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

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GENEVA—It is amusing, far away in Switzerland where you feel cut off from American politics, to find yourself asked at every meal by your neighbors what you think is going to happen on Election Day.

I sat between an Italian and a Frenchman at lunch the other day and each one, in turn, gave me a little dissertation on American politics. Nothing was as difficult, however, as when I was asked last night to explain the electoral college system.

Just how many votes are there in the electoral college? I didn't know. I could tell how many votes a state had in the Democratic convention, but I had completely forgotten the details of how the electoral college works. It is really good to be pinned down on your own government by foreigners, because it makes you go home and look up things carefully.

It is also interesting to read over here some of the columnists that are reprinted in the European edition of the New York Herald Tribune. I was especially interested in what Joseph Alsop said about the small poll made in Seattle and Portland, Oregon. If I had been asked, I would have said exactly what he did about the way the vote is lining up at the present time. So I felt quite proud to have my bunch verified, even by a small poll.

In the morning session of the World Federation meeting we really began to do a little business, electing the officers for various committees and accepting the resignation of Secretary-General Ennals, who has been the only Secretary-General this organization has had since its inception.

Many people paid warm tributes to both the Secretary-General and his wife, who as a volunteer has given a tremendous amount of her time to the work of the Federation. Without all of the volunteer service which has been given, I don't think the Federation would have been able to do any work at all. Paid workers have worked far beyond the call of duty and the volunteers have been faithful and tremendously interested.

Application for membership by the Association for the U.N. just formed in the U.S.S.R. was acted upon and this group became a member of the Federation. It understands, of course, that this is a nongovernmental organization.

In the speech made by Madame Pankratova, president of the association, she said that the Soviet group was anxious to work with the other associations for peace in the spirit of the charter. I think her association really feels this way, but, of course, a free people's organization means one thing in some countries and quite another thing in a totalitarian country.

I am afraid there will always be certain basic differences between the concepts of freedom held in these different countries. One can, however, in an organization like the World Federation, work for the greatest amount of agreement. And in an organization which primarily stresses education on the U.N., I think there are many things on which agreement can be reached.

I sincerely hope that much education on the U.N. will be done in the Soviet Union among the people as a whole.

In the afternoon, Mr. Cochaux of Belgium gave a delightful speech on what the Federation can do to go even further in molding public opinion. Mr. Judd followed him with a different but equally good contribution. There ensued considerable discussion on the subject of how much the Federation can mold public opinion as regards the U.N., and I think it was a fruitful afternoon.


(Copyright, 1956, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Geneva (Switzerland) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, September 11, 1956

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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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.