JANUARY 20, 1951
HYDE PARK, Friday—I have received one of the most amusing postcards ever to be sent to me. Someone who does not like the Roosevelts pasted on a postcard a cartoon called "Dog Oddities" by Harry Miller, Director, Gaines Dog Research Center. In one corner there is a picture of a door with White House written on it, and underneath a French poodle and this caption: "While living in the White House Mrs. Harry Hopkins was charged fifty cents a day for the keep of her poodle by President F.D. Roosevelt." In ink is written: "Sue if incorrect" and an arrow points to that caption.
My correspondent doesn't know how to spell my name nor apparently what my address is. Naturally he left off his own address, so I am obliged to answer through this column.
I should like to ask the lady or gentleman if he or she ever read a letter, the last letter written to Andrew Jackson by his mother? She must have been a rather remarkable person. This is what she advised her son: "Avoid quarrels as long as you can without yielding to imposition. But sustain your manhood always. Never bring a suit at law for assault and battery or defamation. The law affords no remedy for such outrages that can satisfy the feelings of a true man. Never wound the feelings of others."
My husband was a student of Andrew Jackson, but I never knew until I read this letter that perhaps he had taken the advice, which he gave to all of us, from such excellent authority. I am sure my husband never dreamed of charging anyone anything for the food their dogs ate while in the White House or in Hyde Park or in Warm Springs. And I am quite sure that with his knowledge, Mrs. Henrietta Nesbitt, the housekeeper, would never have given a bill to Mrs. Hopkins unless Mrs. Hopkins had asked her to buy some special food for her dog. If you care to write to Mrs. Hopkins, who is now Mrs. Gates, in New York City, she can tell you the truth. I am not going to bother her because it seems to me too unimportant and too ridiculous even to try to answer the innumerable untruths, half-truths and slanders that are constantly printed. As for suing anyone, that doesn't seem to me worthwhile. On the whole, this cartoon is quite amusing and Mr. Miller draws his dogs with great spirit.
And now to go back to that letter from Andrew Jackson's mother. It was sent to me the other day and there is another quote from it that I think is valuable to all of us as we face the problems of our world. Here it is:
"In this world you will have to make your own way. To do that you must have friends. You can make friends by being honest and you can keep them by being steadfast. You must keep in mind that friends worth having will in the long run expect as much from you as they give to you. To forget an obligation or be ungrateful for a kindness is a base crime...not merely a fault or a sin, but an actual crime."
This, I think, holds true of nations as well as of individuals, and I hope we will always live up to it.