The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > Audio Materials
Eleanor Roosevelt Speeches
ER's Campaign Message for Adlai Stevenson
October 20, 1952
New York Volunteers for Stevenson sponsored transcribed talk by ER. Edwards introduces ER. ER discusses qualifications of Stevenson vs. Eisenhower.
The New York Volunteers for Stevenson sponsors the following transcribed talk by Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt. Mrs. Roosevelt will speak on behalf of the candidacy of Adlai Stevenson for the office of president of the United States. The time for this program has been purchased from contributions made to the New York Volunteers for Stevenson. Mrs. Roosevelt will be introduced by Mrs. India Edwards, vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee and the director of the Women's Division. Mrs. Edwards.
Tonight the Democratic Party has the honor to present the First Lady of the world, a woman who bears a great name, not only because it was her husband's name, but because she has helped to make that name great. This name stands for hope throughout the free world, just as it did to the men and women of this country in those dark days of 1933, when her husband was inaugurated as president of the United States.
For twelve years this woman was the First Lady of our nation, the symbol of all of that is finest and best in womanhood. In spite of attack by those who opposed her husband, she courageously carried on her good work. In countries where poverty and fear predominate, her name holds hope of greater respect for all human beings. In our own country she has consistently fought intolerance and bigotry, and has devoted her efforts toward achieving for all the dignity and equality which is the birthright of all of our citizens.
Since the death of her great husband, this woman, you will hear her in a moment, has continued to work steadfastly and quietly for world peace. Her deep understanding of the problems we face in the world, her tireless efforts to solve these problems through the United Nations, have endeared her to all freedom loving people throughout the world. Among the greats that our nation has produced, this woman ranks high. She understands our country and our people, all countries, all people. She is indeed the First Lady of the world, Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Thank you Mrs. Edwards. I am very happy of this opportunity to talk to this listening audience on the subject of the qualifications of the Democratic candidate for the presidency of the United States.
I started this campaign feeling perhaps that we were going to have something rather remarkable in our annals: Two men very fairly matched in qualities of character who would discuss the issues of the campaign on a high plane and give us an opportunity to judge, primarily what the issues were and how they should be handled. But that both men we would feel, would be qualified for the presidency. I had a little hesitation about the military man. I suppose that is more of a woman's angle than a man's angle.
But now, I have come to feel that it is no longer just a question of issues. We have got to weigh very carefully the qualifications of the two men who are running for office of president of the United States on the Republican and Democratic tickets, and I have decided that I consider Adlai Stevenson better fitted by far than the Republican candidate. And it's just no longer my slight hesitation about having a military man, and I still feel that, but I feel it much more strongly. But basically, it is a certain quality that has come out as we have watched this campaign in Adlai Stevenson. I think there has been shown to us a quality of courage and an integrity which is not often seen in political life.
For instance, we have seen a man who had the courage to go into Virginia and say just where he stood on civil rights, and I think I begin my appeal to you on the basis of liking to see a man who stands for the same thing, wherever he is because whether you agree or disagree with him, you know that you will know where he stands and that he will give you his reasons honestly. All men make mistakes, we all may be wrong in what we think at times, but if we are honest and if we are willing to listen to others, and I think that Governor Stevenson has shown through his administration as governor that he was willing to do. He's tried to get good people to serve with him and he's tried to listen to them. And that I think is an essential.
We ask the men who take the position of being president of the United States to undertake a killing job. It's a terrific responsibility. This is the leading democracy in the world, the democracy on which all eyes turn throughout the world. So that it is tremendously important that the man who holds the banner of democracy high before the world really speaks with conviction. And I've come to believe that of the two candidates, we can trust the truth of the conviction when Stevenson speaks. I have come also to have a higher regard for his ability to analyze and clarify problems. One of the things that a president needs is that ability to listen to what people bring him. The president of the United States gets more information than any other man I imagine in the world, and he can call for it from any source; there are many sources in the government and outside that he can count on. But when all is said and done, he and he alone, makes the final decision of what shall be the result after he has acquired all that information.
And those decisions are desperately hard to make. But that ability to analyze a problem, to put it in simple terms so that we the people can understand, even sometimes to lighten it a little with humor, that makes it possible for a man to live through those decisions. It makes it possible for a man to keep us willing to listen to him, because we feel that he is not cast down, that he has the strength to think things through and face them, and go ahead and make these lonely decisions that he must take by himself. And I have been much impressed in all the speeches on the issues, in the clarity with which they were presented, and in the honesty which was never uh tried in any way to hide what the conviction or the reasons were that lay behind Stevenson's beliefs.
Now the question that of course many people have in their minds today is the need of a change. The two-party system, will it disappear if we don't have a change? I don't think it will disappear and I think this is a dangerous time for uh-a change for the worse. I think we will get enough of a change if we get a new point of view, a fresh person who is going to bring in new people. I do not think that we need worry about having a new party in office. I think it is a question of having simply a-an ability to see things in a new way and, where it is necessary, to bring in new people and that will happen under a new president.
Now the other thing that everybody worries about is, will it be better to have a military man to handle the situation in the world today, the situation which threatens a world war, and I am opposed to having a military man. I feel very strongly, that we have in Stevenson, not the person who's been fooled by the Reds as they've tried to depict him, but the person who has refused to be stampeded into a fear of communism. He understands it perfectly. He understands the danger of infiltration either in the government or anywhere else; it's dangerous everywhere. But he's not going to be frightened and I think that is a great asset.
And I think the man who is a civilian understands the civilian point of view. He has had the experience in government so he knows we must have a military organization second to none in the world. He knows that we must be strong to have peace. But he does know also that we must be constantly using the machinery that we have set up to help us to obtain peace. Stevenson will be conscious of the United Nations. He will want to use it because he helped to set it up. He will know how to use it and that is important too. He will know how to negotiate, he will know how to persuade.
I think the actual experience of the military man, who gives orders, who has a staff that he counts on, but who has not been trained in the ways of dealing with civilian groups and people, is a disadvantage in the situation we are in today. Nobody's going to minimize the danger. All we are trying to do is to make sure that we have in office the very best brains, the very best character that we can have, with the abilities and the kind of background that will best handle the problems as they come. None of us know what those problems will be, so we want a flexible person, an adaptable person, a person who can face new things and think in an imaginative way of new solutions. That's what we are looking for.
That's what I feel and sense the more I hear Governor Stevenson talk to us as our candidate on the Democratic ticket. I believe that this is one of the times when it is a safeguard for us to have the Democratic Party in power and to have the kind of a candidate that we have put up: a man whose integrity cannot be questioned, whose courage is very great for he has told the people of the United States where he stands and why he stands there on all the issues before us. That is what we need and what we want because it is the people that will win the peace, if we're able to win it. It's their backing of the president, their belief in him that will make it possible for him to go out and win. And so for that reason, I ask you to vote for Adlai Stevenson for president of the United States.
You have just heard a transcribed talk by Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt sponsored by the New York Volunteers for Stevenson. This is NBC, the National Broadcasting Company.
About this document
ER's Campaign Message for Adlai Stevenson
October 20, 1952
- National Endowment for the Humanities
Eleanor Roosevelt Speeches is a project and publication of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, The George Washington University, Academic Building, Post Hall, Room 312, 2100 Foxhall Road, NW, Washington, DC 20007
Transcribed and published by the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, 2019-11-27
Transcription created from holdings at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library