to call the public's attention to the iniquities of big business and its leaders?" As ER clarified in this reply to Whitney's June 17 letter, this was not the intention of her article.3

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Eleanor Roosevelt to James Roosevelt

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Eleanor Roosevelt to James Roosevelt