The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers

Dr. Philip S. Herbert, Jr.1 to Eleanor Roosevelt

21 October 1960

14 East 77th Street
New York 21, N. Y.

Dear Mrs. Roosevelt,

I am writing you out of a sense of urgency, because I believe our Democratic candidate for President has made an outrageous blunder, and because I think it's possible you can help him correct it.

Let me be specific. In this morning's Times,2 Senator Kennedy's statement explicitly promised aid to anti-Castro forces.3 This to me is a very dangerous statement. It implies, as I read it, the assumption that this country has a right to support one faction or another in another country. While this country and every other country in the world does so, in one way or another,— for example, in Mrs. Luce's support of the Christian Democratic Party in Italy,4 or in our implicit and explicit support of dictatorial ruling classes and individual like General Batista — I think it is wrong in principle and at times disastrous in its consequences. It is playing according to the rules of the USSR, which does not scruple openly to support factions, with no respect to a country's sovereignty.

Please understand me in the specific issue of Cuba. The more I learn about Castro, the more shocked and dismayed I am. But he is Cuba's problem, and quite justly, to the extent that he attempts to subvert other countries in this hemisphere, the problem of the O.A.S.5 or even the U.N.

Can you do anything to get Senator Kennedy out of the corner he's painted himself into?

With deepest admiration and respect, I am

Yours sincerely

Philip S. Herbert Jr MD


     1. After a thorough search of relevant records, no information could be found on Dr. Philip S. Herbert, Jr. The editors decided to include the letters because they represented the general correspondence ER received on this matter.
     2. The New York Times
     3. On October 21, 1960, Kennedy released a statement reprinted in The New York Times criticizing the American embargo of Cuba, calling for American financial and military aid to "non-Batista Democratic anti-Castro forces in exile, and in Cuba itself, who offer eventual hope of overthrowing Castro," and urging serious consideration of governmental seizure of Cuban assets held in the United States. [DNC News Release, 20 October 1960, Adlai Stevenson Papers, Box 789, Mudd Library, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey; Peter Kihss, "Kennedy Asks Aid for Cuban Rebels to Defeat Castro," The New York Times, 21 October 1960, pp. 1, 18.]
     4. Italy's Christian Democratic Party (Democrazia Cristiana), founded in 1945 by religious moderates and supported by the Catholic church and the business community, dominated Italian politics until the mid-1990s by promoting a politics promising an industrial marketplace managed by Christian tenets. Arguing that families, workers associations, and other social groups must be strengthened, the DC promoted widespread industrialization, encouraged urban growth, and embraced the European Union, all of which helped create a climate of relatively unregulated social change and fostered a mixed economy. This coalition provided such a popular alternative to the leftist politics of the Partito Socialista Italiano (PSI), the Partito Communista Italiano (PCI), etc. that every successful candidate for prime minster from 1945-1981 came from its ranks. [Joel Krieger, ed., The Oxford Companion to Politics of the World (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 136-137; Fran Alexander et al., eds., Encyclopedia of World History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), pp. 140-141.]
     5. The Organization of American States (OAS), an outgrowth of an organization the U.S. initiated in 1890 to foster trade, emerged in its present form in 1948 after the Ninth International Conference of American States met in Bogota, Columbia. On April 30, 1948, nineteen countries signed the OAS Charter, committing themselves to respecting national sovereignty, fostering economic and social development, and enforcing collective security agreements. From the late 1940s until the mid-1960s the U.S. used the OAS as the focal point of its Cold War containment policy toward Latin America. For other member nations, the OAS was a way to contain American intervention and to manage American foreign aid. Today the organization promotes human rights, regional security, economic and industrial progress, and the containment of the illegal drug trade. [Paul Boyer, ed., The Oxford Companion to United States History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), p. 570; Organization of American States. Internet on-line. Available From; Krieger, The Oxford Companion to Politics of the World, p. 666.]

Index to this Document: Batista, Fulgencio; Castro, Fidel; Cuba: JFK policy on; Democrazia Cristiana (Italy); European Union; Herbert, Philip S., Jr.: on JFK; Kennedy, John F.: Cuba policy of; Philip S. Herbert, Jr. and; Luce, Claire Booth; New York Times; Organization of American States (OAS); Partito Communista Italiano (PCI); Partito Socialista Italiano (PSI); Roosevelt, Eleanor; United Nations (UN)

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. .

For more information, visit The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers home page at

Copyright © 2006. The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers. All rights reserved.