MAY 21, 1941
PORTLAND, Maine, Tuesday—Yesterday afternoon the Cabinet ladies received with me at a small garden party for the wives of the members of the House of Representatives, and the women members themselves. This is always a very pleasant party and I was delighted to have such a good day.
Then, for a few minutes, I went to the opening of the Soldiers and Sailors' Club, which the Women's National Democratic Club is helping to finance as a defense project. It will serve, we hope, as a place of recreation and relaxation for the men in our services who come to this city.
We succeeded, somewhat breathlessly, in catching our plane for New York City, and still somewhat breathlessly, we caught the train for Portland, Maine. Here we had a leisurely breakfast and are shortly starting for Augusta, Maine, by motor, where we are to have the pleasure of lunching with the Governor and Mrs. Sewall.
There is one subject which is troubling me increasingly and which I feel I must talk ever with you. It is perfectly natural that we should be extremely anxious now to keep foreign agents from retarding our defense industries, or from creating dissension among us through their activities. We must find aliens who are here illegally and, in so doing, we must question many people who are entirely innocent of any subversive activity. For that reason I feel that only the highest calibre men, employed by the legally constituted government authorities, should have anything to do with these activities. For the rest, it seems to me if we know anything really suspicious, we have an obligation to report it to the proper government authorities. Our country, however, is made up of people, many of whom have come here recently, but who are either in process of becoming citizens, or who may be citizens already, though of foreign birth or parentage.
They are probably more devoted to the democratic form of government than many of our citizens who have taken their allegiance to democracy for granted. These people must be encouraged to trust and to love their new country and their neighbors. They must be given the same opportunity that the rest of us have to earn a living and to lead their own lives protected by the laws of our land.
I am deeply troubled by certain things that have come to me. For instance, in industries, some people, because their names are Italian or German, or because they or their parents are known to have been born in those countries, are refused employment.
We, in this country, are opposing totalitarian government. We do not like Nazi or Fascist regimes. But we are not opposing the refugees who want to help us make our country safe, nor citizens who have come to us from other lands and who are loyal and good Americans. This demands from us a refusal to be hysterical and an ability to use our powers of observation, but to use them wisely.