Eleanor Roosevelt to Louise Grant Smith

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Eleanor Roosevelt to Louise Grant Smith

3 December 19462[New York City]

Dear Mrs. Smith:

I have your letter of October 8th and the delay in answering is because of my work with the United Nations.3

I am too old to start leading causes. There have been a number of women's groups meeting of late, among others, the international group which met at South Kortright, New York.4 I never feel that they get very far and I am beginning to think that men and women have to work together, and it is better for them to work in definite positions within the government and within their parties. Naturally where special interests are involve which are exclusively women's, they will have organizations and meetings to keep their interests, but this question of peace can only come where men and women work together. I doubt if women alone can be very effective.

                                      Very sincerely yours,


1. Smith worked with Molly Dewson in FDR's 1932 presidential campaign and thereafter with Dorothy McAllister, May Thompson Evans, and Gladys Tillett. She also knew Lorena Hickock from Hickock's days at the Democratic National Committee. Hickock told ER that Smith was "very smart and a good Democrat." Smith met Hatch, the chairman of the presidential commission to evaluate the 1946 Bikini Atoll atomic bomb tests, following Hatch's speech in Missouri in which he said there was "no defense against atomic warfare" and "the only way to save the world is to eliminate war itself." Hatch allowed Smith to use his name to contact ER. Hatch also authored the Hatch Act of 1939 and 1940, which prohibited federal employees from engaging in political activity (Louise Grant Smith to ER, 8 October 1946, AERP; NAW; typewritten secretary's message to ER n.d. AERP; BDUSC; Boyer, Promises, 47).

2. The original date of this letter, October 30, was crossed out and December 3 written above it.

3. The fall session of the UN General Assembly met in New York from October 23 to December 16 ("Bevin to Miss Opening," NYT, 14 October 1946, 3; "World News Summarized," NYT, 16 December 1946, 1).

4. ER spoke at two women's peace conferences in 1946. In April she spoke at the conference of Women's Action Committee for Lasting Peace in Louisville, Kentucky. In November she spoke twice at the International Assembly of Women, which met at the estate of Mrs. Alice T. McLean in South Kortright, New York. (McLean had founded the American version of the wartime Women's Voluntary Services). At the International Assembly of Women, ER urged the delegates to work through the UN and suggested they submit their findings to the General Assembly with the proviso that their suggestions "represent some concrete things that the women want to see done through the United Nations for the people of the world." See also n1 Document 183 (MD, 27 April, 12 October, and 23 October, 1946; "Mrs. Roosevelt Puts Hope in U.N.," NYT, 21 October 1946, 22; "Mrs. McLean Turns Over Up-State Mansion to World Artists and Europe's DP Children," NYT, 20 July 1948, 21).

On Recognizing Franco

December 2, the Political and Security Committee of the General Assembly turned its attention to Spain when it considered the Polish resolution demanding all UN member states sever diplomatic ties with Spain.1 In the midst of the debate, Senator Tom Connally, the American delegate, introduced an alternate resolution demanding that Spain "give proof to the world that they have a Government which derives its authority from the consent of the governed" and recommending Spain be barred from all international agencies and UN-related conferences. The resolution, however, did not recommend that member states take any individual action against Spain.2

As the New York Times reported, "The new debate on Spain again unites all the members of the United Nations in vigorous condemnation of the Franco regime and in the desire to see it ended as quickly as possible. Unfortunately," the paper continued, "unanimity in the U.N. disappears when it comes to determining what steps, if any, should be taken by outside nations to hasten Franco's end."3

Freda Kirchwey, editor of the Nation and president of the Nation Associates, could not understand why the United States continued to recognize a government they deemed Fascist when they had just fought a war to end Fascism. A longtime critic of Franco who at a time when most Europeans believed Franco a much lesser danger than Hitler or Mussolini had argued that "the supreme test of an anti-fascist today is not what he says but what he does for Spain,"4 Kirchwey now hoped that the UN, with United States support, could finally weaken Franco's hold on Spain. She now asked ER to exercise her "enormous" influence once again.

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Eleanor Roosevelt to Louise Grant Smith

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Eleanor Roosevelt to Louise Grant Smith