The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers

My Day

NEW YORK. -- In my conversation with Sen. John Kennedy at Hyde Park Sunday, I was anxious, needless to say, to find out if he and Adlai Stevenson had planned to work closely on foreign affairs during the campaign.

I knew there would be no question of Rep. Chester Bowles working closely with the Senator, because it was for this purpose that he withdrew as a candidate for re-election to Congress.1 And I felt sure that it would be easy for Senator Kennedy and Representative Bowles to work together.

Senator Kennedy has a quick mind, but I would say that he might tend to arrive at judgments almost too quickly. Therefore, it seemed important to me that he should have a good relationship during the campaign with Mr. Stevenson, thereby demonstrating that their philosophies are sufficiently similar so that they could work well together in the future, even though Mr. Stevenson has a more judicial and reflective type of mind.

I was pleased to learn that the Senator already had made plans much along these lines. It gave me a feeling of reassurance.

Our Democratic candidate is a likable man with charm, and I think that already, since the convention, the difficulties and responsibilities that the future may hold for him as President have opened up new vistas for him and brought about a greater maturity.

I think Senator Kennedy is anxious to learn. I think he is hospitable to new ideas. He is hard-headed. He calculates the political effect of every move. I left my conversation with him with the feeling that here is a man who wants to leave a record of not only having helped his countrymen, but having helped humanity as a whole.

I had withheld my decision on joining Herbert Lehman as honorary chairman of the Democratic Citizens Committee of New York2 until I had a chance to see and talk with our Democratic candidate. After Senator Kennedy's visit, I telephoned my acceptance to serve with Mr. Lehman, and I told Senator Kennedy that I would discuss what help in the campaign I could give, for I have come to the conclusion that the people will have in John F. Kennedy, if he is elected, a good President.

As the weeks go by I hope I will have an opportunity to see our candidate more and to know him better, but I have enough confidence in him now to feel that I can work wholeheartedly for his election.

Senator Kennedy was met by a very large crowd Sunday morning when he landed at Dutchess County Airport on his way to Hyde Park. I had sent my car and two friends, Dr. and Mrs. David Gurewitsch, to meet him.

Dr. Gurewitsch got out of the car to go forward and welcome the Senator. Mrs. Gurewitsch stayed in the car and, while waiting there, asked several people in the crowd if they were Democrats or curiosity-seekers. To her surprise, she found that most of them professed to be Democrats. Both she and Dr. Gurewitsch reported to me later that the applause upon Senator Kennedy's arrival was astonishing.

The Senator and his party came straight to my cottage, and he had with him William Walton, the coordinator for the Citizens Committee of New York State, and Pierre Salinger, his press secretary.

The occasion which brought the Senator to Hyde Park was a meeting of the Golden Ring Clubs,3 members of which were laying a wreath on my husband's grave on the anniversary of the passage of the Social Security Act.4 I arranged to have the Senator lunch alone with me while the others ate on our outdoor dining porch. But at the close of the interview the Senator asked if Mr. Walton might come in, which he did for a few minutes.


     1. Chester Bowles withdrew from the 1960 Connecticut congressional race earlier that election year to serve as presidential candidate John Kennedy's foreign policy advisor and to do what he could for the campaign. ER supported his aspirations for a prominent place in the new Democratic administration and JFK rewarded Bowles by appointing him undersecretary of state. [American National Biography Online. Internet on-line. Available From]
     2. New York Citizens Committee, see ER to JFK, 8/16/60, n2.
     3. The Golden Ring Club was an organization for senior citizens in Hyde Park, New York.
     4. With strong support from President Franklin Roosevelt, Congress passed the Social Security Act on August 14, 1935, during the height of the Great Depression. The act laid the foundations for American welfare policy by establishing old age pensions, aid to dependent children and unemployment insurance. [Edward D. Berkowitz, America's Welfare State: From Roosevelt to Reagan (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. 14-38.]

Index to this Document: Bowles, Chester; Golden Rings Club: JFK's address to; Gurewitsch, David and Edna: on JFK; Kennedy, John F.: address before Golden Rings Club; ER Val-Kill meeting and, 1960; ER's advice to; ER's assessment of; ER's endorsement of; Pierre Salinger and; on Social Security; William Walton; Lehman, Herbert; My Day; New York Citizens Committee for Kennedy: ER and; William Walton and; Roosevelt, Eleanor: on Chester Bowles; JFK, appraisal of; JFK, endorsement of; JFK, political advice to; JFK, Val-Kill meeting with, 1960; New York Citizens Committee for Kennedy and; Pierre Salinger and; William Walton and; Salinger, Pierre: accompanies JFK to Val-Kill, 1960; ER and; Social Security: defined; JFK on; Stevenson, Adlai E.; Walton, William: accompanies JFK to Val-Kill, 1960; ER and; New York Citizens Committee for Kennedy 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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