If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

June 1956


Do you share Harry Truman's feeling that Stevenson needlessly sacrificed millions of votes by not making the right overtures to Democratic political leaders?

President Truman is a politician. I am not. I would not state my judgment against his and I would surmise that even Mr. Stevenson might not have been as familiar with political requirements in his first campaign as President Truman. Whether millions of votes were needlessly sacrificed, however, is an opinion which can be neither proved nor disproved and therefore I am afraid it is one of those things we had better cease arguing about.


I should like to use as text for a memorial service in my small church in North Carolina your husband's favorite Bible passage. Could you tell me what it was?

Corinthians I, Chapter 13, which begins: "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal."


Do any of your grandchildren go to schools where there are Negro students? Do they play with Negro children?

I have no idea. A number of my grandchildren go to public schools and many have been to universities where I am sure there is complete integration. Among the younger children, if there were Negroes in their classes, I don't think they would even notice it. Most of my grandchildren, I am quite sure, have played with Negro children at some time.


You said recently in McCall's that your poor opinion of Mr. Nixon was due largely to the campaign he conducted while running for the Senate. I am unfamiliar with his activities at that time. Could you tell me exactly what he did that you objected to?

Yes. He gave the impression that he was convinced his opponent, Mrs. Helen Gahagan Douglas, was a Communist. He knew she was not, just as well as anyone else who had watched her career in Congress. He could easily have found out from people who knew her personally what her political views were, but he chose to believe the worst because it fitted into the pattern which he felt would help him to win his election. That does not seem to me a good way to act politically or privately.


Does a President of the United States have to pay his own hospital bills while in office? Do you carry any hospital insurance and did your husband?

The President of the United States does not have to pay hospital bills, since he goes to government hospitals. I never carried any hospital insurance and I don't think my husband did either, but if I were young I would carry it today.


If you had the time and opportunity to teach in a college for a year, what college would you prefer and what subject would you like to teach?

I would like to teach either American history or American literature. I have no preference as to the college because I have never had enough experience with any of them to know what the differences among them might be.


In our club we were discussing the meaning of the term "lady" and one woman said, "Well, Mrs. Roosevelt, by my definition, is a lady." Another answered indignantly: "Oh, no. She's much too real a person." We'd be interested in your own reaction to the term. Are you pleased to be considered a "lady"?

I don't really see why a lady can't be a real person! That again, however, is a question of definition. From my point of view being a lady means that you are genuinely yourself, that you do not try to make believe you are something you are not and that you act with kindness and consideration for others as you go about your daily routine of life.


I am writing an essay on your husband for my high-school history class. Will you tell me what book you consider to be the most fair and comprehensive biography of him?

No comprehensive biography has ever been written. There are two volumes by Frank Freidel, however, that cover the early phases of my husband's life and career. These I think are very comprehensive as far as they go. Mr. Freidel is continuing his work and will soon publish a third volume. When finished this biography will be a comprehensive one, I believe.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, June 1956

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

McCall's, volume 83, June 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
Old Main Building, Suite 406
1951 F Street, NW
Washington, DC