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


HYDE PARK, Friday—I have before me an article entitled, "A Practical Scheme to Settle DPs" by Herman Maurer, which contains suggestions by a resident of a displaced persons camp.

In the first place, this displaced person suggests that America, being the only nation rich enough today, should be the one primarily to put his suggestions into operation.

He considers that since we object to immigrants in this country we should call them slaves and import them as we did in the old days, to be used for the comfort and increased profit of their owners. He computes that there are at least sixty million people who urgently need to be moved from displaced persons camps. Of this number there may be ten million sick or dying whom it would not be advantageous to buy. But the others, he feels sure, would be quite willing, as slaves, to undertake all such disagreeable occupations in this country that our citizens consider beneath them. In his category of jobs, he includes farm laborers and household workers.

Those we cannot absorb, he suggests, should go to colonies that are as yet underdeveloped. And while these DPs would perhaps be owned by Americans, they would be owned because the Americans had investments in these colonies and could use human beings who were willing to work as slaves.

This man feels that since we Americans take good care of our automobiles and our lawns, we would take care of them also if we owned them as slaves. And, he reasons, there would soon be competition among us to be good owners of well-treated slaves.

I should like to quote a part toward the end of this article:

“Let no one imagine that the immigration laws of the United States can be altered one jot or title in this 20th Century; the miserable fate of even the token legislation proposed for the relief of displaced persons in the American Congress amply proves that. It is obvious that the racial quota system is a rock to the mental balance of the American people, who, were they to lose that which embodies their prejudices, might only too well lose love of themselves. And since love of self in these days is greater a hundred times over than any contrary affection for others, it is apparently as visionary to conceive of any change in the American mind as it is to believe in the sudden practice at some future time of the principles of religion. In our times, our times being what they are, slavery represents progress.”

As a footnote the publishers remind us that Jonathan Swift, in 1729, published his "Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burden to Their Parents or the Country, by Fattening and Eating them."

Mr. Maurer, the author of "A Practical Scheme to Settle DPs," probably wrote with Mr. Swift in mind. Indeed, if enough of our Congressmen read his article it might help in the passage of a bill, which would not shame us, for the entry of displaced persons into this country.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Hyde Park (Dutchess County, N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, August 7, 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.