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

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NEW YORK.—I have just received from the League of Women Voters two new booklets, "You and Your National Government" and "Politics Is People." The former, it is hoped, will be used shortly in schools throughout the country, while the latter has been most valuable in the league's own workshops on practical politics.

It has been many years since I worked actively with this group of women and I think they have much improved the way in which they acquaint their members with the things about governmental machinery which all of us should know. Many women enter the political area largely because they are interested in certain issues and they soon discover that they cannot hope to achieve their goals unless they do so through government channels.

Generally, in the beginning at least, women are more nonpartisan than are men, and this, possibly, is because they are not trained to discuss politics in their families or because they naturally follow the same lines that their fathers and brothers have followed.

Little by little, however, they find that if they need a law to help them achieve something they must know something about the legislative process, the power of committee chairmen, the reasons for "party discipline," and even the necessity at times for compromise in one area in order to accomplish something in another.

This is practical politics, and women who are usually working in the interests of the well-being of the community where it affects children, schools, health, and institutions of all kinds, find that practical politics is very valuable.

In time these women very often become interested in the whole governmental process and then they join a party and find that their work with the League of Women Voters has been good training for participation in whatever area of politics they may choose.

I think the league has probably furnished more active party members than it sometimes realizes, for it is largely an organization that concentrates on teaching about issues and machinery. This is ideal groundwork, for once you enter the field of politics candidates and human relations become a very vital part of your experience and knowledge.

I sometimes wish that the league would devote itself to working out a primer on the background of our type of government and how it affects our democratic way of life. So many of our young people have little real understanding of the ideas that attracted our forefathers when our nation was founded.

I returned from Boston Tuesday afternoon after doing a recording for educational television in the Prospects of Mankind series. These discussions deal with the complicated question of what the role of TV should be—all entertainment, all education, all news?

FCC Chairman Newton N. Minow, Mr. Irving Gitlin, Mr. John White, and Miss Marya Mannes made up a most interesting panel for this session, and I hope it will be widely heard over educational outlets as well as in New York and Washington at the end of this week.

On Monday evening of this week I attended a most interesting dinner at International House where Mr. John J. McCloy, the president of the board, introduced former Secretary of State Dean Acheson to give the first of the Gen. George C. Marshall lectures.

This series was established in honor of General Marshall, and both Mr. McCloy and Mr. Acheson spoke of him in warm and glowing terms not only as a soldier but as a statesman and human being. Mr. Acheson did make one point, though, that people who thought of General Marshall only as a kindly person should revise their thinking. He said he considered General Marshall a very formidable person and, when serving under him as Assistant Secretary of State, he recalled that the sound of his buzzer often left him wondering as he walked into General Marshall's office what he had left undone or what he had done that he should not have done!

I am sure, however, that Mr. Acheson, who later carried the responsibilities himself of Secretary of State, could also remember, as I do, the great patience that Secretary Marshall had in listening to every point of view. He always gave the feeling that if he asked a question he really wanted an honest answer and not just a reply that one thought would please him.

It is good to have a lecture series established it International House in memory of General Marshall, and I hope it will mean that year by year the students coming here will learn more and more about him. He was an American whose traits of character we would like to see influence not only many of our own young people but the young people of other countries.


(Copyright, 1962, 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, May 2, 1962

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.