The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers

Eleanor Roosevelt to John F. Kennedy

August 16, 1960

Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt
55 east 74th street
new york city 21, n. y.

Dear Senator:

I want to thank you for coming to see me at Hyde Park last Sunday. It certainly was a busy day for you, but I am very grateful for the chance you gave me for this talk.

I had been asked to report to several people on our talk and I thought you would like to know what I said to Mary Lasker. I enclose a copy of my letter to her. A similar letter has gone to Ruth Field, and I have reported verbally to Agnes Meyer, Anna Rosenberg and Mr. Bob Benjamin1 who came in to see me after spending the evening with you and some of the business men, and who is planning to raise some money for your cause here in New York. He counts on the above mentioned ladies to help in his smallish money raising dinner which he hopes to have in September.

Franklin will tell me how you felt about our time together and what you would really like me to do. In the meantime, I will be at a press conference tomorrow for the NY Citizens Committee,2 and I will speak to a group of workers in the Citizens Committee in the Bronx at the invitation of Robert Morgenthau, who is in charge of the Committee in the Bronx, before the 22nd when I go abroad.

I will be home the evening of September 14th, and I would be grateful if before I leave you could ask Franklin, Jr. to tell me if there is anything outside of this state that you really need me to do.

If you possibly can, I think it would be wise to call Anna Rosenberg before she leaves for Europe on August 22nd and ask for her help. She will be twice as anxious to work for you if she feels that you personally have contacted her and consider her help important.

With my good wishes,
Very sincerely yours,

Eleanor Roosevelt

Southpark, Conn.
Clearwater 9-1668


     1. Robert S. Benjamin, an executive in the film industry, had been active in Adlai Stevenson's 1952 and 1956 campaigns. He also supported Stevenson's candidacy early in 1960 but later threw his support behind Kennedy. He was elected in 1960 to the New York State Electoral College. In 1961 President Kennedy appointed Benjamin as chairman of the U.S. Committee for the United Nations (a position he held until 1964) an organization that advised the federal government on issues concerning the UN. Benjamin also served as chairman of the first U.S. United Nations Day. ["Robert Benjamin, 70, Executive of Film Company and a Lawyer," The New York Times, 23 October, 1979, sec. B, p. 19; Oral Interview, December 13, 1977. FDRL]
     2. ER refrained from endorsing JFK until he came to meet with her at Val-Kill August 14th, after which she phoned Herbert Lehman to say she would serve with him as honorary co-chair of the New York Citizens Committee for Kennedy. Kennedy wanted the active support of the New York Committee for Democratic Voters, liberal activists organized by ER, Lehman and Thomas Finletter who made "an impressive showing" in their 1959 primary challenge of Tammany Hall leader Carmine DeSapio and state Democratic chair Michael Prendergast and who controlled many Stevenson delegates in 1956 and supported drafting him in 1960. Kennedy thought ER's endorsement could be one of "the spur[s] necessary to get vigor and activity out of this Liberal element." [Herbert S. Parmet, The Democrats: The Years After FDR (New York: Oxford University Press, 1976), pp. 178-179.]

Index to this Document: Benjamin, Robert S. ("Bob"): biography of; JFK and; ER meets with; Field, Ruth; Kennedy, John F.: Bob Benjamin and; Herbert Lehman and; Mary Lasker and; Agnes Meyer and; Robert Morgenthau and; ER Val-Kill meeting and, 1960; ER's advice to; ER's support for; Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr. and; Lasker, Mary: lobbied by ER for JFK; Lehman, Herbert: JFK and; ER and; New York Citizens Committee for Kennedy and; Meyer, Agnes: biography of; JFK and; ER and; Morgenthau, Robert: JFK and; New York Citizens Committee for Kennedy and; New York Citizens Committee for Kennedy: Herbert Lehman and; Robert Morgenthau and; ER press conference for; Roosevelt, Eleanor: Bob Benjamin and; on campaign finance; JFK, political advice to; JFK, popular support for; JFK, Val-Kill meeting with, 1960; on Herbert Lehman; on Mary Lasker and Stevenson; Agnes Meyer and; practical advice of; Anna Rosenberg and; Roosevelt, Franklin D., Jr.: as ER-JFK go-between; JFK and; Rosenberg, Anna: biography of; JFK and; ER and

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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