AUGUST 20, 1956
THE HAGUE, Netherlands—I was very much relieved when President Truman seemed to regain some of his desire to unite the Democratic party and came out on Wednesday evening at the Chicago convention for the platform plank on civil rights as presented by the Platform Committee. It must have been rather a shock to his protege, Governor Averell Harriman.
Apparently the old politician was realizing the realities of the situation and accepting them a little too late but, nevertheless, with wisdom in the end.
I have not quite recovered yet from the fact that he was the one to say so many things which the Republicans can quote against the Democratic candidate in the coming campaign, always stressing the fact, of course, that they were said by a Democrat.
Of course, Adlai Stevenson will not make a campaign such as Mr. Truman would make. They are two different kinds of men. That, however, need not mean that it will be a less fighting campaign, or less effective.
What the country needs is to have certain facts explained to them calmly and quietly, and I believe Stevenson can do that extremely well.
As I drove to the station in New York on Thursday morning, my taxi driver said, "Mrs. Roosevelt, I don't think the Democrats, though I am a Democrat, can win against the Republicans this year. We taxi drivers are making good money. What concerns most people in the country first is how they make a living."
I told him I quite understood, that taxi men in the big cities were making good money, and employment in the big corporations, except perhaps the auto industry, was still at a peak and wages were good. But, I said, in certain areas a great many men have been laid off and I wondered if he had noticed in his own neighborhood whether small businesses were doing well.
He thought for a minute, and then answered, "Come to think of it, there are a lot of little stores that are closed and have 'For Rent' signs on them."
I said that is also what happened to small farms. The big corporate farm is doing well; the family farm is going out of existence. About 60 or 70 percent of the business of the country, agricultural and industrial, is small business. When that begins to go badly, it does not reflect itself quickly in loss of employment. But in the long run you get a more serious slump, and that is what is creeping up on us.
It will probably be prevented until after election day, but I would not be surprised to see a real break in our economy immediately and it will not have been brought on by the Democrats, but by Republican policies.
These things have to be explained simply and clearly and I think Adlai Stevenson can do it. I think he can bring the men around him to think through these problems and start on new solutions. Tomorrow, I will tell you about one effort that has been made, in which I think you will be interested.
Friday afternoon I left New York's Idlewild Airport headed for Paris, and then immediately to Amsterdam where I found my two grandsons, who had arrived a few hours before by steamer. In Paris I was met by my secretary, Miss Maureen Corr, who has been spending her holiday with her mother in Ireland.