The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers

My Day

NEW YORK. -- Most people who heard the broadcast of Sen. John Kennedy's reply to former President Truman must have been impressed both by what he said and the way he said it. He was most courteous to Mr. Truman.

Certainly no one could have misunderstood his statement,1 however, that he had given long thought to becoming President and, having decided to try for this place of power and responsibility, hoped to win and would not withdraw.

Senator Kennedy made a good plea for youth, and he showed from past history the part young men had played in the shaping of world events. And he noted, too, there would be young men in many of the new nations who would be cast in difficult roles in the years ahead. The Senator did not seem to be on the defensive but appeared to be a perfectly assured and confident person.

I still feel that a Stevenson-Kennedy ticket would not only be the best for the country but for our political party, too.

But as an example of what the Kennedy speech did to several people around me, one man remarked at the end of it: "Well, I hope the Democratic party wins. I am for Adlai Stevenson, but if it turns out to be Kennedy, there are many people, I think, who will support the ticket with a sense of greater assurance because they heard this press conference."

* * * * *

The Soviets have announced that the young pilot of the U-2 plane will get what they call an "open trial."2 The charge, of course, will be spying, for which there is a possible death sentence.

An open trial seems to mean a public trial, and although the date has not yet been set, it will be interesting to see how it is conducted and the sentence finally arrived at.

I believe that the Soviets will make certain that this is an example of the best kind of legal procedure and at the same time they will try to show a very advanced view toward the individual.

* * * * *

It is encouraging to see that the United Nations is helping the new countries, such as the Congo and Somaliland,3 with their problems of government. The U.N. has sent Dr. Ralph Bunche and Constantin A. Stavropoulos, the two men who represented Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold at the independence celebrations in Congo and Somaliland, to make a report on the kind of technical aid that the U.N. could provide to the two countries.

* * * * *

The battle of the New York City Welfare Department to place young people in jobs is not proving to be easy. The businesses of the city and of New York State have not yet grasped the fact that a thorough survey should be passed up so that the young people will not go through a long waiting period in which it would be so easy for them to get into trouble.

* * * * *

We left Hyde Park very early Tuesday morning for New York City, and as I write this I am about to leave to make some recordings. I hope, too, to catch up on some of the mail that accumulated during the holiday week end.

J.J. Singh,4 who has been visiting the United States for more than a month, will have lunch with me. I hope he feels that when he returns from India that he is coming back to his second home. Those of us who know him are sure he will contribute to a better understanding of the U.S. in his home country.


     1. When Truman suggested that Kennedy might not have the maturity and the experience the presidency required, Kennedy held a press conference to rebut the former president "point-by-point." The senator opened his July 4, 1960, press conference with a twelve minute reading of a 1600 word statement in which he declared that not only was he the only candidate "to risk his career in all the primaries [and] the only one to visit every state" but that he also possessed "the strength and health and vigor" the presidency demanded. It was "time for a new generation of leadership to cope with new problems and new opportunities" because there was "a new world to be won." After decrying the president's remarks as a "stop-Kennedy" tactic, the senator concluded by saying "to exclude from positions of trust and command all those below the age of 44 would have kept Jefferson from writing the Declaration of Independence, Washington from commanding the Continental Army, Madison from fathering the Constitution, Hamilton from serving as Secretary of the Treasury, Clay from being elected Speaker of the House and Christopher Columbus from even discovering America." [Clayton Knowles, "Kennedy's Reply to Truman Asks Young Leaders," The New York Times, 5 July 1960, p.1.]
     2. On May 1, 1960, just before both the West Virginia primary and the scheduled Soviet-American summit in Paris, the Russians shot down an American high-altitude reconnaissance U-2 aircraft flying over the Soviet Union. Although the Eisenhower administration claimed that the U-2 was merely a weather plane that had strayed from its charted course, Khrushchev produced photos of the pilot, Francis Gary Powers, the aircraft, and the reconnaissance tools contained within the aircraft. The triumphant Soviets refused to attend the Paris summit and a chagrined Eisenhower administration promised the Soviets it would no longer fly over Soviet airspace. The Soviets released pilot Powers in 1962 when the Kennedy administration agreed to release convicted Soviet spy Rudolph Abel. [Paul S., et al., eds., The Oxford Companion to United States History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), p. 791.]
     3. Previously a Belgian colony, the Congo attained independence in June 1960, whereupon the newly-independent nation dissolved into regional conflict. Somalia became independent from Italy in 1960. Shortly afterwards, a military coup brought a Soviet-backed dictatorship to power. (See My Day 6/16/60, n5)
     4. Sirdar Jagjit Singh, businessman and lobbyist, lived in New York City from 1926 to 1959 and founded the India League of America in 1938. He later successfully lobbied Congress to extend the right of naturalization to Indians in 1946. After he returned to India, he became the secretary-treasurer of the India-Pakistan Conciliation Group, an organization dedicated to mediating peace between the two nations. Singh acted as unofficial spokesperson for the Dalai Lama at the 1960 session of the UN General Assembly, where he lobbied for passage of a resolution to condemn the Chinese communist suppression of Tibet. He served as national chairman of the U. S. Committee for the United Nations from 1961 to 1964. ["Peiping Pressure Cited: Indian Reports 'Rumblings' in Moscow Against Soft Line," The New York Times, 24 May, 1960, sec. A, p. 28; "Dalai Lama in Plea: Hopes U.N. Will Take Action on Tibetan Problems," The New York Times, 17 September, 1960, sec. A, p. 3. "India-Pakistan Amity: Efforts to Allay Suspicion and Promote Friendship Cited," The New York Times, 3 June, 1963, sec. A, p. 28. See also Harry H. L. Kitanto and Roger Daniels, Asian Americans: Emerging Minorities (Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2001).]

Index to this Document: Age: as campaign issue; as requirement for presidency; Bunche, Ralph: as UN emissary to Congo and Somaliland; Clay, Henry; Columbus, Christopher; Congo: Ralph Bunche as UN emissary; history of; Constantin Stavropoulos as UN emissary; UN, technical aid from; Continental Army (U.S.); Death penalty; Declaration of Independence (U.S.); Democratic Party; Eisenhower, Dwight D.; Gyatso, Tenzin; Hamilton, Alexander; Hammarskjold, Dag; India League of America; India-Pakistan Conciliation Group; Individual rights; Jefferson, Thomas; Kennedy, John F.: Fourth of July press conference of; ER's praise for; Truman, criticism of; Khrushchev, Nikita; Madison, James; My Day; New York City Welfare Department: ER's criticism of; youth employment; Powers, Francis Gary: U.S.S.R. trial of; Roosevelt, Eleanor: JFK, praise for; on New York City Welfare Department; Jagjit Singh meets with; on Stevenson-Kennedy ticket; Singh, Jagjit: biography of; ER meets with; Somaliland: Ralph Bunche as UN emissary; Constantin Stavropoulos as UN emissary; UN technical aid to; Stavropoulos, Constantin: as UN emissary to Congo and Somaliland; Stevenson, Adlai E.: popular support for; Stevenson-Kennedy ticket: ER on; Truman, Harry S.: JFK's criticism; JFK's rebuttal of; U-2 incident: ER on; U.S.S.R. "open trial"; Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.): U-2 'open trial' and; United Nations (UN): Ralph Bunche and; Congo aid and; Somaliland aid and; Constantin Stavropoulos and; von Abele, Rudolph; Washington, George; West Virginia primary, 1960; Youth: employment of; leadership capabilities of

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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