My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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HYDE PARK, Sunday—I am sure that all who knew Irwin Steingut, Democratic minority leader in the State Assembly, were grieved and shocked to read of his death on Friday. He served the state a great many years and was a man with many friends.

It is rather interesting to find that Senator Irving M. Ives, Republican, and Mr. Steingut, of Brooklyn, conducted an insurance business together, and that Senator Ives quite frankly stated that if he did not have the private income which he received from this business he could not remain in the Senate.

Everybody, including the Democratic nominees for President and Vice President, is now disclosing his income tax returns over the past years. President Truman suggested long ago that all Federal officials should make public their income tax returns and my old friend, the former Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., argued with me the other day that this was the only thing that could be done really to give us back a sense of morality in government.

Evidently all other government officials agree with him, so I must be wrong. Still, I cannot help regretting that, in order to show our belief in morality, public and private, we feel it necessary to give up all privacy. My real feeling against asking all government officials to reveal their finances goes further, however. I am against it because it is a sign that we no longer believe people should be proved guilty before they are accused of wrongdoing. The same holds good for signing loyalty oaths, over and above the ordinary oath of allegiance all officials ordinarily take. No Communist would refuse to sign such an oath, and it therefore does not help to protect us against Communists. But it seems to me a further invasion of our privacy to insist that, before we decide whether we can or cannot take this oath, we carefully work out in our minds and formulate for the public just what we think.

Most of us, I think, take it for granted that fundamentally we are loyal to our country. Even though we may let our minds explore into various nooks and crannies of thought which are not always entirely orthodox, we come back to our fundamental good, solid democratic beliefs. In our explorations, we haven't done anything which should make us suspect. Thrusting a loyalty oath before us, however, makes us wonder whether everything we have thought and said has been sufficiently orthodox, and soon no one will dare even secretly to have an original thought.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL