Eleanor Roosevelt to William Schafer

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Eleanor Roosevelt to William Schafer

8 September 1946 [Hyde Park]

My dear Mr. Schafer:

I spoke to Miss Rose Schneiderman, president of the New York Women's Trade Union League, 247 Lexington Avenue, New York City, who said she would speak to the local labor representatives in this area.5

I feel that the most useful tactics to be employed against Mrs. St. George would be to have her heckled at meetings where she speaks by people who really know the labor and agricultural situations. Start by getting her to make a general statement on her own stand, then attack her on particular bills. I think it will be evident that she is without real knowledge and with many prejudices. If there could be a debate between her and the candidate and the same thing could happen on both of those questions, it would be good. She does know about private charities and has been on the board of trustees of the Tuxedo Hospital and also I think of the infantile paralysis work, but she does not know about labor conditions and I think would be unsympathetic to them and to much of the labor legislation. It should be brought out that she knows very little about the real agricultural situation, and educational conditions in the state and in the nation which affect the agricultural population. She has endorsed Hamilton Fish and his stand, which puts her in a very odd position on international questions.6

                                   Very sincerely yours,


1. MD, 8 November 1946.

2. Katharine Delano Price Collier St. George (1894–1983), a cousin of FDR's, played an active role in the local Republican Party organization, even serving as president of the Tuxedo Republican Club, prior to FDR's election in 1932 when she decided to refrain from politics out of deference to family. However, when Augustus W. Bennet (then running on the Democratic and American Labor Parties' tickets) defeated her longtime friend Hamilton Fish in the 1944 congressional election, St. George decided to involve herself in Republican politics once again and vowed to run against Bennett in the 1946 primary (ANBO).

3. Although the CIO had endorsed Bennet in the primary, the largest local labor organization, the Newburgh Building Trades Council, supported St. George, as did the district's former congressman, Hamilton Fish ("Liberals Back Bryan," NYT, 24 October 1946, 22; "Roosevelt Cousin Wins Primary Race," NYT, 21 August 1946, 17; "A. H. Raskin, CIO-PAC to Oppose 33 Now in Congress," NYT, 10 May 1946, 1; James A. Hagerty, "Trend to the Right Shown in Primary Here and Up-State," NYT, 22 August 1946, 1).

4. William Schafer to ER, 11 September 1946, AERP.

5. For ER's relationship with the influential labor leader Rose Schneiderman, see n5 Document 31.

6. Hamilton Fish (1888–1991), an outspoken Republican isolationist, represented the Twenty-Ninth Congressional District of New York in the House from 1920 to 1944 when he lost his seat to Augustus W. Bennet. Fish was not an isolationist in the strictest sense of the term: he supported US participation in the World Court and served as the head of the American delegation to the Inter-Parliamentary Union Congress in 1939, where he proposed an armistice "to enable the nations to solve their problems by arbitration and conciliation instead of war." He did, however, oppose American intervention in the war in Europe and founded the National Committee to Keep America Out of Foreign Wars in 1939. Although his stance caused many to label him a Nazi-sympathizer, Fish continued to oppose intervention until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, when he declared that the only proper response was "war to final victory, cost what it may in blood, treasure and tears" (ANBO; Freidel, 322-23; "Fish's Peace Project to be Offered Today," NYT, 17 August 1939, 10; Hamilton Fish, "Letters to the Times: Mr. Fish States His Position," NYT, 26 October 1940, 14; "Fish Is Called 'Dupe of Hitlerism,' Defends His War Stand in Debate," NYT, 20 September 1941, 9).

In November, Katharine St. George defeated Walsh and won a seat in the House of Representatives, which she retained until 1964 ("All Republicans Win in Rockland," NYT, 6 November 1946, 4).

Baruch and Wallace on the Atomic Bomb

On September 18 Henry Wallace, pressured by columnist Drew Pearson's imminent revelations, released to the press a letter he had written Harry Truman in which he told the president he felt "increasingly disturbed about the trend of international affairs since the war." The letter revealed Wallace's particular opposition to the "successive stages" and veto plan Bernard Baruch proposed be met before atomic energy was placed under international control. "We are in effect," he wrote, "asking [Russia] to reveal her only two cards immediately—telling her that after we have seen her cards we will decide whether we want to continue to play the game." The only hope for peace, Wallace insisted, lay in "disclosing information and destroying our bombs at a specified time … rather than at our own discretion."1

The letter's subsequent publication in the Washington Post and the New York Times underscored Wallace's disagreement with Truman, which the public first perceived September 12 when Wallace delivered a major address at Madison Square Garden. "During the past year or so," he began:

the significance of peace has been increased immeasurably by the atomic bomb, guided missiles, and airplanes which soon will travel as fast as sound. Make no mistake about it—another war would hurt the United States many times as much as the last war … He who trusts in the atomic bomb will sooner or later perish by the atomic bomb—or something worse …

We most earnestly want peace with Russia—but we want to be met half way. We want cooperation …

For her part, Russia can retain our respect by cooperating with the United Nations in a spirit of open-minded and flexible give-and-take.

The real peace treaty we need now is between the United States and Russia. On our part, we should recognize that we have no more business in the political affairs of Eastern Europe than Russia has in the political affairs of Latin America, Western Europe and the United States.2

The day the letter became public, the secretary of state called the president to complain, Truman met with Wallace,3 and Baruch called ER and left the following message with "Tommy" Thompson. Later, that evening when ER read the message, she scrawled instructions to her secretary across the bottom of her message: "Send Wallace a wire saying I hope he will talk to Mr. Baruch." Her wire worked. Wallace agreed to meet with Baruch at the end of September.4

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Eleanor Roosevelt to William Schafer

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Eleanor Roosevelt to William Schafer