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

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CLEVELAND—With the new African nations that have just been admitted to the United Nations, most of which are French-speaking, French is going to become again a more important diplomatic language than it has been for many years. And with 13 more members from the new African states, visitors to the U.N. are soon going to notice that the organization is not a predominantly European one or one in which North America and the British Commonwealth will have a predominant influence—except through the standards they set for themselves as well as for their world leadership in fields of help to better living conditions.

I think the time has come for every United States citizen to study the U.N. more carefully than he ever has before. In this connection there was a book published last year with the approval and cooperation of the U.N., written by Edna Epstein and called "The First Book of the U.N." While this book aims primarily at teen-agers and young people, it is also of great value to older people and to those who are not too familiar with the U.N. and its specialized agencies, through which most of its day-by-day work is carried on.

I also think we would do well to read Mr. Clark Eichelberger's book, "The U.N.: The First Fifteen Years," because we are going to need more information than we have had before about the world organization. It is going to be very important to us to get to know the representatives of all the countries and to learn what is going on in other parts of the world because of the effect it will have on our daily lives here in the U.S.

Another thing we in this country should be familiarizing ourselves with is our broad participation in world affairs in general. We have a number of church organizations and groups that are working all over the world trying to help people raise their standards of living. Such groups as the Unitarians, the Mormons, the Roman Catholics, and many others are doing health and educational work.

CARE also is doing a very big job for the U.N. in many countries of the world by the distribution of surplus foods. This was brought to my attention in Poland when I discovered that we were supplying them not only food but self-help equipment, which includes wheel chairs, medical equipment, mobile health units, tractors, agricultural machinery and tools for vocational training.

The distribution of these supplies is supervised by American representatives in Poland and, without question, I think, they reach those for whom they are intended and do help in raising the standard of living.

The actions of these organizations, which are international in scope, can have an influence on the thinking of new nations.

However, what emerges from these tense days in the U.N. reflects the tremendous influence that a sane, intelligent Secretary General can have. It is what the present Secretary General did, as well as his predecessor, that has brought about his support in the U.N., and if you compare the influence achieved in the first 15 years of the League of Nations with that achieved by the U.N. it is a most encouraging comparison. The League died because it became a political football for the great nations. The U.N. is stronger today than it has ever been.

I think we all owe a debt of gratitude to Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold for his remarkable understanding of the Charter and its powers and for his own remarkable personality and ability to clarify essential points. In his quiet way he gets across the understanding that brings about the results which are beneficial to the world as a whole.

I have great hopes that the U.N. will grow in strength and achieve the position of the stabilizing world influence which we hope for in our present unsettled world.

Now, to turn to something that is purely domestic.

The State of Texas seems to have decided to have a Democratic party of its own. At a state Democratic convention of September 20 those participating refused to support the platform of the National Democratic Convention and I am afraid Gov. Price Daniel, in his plea for support of the Kennedy-Johnson ticket, said something that is hard to understand. "No one should interpret the support of these nominees," he said, "as support of the platform that was written at Los Angeles."

These nominees are pledged to uphold that platform, and if by any chance they fail to do so they will be subject to the criticism that platforms adopted at conventions are only scraps of paper and have no value for the future conduct of the party or its leaders once they have attracted the support needed for election.

And apparently the Republican platform is just as objectionable to the Democrats of Texas, so one wonders which way they will turn. Perhaps they feel the Republican nominees are less likely to keep their promises.


(Copyright, 1960, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Cleveland, (Ohio, United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, September 24, 1960

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