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

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NEW YORK, Thursday—Yesterday I read some letters that had been written about the middle of December by several American diplomats still sticking it out in Peiping. What interested me was that no matter what the tension is, the everyday details of life still hold their interest.

There was a casual mention of the fact that the town had not been bombed but that the firing could be heard all around. But that held about the same importance as the fact that the painters had just left the house, and the description of the color schemes of the different rooms was given in detail!

There seemed a distinct feeling, however, that Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek was really making an effort toward a peaceful understanding with the Communists.

To the average outsider, it would seem that this effort might have been more fruitful if it had been made a long time ago. Then perhaps a coalition government might have been formed in which the dominant group probably would have been the Generalissimo's group. Today the chances are that the Communist group will be very strong.

The hope will be, of course, that the real power will lie in the hands of the moderate, middle-of-the-road group that stands between the two extremes. The strength of this group will be the deciding factor.

Judging from the announcements of leaders of the Chinese Communist group, it would seem that many Chinese are now fully indoctrinated Communists. And Chiang, himself, must be fairly familiar with Communist doctrine, since many Chinese people have been in Moscow in the past to obtain military training.

One cannot help feeling, however, that while the Communist economy may hold some appeal for the Chinese people, it will be transformed in some way in the long run into an economy and an ideology that is primarily Chinese and not primarily Communist.

Always in the years gone by China's enemies have been swallowed up by the huge nation, and one feels that is apt to repeat itself in the present situation.

There has been much progress in China—communications, for instance, are more rapid than they once were—but the basic character of the Chinese has not changed. And I think they themselves feel that it will not be changed through any outside influence. Changes will come only from within, and only because the Chinese people are convinced these changes will improve their country.

It is traditional for the United States to have a feeling of special interest in China. And because of the close ties that existed between my husband's family and China, I personally, have had a great interest in the nation and its people.

Great numbers of Chinese people always have been cut off from the rest of the world, but our missionaries have never felt they had to leave the country because a Communist group or some other group was taking over a certain area. And as I read the letters from our Americans in Peiping, I had a feeling that they also saw no reason for leaving their posts. They had a hope that somehow the clashing elements would decide to come together and that the wisdom born of long ages of civilization would prove capable of finding peaceful solutions.

E. R.


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, january 7, 1949

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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MEP edition publlished on 2008-06-30

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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.