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

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HYDE PARK, N.Y.—That was a remarkable statement made the other day by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles when he said: "I don't put any dates on these things. I don't say what is going to happen in one year, five years, ten years, but I am confident that the trend toward freedom in the Communist world is a basic truth. Certainly it is an assumption that I think must be made by anybody who believes in the American tradition."

In other words, Secretary Dulles seems to believe that in coming to this country and establishing a nation in which there was freedom, we expected that the same thing eventually would happen all over the world. We can hope that this will be so, but it looks to me as though we might wait a long time.

The Europeans were really glad to get rid of us in the 1700s. Overpopulation there was making it hard for people to live, and adventurous souls with money to invest hoped that in this part of the world great wealth would be found. This, they hoped, would flow back to them in repayment of loans made to people coming to America.

Even the difficulties of climate and hostile Indians were not quite the same as a situation in a well-established Communist country where the government is in the hands of a few and decisions are enforced by a strong secret police.

Nikita S. Khrushchev, Soviet Communist party chief, seems to feel that he can prophesy what will happen to our grandchildren in America in a number of years and, in turn, Secretary Dulles prophesied what will happen in Communist China as well as in Communist Russia. It looks to me as though both men might be very wrong.

Now let us turn to some domestic situations. A few days ago Senator Richard B. Russell of Georgia made what seemed to many of us an extremely inflamatory speech on the civil rights bills proposed by the Administration. He insinuated that hidden in the language were all sorts of powers which would permit the use of force in the South. And he sounded a little like old General Toombs, who walked out of Congress on much the same note to finally fight in the Civil War against the North.

That war established once and for all the fact that we are one nation and that we all live under the same laws. However, when one listens to some of the speeches made in the South and by Southern representatives in Congress, one's faith in the willingness to be a law-abiding citizen and to fight out the differences without violence through the courts of this country is sometimes a bit shaken.

I cannot believe any Southerner plans to defy the Supreme Court or to set states' rights above the rights of the country as a whole and their interests above the interests of the citizens of the United States.

The South may well wish that there had never been a slave trade, that Yankee skippers had never brought people from Africa to this country. But they did, and the South prospered greatly from the work of these people.

The colored citizens of today built the prosperity of the South. And now, when everywhere in the world slavery is acknowledged to be wrong and full citizenship has been granted to all or our people, we should do it not only in words but in actual deeds and with our hearts. Then there need be no more such speeches in the Senate such as one reads with regret in connection with this civil rights bill.

The President has said he would listen to Southern arguments, which is fair and right, and he will weigh this bill, but I hope he will not waiver in his support of it.


(Copyright, 1957, 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, July 9, 1957

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.