Harold Ickes to Eleanor Roosevelt

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Harold Ickes to Eleanor Roosevelt

21 May 1945 [Washington, DC]

My dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

Jane tells me that she had an opportunity to discuss briefly with you, when we had the pleasure of being your guests at Hyde Park, the possibility of your running for public office.2

I hope that you will bear with me if I suggest that I do not agree with your thought that you would be able to do more in behalf of your views if you did not hold public office. I believe that you would have much more influence if you should speak and write from the background of public office than otherwise.

I do not profess to have any expert views with respect to the political situation of New York State but my conviction is that you could be elected to any office in that State next year. I should doubt whether you would be even remotely interested in the mayoralty. That job is too exacting and too saturated with petty and personal details. I think that it is terribly important that Governor Dewey should be defeated if he is a candidate for reelection and in my opinion you could defeat him. However, it seems to me that the United States Senate would offer you your best opportunity, both as a forum and as a field for the work that you are particularly qualified to do. While there is no doubt of the influence that you can exert as a private citizen, it has been my experience that the man who holds a public office of dignity and distinction has a sounding board that no private citizen can have.

I hope that you will be a candidate for Senator next year. In any event, I hope that you will take no position for some time at least that would preclude such a possibility. After all, you can always say "no" and it cannot be predicted that you might not want to be in a position to become a candidate in certain contingencies that cannot now be foreseen.

It may have been the last time that I had a talk with the late President Roosevelt that I brought up the question of New York in 1946. I expressed the fervent hope that nothing would be left undone to defeat Governor Dewey. If he should run and fail of election next year, he would be effectively disposed of as a possible candidate for President in 1948 and I regard him as an unsafe and dangerous man even although he is trying in many ways to prove how liberal he now is. The President agreed with me.3 He told me that he had in mind as a possible Democratic ticket General O'Dwyer4 for Mayor, Senator Mead5 for Governor and Fiorello LaGuardia6 for United States Senator.

I like LaGuardia. I think that he has made a great Mayor although I recognize that he has lost a great deal of his popularity and strength during the last few years.7 However, with President Roosevelt gone it would seem to me that there would be little chance either of nominating or electing LaGuardia as Senator. So if I could wave a magic wand, I would choose the ticket suggested by President Roosevelt, except that I would substitute you for LaGuardia as United States Senator. It is my judgement that you would be unbeatable and you would help greatly to defeat Governor Dewey. In my view, this would be better than running for Governor, although I believe that you could be elected to that office. If I had my way, I would not choose for you an office that would mean hampering administrative details that would not leave you as much time as you would need for leadership on the social and political issues that will confront this country during the next few years.

And so I venture the hope that you will not now or in the near future foreclose any possibility of becoming a candidate for United States Senator.

John and Anna and little Johnny8 are spending the week end with us and we are all enjoying it. Little Johnny seemed to be perfectly at home right from the beginning and he and our two little children9 are hitting it off perfectly.

I would like to take advantage of this opportunity to tell you that Jane and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Hyde Park last week end. We thank you for your gracious hospitality. I am very glad indeed that I had a chance to see the house and get some comprehension of the problems that will confront the National Park Service. I hope that the bill that I have sent to Congress will be passed in due course and that we will be granted an appropriation that will make it possible for us to do what we ought to do and want to do along the line of our general discussion.10

With personal regards,

                                      Sincerely yours, Harold L. Ickes