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

[This column has emendations. View original version]


FORT WORTH, Texas, Tuesday—I have received a letter with a statement in it which I think all of us, who are citizens of this country, should consider carefully. This letter comes from an individual who is an employee in a state institution, and it describes conditions which exist in one particular state. I would not write about it for the country at large, unless I realized that such conditions exist in almost every state and city. This is the paragraph:

"I am an American. I feel I have the right to work for a living and also to vote as I personally see fit. Now it seems to be that in order to work I must cater to some machine or other. I am upset because that is the way Germany's brutal way of life started ... . When it comes to the point that an American can not obtain or retain a position without supporting some individual for political reasons, I think it is about time to do something about it."

This individual has done a good job, has been several years in a position which requires special training. The position is not in jeopardy because of inefficiency or lack of willingness to work. It is in jeopardy because all positions held under Civil Service, and even those which are thus safeguarded, are sometimes tampered with and used for personal ends.

I see many reasons why candidates for office should put before the voters their qualifications in the most persuasive manner possible. I see every reason why men in public life, who believe in the things which they advocate, should try to place people of similar beliefs in office.

Naturally, if fundamental changes in policy take place in government, unless you can persuade men working in the new program that these policies must be carried out, some of them will resign or have to be changed to other work. Requiring individuals, however, who are doing small technical jobs, or any citizen, to vote in a specified way or lose his job, seems to me a crippling of efficiency and a curtailing of the American right to make up your own mind as to what you believe in and to vote accordingly.

This type of procedure in either political party arises from the fact that we give too much power to small groups of people and allow them to develop a method by which our government is implemented. Not enough people are aware of their responsibility to make sure that people are never coerced, but are allowed to hear facts and arguments and to make up their own minds without being under the shadow of fear.



Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Fort Worth (Tex., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 21, 1943

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
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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.