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


NEW YORK, Wednesday—Something I deplore in this country is the fact that we occasionally find people here and there who allow themselves to be carried away by hysterical fear. The minute they indulge in this kind of fear they revert at once to thinking in the way people thought in the late 19th century. We thought then only in terms of force.

The men who began to think in terms of peaceful settlements among nations and a gradual growth of mutual understanding were always men who were not easily moved by fear. They were willing to move slowly and cautiously and to try to bring about solutions to difficult situations without resort to force.

There is a case in point before us at the present time.

It is highly unpleasant to find diplomatic officials or travelling businessmen or military men sent on missions to disturbed areas of the world being imprisoned within those danger spots. Our State Department, not being moved by fear, has gone very calmly about using peaceful pressures to achieve results which, admittedly, might be gained by a show of military power. Some people, motivated by fear in this country, have loudly protested that we were allowing insults to be heaped upon us. We are doing nothing, they maintained, and we were risking the lives of our citizens, unprotected throughout the world.

We could send a battleship, we have done it many times; we could land Marines; we could send planes with bombs. But if we did so, we would only be adding to the chaos of the world. We would not be giving an example of the way in which we hope peoples are going to react in relation to one another in the future.

The fact that a government which is Communist controlled takes high-handed action of which we disapprove does not make it any more desirable to deal with it by force than if the same kind of action had been taken by any other government.

In troubled areas of the world unpleasant things are going to happen under various forms of government. Only the big nations can give the example of self-control and calmness and a willingness to act along peaceful lines. This attitude is not a show of weakness. It indicates that we are carrying out our promises, which we made when we signed the Charter of the United Nations.

Being a great nation with great force at our command, it is quite evident that we could use force if we felt it were right to do so. Many nations in the world are going to realize when we do not use force that we are trying to point the way and demonstrate that war and military force are not the only ways to achieve desired results.

I have great respect for the successful handling by the State Department of certain questions which might very easily have led us into threats and blustering and possibly warlike demonstrations. The people of the United States and their government are not afraid today of any other peoples in the world and they intend that their representatives shall be treated with respect. But we do not intend, because of any irresponsible hue and cry which arises from fear in our own country, to be driven to using measures that can do no good. Such hasty action might result in creating more fear of us among the nations of the world than is warranted by our honest and peaceful intentions.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • New York (N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, December 1, 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 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.