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

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Hyde Park, Wednesday—I am entirely convinced that one of the things that must be done, if we are going to develop the Good Neighbor Policy satisfactorily, is to make the Spanish language the second language learned by every school child in this country. We elders had better do what we can too, no matter how haltingly, to learn this language spoken by so many people whom we must understand.

Yesterday, the two South American ladies who came with their husbands to lunch with us were perfectly charming. One of them, in Spanish which I could understand but not answer, told me that in her country she belonged to the Socialist Party which corresponded to the Democratic Party here. She added that the position of women made it impossible for a woman in her country to hold a public office, if she were married and her husband held one. She regretted this because she felt that women had a contribution to make and she had held a position acceptably before her marriage.

Quite evidently we could have talked at some length and with advantage to both of us had I been able to speak, as well as understand, Spanish. Some day, perhaps, I will have time to learn another language, and I am quite determined that it will be Spanish. In the meantime, I hope that in every school in this country we will teach the children to consider Spanish their second most important language. It should be as easy to talk Spanish as English. This will encourage our Latin-American neighbors to make English their second language. I must say they get on better in English than we do in Spanish.

After our Latin-American guests had gone, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Patterson drove about the place with us and we sat for a while on the porch at my husband's cottage where it was delightfully cool. Then we returned to find Justice and Mrs. Felix Frankfurter who had just arrived to spend the night.

I must tell you of a very charming gift which has come to me from a German refugee. It is an exquisite drawing of some dandelions with their leaves, some clover and other wild flowers. Under the drawing is written "Ellis Island—picked through the only bars that ever held a promise of freedom". This particular refugee was only passing through the United States on a temporary visa with a more permanent one entitling her to entry into another country.

When examined, she told of her ability to draw and she was at once asked if she were going to draw pictures of our defenses. Her answer was: "No, I only draw the little flowers and the little animals"—a peaceful enough subject and charmingly done. I hope the bars which "promised freedom" will bring her to her new home and to contentment and liberty.


(Copyright, 1940, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Hyde Park (Dutchess County, N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, August 8, 1940

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 June 30, 2008.

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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.