AUGUST 3, 1948
HYDE PARK, Monday—I have been very much interested by the sudden interest taken in the testimony of Elizabeth T. Bentley, the self-confessed wartime Soviet spy. It appears as if Sen. Homer E. Ferguson, chairman of the subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Expenditures in the Executive Department, finds this an opportune time to present the fantastic story of this evidently neurotic lady. In some way it may be useful to the Republican party, though I cannot imagine how it can serve any really useful purpose.
It seems that all that she has to tell has already been told, by her own accounts, to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in New Haven in the summer of 1945. I understand that when certain people tried to verify whether authorities actually had been able to prove any of the things that she stated as suspicions, no proof was forthcoming. It seems to me quite outrageous to use this method of smearing people when you cannot produce proof.
For instance, to testify that a reputable person like Lauchlin Currie, whom the lady admits she never saw and has no proof of any kind against him, has furnished her with confidential information can only serve to make those who do not know him wonder if there isn't some tangible proof. The natural question to ask is why should so-called reputable people want to injure entirely innocent individuals? The answer, it seems to me, is "politics" and the chance to make the limelight and whip up a little more excitement for vigilance in this country on the part of the Un-American Activities Committee.
Whether they make people suffer unjustifiably in so doing seems to be of no more importance, except to those among us who believe the Constitution protects us against such goings-on. We begin to think that the methods we condemn under other forms of government are coming perilously near to being used by certain of our own representatives.
As for Miss Bentley, one can only regard her with regret and pity. She is probably an intelligent young woman. She graduated from Vassar College, so she must have had some brains, and for some reason what she is doing now must seem to her worthwhile. The reason, however, is somewhat obscure, so far as I am concerned. In the future I should think it might be difficult for her to find any acquaintances who would be willing to say even "Good morning" and "Good evening" to her. That might be construed as a means to involve them in some new and fantastic trial.
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I was very much interested to receive from Raymond de Roover, Associate Professor of Economics at Wells College, Aurora, N.Y., a magazine containing a review of a French book dealing with the founding of the town of Lannoy.
This little town was founded by Jehan de Lannoy, who was one of my husband's maternal ancestors, and I wish my husband could have enjoyed this review. It would have interested him very much indeed.
It also has introduced me for the first time to the magazine, Speculum, a journal of mediaeval studies that is published quarterly by the Mediaeval Academy of America in Cambridge, Mass.