If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

July 1954


How do you explain the fact that an ardent enemy of Senator McCarthy like Senator Lehman voted money to support his committee?

I think Senator Lehman's statement, which appears in the Congressional Record, is the best answer to your question, and I am quoting part of it here: "…I would not wish to confuse my attitude toward methods and procedures of a committee and its chairman with my attitude toward the general investigatory powers of Congressional committees. I believe in that power and its legitimate exercise. I do not believe that the proper cure for the disease, in this case or in any other case, is the paralysis of all the functions of the committee by cutting off appropriations. To withhold all funds from a legally constituted committee of the Senate would furnish grounds for a plausible claim that the exercise of its proper functions had been sabotaged. In this case nothing would more conveniently play into the hands of its chairman, Senator McCarthy…"


Are you a good friend of Queen Mother Elizabeth of England, and are you planning to entertain her when she is here?

I hope the Queen Mother Elizabeth considers me a good friend, but I would not presume to say what her feelings would be on that subject. I have written to ask the Queen Mother whether during her visit here she would care to come to Hyde Park, but I have no idea whether she will come or not.


I read in the paper that you once charged a club in Ohio $1,250 to lecture to them and at the same time insisted that their proceeds from the lecture go to charity. Is this by any chance true?

When I go out on a paid lecture trip under the auspices of an agent, he sets the price for what the lecture may be. He gets one half, and I get the other half. He pays transportation, and I pay my hotel bills and incidental expenses. I never specify how the proceeds from the lecture are to be spent, and, in fact, I never know how much is collected. When I speak for organizations on my own, not under the auspices of a lecture manager or on a paid tour, I never ask anything but my expenses, and if the organization wishes to pay an honorarium I ask them instead to give it to some charity. As a rule, however, I do this only at places near my home or for some quite special reason.


Was your husband naturally a great speaker, or did he have to work hard at it? Also, could you tell me whether he ever suffered from stage fright?

My husband was a natural public speaker. He never took lessons of any kind, but he learned from experience and improved greatly as the years went by. I cannot remember his ever suffering from stage fright, although I remember some early speeches when he paused such a long time between sentences that I used to be terrified he would never go on again.


What were your husband's favorite newspapers and magazines?

He read about eight papers a day. I don't know whether he had any favorites, though I think he felt the New York Times and the Washington Post gave him the best coverage. I can't remember whether he had any favorite magazines, but the National Geographic always held his interest.


Don't you think that the trend toward eliminating report cards in the schools may make weaklings of our children? Competition, it seems to me, is just as much the lifeblood of the classroom as it is of the country.

I hardly think that report cards will be entirely eliminated, since parents will always want to know how children are progressing according to their teachers' observation. The elimination of exams and the constant competition in marks may be a good thing, because for some children this competition creates a great deal of anxiety. They are pretty sure to have competition in so much that they do in life that if they can learn to enjoy knowledge for its own sake it should be a very good thing.


If you had gone to college what subject would you have liked to specialize in?

History, economics and languages.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, July 1954

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
[ ERPP bio | VIAF | WorldCat | DPLA | SNAC ]

McCall's, volume 81, July 1954

Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Digital edition published 2014, 2016 by
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project
The George Washington University
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