The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > Audio Materials
Eleanor Roosevelt Speeches
Speech at Brandeis University, part 3
April 17, 1958
ER answers questions from the audience. ER answers question about UN.
If I may have your attention, please. [Gavel banging repeatedly] We now have the questions from the floor that includes all of our guests, and we'll try to give one a piece, uh, for the first round. In the back row.
Mrs. Roosevelt, what do you consider is the purpose or purposes of the United Nations and do you think that the United Nations has the [unclear term]as it is set up today can to ever achieve those purposes?
Uh, the question is what do you think are the purposes of the United Nations and will it have success… as you, as you [unclear terms].envisage it.
Of course, the trick purpose of the setting up of the United Nations was to try to create an atmosphere in the world in which peace could grow. And what we did was set up machinery which the member nations could use for the purpose of keeping peace in the world. And those who accepted the charter agreed that they would not resort to force until they had tried to use this machinery. Now there were many other things set up to create this atmosphere in the specialized agencies and we know that those agencies have worked year-round just as, uh, technical assistance matures in time have been working steadily and that has brought greater understanding among the peoples of the world. But, actually success in obtaining the objective of an atmosphere in which peace can grow depends upon the member nations. Now we've grown in numbers and we've added a great many new states and smaller states until we're 82 nations, many of them small, new nations. But the great nations are still the influential ones and their leadership is of great importance. Now, the great nations are the ones who are tempted very often not to use this machinery. Now, it was always thought that we should use our regular diplomatic machinery, but if we came to great difficulties we would were to resort to the United Nations. Uh, in the last… short time I have wondered occasionally whether we were not among the great nations. A little afraid that the United Nations was getting too powerful, that it was going to be a-a watching the temporary police force set up and function, or watching certain other things; the Secretary General increase the importance of his position and negotiate with people and have a good effect. Um, I have sometimes thought that possibly, some of the bigger nations were a little worried as to whether, uh, they weren't losing some of their power. Now that I think is deplorable if it's true because I think one of our objectives, as great nations, should be to increase the power of the United Nations with the knowledge that this is the one way that we can permanently hope to arrive at decisions that will keep peace in the world. And, I think on the whole, uh, the United Nations has grown, the Secretary General has made his position much more important. Um, the force of world opinion has certainly become more effective. And I think much depends and always will upon the leadership of the great nations and one of the important things that we have to do is to see that our nations actually gives the leadership that exposition its position should entitle it to give and should require of it. Sometimes I don't think we've given that leadership.
Uh, yes sir.
Mrs. Roosevelt, uh do you think that the Daughters of the American Revolution have outlived their use-? [audience laughter interrupts and obscures the end of the question]
Uh, [audience member says something indiscernible] the first part of the question I heard quite distinctly; Do you think the Daughters of the American Revolution have outlived, I think he said their usefulness, but he might have said their uselessness, I'm not sure. [More audience laughter]. Uh, and the second part of that question, Allen?
[Unclear terms] If not, what positive contributions have they made?
Well, that will follow. Uh, what positive contributions have they made, uh, otherwise?
I think that can be answered together. I think that the things that the Daughters of the American Revolution have done, which are very valuable, are the marking of historical sites, the bringing to our attention and the restoration of points of interest historically, so that we know more about our own history and our own background. Also, I think they've done very well in giving scholarships in helping young people to recognize the importance of their history. I think very often in their zeal for patriotism, they take stands which are highly unpatriotic, but they don't know it and therefore you are sorry for them. Uh, I think there have been times when as a group in their fear, for instance, of communism they have shown that they thought we were a weak people, not that they had confidence in our strength. And I think that's unfortunate, but I certainly don't think that they should be wiped out, because they've done and will continue to do, I'm sure, historical ma-uh, things of interest, which we need to have done in this country.
Thank you very much, yes sir.
What is your view of the, uh, relative merit [rest of the question is unclear]
Uh, what is your view of the relative merit of the summit conference at this time?
Well, my only feeling is that probably a summit conference of at this time will not have any very concrete results. But, out of the Geneva Conference there came a change in atmosphere and that came from the rubbing together of, uh, personalities. I think that the summit conference may do the same thing now and may open up the possibility of future conferences, which might have, one-by-one, some concrete results. I would like to see in any summit conference, the principles backed by a team of mixed people, some of them perfect, top…. uh…pretty tough uh people, as far as negotiation goes, some of them with experience, uh, in dealing with Russian government people in the past, uh, some of them that who speak Russian, and have known of people and have experience in the field of, uh, dealing with communists, both at home and abroad. I would like to, uhuh to, see a team that the summit, that the top people who go. And I would not expect any concrete results, except a promise to go on sitting down. And that from my point of view, is very valuable because with discussion, with greater knowledge of each other, we may, one-by-one, find ways of adjustment which remove our fears of each other. And that is what has to happen, or we can't live without trying to annihilating each other. And it's very important that we get over trying to annihilate each other.
Uhhh, yes you.
Mrs. Roosevelt, do you think that the people in the uh the Soviet Union are afraid of the power of their government?
Do I hear that-[interrupter by audience member who posed question]. Yes yes, do you think that the, uh uh, people in the Soviet government are afraid of their-
The Soviet government?
Sorry, the Soviet Union are afraid of the power of their government.
Of their government. I think there must be, I never was in the Soviet Union until last September and quite evidently there has been a very great change within the Soviet Union. UnderstandingUnder Stalin, I'm quite sure, there was an amount of police state fear which has been lightened. The people tell you, those who dare talk to you privately, that and-and our current, current correspondents who live there tell you that whereas under Stalin [unclear term] days, that no one nobody was ever free of the fear of the knock at the door in the middle of the night and the disappearance of some members of the family. That now, that has practically passed, but there is still, among all people, a knowledge that they are watched, and they don't just know when and the uncertainty makes for a certain amount of anxiety. Now when I got home, I said that children were happy, carefree, healthy, uh, and really a joy to see in the Soviet Union. But the older people, had an anxious look, and that I never saw a well-dressed woman in Moscow, and that I never, in the streets, heard people laugh as though they were carefree. Uh, now a good illustration now-that I will now give you: a young man, who had been an interpreter for my granddaughter, who liked her evidently, um, wanted to see me. Now, he didn't telephone the hotel and make an appointment. He asked a foreign correspondent for whom he had worked if he would make the appointment, and he asked how to reach my room so that he would not have to ask at the desk. And the appointment was made and he came. He brought me some records, Russian records, because he said Kate had promised to learn Russian. He brought me a large painted, beautiful painted box of candy, the kind he said she liked. And when he got up to go, he said, ‘"Mrs. Roosevelt, uh, when you are leaving here to take trips, you will leave some of your luggage in your room, or you can leave them for storage. You can leave these records and this box of candy, but here is a letter I have written, put that letter in your handbag and never let your handbag out of your sight." Now, he knew perfectly well that my luggage would be gone through and he didn't think it would hurt him if they found the records and the box of candy but a letter written to an outsider would be very dangerous. So so that I was to put where nobody would have a chance to look. Now, that is the atmosphere for a great many of the people there. They're not- they know they're not being watched every minute, but they never know when they will be watched. So you'll live with a certain amount of anxiety. Now, the papers were furious with me for what I said about the Soviet older people looking anxious, and um, it's true that when you're with any group, for instance one of the correspondents' wives is a Russian and she asked me if I would like to meet some Russians. She asked one of the famous ballerinas. She asked the head of a ballet school, his wife, and a number of other-the head of the best puppets.
And um, she had to submit her list to, um, a government office before they dared accept. But once she'd got the government's say so, then they came. And I enjoyed being with them, they were fun, they talked, they were carefree. But that's a different thing, they were inside a house and they did not expect to be watched and they had permission. Now that's quite a different situation. Uh, none of them would have come if they hadn't been cleared, they wouldn't have dared to come. So, I think there is a certain, uh, fear that exists and I think it affects the whole soviet life.
Mrs. Roosevelt, your words about being watched, uh, brought to my mind; what is it like being to watched on Broadway everyday as you now are? Do you have any comments about the, the play and the fact that, uh, you are now a-something is being said about you right now, uh, presumably in New York?
Well, I don't think about it very much I'm afraid. [muffled audience and ER laughter] Uh, I went to the first night and I thought Mary Pickett did a very good job. But I don't look upon the play as reality,reality; it's a play and a very good one. And it has preserved the spirit of a struggle which is a struggle that any family under those circumstances would have gone through. And, uh, I think Ralph Delomay has got mannerisms of my husband's and tones of voice which suggests my husband. He doesn't look like my husband, but he suggests it very well. And all the others, except my mother-in-law whom I think is very badly played and I think that's because they didn't quite understand she was a very [unclear term] and very stately and um, had a very strong character. And I think she's portrayed as though she had weak character and people of strong character are sometimes hard to live with. [Audience laughter]. But that doesn't mean that, uh, that they're not real people. And this portrayal of her is a bad portrayal, I think. Um, however, I'm a bad judge, of course, because I would always see it as it really was and it doesn't, it isn't real. It creates the spirit of a struggle, which was a real struggle in which they caught, remarkably well. Now the last scene, which is remarkable theater, and which has succeeded in keeping tension, when everybody knows what the result was, which is a remarkable achievement. Nevertheless, um that is not really how my husband walked on to that platform. Because in a real platform, you couldn't put it on the stage, but in a real platform, you didn't see him until he was up in the [unclear term] rostrum because there were so many people all around. And there was one thing, there were all sorts of things so you didn't see, uh, those [unclear term] but it's good theater that way and produces the spirit and gets it across. And that's the important thing, so I look upon it, I did look upon it when I saw it, as the creation of a very remarkable portrayal of a situation which any family might be going through and how one person had gone through it. A and to triumph and I think it's magnificently done. Thank you.
Uh, yes sir.
Uh, Mrs. Roosevelt, what do you think is necessary to right our present national economic situation? Depending If anything. [unclear terms muffled by audience laughter]
You're asked here to, uh, give, uh, uh, give what you think is necessary to right our present economic situation.
In, uh two minutes.
I'll start by saying, I better start by saying that I'm not an economist! But,And that I don't know anything about finances or how you should do certain things. I only have the citizen's feeling that we have had, for a number of years, a government directed by representatives of big business. And we are now in what looks to be, although we're told it isn't, um, it looks to be like something of the beginning of a depression. The more people are becoming unemployed, uh small businesses are having more troubletroubles, um, generally, it looks, um, we have a good many cushions brought about by the last depression, but nevertheless, it doesn't look just comfortable now. And, um some of you young people are going to find it harder to get jobs this summer. If you succeed, you'll be lucky and uh, there are ways in which all of us will eventually feel it. This began ins much the same way as that the other one did; trouble among the farmers first. Not as badly, nowhere near as badly, but I don't know, I said this in a column, and maybe you're all wrong, but it looks to me as though after one has had a certain amount of one type of philosophy, which is depicted by the democratic bloc, then that's to say, um it may go too far in one direction, and so the people swing back, and they usually swing back too far. And, uh, they start, what seems to be necessary to bring a balance back. Then it begins to be too much in that direction, and we, evidently, are not able to stand too much in either direction too long. And perhaps that's what our forefathers thought of when they set up a lot of checks and balances in our tight-knittype of government and, uh, expected that we would have changes in our political philosophy from time to time. And I would say that now I'm we're beginning to think that perhaps we may need to haveneeded a change in our type of philosophy and, uh, we may find we don't. But, I would think that was what was coming about in the thinking of people at the present time.
I'm told that a repression is when a neighbor loses his job and a depression is when you do. Do we have other questions? You sir.
Mrs. Roosevelt, [many unclear terms]whether we agree to call it or not. We are now living under a president who many consider to be a weak person, and I don't mean in a physical sense. Can you comment on this?
Um, you're asked to comment on a question about the relative difference between a strong president, which Mr. Roosevelt was, and I take it, a less strong president, which Mr. Eisenhower is assumed to be, by this questioner. [Audience laughter]
Well, it probably is a difference in [unclear term] the concept of what the presidential powers are and therefore, what your responsibilities are as the president. You see, every president brings to the office, his own concept of how he interprets what was written down, as the powers of the president. And he then proceeds to act under his own interpretation. And if he thinks certain things, he takes over certain responsibilities and does certain things. Now, in this particular present case, uh, the president felt very keenly, that the government should be run as you would run a general storestaff. As you would be the general on top and you would have a general staff. And he has run it very much that way. That was his concept of what the Constitution laid down. My husband, I think, made the most of his powers, under the Constitution. Uh, he interpreted them as liberally as they could possibly be interpreted because he felt, that it was time that when you needed, uh, someone to take tremendous responsibilities. They were almost thrust upon him at the start. And very likely, it is the result of the times that you find yourself in. Now, uh, we'll wait and see what the next president does. Uh, I think President Truman has a most interesting concept and, um, has done a great deal in really explaining what he thinks, under the Constitution, the rights and responsibilities of the president actually are. And I would hope that he would will do this over the radio sometime because many people may disagree but this is, uh, this is a historical hope, concept which he has studied for a long time as a great student on the Constitution and of American history. And I think it would be valuable for many of our students to be thoroughly familiar with all the different phases of a presidential, uh, a presidential responsibilitiesy and possible politicspossibilities in either duration. Thank you.
Mrs. Roosevelt, you have often [unclear terms] one of the uncommitted nations. What would you point out as being, in your mind, being the essential difference between, uh, our country, and uh, the Soviet Union?
Did you get that?
Well, uh, the Soviet Union is telling the uncommitted nations as they bring their delegations into the Soviet Union [unclear term] of course at present they bring in delegations from all the uncommitted nations because they're very proud of what they have achieved. At first, they didn't bring them in because they were ashamed of conditions. Now they've begun to be proud of conditions and they think they have something to show, so this is what they say; "Your people are hungry. So were ours forty years ago. Your people haven't enough jobs, you haven't enough industry to give them jobs. We didn't have any industry. We couldn't give our people jobs forty years ago. See where we are today? We know how to help you. We know just what you're going through. The United States can't possibly know. They're so far away from it. They have no concept of what you go through. Just let us show you. We can show you how to achieve what we've achieved in forty years." And that's a very convincing argument to a great many of these countries where the people are hungry, where they don't have any industry, where they can't give people jobs and, uh, where they really are casting around for help. And I think that either we are going to show that we do have the capacity to understand this situation and to give intelligent help. And to give it in a way that does not offend. One of our troubles is that we give condescendingly. Nobody likes to have to receive and they like it even less if the gift is given with condescension. Always try to be prepared to learn as well as to teach. There's always something you can learn even from a tribe in the middle of Africa, and you just – that'llbetter learn how to learn and to approach the situations with humility and to offer your help with humility because very often you won't know how to offer help, but if you begin to find out about the needs and about the people, they may help you to find the way in which you can be helpful. And it's enormously important for us today because we're the greatest productive nation in the world. And we need to develop areas of the world, not only for ourselves but for the other manufacturing countriesnations, from which we get raw materials, and the resources, the natural resources of a number of countries. If we can help them to develop, and to have something to sell, they're the best markets in the world for us because they haven't anything. Everything is still for them to try and people aren't different. They don't have things because they haven't been able to have them, but they'd like to have some of the things that make life pleasant and easy. And these are our good markets for the future and we ought to have that amount of foresight and realize that one of the ways that we will counteract the Soviets is by having greater understanding, better approach, and there's one thing we have that the Soviets haven't got and we've never used it and we've behaved as though it was a burden. We have the ability to produce a surplus of food. The Soviets can barely feed their own people. And we behave as though that surplus was the most awful burden we've ever had. Needs a little imagination and a little cooperation with food and agriculture to see if we couldn't work out a way to make this a very great diplomatic aid. Uh, we'll do it with the United Nations. We're not thought of as trying to gain economic control. And if they have taken a good look at the whole world, they can tell us whether there are certain surpluses that can be used without uh, upsetting the economies of those areas. Three quarters of the people of the world go to bed hungry every night. Why? We haven't used imagination to use this one thing that we have and find a way. I-I know there's a lot of details that have to be worked out, but this is something we could work on. This is something we might have some imagination about and then go to work, and work it out. And it would be an enormous weapon against the Soviets because they can't grow enough to feed their own people.
Mrs. Rose-oRoosevelt, even though we've only had a few short years of peace, prosperity and progress, in between our own time and the time of President Harry Truman, do you think you could value tentatively his role in history, especially in light of the fact that when he took office, he felt so inadequate?
I think you'll find in history that Harry Truman will go down as a rather remarkable president. He had some very difficult decisions to make. In anyAnd in these big decisions, he took great responsibility. Now I don't know whether he was always entirely right, but he did make the decisions, and, uh, he accepted the responsibility. And almost all our presidents who have in history, become, um, great men, are the men who did just that. Nobody goes through a long period without some mistakes. Now the mistakes that President Truman made were often in small things, personal things. He may have made some bigger mistakes, but on the whole, [ER coughs] he accepted the responsibilityhis responsibilities and he made very difficult decisions. You heard him say not long ago that being the President of the United States was the loneliest situation in the world because you sat at the very top and had to be alone when you decided. Everybody else could get out from under, but you couldn't get out from under. And I think that's the situation of every president and that, um, those who accept the responsibility- make the decisions- are usually the men who go down in history as really great presidents.
Mrs. Roosevelt, would you care to express your opinions on the policy of the United States toward Israel in the past few years [unclear terms].
The policy of the United States towards Israel in the past few years. Your opinions on that?
Well, I'm afraid that I think our policy has been a weak policy. Um, I think if we had really had more strength that we would have brought a balance, a settlement, with the Arab states some years ago. I think we've been, uh, rather weak, and unwilling to state a uh certain facts which have to be stated if this ever going to come to, uh, an end. I mean, this situation between Israel and the Arab States. Either it has to become clear to the Arab states that Israel is there and is going to stay and th-uh,that the only thing for them to do is to sit down and decide on how this is going to work out. Uh, I think we could have helped greatly if we had, uh, said, perfectly, frankly, that Israel is a nation that is going to remain. We do not approve of aggression and we will see that aggression takes place nowhere but this is a state [unclear terms]state and you're not going to wipe it out by aggression and I think that would have probably helped. Uh, so my only feeling is that we have not done what we could have done to bring about an end to the situation. The Suez Canal situation I think could have been avoided if we had made the effort to come to-to bring to a head some kind of a settlement after we asked Great Britain to withdraw their troops. Um, now of course, we were told that had Great Britain and France waited for two weeks longer, um, some settlement would have been agreed on, because they were working on it. But they were our allies, so why didn't they know about it? So, but that from my own point of view, we failed to communicate with our allies and we allowed situations to become priceycrises, and then we had to meet the pricescrisis, there wasn't anything else to do. But really, it would have been far better if we had never had a crisis, if we had never had any problem difference with our allies. And that would have been the part of speechstatesmanship.
Uh, we're going to have time, I'm afraid, for only a few more questions. Uh, Mr. Farris?
Uh, I wanted wondered you to say something about the responsibility of students and intellectuals in to the contemporary political situation.
Of the students and intellectuals in the contemporary-
Yes, yes, situation.
political Political situation. Well, I think both students and intellectuals have an obligation to bring their weight to bare on the questions that they feel they can understand and they can clarify for people who, are, uh, perhaps not in a position to learn as much and to understand as much of what is going on. Now I would like to say a word of caution to students and to intellectuals. One of the great troubles about reaching the people of the country is that people as they learn begin to use vocabularies which are perfectly easy for them to understand but perfect [unclear term]Greek to the average person. I was reading, the other day, a paper that came to me from the advisory-the democratic advisory council and I [unclear term]give you my word when I finished I thought, "Who on earth would understand this unless they'd taken a course on in reading state papers from the State Department?" and I happen to have taken six years of that and I find that [voice muffled by audience laughter] to read them. But I was once sent some papers by the Secretary of State who was at that time, General Marshall, Secretary Marshall. And he told me that the position that he had taken meant such and such a thing and I said, "Well, I'm awfully sorry sir, but I only knew what I read in the newspapers, and it did not mean that to me!" And he said "Oh, [unclear terms]Mrs. Roosevelt it did then I'll send you my papers on which I based my decision and you will see!" And the papers came. And I read them three times and I didn't understand a single thing. And I sent them down the hall with a note to Ben Kohen, who's had a good deal more experience than I have and I said "Please tell me what this means." And two hours later they came back to me with a note from Ben Kohen which said "If this is what they give the President, God help the President." [Audience laughter]. I then sent to Mr. [unclear name], who had been my advisor, who at that time was the advisor, the top advisor of the delegation. And I should [unclear term] you must have had a hand in writing this paper, so would you mind telling me what it means? And he read it through and he said "Mrs. Rose, nobody was ever intended to know what it means."
Mrs. Roosevelt, two months ago [unclear terms] there were uh many articles were written about Vice President Nixon planning for [unclear terms]claiming that he is short politically, tyrannical changes have since been overlappedsince he took over office. I wanted you to comment on the post-political securities.
Uh, this question has to do with Vice President Nixon and uh, it is, uh, alleged that some people thought, uh, that he had recently [Audience laughter] that he had reached a higher degree of maturity a few months back. Uh, then he had when he [More audience laughter] then when he first took office. And you are asked to, uh, comment on this, uh, question. [More audience laughter].
I think I better start by telling you all that I am a Democrat! [Audience laughter and applause]. Now having said that [Audience laughter] I will try to be as objective as I can. [Audience laughter]. My youngest son, who is a Republican, tells me that Vice President Nixon is a wonderful guy. That he has learned so much, that he's changed so much,. Tthat my original criticism of him is all wrong. And now I've come to what I think. I think that there are certain traits of character which you have when you are young and that you've got to get proof if you those have really changed. Now I think-I watched two campaigns [unclear terms] for Senator--for Senator Nixon had one againt Mr. [Jerry] Voorhis and one against Mrs. Helen Gahagan Douglas [many unclear terms]. I saw him allow the people with him to use things which he knew were not true. And I saw him run one of the nastiest, low-down campaigns and I believe a good deal is permissible in a campaign, but there were just some things you don't do. And don't allow the people who are working for you to do. And those things were done in those campaigns. Now, he says he didn't know what was going on, well you have an obligation to know and, um, I personally believe that he is a very clever man and that he knows if he was going to win, people have to believe certain things about him, and he has done a remarkably good job of creating the impression that he has changed, but I have seen no signs of fundamental change in character. I have seen-I have heard speeches made which if they were sincere, showed a change in character. But, I have not seen any sign that he carried them out in practice so that they were sincere. And, on the whole I have no more real confidence in the character than I had originally. But I am a Democrat, and I am also am perhaps a prejudiced woman. And so, I would have you watch carefully, and make your own decisions. But, I have given you my own evaluation and I tell you that it is quite possibly is a prejudiced evaluation.
Mr. Resnick, I think we will let you have the last question.
[Many unclear terms] Uh Mr. Burns spoke On on the your late uh husband's uh political President's late career, he says that the President can be as brave as a lion, and as crafty as a fox. Can you make a comment on that please?
Mr. Burns' biography, you heard the question?
No, I'd like it repeated.
Mr. Burns' biography of, uh, President Roosevelt has, uh, as crafty [audience member says something] brave as a lion and as crafty as a fox. Uh, this is his thesis, as you know, in the book. Would you comment on this?
Of course, well, that is more or less, the Machiavelli theory. [Audience laughter]. Um, I think you could say that with any president, um, unless he really had no courage. Uh, if he never took a stand on anything, then you would never have said wouldn't thatsay that he was brave. Um, but if was obliged to take a stand, he would naturally say that he was brave. Now, no one, uh, maneuvers their way, uh, to elections and through difficult decisions without being-without having some of the similar qualities that we have attached to a fox as time has gone on. Um, my husband had one or two, uh, qualities that were very disconcerting. Uh, he never liked to be disagreeable to anyone. And people would go in with the intention of telling him that they didn't like what he had done and he would be so charming and he would talk so incessantly that they would come out without ever having had a chance to say [audience laughter] and with the impression that he had agreed with everything that they had wanted him to! Now this led to terrible misunderstandings. [Audience laughter] Lots of people believed that he had committed himself when very often all he had said was "Mmmmm." [Audience laughter]. And "Mmmmm" can mean a great deal! And the result is I've had people say to me that "Your husband agrees with me," when I knew perfectly well that he didn't agree with them at all. And he had probably had never told them so in so many words, but he had allowed them to think so. Now that [unclear term]dislike of hurting people, of being disagreeable, is a drawback in public life. Uh, you-the only times that I've ever seen my husband really ready to be, very disagreeable was when he was really angry with someone and that happens so rarely. And I can only remember two or three times in my whole life when he was really, very angry. And once, in a political situation, I walked in, at the end of an interview with someone and he was white and shaking and I had met the person in the hall and they hadn't even seen him. And he said "I just told a man to go to hell and to never to come back again!" [Audience laughter]. But I knew that would only come about if he was deeply moved, because ordinarily, he couldn't tell anyone, uh, disagreeable things. Ah, once we had to fire-well, we didn't fire him, we just moved him over to Henry Morganthor's Morgenthau's office to a job in the Treasury. He was just a run-away, one of these messengers, but he had been a body-servant for Franklin, he'd been his [unclear term].valet. And, Johnny had been home one night, fortunately, because when Franklin rang his bell, nobody came. And, uh, this poor man was dead drunk. And Johnny said to me, "You cannot have that man taking care of father!" And I said "I know it, but this has happened three times now, and every time I suggest that father lets him go, father has an excuse; ‘He isn't going to ever do it again, and um, and he's really so nice and he's really very fond of his wife, [unclear terms].'" So Johnny said to me, "Well, this is the last time." And so he said to his father, "You have to let him go." And I went in the next morning and said, "You have to let him go." My husband looked at me very sheepishly and he said, "Well not until after I go on my next cruise. Then after I-I'll take somebody else, and after I go, you tell him this news."
This is in the nature of an anti-climax. I'd like to announce that Mr. Frost will speak in this room next week at this time. And may I thank you, Miss Roosevelt, on behalf of all of us for making the word gracious meaningful.
About this document
Speech at Brandeis University, part 3
April 17, 1958
- 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