The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers

Eleanor Roosevelt to John F. Kennedy

January 20, 1959

Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt
202 fifty-sixth street west
new york 19, n.y.

Dear Senator Kennedy:

In reply to your letter of the 10th, my informants were just casual people in casual conversation. It would be impossible to get their names because for the most part I don't even know them.

Maybe, like in the case of my family, you suffer from the mere fact that many people know your father and also know that there is money in your family. We have always found somewhat similar things occur, and except for a few names I could not name the people in the case of my family.

I am quite willing to state what you decide but it does not seem to me as strong as your categorical denial. I have never said that my opposition to you1 was based on these rumors or that I believed them, but I could not deny what I knew nothing about. From now on I will say, when asked, that I have your assurance that the rumors are not true.

If you want another column, I will write it - just tell me.

Very sincerely yours,

Eleanor Roosevelt


     1. ER opposed JFK's quest for the presidency because she felt that he had a weak legislative record and lacked the experience and leadership necessary to guide the nation in an increasingly complicated world. She especially disliked his support of legislation tempering civil liberties (Mundt-Nixon, the renewal of HUAC, and loyalty oaths), his temperate support of civil rights legislation (especially his backing of the jury trial amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1957, which provided that all suits alleging civil rights violations be tried before a jury), his refusal to condemn McCarthy's actions forthrightly, his support of federal aid to private and parochial schools, and the positions his father espoused. She also thought him overambitious. [Allida Black, Casting Her Own Shadow: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Shaping of Postwar Liberalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), pp. 172-73.]

Index to this Document: Civil liberties: JFK and; Civil Rights Act of 1957; Kennedy, John F.: civil liberties and; denial of rumors by; McCarthy, record on; ER criticized by; ER's opposition to; Kennedy, Joseph P.: wealth of; Loyalty oaths; McCarthy, Joseph R.: JFK's opinion of; Mundt-Nixon bill; Roosevelt family; Roosevelt, Eleanor: correspondence of; family of; JFK, criticism of; JFK, opposition to; political advice of; Rumors: political; Sources: anonymous; U.S. Government: House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC)

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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