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

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NEW YORK, Monday—As I said yesterday, I would like to continue considering the statement made by Senator H. Alexander Smith of New Jersey in explaining his attitude against ratifying the nomination of Ambassador-at- Large Philip C. Jessup as a member of the U.S. Delegation to the General Assembly of the U.N.

Senator Smith stated that he had known Dr. Jessup for a long time, that it had been very difficult for him to make up his mind to vote as he did because he said Ambassador Jessup was an able and honest man and a loyal patriotic citizen. These were the charges that had been brought against Dr. Jessup, but, said Senator Smith, these were not really what should be considered.

Senator Smith said he could not cast a vote which he felt in any way approved of an individual who, even in a minor capacity, might have had a share in formulating the Administration's policy in Asia, of which Senator Smith disapproves. His colleague, Senator Guy M. Gillette, stated that he felt Dr. Jessup had extremely little to do with formulating the Administration's policy in China, but nothing seemed important to Senator Smith except to register his disapproval of that policy.

Ambassador Jessup had served in the U.N. and in the State Department and has dealt with many other things in a way which Senator Smith apparently might approve.

At the present time the policy that has been carried out in China cannot very well be changed by Dr. Jessup or anyone else. I happen to think that the State Department, whether it was manned by Republicans or Democrats, would have had to accept the advice given it on the military situation in China and would have done what was done, but for the sake of argument we might grant that the policy was wrong and that Dr. Jessup was partly responsible.

Now does Senator Smith feel that he must always vote against a public servant as representative in the U.N. or in any other public office who has made a mistake or who has been in opposition to the policies that he himself would favor?

It would be difficult to find public officials with whom all the members of Congress would always agree. It would be even more difficult to find any human being in public office who never makes mistakes. It seems far-fetched to me to turn down an individual as a member of the delegation to the General Assembly because you do not approve of the Administration's policies in China as long as that Administration is still in office.

The net result is that you have told Senator Joseph McCarthy that you don't agree with his accusations but you have let him obtain the result that he desired. In addition, you serve notice on anyone who might be asked to serve in a public capacity that they must be prepared never to make a mistake and to please all Senators by their actions, or else they run the risk that when they come up for confirmation in some appointment they may be turned down.

How many people are going to want to be public servants in this country under such circumstances? It is difficult enough to awaken a sense in people of their obligation to take a job in public life without discouraging them in the way I believe Senator Smith's reasoning is going to discourage them.

Two of the people who voted against Ambassador Jessup did so after having carefully stated that he was cleared of the accusation that had been brought against him, and that ostensibly was the only reason for looking into his fitness as a delegate. The policy in Asia does not seem to me relevant to his acceptance or rejection.

E. R.


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, October 23, 1951

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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