My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK. Thursday—It was disappointing to read that Premier Khrushchev has turned down the proposal for a Foreign Ministers' parley and has again asked for summit talks.

Now, if we have summit talks I think they should include bipartisan advisers and represent a cross-section of American opinion. Since this country depends on the acquiescence of its people for carrying out any pledges made by the government, I think it is the part of wisdom to let the people have a consultative voice in any agreements that are arrived at.

Commissioner Stephen Kennedy of our New York City Police Department addressed a new group of our probationary policemen, and what he had to say might well be repeated to every public official in every department in our big city—as well as in other cities. Among other things, he said, "If you have any idea of becoming a grafter—and don't forget you will be tempted—then withdraw!"

Few citizens realize how many temptations are put in the way of public officials so that almost unknowingly they find themselves in a position of wanting to grant a favor asked because of kindnesses that were apparently done with no thought of any future return.

If you have ever lived in a position where you could watch how attempts are made to influence public servants you become very conscious of the real difficulty facing everyone, from top to bottom.

Commissioner Kennedy's speech must have sounded rather tough to the new policemen, but I wish every head of a department would make it to himself on taking office as well as to all the members of his staff.

I have just received a letter and my correspondent asks that I print it in my column, so here it is:

"Why did you accept the invitation to our twelfth annual Older Peope's hobby show... at three prime and never show up at all?

"You kept me standing at the door for one hour. We have never had any explanation of your non-appearance. As you have seemed to be a gracious person, perhaps on the eve of our thirteenth will you come right out and say that you take on more than you can handle?"

I have apologized to Mrs. Robbins, the writer, that this appointment did not appear in my book, which may have been a slip on my part. In addition, I would have thought that this was the kind of appointment that I would go to if I was able to do so, but which was not a formal one to appear at a specific hour.

What I will do is refuse all such appointments in the future, for I would not again want to put anyone to so much inconvenience. I probably often take on more than I can do and I usually try to let people know I cannot appear in answer to certain requests, but in this case I was not even aware of what I had done.


(Copyright, 1959, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

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

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, February 27, 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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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.