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533501

Eleanor Roosevelt

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“It would . . . be a pity to start using the United Nations name for any charitable movement

that some one might think was of paramount importance. . . . The UN is a group of nations,

supported by governments and to turn it into a collection agency seems to me unwise.”

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, 1884-1962.  First Lady, 1933-1945.  Exceptional content partial Typed Letter Signed, Eleanor Roosevelt, one page, 8” x 10½”, on stationery of the United States Delegation to the General Assembly of the United Nations, Paris, November 29, 1948.

This is the last page of a letter—unfortunately, the preceding page(s) are missing—in which Eleanor derides efforts to have the United Nations promote charitable relief as attempts “to turn it into a collection agency.”

She writes, in particular, about the Children’s Emergency Fund, which is now UNICEF, with apparent concern about the way various countries sought to parcel out donated funds.  She expresses the United States Delegation’s opposition to using the United Nations, then a new organization, as an aid to charity, relating a United States compromise proposal for disassociating the United Nations effort from that of countries “wishing to run their own campaigns and allot their money as they wish.” 

Yet although she accepts the Children’s Emergency Fund, which she thought was “doing excellent work,” she writes a stinging rebuke of those who would broaden the U.N.’s charitable role:  “It would, in our opinion, be a pity to start using the United Nations name for any charitable movement that some one might think was of paramount importance.  It has already been suggested by the South American countries that the UN collect money for the Arab refugees, and I am quite sure it will be suggested that the UN appeal for many things.  The UN is a group of nations, supported by governments and to turn it into a collection agency seems to me unwise.”

This letter seems completely out of character for Eleanor.  As First Lady, she advocated the rights and needs of the poor, minorities, and the disadvantaged.  She traveled extensively, and during the Depression she visited relief projects and surveyed working and living conditions across the country.  Her strong concern for humanity does not, though, appear in this letter. 

A note on the back of this letter in another hand, presumably that of the recipient, says that “one of best things was int’l character.  That some nations misunderstood at first is natural[.]  Why not use UN for charity[?]”

Eleanor, one of the most popular First Ladies in American history, served twice as a member of the United States Delegation to the United Nations.  President Harry S. Truman appointed her to the initial Delegation, a position she held until 1953.  She chaired the United Nations Human Rights Commission during the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the U.N. General Assembly adopted in 1948, the year that she wrote this letter.  She also corresponded frequently with Truman, who, like FDR, sometimes thought her pushy but still appreciated and respected her viewpoint. Her fascinating correspondence with him is compiled in Eleanor and Harry, published in 2002.

In 1953, Eleanor resigned from the Delegation and volunteered her services to the American Association for the United Nations.  She was an American representative to the World Federation of the United Nations Associations and later chaired the Associations Board of Directors.  But President John F. Kennedy reappointed her to the Delegation in 1961 and also appointed her as a member of the National Advisory Committee of the Peace Corps and chair of the Presidents Commission on the Status of Women. 

This letter has extraordinary content, particularly dealing as it does with what is perhaps Eleanor’s greatest contribution, her role in the United Nations.  It has two normal mailing folds, a few wrinkles and some foxing, minor edge chipping, and the note on the back mentioned above.  Overall it is fine condition.  Eleanor has signed in black fountain pen. 

Unframed.  Please ask us about custom framing this piece.

 

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