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

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LONDON, Friday—In a newspaper account of a recent speech by Henry Wallace, he was quoted as saying: "The Russians have no necessity to expand their borders nor will they for many decades to come except as internal threats and pressures compel them to seek military superiority."

That sentence makes very little sense to me, but Mr. Wallace must know of some extraordinarily strong "internal pressures" which have forced Russia in the last few years to take over or at least acquire political domination over so many small countries. Yes, Mr. Wallace, those "internal pressures" must indeed be great, and they seem to be moving toward Finland at the moment.

How do you know when they will stop? If you can tell us that and give it to us signed and sealed by Premier Stalin himself, I think you will relieve the minds of many people, not only in your own country but in countries which are not too far away from these Russian internal pressures and would prefer to stay free.

I wish with all my heart that Mr. Wallace were carrying on daily negotiations on specific projects with representatives of the USSR. He would find that the difference between Communist dictatorship and Fascist dictatorship becomes more and more difficult to detect. I believe that there is a difference and that in the future, with time and education, the difference might become greater, but sometimes nowadays the resemblances are more striking than the differences.

* * *

The other evening, Prime Minister and Mrs. Clement Attlee gave a government reception in my honor at 10 Downing Street. So many engagements have been crowded into this week that it has been possible for me to see many of the same people a number of times, which is a real satisfaction.

When I meet people only once as they pass in a crowd, it is very difficult in the first place to get their names, since I am deaf. And in the second place, after a time their faces blur together, and though I may know when I meet them again that I have seen them before, they do not really become personalities until I've seen them several times and have had a chance to talk with them. Hence, I'm very glad to feel that now I really know a good number of the people who have been so kind to me here and who hold my husband's memory in such high regard.

There is an old saying that those who receive favors are seldom grateful, for it takes a quality of real greatness not only to give but to receive gracefully. There was a time when, from all corners of the world, people came asking favors of the British Empire. But I think that today the greatness of the British people perhaps comes out even more in their willingness to accept help so that they may reestablish themselves on a firm foundation economically.

Everywhere I go, there is a desire to express gratitude to me, as an American, for what the people of the United States have done for Britain. And I am given a warm welcome as my husband's widow because the people of Great Britain feel that he helped them during the war. Some of them write or speak to me of how much his voice over the radio strengthened them. Of course, I have heard that from citizens of our own country, but it is curious to have people so far away emphasize that same sense of warmth and strength coming to them across the air waves.

* * *

I was happy to see Lady Stafford Cripps at the Prime Minister's reception and to have a chance to talk to her about youth organizations here and in the United States. She and I both have an interest in young people and feel that they have a contribution to make and should be allowed to make it as a preparation for their future participation in citizenship. And we both have come to feel that youth should be given a chance for training in democracy and in democratic ideals, so that they may not go unprepared to meet fully trained and disciplined Communist youth.

E. R.


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 10, 1948

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.