The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers

John F. Kennedy to Eleanor Roosevelt

December 11, 1958

(Image of this letter)

Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt
211 East 62nd Street
New York, New York

Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

I note from the press that on last Sunday afternoon, December 7, on the ABC television program College News Conference,1 you stated, among other things, that Senator Kennedy's "father has been spending oodles of money all over the country and probably has a paid representative in every state by now."

Because I know of your long fight against the injudicious use of false statements, rumors or innuendo as a means of injuring the reputation of an individual,2 I am certain that you are the victim of misinformation; and I am equally certain that you would want to ask your informant3 if he would be willing to name me one such representative or one such example of any spending by my father around the country on my behalf.

I await your answer, and that of your source, with great interest. Whatever other differences we may have had,4 I'm certain that we both regret this kind of political practice.

Sincerely yours,

John F. Kennedy


bcc: Mr. Philip L. Graham
Washington Post and Times Herald
1515 L Street, N. W.
Washington, D. C.

TL carbon, AERP, NHyF

     1. "The College News Conference," an ABC news program broadcast nationally on both radio and television, featured a panel of college students majoring in journalism interviewing prominent political personalities on major political and international issues of the day. In addition to ER, Senators John F. Kennedy, Joseph McCarthy, and Hubert Humphrey, CIO President James B. Carey, Indian Ambassador to the United Nations V.K. Krishna Menon, and presidential aide Harold Stassen had also appeared on the program. [ "College News Conference (c. April 1957)" The Official James MacArthur Digital Scrapbook. Internet on-line. Available From]
     2. ER frequently defended friends (such as Joe Lash), colleagues (such as George Marshall and Helen Gahagan Douglas), former New Dealers (such as Aubrey Williams, Virginia and Clifford Durr), individuals she did not know well (Dorothy Kenyon), and organizations (the Americans for Democratic Action, the Southern Conference Education Fund, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) when, as targets of HUAC or McCarthy, they were accused of being either communists themselves or pawns of communist leaders. [Allida Black, Casting Her Own Shadow: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Shaping of Postwar Liberalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), pp. 175-187; Eleanor Roosevelt, "My Day," March 11, September 10, and September 18, 1950, and October 11, 1951; Joseph P. Lash Oral History, Oral History, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Library; Eleanor Roosevelt to James Doyle, September 4, 1954, Americans for Democratic Action Papers, Historical Society of Wisconsin.]
     3. ER never revealed the person's identity.
     4. ER did not support JFK in his bid for the vice presidential nomination in 1956, nor did she initially support his candidacy for the presidential nomination in 1960. She questioned his commitment to civil rights and regarded his evasion concerning the Senate censure of McCarthy as dangerous. For more information see ER to JFK, 1/20/59, n1. [Black, Casting Her Own Shadow, pp. 175-187.]

Index to this Document: 1960 presidential campaign; American Broadcasting Company (ABC); Americans for Democratic Action (ADA); Campaign finance; Carey, James B.; College News Conference: definition of; ER's appearance on; Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO); Douglas, Helen Gahagan; Durr, Clifford ; Durr, Virginia F.; Graham, Philip; Humphrey, Hubert H.; Kennedy, John F.: 1956 vice presidential aspirations of; 1960 campaign organization of; civil liberties and; JPK, defense of; McCarthy; ER's criticism of; ER's opinion of; ER, retraction demanded from; Kennedy, Joseph P.: campaign finance and; JFK defends; ER's criticism of; Kenyon, Dorothy; Lash, Joseph P. and Trude: ER on; Marshall, George C.; McCarthy, Joseph R.: censure of; Menon, V.K. Krishna; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); Roosevelt, Eleanor: on campaign finance; civil liberties record of; journalistic practices of; JFK, opposition to; JFK, retraction demanded by; on JPK; press interviews of; Slander; Sources: anonymous; Southern Conference Education Fund (SCEF); Stassen, Harold E.; U.S. Government: House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC); U.S. Senate; United Nations (UN); Washington Post; Washington Times-Herald; Williams, Aubrey

Published by the Model Editions Partnership

Recommended citation: Eleanor Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and the Election of 1960: A Project of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, ed. by Allida Black, June Hopkins, John Sears, Christopher Alhambra, Mary Jo Binker, Christopher Brick, John S. Emrich, Eugenia Gusev, Kristen E. Gwinn, and Bryan D. Peery (Columbia, S.C.: Model Editions Partnership, 2003). Electronic version based on unpublished letters. .

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