NOVEMBER 3, 1950
NEW YORK, Thursday—I was coming away from a French broadcast, which I had just done with Professor Rene Cassin and the delegate from Czechoslovakia on the question of the inclusion of the economic and social rights in the First Covenant of Human Rights, when I was told of the attempt on President Truman's life.
In a short time they brought me another bulletin as I sat in Committee #3, giving a pretty fair description of what had happened. Finally, the rumor came through that the two men who staged this dramatic attack outside of Blair House were Puerto Ricans who belonged to the nationalist party. That same party was responsible for the bloodshed in Puerto Rico this past week. It is quite evident that some people on that little island have not yet learned to use the ballot instead of bullets.
It is highly regrettable that it should be any group of Puerto Ricans. They made their own decisions as to the type of government they wanted, and though it may not have pleased everyone of the island, they should at least have been willing to live with that decision until it was possible to make another through orderly processes.
It gives the whole country a black eye when they first try to stage a revolution and then try to attack the President of the United States. Sometimes one wonders what are the mental processes of people of this kind. Even if their ridiculous plot had succeeded it would have made no difference in Puerto Rico and they themselves would have died just the same.
Any President of the United States, or any ruler of any country, or any public official who holds a position of great responsibility and power, must face the fact that they run this type of risk. Usually it is someone with a grievance, whose mind is slightly unbalanced, who attempts to take the life of another, feeling that this person is responsible for his particular difficulties.
I used to think when my husband was President whenever we went anywhere that there was nothing in the world that could prevent a bullet from finding its target. That is, if the one who might have fired it had no objection to being captured and punished. The Secret Service men are most watchful but they cannot cover every window in every building when one stops for any reason on a trip.
I thought occasionally they were rather rough with people who were just trying to touch the President or hand him some flowers, until I discovered that a bunch of flowers could conceal a bomb. And if you get near enough to touch the President, you were near enough to do him bodily harm.
My husband never gave it much thought and a man like President Truman who is able to get about quickly, probably gives it even less thought, but the Secret Service give it much thought. They probably will give it more thought during the next few weeks and the poor President's life will be made miserable.
These two would-be assassins were evidently stupid as well as fanatical. But perhaps an incident such as this does no real harm, for it makes all of us more alert and more aware of the risks that have to be faced daily with complete calm by so many of our public servants.