MARCH 30, 1954
NEW YORK, Monday—I just finished the other day a novel written by Isabel Black, entitled "Hold Close The Day." This is a very simple and rather touching story of how a child gradually comes from deep resentment against a lovable, but certainly difficult, father to a final understanding of what makes her mother love and forgive. In a hundred different ways this story could be told and understood, but this is well written and the woman who wrote it has a sensitive touch. She understands people of different kinds and can be sympathetic. I think it will be enjoyed by many who have the good fortune to read it in the next few months.
Friday afternoon I went to Columbia University where, following Professor Henry Steele Commager, I spoke at the opening session of a conference on "Rights of Free Americans". This conference was sponsored by the Columbia University Student Council and was part of the bicentennial activities that are taking place on the Columbia University campus during the current academic year. It is interesting to remember that in 1754 this was King's College. Today, 200 years later, it is Columbia University.
I liked the little notice on the back of the folder telling of this conference on "Rights of Free Americans." It says: "This influence (Columbia's) has been felt in the constant expansion and modification of our basic rights. Emphasis on specific privileges and rights of the citizens has changed with the passing times. At one time the 'right' to file claim to several acres of land in the wilderness as a homestead, was important. Later, some felt that they had a 'right' to make men into slaves, others thought that theirs was the 'right' to free men from the bonds of servitude.
"Presently, emphasis is on the extension of equality of opportunity in employment and education. Along with this, we are still concerned with the retention of our basic rights, although we are under the shadow of a 'cold war.' Will the ever-increasing security measures accomplish what we abhor in the government of our enemies—despotic rule by one or a small group of men?
"Any decision that the government makes is done with the hope that it will not be regretted in years to come. In the future we can best see what course of action our country should have taken today, but then it is too late, for these actions have become matters of history.
"The purpose of this conference is to acquaint the students and friends of Columbia with the problems of our times so that any actions that they will take will be done after thought, rather than out of ignorance."