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

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HYDE PARK, Friday—Much of what I spoke of yesterday as confusing our thinking applies to the whole Far Eastern problem. We forget entirely the stages through which we have gone.

I remember well how strongly my husband believed that it was essential for the future of Asia that China become a strong, unified nation. He believed that Sun Yat Sen had really hoped to make essential reforms to better the life of the Chinese people, and he thought that Generalissimo Chiang, having been one of Sun Yat Sen's close followers, wanted to carry forward these reforms. He hoped that given help from us, Chiang would be able to unify China and free it from the Japanese. Everything my husband did in the early days of the Presidency looked to a strong China, which he felt would be the stabilizing factor in the Asiatic situation.

Many of the people who are being attacked today because they advised drawing all the Chinese factions together in one government, were hoping that this could be done by Chiang Kai-Shek with the help of the Sun Yat Sen's son, who belonged to a middle party. This would not have made the Communists the dominant group but would have forced some of the more reactionary elements to join in putting through satisfactory reforms. For many of the older war lords who had never been out of China saw very little reason for change.

The men who wrote reports to the State Department, trying to evaluate the situation in those days, did not know the USSR as we have come to know her during the last five years. Nor were they weighing their words for fear of being attacked as Communists. They were just honest public servants studying a complicated situation. They gave their opinions and made suggestions for what they were worth, knowing quite well that it would be the responsibility of someone in the United States to read all their reports, that it was up to Washington to see the over-all picture and make the final decisions.

When General Marshall went to China he was convinced that the salvation of China still lay in unity. Therefore he hoped to persuade Generalissimo Chiang to take all factions into the government and begin making reforms. But the Generalissimo listened to his older advisers and refused to act along these lines. General Marshall finally left China seeing no chance of accomplishing anything by a longer stay.

The final defeat of Generalissimo Chiang and his retreat to Formosa proved conclusively that the people of China were tired of promises and wanted action. Our policy of a unified China under a nationalist leader failed, not because of our action, but because of the inability of the Generalissimo to unite his people.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

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

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, August 18, 1951

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.