The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers

John F. Kennedy to Eleanor Roosevelt

January 10, 1959

Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt
202 56th Street West
New York 19, N. Y.

Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

Thank you for sending me the copy of your column with the extract from my letter to you. Apparently there has been some misunderstanding of my reason for writing you.

While I appreciate your courtesy in printing my denial of the false rumors about my father and me, neither the article nor your letter to me deals with whether the rumors are true. In view of the seriousness of the charge, I had hoped that you would request your informants to give – not their own names – but the name of any "paid representative" of mine in any State of the Union. Or, if not the name, then mere evidence of his existence. I knew that your informants would not be able to provide such information because I have no paid representative.

Thereafter, since the charges could not be substantiated to even a limited extent, it seemed to me that the fairest course of action would be for you to state that you had been unable to find evidence to justify the rumors.

You may feel that I am being overly sensitive about this issue. But when the record is as I have described it I feel that merely giving space to a denial that I have made leaves the original charge standing. The readers of your column and the listeners and viewers of the telecast of December 71 who do not have the benefit of our correspondence2 are forced to make their own judgments as to whether you or I am correct on the basis of your assertions and my denials.

I have continued what you may consider a too lengthy correspondence only because I am familiar with your long fight against the use of unsubstantiated charges and the notion that merely because they are repeated they attain a certain degree of credibility. If you feel that the matter was disposed of by your column, I certainly am prepared to let it rest on the basis of our correspondence.

Again I would like to express my appreciation for your courtesy in printing my denial of the charges.

Sincerely yours,

John F. Kennedy

     1. ER appeared on the ABC television broadcast, "College News Conference," where she stated that Joseph Kennedy had spent "oodles of money" to get his son elected president. "College News Conference," which was also broadcast over radio, featured a panel of college students interviewing prominent political personalities. In addition to ER, John F. Kennedy, Joseph McCarthy, Hubert Humphrey, and Harold Stassen had also appeared on the program. See JFK to ER, 12/11/58, n1.
     2. For a record of ER's correspondence see JFK to ER, 12/11/58, ER to JFK, 12/18/58, JFK to ER, 12/29/58, and ER to JFK, 1/6/59, and also CC to ER, 4/30/58, ER to CC, 5/3/58, and ER to JFK, 6/2/58.

Index to this Document: 1960 presidential campaign; American Broadcasting Company (ABC); College News Conference: McCarthy and; ER's appearance on; Humphrey, Hubert H.; Kennedy, John F.: 1960 campaign organization of; JPK, defense of; on My Day; ER's criticism of; ER, retraction demanded from; rumors denied by; Kennedy, Joseph P.: campaign finance and; JFK defends; ER's criticism of; McCarthy, Joseph R.: television appearances of; My Day: JFK's response to; Roosevelt, Eleanor: College News Conference appearance; JFK, criticism of; on JPK; Rumors: political; Sources: anonymous; ER's use of; Stassen, Harold E.

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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