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


NEW YORK, Sunday—All Americans, I believe, would have been glad of the chance to welcome Secretary of State Marshall home as President Truman did yesterday. The secretary cannot have had an altogether pleasant experience abroad. Like everyone else, he must wish that a peace could finally be agreed upon, so that the people of Europe could settle down under known conditions and reconstruction actually begin. Nevertheless, I think many things have been learned by the participants in the Moscow conference. The stage was not well set for writing the peace, but perhaps by November we will have learned to do better.

Most of us will listen anxiously tonight to Secretary Marshall's radio report to the American people, hoping that he will tell us some of the things we need to know in order to understand the present situation. Has he come to a conclusion as to what a comprehensive plan for world recovery must contain, or is he still groping? If not, what are the obstacles that make understanding so difficult and planning apparently impossible?

During the last session of the United Nations, I used to hear Senator Vandenberg bitterly complain that we never looked at the whole picture of the United Nations' financial needs, even from the point of view of the United States. Congress, that is, never got a complete budget, so that they never knew whether a given appropriation was the last one to be asked for or whether there would be more to follow. It seems to me that we have suffered from this lack of comprehensiveness in our whole after-war planning. What we needed was a complete plan—financial, industrial, agricultural, educational and spiritual. It should have been flexible and adjustable: if we found it did not work in certain ways, it should have been possible to change it. But we should have envisioned the whole picture of what rebuilding the world, after four years of all-out destruction, really meant.

Instead, we went at it as we might have gone at the problems confronting us in 1919 and 1920. We still are taking up a little bit here and a little bit there. Instead of a comprehensive plan of what we wish to do for our own benefit and that of the world, we find ourselves still in a purely negative situation.

We must stop Russia's influence from growing, but what is our substitution? I learned a long while ago that vacuums have to be filled with something. It is not enough to be against a thing; you have to give people something for which they can actually work. Tonight I shall be hoping that somewhere I will get a clue from Secretary Marshall's words which will point to the fact that this constructive plan is on its way.

* * *

I read with real regret of ex-Warden Lewis Lawes' death at his home on Wednesday. For 21 years warden of Sing Sing prison, he was one of the first people to make the casual outsider understand that the man confined to prison is not, as a rule, a monster, but someone like you or me who happens to have gone wrong. Warden Lawes' life was filled with many kind acts, and his beneficial influence will be greatly missed.

E. R.


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 28, 1947

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