DECEMBER 28, 1948
HYDE PARK, Monday—It was a great shock this morning to read of Sumner Welles' accident. I am sure that his grief over Laurence Duggan's death must have accentuated his insomnia and his heart condition. In addition, his wife's long illness certainly has made it difficult for him to relax and take life easily, as anyone whose heart is bothersome should do.
I have known Mr. Welles since he was a very small boy and have always had a great respect for his keen and quick intelligence. My husband had not known him as a small boy but had known him later at Groton, and, of course, he later found him a valuable public servant in the State Department, grasping a situation quickly, using his knowledge helpfully and always unselfishly devoted to his country.
Some people in their writings have suggested that Mr. Welles had a special pull with my husband because of early associations. This, of course, was never true, because my husband became more and more objective as his years in public life went by. If someone he had known from childhood was a useful public servant, he depended on his knowledge and advice. But the fact that he had known a person from childhood had much less pull than the fact that a man had been part of his Administration.
On many occasions, I believe, it might have been wise if my husband had been sterner publicly with those who proved inefficient. But he could never treat people harshly, especially those he had worked with. This may have been a weakness, but it was also a somewhat endearing trait and in people of fine character it brought out deep loyalty, which my husband did enjoy from many people, including Sumner Welles.
I hope Mr. Welles soon will be recovered and able to continue his very useful services as a private citizen.
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Yesterday I mentioned Myron Taylor's gift to Cornell University for an Inter-Faith Hall as a World War II memorial.
Another outstanding gift at this Christmastime was given to the people of New York City by Lucius Wilmerding, a trustee of the New York Public Library. This gift is the final petition that was presented by the American Colonies to King George III in an effort to settle their differences amicably. The document was turned over to the Public Library, and it is one that all of us should go to see. There are only two of these documents extant, and it is a very interesting acquisition for the library.
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I want to thank all the kind people who have shown their remembrance of my husband at this Christmas season and who sent me such charming and thoughtful Christmas messages. Much as I would like to, it would be impossible for me to write each of you individually, so I can only express through my column my heartfelt thanks to all those who have been so kind.