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Eleanor Roosevelt Speeches
Excerpts from the third annual conference of the ADA, Part 2
April 1, 1950
Excerpts from the third annual conference of the Americans for Democratic Action.
I know we are flow-crowd of more than seven hundred, jammed every inch of space in the Terrace Room of Washington Sharm Hotel for the third annual convention banquet of Americans for Democratic Action with hundreds more unable to be accommodated. Before the more serious business of the evening, the delegates and guests heard a number of new songs of social significance, composed by Joe Marks and Milton Pascow and sponsored by the International Association of Machinists. Here is a particularly appropriate one.
The Chairman of the evening and National Vice-Chairman of ADA Judge William H. Hastie of the third United States circuit court of appeals presents one of the founders of ADA the living symbol of its program and policy and the inspiration of its activity.
There are a few persons, I think a very few persons, in this world today who are not Chiefs of State, who have earned such a place that a similar presentation is fair do. Ladies and gentlemen, Ms. Roosevelt.
Ladies and gentlemen, it's a very inspiring thing these days to come to a meeting, such as this, and find so many people coming together to discuss and make plans for an organization which is devoted to really obtain, in our country, as good a government as we can have. There's one thing that always strikes me, and that is, that our Communist representatives in the United Nations never talk about liberty. They never mention it. On one occasion when Mr. Vishinski was forced to do so, he said that was a foolish thing to talk about because no one could have liberty, when you and I know quite well that every one's liberties conditioned by the rights of other people. But we must think about liberty because that is really one of the basic reasons why we prefer democracy to communism. And somehow we must keep ourselves free from fear and suspicion of each other. [applause] I sit with people who are representatives of communist countries and to sit with them is a lesson in what fear can do. Fear can take away from you all the courage to be an individual. You become a mouth piece for the ideas that you have been told you must give forth. I have no feeling of real antagonism towards these representatives because, poor things, they can do no other. They must do that. Their lives depend on it. Now it seems to me [throat clearing] that the ADA is an organization that has thinking people in it and we must preserve the right to think and to differ in the United States. We must be able to disagree with people and to consider new ideas and not to be afraid. The day that I am afraid to sit down in a room with people that I do not know because perhaps five years from now someone will say you sat in the room and five people were communists, you are a communist, [applause] that day will be a bad day.[applause]
It will be a bad day for democracy. So that I am grateful that ADA prompts us to thinking, that it has an opportunity to bring before us the ideas that seem important, that it also has the opportunity of backing people in election that promise to be good public servants. I am grateful that it is representative of people in both political parties and I am grateful for the numbers that have come today because I think it shows that we as a nation are waking up to the needs to preserve our basic ideals in our republic. That we are waking up to the fact that we have to live those ideals and if we have to improve our democracy by the way we live, day by day, and that to do that we must come together and consult together and get other people to help us where we need help. We must help each other everywhere in this nation. There must be no one who fights the battle of good government, of freedom of thought, of real democracy with a sense of doing it alone. That is the value of ADA. You do not have to be alone.
The final speaker at the convention banquet was the Secretary of Agriculture, the Honorable Charles Brannon.
I welcome the privilege of addressing this distinguished group because I admire and I respect the progressive influence you are exerting toward the only real way of preserving democracy: by making it work. And I like talking in an atmosphere of intellectual honesty which pervades these meetings. Of course uh, you invited me here to this convention as a speaker before hearing the uh description and uncomplimentary things said about me by the Chairman of the Republican National Committee last week. Uh, however, I recall that you yourselves were not overlooked in Mr. Gabrielsons' political castigation. So we have more than-than just, uh, ordinary things in common, uh, as we meet here tonight. And perhaps my presence will, uh, if an- if indeed any answer is needed, answer the indignant demand of the Republican Spokesman that President Truman reject his support of the American for Democratic Action.[applause]
So, uh, if you are still willing to listen to someone whom Guy Gabrielson called one of the high apostles of men who serve only political God, I certainly have no hesitancy on my part on speaking to what he referred to as that hybrid nefarious political organization known as ADA.
Following an appeal for cooperation between the farm, business, and labor elements and the national community and a brilliant analysis of the farm program associated with his name, Secretary Brannon in his concluding paragraph touches upon the theme which seems to be an understandably recurring motif throughout the convention.
It is only a dynamic democracy that offers hope to our nation and to the world, bewildered but watchful people in other lands look to our nation as the world's last and best hope for the triumph for our right over might for faith in mankind's goal of peace and brotherhood on Earth to our everlasting shame. They are witness to the political persecution of the man who represents American democracy in its dealings with the people of other lands. They are witness to one of the cheapest, most sordid attempts in American history to scavenge votes in the mark of fear and disunity.[applause]
Dean Acheson is a highly capable public servant, a man [applause] a man of undeviating devotion to democracy in a world beset by encroaching communism. I am proud to serve with him under President Truman [applause]. To frustrated politicians, competence in others is a mortal sin. By their reasoning, democracy must not be served by competent men, for how could they expect to gain power when the people see that competent men are already serving them. So the competent must be destroyed and so Dean Acheson is being stoned for his brilliance by men who don the halos of patriotism to do their quisling deeds. Perhaps they [applause] perhaps they serve their country in their own minds by spreading falsehoods that divide their countryman. Perhaps they serve their country in their own minds by creating doubt and fear [cough] when faith and [cough] courage are needed. There comes time [cough] when the very [cough] survival of democracy calls us all to higher obligation than political bickering. [applause] We rose to such heights of united patriotic endeavor and responsible citizenship during the emergencies of the depression and the war. We must rise to those heights again. We cannot risk any other course. The stakes, ladies and gentlemen, are too high. Thank you.
You have been listening to recorded highlights of the national convention of Americans for Democratic Action.
About this document
Excerpts from the third annual conference of the ADA, Part 2
April 1, 1950
- National Endowment for the Humanities
Eleanor Roosevelt Speeches is a project and publication of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, The George Washington University, Academic Building, Post Hall, Room 312, 2100 Foxhall Road, NW, Washington, DC 20007
Transcribed and published by the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, 2019-11-27
Transcription created from holdings at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library