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


NEW YORK, Thursday—I read with interest Billy Rose's column yesterday morning. He said something about Governor Dewey—assuming he gains the Presidency—that could be said of any President. But the reasons he gave for his conclusions were interesting.

Many Presidents have come to the White House, as he pointed out, and have left names on the pages of our history books, but not names in history. Every President who enters the White House, when he looks at the portraits of his predecessors, must be struck by those who are with us today as living people, because the real monuments of these Chief Executives of the past are in the changes they brought about for improvement in the lives of human beings, not only in our own country but all over the world.

Abraham Lincoln's name is known almost as well in Asia and Africa as it is here. Woodrow Wilson was known all over Europe and throughout the world. Theodore Roosevelt was known wherever he went, because he stood against the interests of the few and for the interests of the many.

Any President who hopes to become a figure in history, when he faces himself in the White House, will have to calculate today what interests and policies will give him that position. The bankers won't do it. The industrialists won't do it. It can be done only when a man evokes a response in the hearts of the average man and woman. That response must make all men and women alike see themselves as travellers toward a high ideal, something that will answer their aspirations for this world, but which also will have that "touch Divine" that carries them just a step beyond into the idealism of an almost-unknown world of the future.

Whoever wins in November will face that problem as a man. But the parties made up of little men and little leaders, looking toward the leader in the White House, whoever he may be, will face that problem, too. This is a time when those in power, whatever their party, must face great opportunities to make history. One can fail, or one can succeed.

* * *

Yesterday afternoon in the vote taken at the Democratic National Convention on civil rights, the Democratic party took one step toward greatness.

I know there were threats from some of the Southern states that their delegates would walk out—and they later did. But where to? The Republican party? Or possibly the third party?

I wondered if it ever occurs to the South that it would be a good thing if it became a two-party area, like the rest of the country. The war between the states has been over for a long time. However, we hope that differences of opinion, always will exist in this country. That is the reason we have a two-party system, with a chance even for new parties to come into being. Why should the South operate differently from the rest of the country? It is purely a tradition.

I was surprised, however, to hear states such as Rhode Island, North Dakota and Nevada vote "No" on this resolution. Also, some of the divisions in the states' votes surprised me. I wish I knew what lay back of those votes. Was it a desire not to uphold the President on civil rights? Was it some feeling about states' rights? Surely, it couldn't be a lack of belief in the civil rights as expressed in that resolution.

E. R.


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, July 16, 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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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.