The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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WASHINGTON, Friday—Reading the papers the last few days I have almost begun to feel that fear motivates much of our thought, so I was glad to come across in one of my letters, two paragraphs which I quote:

"People's fears are an odd thing anyhow. Here are the New York Times, Herald Tribune, etc., all so scared for the Supreme Court, because it 'protects our liberties.' Whose liberties has it protected? Here they are terrified lest the Constitution be interpreted as it was meant to be interpreted in each age according to that period's own ideas instead of those of the past generation. It seems to me it would be more intelligent to be afraid lest we strangle democracy by letting a fossilizing process harden the Constitution into a cocoon which must be violently broken because it could not grow with the life within. Life implies growth, and the Constitution was never meant to be used as the Bible was by our most puritanical Puritans. The letter killeth. Do these people really want to be ruled by a frozen document? If so, they are the ones who are going back upon the American spirit, not we.

"So I do hope that there are enough men and women of vision in Congress who are not ridden by these fears, which seem most inappropriate ones on the mouths of self-governing people. Ideally, it seems to me, it would be better to have less in the Constitution rather than more, because it has all got to stand interpretation and re-interpretation through the ages. Suppose we fill it with stuff about Employers and Labor, and two hundred years from now, we are all employing one another in cooperative fashion, all that, instead of being fundamental law is really changeable human provision for certain conditions. There is very little actual fundamental law. Really only 'Love one another.' The rest is all interpretation—even the ten commandments. You know I really hate to see even the Child Labor amendment added, but I am working for it, because it is no less inappropriate than others already in the Constitution and there seems to be no hope of accomplishing the end otherwise."

Curiously enough I never thought very much myself about what could be considered fundamental law. If it is really "Love one another," how woefully short we fall of New Testament standards at least!

Just before dinner last night our youngest son, John, flew in from Boston having been told by the doctor there that he should go to the infirmary and wisely deciding if he were going to be ill, he would rather be at home. I think he has a touch of the flu but I hope that it won't keep him down very long. Luckily exams are all over.

I gave up going to the meeting of the American Planning and Civic Association this morning because there seems so many little things to do in the house that I couldn't get out in time.

Mrs. Homer Cummings, wife of the Attorney General gave a very delightful luncheon today for me and our place cards had little donkeys in different attitudes on them, so as she has a collection of donkeys, she carried out the idea on the table and had them as decorations inside two bowls surrounded by ferns which they were supposed to be eating!


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, February 13, 1937

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

Published with permission from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

MEP edition publlished on 2008-06-30

TEI-P5 edition published on 2017-04-28

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HTML version generated and published on: March 4, 2019.

Transcription created from a photocopy of a draft version of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library. My Day column draft dated February 12, 1937, FDR Library, Hyde Park, NY
TMsd, 12 February 1937, AERP, FDRL