If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

March 1956


What do you consider the most important single event of this century?

The establishment of the U.N.—the second effort of the world's people to do away with war.


I see where the Democrats are criticizing Eisenhower for trusting in Russia's good will. Wasn't FDR just as "naïve" as Ike about the Commies, if not more so?

I don't think that either President Eisenhower or my husband were naïve at all about the Communists. Sometimes it is wise to try to attribute the best of motives to people and occasionally one may be able to make others live up to higher standards. Even though this does not always work there is nothing "naïve" about trying it.


Has anything ever happened to you that shook your faith in God even for a moment?



My husband believes in investing what little extra money we have. I believe in savings accounts. What do you do with the money you have left over?

I always invest anything I have left over but I rarely have much!


I kept hearing people of my faith say you would never campaign for a Catholic for President. Is this true?

I campaigned and worked very hard for Alfred E. Smith when he was a candidate for the Presidency. Whether I would do the same for another Roman Catholic candidate would not depend on his religion but on his qualifications as a statesman and a man.


What do you think are two of the major issues on which the Democrats can campaign against the Republicans and vice versa in the coming elections?

I think the Democrats can turn the tables around and talk about corruption. That was a frequent theme in the last campaign against the Democrats and justifiably so. It is equally justified in this campaign against the Republicans, and they have only been in four years. The farm issue is one that can be taken up, and the whole question of foreign policy needs revision and more imagination and flexibility. The Republicans in turn can say that they have brought about peace and have kept peace. They can say that no one can do better on the farm question or on foreign policy, but they will be on the defensive and not on the offensive.


I have been wondering what your first, spontaneous feeling was when you heard about Princess Margaret's decision not to marry Peter Townsend.

I was very sorry for them both.


My husband, a miner, broke his back and became paralyzed in 1948. The United Mine Workers paid us $20 a week until August, 1956. Since August all we have to eat and clothe ourselves on is $55 a month from the State Welfare. Can you believe this could happen in the U.S.A.? Would you have any advice to give us?

Yes, I can well believe that this can happen in the U.S.A. Welfare in the areas where there are mines is usually not at all adequate. I don't quite understand why your union benefit should come to an end. Perhaps you could make an appeal to Mr. Lewis, and you certainly could make an appeal to the church to which you belong and to your local charities.


Do you feel as I do that Mr. Truman hurt Adlai Stevenson by the kind of smear campaigning he did in 1952?

I don't think Mr. Truman hurt Mr. Adlai Stevenson. Mr. Truman campaigns in his own way and Mr. Stevenson in his. They appeal to different people in different ways and I don't think they hurt each other.


Do you ever miss your children so much you wish you could cancel all your engagements and go visit them the way most mothers can do?

I think I probably see as much of my children as most mothers do. They all live in the East now except James, and he is in Congress and I see him from time to time. I have always had the theory that too long visits by the older generation with the younger, except where it is an economic necessity, were not very wise, and I would not like to pay long visits to any of my children. Seeing them frequently for short visits and knowing they are well and happy is something on which I count and without that I should certainly be unhappy.


If I'm not being too bold, could you tell me about how much you spent on Christmas presents for your grandchildren last year?

I have 19 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. I keep a book but I frequently forget to put in odds and ends I accumulate through the year. Therefore it would be impossible to answer with any degree of accuracy.


Whom do you now consider head of your family? Does he have any special functions?

Since my husband's death I have not considered anyone to be the head of my family. Each one of my boys is head of his own family and they are separate family units.


From your observations as a world traveler would you say that American or European men take a more active interest in their children?

On the whole I would say that American men are more companionable with their children, but that does not mean that the European does not take as much interest. It simply means that this interest shows itself in slightly different ways. I think it is hard to compare situations which depend so largely on the customs of the individual country and the manner of life.


Are you agreeable to having a woman Vice-Presidential nominee for the Democrats?

I feel that the Vice-Presidency is not really a very wise post for women to seek as yet. I should prefer to see them in other positions where policy-making is part of their responsibility. I can understand, of course, why women voters have wanted to have a woman named for the Vice-Presidency, and I consider many women in both parties eligible for the nomination. I feel, however, that it would be wisest to seek this post when the country is ready to accept a woman as President.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, March 1956

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

McCall's, volume 83, March 1956

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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