Correspondence: 1947
    Commentary by Steve Neal

In January of 1947, General George C. Marshall (1880-1959) succeeded Byrnes as secretary of state. As the chief of staff during World War II, he played a major role in planning Allied strategy on a global scale. Churchill paid tribute to him as "the true organizer of victory." Working with Truman, General Marshall developed a program to rebuild war-torn Europe. Mrs. Roosevelt welcomed this change at the State Department and hailed the Marshall Plan.

On January 27, the first session of the Human Rights Commission convened at Lake Success, Long Island. Eleanor was unanimously chosen as the chairman of the eighteen-nation panel. Under the direction of John Humphrey, a Canadian specialist in international law, the commission began preparing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. "The work in this period was an intense education for me in many ways, including constitutional law," Mrs. Roosevelt later wrote, "and I would not have been able to do much but for the able advisers who worked with me."

Though grateful that Truman backed her efforts at the United Nations, Mrs. Roosevelt did not hesitate to publicly dissent when she thought the administration was wrong. She disagreed with the Truman Doctrine, the president's pledge of military and economic aid to Greece and Turkey. It would have been better, she argued, if Truman had made his case to the United Nations instead of going it alone. "Feeling as I do that our hope for peace lies in the United Nations," she wrote in her column, "I naturally grieve to see this country do anything which harms the strength of the UN."

During her husband's administration, Mrs. Roosevelt had become an outspoken champion of civil rights. But FDR, whose political coalition included the segregationist South, had given little priority to the struggle for racial equality. Early in the Truman presidency, Mrs. Roosevelt challenged American political leaders to do better: "If we really believe in Democracy we must face the fact that equality of opportunity is basic to any kind of Democracy. Equality of opportunity means that all of our people, not just white people, but all of our people must have decent homes, a decent standard of health and educational opportunities to develop their abilities as far as they are able."

Truman, who had been greatly disturbed by mob violence against black veterans, proved to be as bold in the field of civil rights as his predecessor had been timid. In June of 1947, with Mrs. Roosevelt at his side, he became the first president to address the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. "It is my deep conviction that we have reached a turning point in the long history of our country's efforts to
guarantee freedom and equality to all our citizens," he said. "Recent events in the United States and abroad have made us realize that it is more important today than ever before to insure that all Americans enjoy these rights. When I say all Americans, I mean all Americans."

As much as she admired Truman's civil rights leadership, Eleanor viewed his loyalty program as repressive. She was disappointed that her old friend Henry A. Wallace had allowed himself to be used by the Communist Party. Mrs. Roosevelt was the keynote speaker at the founding meeting of the Americans for Democratic Action, which was established as a liberal alternative to Wallace's Progressive Citizens of America.

Late in the year, Mrs. Roosevelt wrote Truman: "It happens that I have given up any activities with the Progressive Citizens of America because I am convinced that there are people in the top levels of that organization that still are clearly connected with the Communist Party in this country or are too chicken-hearted and afraid of being called red-baiters. Therefore, they serve the purposes of the party."

But she then noted the absurdity of guilt by association: "I remember when my husband and I heard about a list the FBI had of organizations that were considered subversive and anyone who had contributed to these organizations was automatically considered to be questionable. My husband told me I could ask to see it and we spent an evening going through it and believe it or not, my husband's mother was one of the first people named because she had contributed to a Chinese relief organization and both Secretary Stimson :and Secretary Knox were listed as having contributed to several organizations. . . . Forgive me for writing a long letter again but I have been troubled by what looks like a real chance that some of the methods of the Russians might be coming our way."


    1. ELEANOR ROOSEVELT TO HARRY S. TRUMAN, JANUARY 7, 1947

 

    Dear Mr. President:

    I have enclosed an appeal I recently received from a group of interned illegal Jewish homeless immigrants on Ellis Island and wonder if anything can be done to prevent their deportation?

    With every good wish, I am,

    Yours very sincerely,

    


    2. HARRY S. TRUMAN TO ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, JANUARY 16, 1947

 

    My dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    This is in reply to your letter of January seventh in which you enclosed a letter of appeal sent to you by a group of Jewish stowaways who are now detained on Ellis Island.

    I have taken this matter up with the Attorney General and he has carefully gone into the problem with the Immigration and Naturalization Service. These boys are a part of a large group of stowaways who arrived in this country during 1946. Under the immigration law, of course, they are required to be returned, at the expense of the steamship company, to the ports of their embarkation.

    The Attorney General advised me that because of the increase in the number of stowaways since the end of the war he initiated a survey to ascertain if there was any basis for relief. I am also advised that a Special Committee of the 79th Congress appointed from the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization conducted an investigation of this situation at the Port of New York where the problem is most acute, and
    thereafter submitted a bill to the Committee for strengthening the existing immigration law pertaining to the exclusion of stowaways. In view of
    this it is the Attorney General's opinion that since lawful immigration is so urgently needed by so many displaced persons, the greatest good for the greatest number can only be accommodated by lending all the facilities of our Government to lawful immigration and following a policy of strict exclusion of the illegal or stowaway immigrants.

    As you know, in my recent message to the Congress I emphasized the duty of the United States to accept its portion of the world's burden as to displaced persons and urged the Congress to consider appropriate legislation to enable a greater number of displaced persons to lawfully immigrate to the United States. I believe such a measure is of paramount importance and, as much as I am sympathetic with the plight of these particular stowaways, I am, nevertheless, of the opinion that their individual cases must give way to the larger problem of the many thousands of homeless people in Europe who seek to come to the United States as legal immigrants.

    I am always grateful to you for your vigilant interest in matters of this kind. I am returning herewith the enclosure with your letter.
    Very sincerely yours,

    


    3. ELEANOR ROOSEVELT TO HARRY S. TRUMAN, JANUARY 20, 1947

 

    Dear Mr. President:

    I appreciate your answering my letter about the Jewish stowaways and I can fully understand the situation.

    With many thanks and best wishes,
    Very sincerely,

    


    4. ELEANOR ROOSEVELT TO HARRY S. TRUMAN, JANUARY 8, 1947

 

    Dear Mr. President:

    You will remember that I told you how sorry I was that John Winant resigned from the Economic and Social Council.

    I have heard from people here Herbert Lehman might be interested in taking that work. I know that Mr. Byrnes hoped that it would be Mr. LaFollette. I am just passing along the suggestion of Herbert Lehman because he seems to me far better fitted than anyone else, if he is willing to consider it.

    I am not, of course, asking for any favor, I am simply passing on the information in case it is helpful to you. Mr. Lehman's contacts and knowledge of people and countries in the whole world would be helpful to a new member of the Economic and Social Council.

    Very cordially yours,

    


    5. HARRY S. TRUMAN TO ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, JANUARY 13, 1947

 

    My dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    I appreciated very much your note of the eighth in regard to Mr. Lehman.

    I think very highly of Governor Lehman and I wish I had known of his interest before I had made some commitments on Winant's successor . As it is, I'm tied up in such a way that I can't offer him a job at present.

    I turned your letter regarding the Jewish matter over to the Attorney General and he is getting me the facts on it.

    Sincerely yours,

    


    6. ELEANOR ROOSEVELT TO HARRY S. TRUMAN, FEBRUARY 1, 1947

 

    Dear Mr. President:

    I have no idea whether the British people who are planning the memorial to my husband will ask you to send some one to represent you when the statue will be unveiled in April 1948. I have been invited and unless something unforeseen happens I plan to attend.

    If you should be asked to send some one, I wonder if you would be willing to consider sending my husband's old friend and early law partner, Major Henry S. Hooker. He is most anxious to go because of the early connection and many years of friendship. I agreed to send you this note on the chance that a request would be made. I have tried not to ask you for favors but this is one request that I did not feel able to refuse.

    Very cordially yours,

    


    7. HARRY S. TRUMAN TO ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, FEBRUARY 5, 1947

 

    My dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    In reply to your letter of February first, of course I would be most happy to designate Major Henry S. Hooker to represent the President of the United States at the unveiling of the proposed monument to Mr. Roosevelt in Grosvenor Square.

    I hope you are enjoying this cold wave we are having.

    Sincerely yours,

    


    8. HARRY S. TRUMAN TO ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, FEBRUARY 6, 1947

 

    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    This is to acknowledge your telegram of February fourth. Pardon me for not having made earlier acknowledgment of your second letter of resignation from membership on the President's Commission on Higher Education.

    I appreciate how full your schedule is and hesitate to add to your burden of work. I can readily understand how difficult it is for you to attend meetings of the commission.

    May I ask you to continue your membership with a very distinct . understanding that you will not be expected to attend meetings while your work on the Human Rights Commission continues, nor even later, except on such occasions as are entirely convenient to you. When the usual notifications of meetings of the Commission on Education reach you, Miss Thompson can receive them with this understanding and such notices will not even require an acknowledgment.

    Quite frankly, I would like to have the prestige which your name gives to the Education Commission. And I know Dr. Steelman feels the same way about it. I hope you can continue your membership under these conditions.

    Very sincerely yours,

    


    9. ELEANOR ROOSEVELT TO HARRY S. TRUMAN, FEBRUARY 11, 1947

 

    Dear Mr. President:

    I am sorry but I find that it is impossible for me to give adequate time to the work of your Committee on Higher Education, and though you may not realize it, that work is under considerable criticism because there is a feeling, in the National Education Association for instance, that the emphasis is being placed on private education and too little thought given to public education.

    Knowing that it is not possible for me to be at the meetings, I would not feel that it is right for me to continue to be a member or have my name connected with it when I could do no work.

    I suggested that Miss Charl Williams might take my place because she has been for a long time in the NEA and was the first vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

    It is because I feel this work is so important that I think someone who can give it adequate attention and thought should be named.

    With very deep regret, I am

    Very cordially yours,

    


    10. HARRY S. TRUMAN TO ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, FEBRUARY 12, 1947

 

    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    In the light of your letter of February eleventh I feel that I have no recourse but to accept your resignation as a member of the Commission on Higher Education. I do this with deep regret but with heartfelt appreciation of the valuable counsel which you have given to the work.

    I shall immediately look into the situation which you bring to my attention and I am sure that we can find a way to change anything that needs to be changed.

    Gratefully and sincerely,

    

When Truman refused to accept Mrs. Roosevelt's resignation from this panel in the fall of 1946, his approval rating had plunged to the lowest point of his first term. By the winter of 1947, his numbers were improving. Even so, he was most reluctant to lose the benefit of Mrs. Roosevelt's popularity.


    11. ELEANOR ROOSEVELT TO HARRY S. TRUMAN, FEBRUARY 27, 1947

 

    Dear Mr. President:

    This is just a note to tell you how much I appreciate your support of the International Refugee Organization budget.

    I feel it is so important that we redeem our pledges, I am always grateful for your support.

    Very sincerely yours,

    


    12. ELEANOR ROOSEVELT TO HARRY S. TRUMAN, APRIL 17, 1947

 

    Dear Mr. President:

    I have carried on a lengthy correspondence with Secretary Acheson and I have seen a State Department representative sent by Secretary Acheson to explain the Greek-Turkish situation to me.

    I went to see Averell Harriman the other day to try to get some enlightenment from him. I know that his appointment was very favorably received. Harry Hopkins thought highly of him but that was largely because he knew he could count on Averell to carry out directions. I have known him since he was a little boy. I like him very much personally but I came away from talking to him, feeling that there was not sufficient realization of the domestic situation we are facing and its tie-up with the foreign situation.

    Our domestic and foreign policies are so closely tied together and the various moves made of late are so politically oriented, I feel some very clear-sighted thinking is needed.

    Between the Pepper Bill and the Vandenberg Amendment to the Administration Bill, I hope that you might find some middle course. For that reason I am enclosing a copy of a wire which has come to me that expresses anxiety and makes some suggestions similar to those which have been made from other people. I am not sending it because it came from Aubrey Williams, but because it is comprehensive enough to be a good sample of a considerable amount of thinking which seems to be going on throughout the country.

    I do not believe that the Democratic party can win by going the Republican party one better in conservatism on the home front. Nor do I believe that taking over Mr. Churchill's policies in the Near East, in the name of democracy, is the way to really create a barrier to communism or promote democracy.

    I do not think your advisers have looked far enough ahead . Admiral Leahy as always, will think of this country as moving on its own power.

    Both in Commerce and in Agriculture, we have not been far sighted enough to see that:

    1. The safeguarding of food supplies for the world, even though it might mean keeping a little more than we need on hand, was a wise policy.

    2. The getting of businessmen to work in Europe and Russia is the only way we can really hope to rehabilitate Europe and establish democracy.

    Mr. Acheson is rather more sympathetic to the British point of view than I would be and what with Mr. Lewis Douglas, who will certainly be sympathetic to Mr. Churchill's point of view, I am afraid we are apt to lose sight of the fact that if we do not wish to fight Russia, we must be both honest and firm with her. She must understand us, but she must also trust us.

    Please give my kind regards to Mrs. Truman and to Margaret. I hope the latter is feeling encouraged about her work. So many people have spoken to me favorably after hearing her on the radio.
    Very cordially yours,

    


    13. HARRY S. TRUMAN TO ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, MAY 7, 1947

 

    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    It was thoughtful of you to write me, as you did in your letter of April 17 . . . telling me of your concern over recent world developments and giving me guidance. The Greek-Turkish matter which you mentioned has, I think, caused me more worry and soul-searching than any matter in these past two years. I felt the grave responsibility of the decision and the drawbacks to any course of action suggested. But it has also brought me, when the decision was made and as the issues have developed here and abroad, a growing feeling of certainty in the rightness of our step.

    Your own concern and the concern of the sender of the wire you enclosed seem to be mainly, first, that we should not try to stop communism by throwing our economic weight in at points which are of strategic importance but deficient in democracy, and, second, that we must outsell communism by offering something better, that is, a constructive and affirmative program which will be recognized as such by the entire world and which can be effected without resort to the totalitarian methods of the communist police state.

    On the first half of this I would argue that if the Greek-Turkish land bridge between the continents is one point at which our democratic forces can stop the advance of communism that has flowed steadily through the Baltic countries, Poland, Yugoslavia, Rumania, Bulgaria, to some extent Hungary, then this is the place to do it, regardless of whether or not the terrain is good.

    The necessity at this point for formulating and carrying out a detailed operation to improve the situation is urged by Mr. Williams in his wire to you. While the details may differ considerably from those outlined by him, I am determined that the instructions to our mission will be worthy of the "support of all democratic nations" and will give no basis for the fear that it may be solely a "futile attempt to stop communism without offering anything better than the strengthening of autocracy and dictatorship." A great deal of study is being carried on in anticipation of the successful passage of the legislation. The FAO Report and the report of the Porter Mission will be considered and used along with the exceptional knowledge of our two ambassadors.

    In answer to the second part of your concern, I would not disagree that we must have a democratic, constructive and affirmative program of wide scope. But I would argue with deep conviction that we have led in evolving, have helped to build, and have made clear to all who will understand, the most comprehensive machinery for a constructive world peace based on free institutions and ways of life that has ever been proposed and adopted by a body of nations. And I would urge that in evaluating the step we are about to take, we should keep clearly in mind all the effort this country has engaged in sincerity to make possible a peace economically, ideologically, and politically sound.

    I know that I do not need to catalogue for you the international organizations to which I refer. Besides this machinery for peace, we have tried to eliminate the sources of war and, by our proposal for a four-power pact for the disarmament of Germany we have tried to remove from Europe what may be the greatest basic cause of friction: the fear of German aggression or the use of German territory for purposes of aggression.

    To what seems to me nearly the limit, we have made concessions to Russia that she might trust and not fear us. These include: agreement at Teheran to support Tito's partisans in Yugoslavia; agreement at Yalta to give the Kurile Islands and southern Sakhalin to Russia, to recognize the independence of Outer Mongolia and Soviet interests in Darien, Port Arthur and the Chinese Eastern Railway; also at Yalta, agreement on the Curzon line as the western border of the Soviet Union, and to the admission of Byelorussia and the Ukraine to the United Nations; at Potsdam, agreement to the annexation by Russia of the northern portion of East Prussia, to the recognition of Soviet claims for preferential reparations from western Germany, to the necessity for modifications of the provisions of the Montreaux Convention. In the peace treaty negotiations we have made concessions partly in regard to reparations from Italy and in our efforts to meet the Yugoslav and Soviet points of view on boundaries and administration of Venezia, Givlia and Trieste.

    In addition, we have contributed to the defense of Russia during the war in lend-lease eleven and a quarter-billion dollars and provided them with military aid and technological information. Since the war we have contributed to Russian relief through UNRRA two hundred and fifty million dollars and sold them on thirty-year credit, goods totaling another one-quarter billion dollars.

    We have also protested, so far in vain, against what seemed to us violation of democratic procedures pledged at the Yalta Conference, in Poland, Rumania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia.

    To relieve suffering and to take the first steps toward material rehabilitation we have appropriated nearly four and one-quarter billion dollars and have asked for three hundred fifty million dollars more in post-UNRRA relief. Let us think, therefore, of Greek and Turkish aid against the background of these positive measures.

    The results of our efforts thus far disappoint and dishearten many in this and other countries. I think we must place the blame not only on the obstructive tactics of elements opposed to our ideas of a democratic peace, but, also, to a certain extent, on our own reticence in stating the democratic purposes we have in mind.

    So it seems to me, as it did to sixty-seven senators who voted for the Bill that we must take our stand at this strategic point in a determined effort not to let the advance of communism continue to overtake countries who choose to maintain a free way of life, who have requested our aid, and who do not wish to submit to subjugation by an armed minority or by outside pressure.

    I have emphasized what seems to me to be the inescapable fact that this country has gone to great lengths to develop and carry out a constructive policy in world affairs. I have not discussed specifically the point you make that our domestic policy has a great influence on the manner in which we carry out our foreign policy. I am in complete agreement with you that what happens within this country is perhaps the most decisive factor in the future of world peace and economic well-being. We simply must not fall into political division, economic recession, or social stagnation. There must be social progress at home. I shall continue to point out to the country what seem to me the measures most suited to accomplish this progress. I shall continue to take every action within my own power to see that the United States has a progressive domestic policy that will deserve the confidence of the world and will serve as a sound foundation for our international policy. I shall at all times be grateful for any suggestions and criticisms which you may care to send me.

    Nor does it seem to me that we can overlook the fact that as much as the world needs a progressive America, the American way of life cannot survive unless other peoples who want to adopt that pattern of life throughout the world can do so without fear and in the hope of success. If this is to be possible we cannot allow the forces of disintegration to go unchallenged.

    I certainly appreciate your kind personal message to Mrs. Truman which I was glad to convey to her and your expression regarding Margaret's singing is especially gratifying. She will be greatly pleased.

    It was necessary to check the facts before I could answer. It took some time-hence the delay. I regret that it took so long.

    HST

    

In early 1947, the British government advised Truman that it could no longer provide economic and military aid to Greece, where pro-Soviet insurgents were gaining strength. The American president responded with what would become known as the Truman Doctrine: "I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures." Mrs. Roosevelt feared that the United States was assuming Britain's old imperialist role in the Mediterranean.

The telegram that Mrs. Roosevelt enclosed was from the New Deal activist Aubrey Williams (1890-1965), who disapproved of the right-wing Greek government and Truman's blank check to anticommunist forces.

Eleanor believed that Churchill manipulated Truman. "FDR could cope with Churchill," she wrote a friend in 1946, "but he might fool someone not cognizant of world affairs."

W. Averell Harriman (1891-1986), FDR's wartime envoy to Churchill and Stalin, had replaced Wallace as secretary of commerce. Harriman encouraged Truman to take a hard line against the Soviets.

Lewis Douglas (1894-1974), who succeeded Harriman as ambassador to Britain, and Under Secretary of State Dean Acheson (1893-1971) were staunchly protective of the Anglo-American alliance.


    14. ELEANOR ROOSEVELT TO HARRY S. TRUMAN, MAY 13, 1947

 

    Dear Mr. President:

    I can not tell you how much I appreciate your kindness in wanting to give me the Rand portrait of my husband.

    Our youngest son, John, has no portrait of his father and is delighted at the prospect of receiving this one, and I am so grateful to you for making it possible.

    I read that you had flown out to see your mother, and I do hope that you are not having real anxiety about her.

    With my warm good wishes to Mrs. Truman and Margaret, I am,

    Very cordially yours,

    


    15. HARRY S. TRUMAN TO ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, MAY 15, 1947

 

    My dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    I am very happy indeed that you are pleased with the arrangement made for the Rand portrait.

    I found my mother in not such good health as I had expected to find her but when a person is 94 , you really can't expect them to come through a broken bone in the best of health.

    Sincerely yours,

    I am sure you had a perfect mother's day. Our baby was away preparing to sing.

    

Ellen Emmet Rand (1875-1941), one of the more renowned portrait artists in the first half of the twentieth century, was a cousin of the novelist Henry James. She painted the official portraits of three secretaries of state and twice painted FDR. One of these portraits belonged to FDR's mother and hung in the living room of the family's Hyde Park mansion. The other Roosevelt likeness, which FDR designated as his official portrait, was prominently displayed in the White House. But Truman replaced it with Frank Salisbury's Roosevelt and sent the Rand portrait to Hyde Park. Mrs. Roosevelt gave it to her youngest son. It is now displayed in the FDR Library.


    16. ELEANOR ROOSEVELT TO HARRY S. TRUMAN, MAY 16, 1947

 

    Dear Mr. President:

    Because of the various things I have heard, I am sending you this note.

    I know that it was my husband's wish and intention that all of his papers should eventually be in the library at Hyde Park. He particularly did not want them left in the Archives in Washington or in the Library of Congress because he felt that concentration in one place was very unwise. He also felt that they would be more available to historians in the library at Hyde Park and I am sure they will be.

    I hope you will not mind my telling you this, but I feel so strongly that in this one particular I would like to see his wishes carried out, that I am expressing what I have heard my husband say over and over again.

    Very cordially yours,

    


    17. HARRY S. TRUMAN TO ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, MAY 31, 1947

 

    My dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    I appreciated very much your letter of the sixteenth and, as you know, my only effort has been to carry out what I thought were the wishes of the late President.

    You perhaps are not familiar with the facts-Brewster, Ferguson, and a few of the Republican chairmen in the House are extremely anxious to conduct a fishing expedition through the private files of President Roosevelt and that I am trying to prevent with all the power that I have. There are certain confidential communications which passed between him and some of the heads of states which should not be published at this time. This is particularly true of the correspondence between him
    and Mr. Stalin. I don't see how he continued as patiently as he did with developments as they were then progressing, but he didn't let his personal feelings enter into his international commitments and the country is certainly lucky that that was the case.

    It is my intention, as soon as the Republican Congress has exhausted its investigative program, to have all the papers of the late President Placed in the Library at Hyde Park where he wanted them. There are some of his papers which are necessary to keep here in the White House until the treaties are signed. Hardly a week goes by that I do not find it necessary to read some of these communications to find out just exactly what our commitments are. He never had an opportunity to tell me everything that had taken place. I imagine I have read a mile of documents since I have been in this office and I still have to read more of them when conditions come up which are affected by these agreements.

    I have carried out every commitment that the late President made to the letter, and expect to continue to carry them out. Our friends the Russians have failed to carry out a single commitment they made either with him or with me, but we still are trying to get a peaceful settlement for both the European and Asiatic situation.

    Sometime when you are down this way I can talk with you more frankly than I can write.

    Sincerely yours,

    

Franklin D. Roosevelt, in establishing the first presidential library, donated his papers to the American people and deeded sixteen acres of his family's estate at Hyde Park for the construction of a library and museum. Congress accepted his offer and approved legislation making the library a federal agency. Until FDR's initiative, presidents had traditionally given their papers to the Library of Congress.

Senators Ralph Owen Brewster of Maine and Homer Ferguson of Maine, staunch Republican partisans, were eager to discredit FDR. As members of the Joint Congressional Committee of Inquiry, established in 1946 to investigate the attack on Pearl Harbor, Brewster and Ferguson alleged in a minority report that Roosevelt was to blame for this disaster. When the GOP took control of the Senate in 1947, Brewster became chairman of the War Investigating Committee.


    18. ELEANOR ROOSEVELT TO HARRY S. TRUMAN, JUNE 7, 1947

 

    Dear Mr. President:

    I was deeply distressed when I got out to Los Angeles to speak at the dinner for the Southern California State Committee group to find that Mr. Pauley and my son, James, had entirely different points of view on a proposed policy plan which had been drawn up by James and the policy committee for submission to the state committee.

    I found that owing to Mr. Pauley's suggestion, this document which was to have been given to people at the Jackson Day dinner, was not to be distributed but that James told them he would have to have it mailed to members of the state committee for future action and when that was done of course it would be in the papers.

    Mr. Pauley took the position that he disagreed with certain things in the statement and felt that what was said on foreign policy was an insult to you. I read it through very carefully and it did not seem to me in any way insulting. It voiced simply the questions which are in many people's minds and it seemed to me that it gave to Mr. Gael Sullivan an opportunity, if he wanted to clear up some of these questions, and if he disapproved, to ask the state committee to change the things he thought unwise. He could even have expressed censure of James as state chairman and I think it would have left the feeling better among the people who attended the dinner.

    I, of course, had no sense that his presence or absence at the dinner was an insult to me, but I think he did do harm to the position of the Democratic Party in the eyes of one of the largest dinners that they have ever had in Los Angeles.

    You know that I have never seen eye-to-eye with Mr. Pauley. He has always fought Mrs. Helen Gahagan Douglas and I have always so believed in the things she has stood for. He did a very good job of raising money for the national committee. He often disagreed with my husband.

    As I think back upon the many things which were said about my husband by southern Democrats and others within the party, I cannot see that the language in which this proposed statement is couched, is in any way insulting to you. I think a clever national chairman with a wiser national committeeman could have handled this situation and left the party in better condition instead of in a worse condition.

    I understand that Mr. Pauley was much annoyed because in a press conference I said that I felt ways had to be found to get on with Russia. That does not mean we have to appease Russia. I do not believe the Russians want to go to war. Neither do we but I think the ingenuity to find ways to get what we want rests with us.

    I thought General Marshall's speech at Harvard was the beginning of a constructive suggestion, but it seems to me something has to happen soon. And some people in the industrial world in this country have got to be brought to the realization that the thing which will strengthen Russia above everything else, is a depression in this country. She is waiting and longing for that and the effect on the rest of the world will be disastrous.

    I do not attribute high-mindedness to the Politburo . I think undoubtedly they hope that the peoples of the world will turn to communism. There is only one way of answering that and that is by proving to the peoples of the world that democracy meets their needs better. This isn't a question of Greece and Turkey alone. This is a question of many things, which have to be worked on simultaneously on a world scale.

    There is too much to be done in the world to allow for resentments. The real honest questioning such as was contained in the California State Democratic Committee document might have better been met with real answers which many people are confronting and on which they seek wider understanding of government policies.

    I hope you will forgive my speaking so frankly, but I have your interests and the interests of the party at heart.

    Very sincerely yours,

    


    19. HARRY S. TRUMAN TO ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, JUNE 16, 1947

 

    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    I deeply regret the combination of circumstances which prompted your letter of June seventh which was placed in my hands upon my return from Canada. I am grateful for the assurance that you had no sense of personal insult because of the incident in Los Angeles. That generous expression is characteristic of you.

    It would be impossible for me to believe that there was any intent to accord you anything less than the highest measure of courtesy and respect. Any other course is unthinkable.

    I want you to know that I have read your thoughtful letter very carefully. I, too, wish some people in the industrial world could be brought to a realization of the consequences which their course will inevitably bring down upon their own heads as well as the nation.

    You have placed the proper emphasis on the paramount issue in our international relations. With what you say on so momentous a program I am in entire accord. If we are to stem the tide of communism, we must, as you say, prove to the peoples of the world that democracy meets their needs better.

    As to the controversy, which Mr. Gael Sullivan's actions aroused, I can only hope that peace may be made at the meeting which Mr. Sullivan has called for June twenty-sixth, announcement of which has been made in the papers.

    Very sincerely yours,

    

James Roosevelt (1907-1991), Mrs. Roosevelt's first son, worked in the insurance and motion picture businesses and also did a stint as President Roosevelt's senior aide. During World War II, he served in the Marine Corps and received the Navy Cross and the Silver Star. Following the war, he became chairman of the California Democratic Party. Pauley, who had long been active in state and national politics, regarded the president's son as a carpetbagger and opportunist. Truman agreed with that assessment.


    20. HARRY S. TRUMAN TO ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, JUNE 19, 1947

 

    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    I had intended replying to your note of June fifth before this, but as you know I have been traveling rather steadily all of this month and am just now catching up with my correspondence.

    I shall be delighted to see you on Sunday, June twenty-ninth, and suggest you come to the White House at 3 p.m. If it would not interfere with any plans you may have I would very much like to have you drive with me to the ceremonies at the Lincoln Memorial. I believe the ceremonies are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.

    With kindest personal regards,

    


    21. ELEANOR ROOSEVELT TO HARRY S. TRUMAN, JUNE 22, 1947

 

    Dear Mr. President:

    I am looking forward to seeing you on the 29th, and I shall be happy to drive with you to the ceremonies.

    Very cordially yours,

    

On June 29, 1947, Truman became the first president to address the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. His speech at the Lincoln Memorial was carried on a national radio broadcast. Mrs. Roosevelt and Oregon senator Wayne L. Morse, who was then a liberal Republican, were also on the program. "Mamma won't like what I say because I end up by quoting old Abe," Truman wrote his sister. "But I believe what I say and I'm hopeful we may implement it." In the same letter, the president indicated that he did not approve of the former first lady's civil rights activism. "Mrs. Roosevelt," he wrote, "has spent her public life stirring up trouble between blacks and whites."


    22. HARRY S. TRUMAN TO ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, JUNE 30, 1947

 

    My dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    I am enclosing you the articles from the London Observer, which appeared in the Baltimore Sun. They are most interesting and, I think, constructive in connection with the plan which General Marshall and I are trying to inaugurate in Europe.

    Sincerely yours,

    


    23. ELEANOR ROOSEVELT TO HARRY S. TRUMAN, JULY 6, 1947

 

    Dear Mr. President:

    I am enclosing an excerpt from a letter which came to me the other day. I do not know whether it is possible to add any people from the group suggested to this committee which you have named.

    If it is possible, it might be a good thing since the group reaches out and all of them are very conscious of their desire for representation.

    Very cordially yours,

    Thank you for the clipping which I found [illegible] interesting.

    

Truman had just named a nineteen-member committee to study the impact of foreign aid on the domestic economy. The distinguished panel included former senator Robert M. La Follette Jr., industrialist Paul G. Hoffman, labor leader George Meany, and Robert Gordon Sproul, president of the University of California at Berkeley. But there were no women or members of minority groups. Mrs. Roosevelt wanted more diversity.


    24. HARRY S. TRUMAN TO ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, JULY 14, 1947

 

    My dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    I appreciated your note of July sixth enclosing an excerpt from a letter which had come to you in regard to the Committee to look into the economic situation of the United States. I have asked the staff to look into the situation and see what can be done about it.

    This Congress seems to be doing everything possible to hamstring the country and prevent it from meeting its obligations.

    There was an excellent editorial in the Washington Post this morning on this situation, which I am enclosing.

    Sincerely yours,

    

The Post urged the admission of European refugees to overcome the labor shortage. In a special message to Congress on July 7, 1947, Truman had called for legislation to make it possible for displaced persons to enter the United States. Illinois congressman William G. Stratton had sponsored legislation in April 1947 that would have allowed the immigration of four hundred thousand displaced persons. Truman privately favored this legislation, which failed to pass. The president reluctantly signed the Displaced Persons Act of 1948, which discriminated against Jews and Catholics. Truman won approval in 1950 for a more inclusive immigration policy.


    25. ELEANOR ROOSEVELT TO HARRY S. TRUMAN, JULY 26, 1947

 

    Dear Mr. President:

    Mr. Hershel Johnson told me that you were sending my name to the Senate again as a member of the United States Delegation to the United Nations General Assembly.

    I am very grateful to you for this further opportunity to work with the United Nations and only hope that we will accomplish something worthwhile and justify your confidence in us.

    I hope the summer is proving a little restful for you and your family.

    Very cordially yours,

    


    26. ELEANOR ROOSEVELT TO HARRY S. TRUMAN, AUGUST 9, 1947

 

    Dear Mr. President:

    I have waited to write you because after sending off our wire I realized what an avalanche of messages that you would receive. Nevertheless I want to send my deep sympathy for I know so well how much you will miss your mother. As long as the older generation is able to [illegible] a certain protection, when they go [illegible] feeling.

    The fact that your mother was ill was a preparation for the final blow but when you have thought daily about someone their passing is an added ache. She must have been a wonderful person and her pride in you must give you happiness.

    I hope your trip will bring you some [illegible] and I just wanted you to know that my thoughts were with you and your family in the sad days just passed.

    Cordially yours,

    P.S. Please do not answer.

    


    27. HARRY S. TRUMAN TO ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, AUGUST 14, 1947

 

    My dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    You don't know how very much I appreciated your beautiful letter of sympathy dated August ninth.

    Of course, just as you say, we always feel somewhat lost after an experience of the sort through which we have just gone, but we have to adjust ourselves according to the situation as we find it.

    The sympathy of our friends is one of the things that makes it bearable.

    I certainly appreciate your writing me as you did.

    Sincerely yours,

    

Martha Ellen Young, the president's mother, died July 26, 1947, at the age of ninety-four. She was a woman of extraordinary vitality and always spoke her mind. "I never thought he would be president, but he'll be a good one," she predicted when her son succeeded Roosevelt. "He's a good man and has a lot of common sense and he'll do the job the best he knows how."


    28. ELEANOR ROOSEVELT TO HARRY S. TRUMAN, AUGUST 21, 1947

 

    THE PRESIDENT

    THE WHITE HOUSE:

    I understand that the Jews on the ship in a French harbor have until six o'clock tomorrow afternoon to land in France or be returned to concentration camps in Germany. It seems to me since they want to go to Cyprus some pressure might be brought to bear on Great Britain to allow them to do so. Their plight is pitiful and I hope you may feel that you can exert some influence on Great Britain.

    


    29. HARRY S. TRUMAN TO ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, AUGUST 23, 1947

 

    My dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    I read your telegram with regard to the Jews with a lot of interest. This situation is a most embarrassing one all the way around and has been most difficult to approach. I hope it will work out.

    I understand that these ships were loaded and started to Palestine with American funds and American backing-they were loaded knowing that they were trying to do an illegal act.

    The action of some United States Zionists will eventually prejudice everyone against what they are trying to get done. I fear very much that the Jews are like all underdogs-when they get on top they are just as intolerant and cruel as people were to them when they were underneath. I regret this situation very much because my sympathy has always been on their side.

    Sincerely yours,

    

Eight days after Truman wrote this letter, the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine made the unanimous recommendation that Great Britain terminate its mandate for Palestine. Seven of the eleven member states on the committee voted for splitting Palestine into Jewish and Arab states.

As Truman faced hard decisions in the Mideast, he worried that the zeal of American Zionists could hurt their cause. Long before he became president, he had supported the creation of a Jewish state.


    30. ELEANOR ROOSEVELT TO HARRY S. TRUMAN, SEPTEMBER 3, 1947

 

    Dear Mr. President:

    I have just heard from our national committeeman, Mr. Flynn, that the probability is, since Mr. Hannegan is going to resign, that Mr. Anderson may be made national chairman and that his position is going to be opposed to Mr. Anderson.

    I thought it only fair that I should tell you that I could never support Mr. Anderson. I consider him a conservative and I consider that the only chance the Democratic Party has for election in 1948, is to be the liberal party. We cannot be more conservative than the Republicans so we cannot succeed as conservatives. If the country is going conservative, it is not going to vote for any Democratic candidate.

    It is very important to the world as well as to the United States that the Democratic Party wins in 1948, but I would feel that the kind of party which was built up and guided by Mr. Anderson would be a conservative party and I would withdraw completely from any activity in connection with it.

    Very sincerely yours,

    


    31. HARRY S. TRUMAN TO ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, SEPTEMBER 29, 1947

 

    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    Your letter of September third was waiting for me when I returned from Rio de Janeiro. I am glad that you gave me the benefit of your frank opinion about the national chairmanship, even though Mr. Flynn gave you erroneous information.

    I sincerely hope that the selection of Senator McGrath, now in process of confirmation, will meet with your approval. Let me assure you once more-if such assurance is needed-that I shall always welcome an expression of your views on every aspect of party policy. I set a high value on your judgment.

    When I see you, if you are interested, I can tell you the reasons for Mr. Flynn's pique. He made a recommendation for a judicial appointment which, in all conscience, I could not accept.

    With every good wish,

    Always sincerely,

    

Truman had, in fact, offered the party chairmanship to Clinton P. Anderson (1895-1975), secretary of agriculture, on the condition that he would also stay in the cabinet. Though Mrs. Roosevelt had good information about Truman's choice, she distorted Anderson's politics. He was a liberal but not an ideologue. Anderson, who declined the chairmanship, was elected to the Senate from New Mexico in 1948. He kept the seat for twenty-four years.


    32. HARRY S. TRUMAN TO ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, OCTOBER 11, 1947

 

    To: Eleanor Roosevelt

    May I extending birthday greetings express my heartfelt appreciation of the wonderful work you are doing as the country's representative to the General Assembly of the United Nations. In you democratic institutions, particularly freedom of the press, have an earnest, able, and eloquent defender. You have earned the nation's thanks. Congratulations and happy birthday.
    Harry S. Truman

    Mrs. Roosevelt replied, "I am deeply appreciative of your approval of my work with the General Assembly at the United Nations. It encouages me to continue to do my best."

    


    33. HARRY S. TRUMAN TO ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, OCTOBER 28, 1947

 

    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    I am sorry to learn that the expected continued sessions of the General Assembly make it improbable that you can get to Washington next month as you had planned.

    Personally this is a disappointment to me. I know I shall profit whenever I can hear firsthand about the trend of things at Lake Success. Again let me congratulate you on the valiant work you are performing. In you, your country and all our democratic institutions have an able defender.

    Thanks for the good wishes regarding the special session. I felt that the growing menace of chaos in Europe and the rising prices at home demanded the attention of the Congress.

    I hope you will continue to get a little rest before you go on for more hard work in Geneva.

    Very cordially yours,

    


    34. ELEANOR ROOSEVELT TO HARRY S. TRUMAN, NOVEMBER 13, 1947

 

    Dear Mr. President:

    I have wanted to write you for a long time as I have been getting from all of my friends, Republicans and Democrats alike, such violent reactions to the Loyalty Tests. And now, after the dismissal of the ten people
    from the State Department, and the article in the Herald Tribune, I feel I must write you.

    I do not feel that Dr. Meta Glass should be the only woman on the Committee for Review as she is not a strong enough person. I feel more people, not lawyers, should be on and another woman might well be appointed. Perhaps Mrs. Lewis Thompson of Red Bank, New Jersey, who is a strong Republican but also a liberal, might help to interpret the work of this Committee to the public. Certain things need to be interpreted to the public. My own reaction is anything but happy. I feel we have capitulated to our fear of Communism, and instead of fighting to improve Democracy, we are doing what the Soviets would do in trying to repress anything which we are afraid might not command public support, in order to insure acceptance of our own actions.

    I am sorry that I cannot see you before I go to Geneva to the Human Rights Commission meetings and since this session of the General Assembly is drawing to an end, I want to thank you for your kindness in
    appointing me. It has been interesting work and I hope that I have been helpful. When I return from Geneva and the holidays are over, I will try to come to Washington in order to see you again.

    With best wishes to Mrs. Truman and Margaret, and congratulations to her on her successes, and wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving and Christmas season, I am,

    Very sincerely yours,

    


    35. HARRY S. TRUMAN TO ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, NOVEMBER 26, 1947

 

    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    Your letter of November thirteenth was of great personal interest to me, and I have read it with sympathetic reactions to the ideas you express. I can well understand that you may be disturbed by some of the articles and summaries that have been published about the loyalty review of the present incumbents and new employees of the civil service posts.

    I have told the Civil Service Commission, the members of the Loyalty Review Board, and the press that I did not wish this inquiry to become a "witch hunt," but rather to establish what I think is the truth, that the overwhelming number of civil servants in the United States are not only faithful and loyal, but devoted patriots. It is, of course, contrary to American tradition to inquire into the political or philosophical views of anyone, and I think that is why all of us feel a certain repugnance to this program, but I became convinced that it was necessary, not because as you say, "we were trying to repress anything we were afraid might not command public support," but because there were certain indications of a small infiltration of seriously disloyal people into certain sensitive parts of the government.

    The disclosures of the Canadian government, and in particular the report of the Canadian Civil Service Commission as to the way in which previously quite innocent and simple people had been trapped and led into a situation of securing and revealing information to agents of another government-contrary to all instructions and policies of government service-were sufficient to convince me that we had to make some positive and constructive inquiry into the state of affairs in our own civil service.

    The Civil Service Commission, into whose hands I placed most of the development of the programs, is cautious and fully aware of the constitutional rights of human beings that need to be protected. We all must remind ourselves that no one has a constitutional right to work for the government. He has a constitutional right to express himself and his opinions any way he chooses and to associate himself with organizations that are quite opposed to our government, or even attempt to alter the Constitution, but it is not appropriate that he should carry on such activities while working for the government of the United States.

    The Loyalty Review Board, which is made up of distinguished persons outside the government, is I think going to prove not only an advantage in distinguishing the true from the false and in uncovering actual disloyalty, but it will also serve to protect the civil liberties of individuals in this new and unusual field. I am very interested in your reaction to the Board, and I do want to tell you of a very great difficulty which we experienced in finding enough of the right kind of people to serve.

    There are a good many lawyers on the Board, I agree. The reason for having so many lawyers is that it is hoped that the Board will sit in panels of three on the cases, and that at least one lawyer will be a member of each panel. A legal mind, while it may be narrow in some instances, is, as I think you know, very strong on the right and proper procedures for the handling of witnesses and the establishing of true evidence as against rumor and slander, before making a conclusion of fact that the individual charged with an offense is guilty. I really believe that a sound, conservative legal mind will be of great assistance in establishing a proper method of carrying on this inquiry.

    However, there are still several positions to be filled on the Loyalty Review Board, and we are attempting to secure a number of other persons of broad public interests who are not lawyers. I have noted with interest your recommendation of Mrs. Lewis Thompson of Red Bank, New Jersey, and I will send her name to the Civil Service Commission with the suggestion that they look into that possibility.

    I am grateful for your letter because I am always glad to have your views.

    Thank you very much for your good wishes and your congratulations to Margaret on her success as a singer. I hope that you will come to see me when you return from Geneva.

    Very sincerely,

    

On March 22,1947, Truman issued Executive Order 9835, which established the loyalty program for the executive branch of the federal government. Five days later, Mrs. Roosevelt wrote in her column: "Any order of this kind carries a certain amount of danger with it, in that it may be possible to misuse its provisions. If a wave of hysteria hits us, there will be very little protection for anyone who even thinks differently from the run-of-the-mill." Her prophecy was remarkably accurate. "One of the defects in the program, which we did not realize at the outset," Truman wrote in his memoirs, "was that once a person had
been cleared by a loyalty board, or finally by the Loyalty Review Board, all of the data about that individual remained in the file."


    36. ELEANOR ROOSEVELT TO HARRY S. TRUMAN, NOVEMBER 25, 1947

 

    Dear Mr. President:

    I read your message to Congress and I want to tell you that I thought it very courageous and very good in every way. I am sure you have had many favorable comments.

    The old Greek Prime Minister came to see me and asked me to tell you how grateful they are for what has been done for Greece. They hope you will back some form of a middle-of-the-road government and try to draw the two extremes together.

    I leave on Friday for the Human Rights Commission meeting in Geneva, and I am sorry not to have had the opportunity of seeing you before I go. I hope I shall be able to get to Washington around the 12th of January, and that you will be free to see me. If I may I shall ask for an appointment when I know just when I will be in Washington.

    With my every good wish to you and Mrs. Truman and Margaret, I am,

    Very cordially yours,

    

On November 17, 1947, Truman addressed a special session of Congress and sought funding for the European Recovery Program, which would become known as the Marshall Plan. "The future of the free nations of Europe hangs in the balance," he declared. "The action which you take will be written large in the history of this Nation and of the world. "At the end of the year 2000, the Brookings Institution rated Truman's initiative as the federal government's most important accomplishment of the half century.

The Greek prime minister sent his appreciation to the president for the Truman Doctrine, which provided economic and military aid to help prevent a communist takeover.


    37. ELEANOR ROOSEVELT TO HARRY S. TRUMAN, DECEMBER 23, 1947

 

    Dear Mr. President:

    This is just to tell you that I read your committee's report on civil rights and thought it very good.

    While I am writing about this, I want to tell you how very courageous I thought your message was on the Marshall Plan. The Republicans are playing into our hands with their voluntary anti-inflation measures but we will have to act immediately to make the best of it. If they do a lot of arguing over the Marshall Plan I think they will find themselves in hot water there too.

    Very cordially yours,

    

Franklin D. Roosevelt Jr. had been named by Truman in December of 1946 as vice chairman of the President's Committee on Civil Rights. In October of 1947, the committee issued a report, "To Secure These Rights," which powerfully documented America's racial divide. It recommended the establishment of a civil rights division in the Justice Department, a permanent Commission on Civil Rights with enforcement power, tough measures against police brutality, and a federal anti-lynching law. The committee also urged the elimination of poll taxes, which were used in the South to prevent blacks from voting. In its boldest recommendation, the panel called for an end to segregation. Mrs. Roosevelt fully endorsed the committee's three dozen recommendations.


    38. HARRY S. TRUMAN TO ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, DECEMBER 30, 1947

 

    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    I appreciated very much your good letter of December twenty-third and I think our record is fair and clean on the Marshall Plan-also the anti-inflation program.

    Of course, I'll be most happy to see you on January thirteenth. I am sure there will be no difficulty about arranging it.

    Mrs. Truman and Margaret join me in wishing you a most Happy and Prosperous 1948.

    Sincerely yours,

    


    39. ELEANOR ROOSEVELT TO HARRY S. TRUMAN, DECEMBER 27, 1947

 

    Dear Mr. President:

    I am deeply appreciative of your Christmas wire and grateful for your very kind words about my work in Geneva. I worked everyone very hard and I was happy to have the work finished so I could be home for Christmas.

    Many thanks and every good wish to you for the New Year.

    Very cordially yours,

    

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