My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK—I have just been sent a brochure which carries at its head: "Weekly Broadcast No. 219, Rear Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, U. S. Navy, Retired; Manion Forum Network; Sponsor, Manion Forum, South Bend, Indiana." Supposedly, this broadcast proves that my husband laid the plans for the attack on Pearl Harbor in order to involve us in World War II.

This is not the first of this type of literature which I have received, and I suppose it is sent to me so that I may have the opportunity of saying what I think about the contents. The only possible way for me to comment—since I was not on the inside of any government secrets and can only have the information that a number of other citizens might also have—is to tell you how I arrive at certain conclusions which are different from those set forth by Mr. Manion.

There are certain men who have published their memoirs—for instance, Secretary of State Cordell Hull and Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson; and surely the latter would have been familiar with any information received prior to Pearl Harbor days. Secretary Stimson was also an honest man, an upright gentleman, and a Republican. The same can be said for the Secretary of Navy, Mr. Knox. In addition, General Marshall, Admiral Stark and various other people mentioned in this broadcast certainly knew what was done both prior to December 7, on that day, and on every day thereafter. Yet none of these men anywhere state or suggest that there is any evidence to support the accusation that the Pearl Harbor attack was deliberately provoked.

No President could make policy decisions without the understanding and the participation on the part of such Cabinet officers as the Secretaries of State, War and Navy. Moreover, all messages of a military nature received by the Army or Navy are given to the responsible officers either prior to or simultaneously with their receipt by the President. As a rule, some of the responsible officers would present them to the President.

Anyone who talked to my husband prior to December 7, 1941, knew that he feared we might in some way be drawn into the war, and that everything he did was to strengthen Great Britain and France in the hope that by doing so we would not have to be drawn in. In addition, those who knew him also realized his devotion to the Navy and his worry over a possible two-front war. He always wanted to keep the Navy together.

True, supplies were out off from Japan, but this was done in order to prevent these supplies from strengthening Japan so that she could build up greater strength to engage the U. S. in war. You may say this was bad strategy, and there may have been differences of opinion; but it must have been the decision of the majority of those concerned. No one knowing my husband's love of the Navy could have doubted his grief in the destruction of so many ships in which he felt a personal pride; nor would he have wanted to injure the reputation of any of our naval or army officers. His concern for the lives of the men in the service and the civilians everywhere was always far greater even than any feeling for material losses of any kind.

To believe that my husband actually suppressed the knowledge that Pearl Harbor was to be attacked seems to me incredible, for the simple reason that it would have been so stupid. He had a keen interest in recorded history, and he would certainly have known that if there was something to hide it would someday be found out. In addition, he was anxious not to fight a war on two fronts.

Therefore, when I read all this carefully manufactured testimony and the half-truths that are sent out by Dean Clarence Manion and some others, I suppose they are convinced they have discovered the truth; but I am overcome with surprise that they can be so illogical and believe such nonsense.



Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

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

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, February 23, 1959

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.