AUGUST 4, 1959
HYDE PARK—I have just heard from the American Heritage Publishing Company that it has agreed to serve as editorial consultant for a major new television series. Called "Our American Heritage," the series will be made up of six separate programs, each to be built around a major figure in United States history. The shows will be presented on Sunday evenings through the winter and early spring.
The idea behind these programs is not to tell again the well-known facts about certain figures prominent in American history, but to try to inform us a little better than ever before about the character of these men who helped to build our country. Much study will go into the writing of these shows to indicate how the times and circumstances of a given period molded the man and how the man, in turn, influenced the times.
The first program will be devoted to Thomas Jefferson, and the period of his life to be covered will begin just after he retired as Secretary of State.
I know that many of us who are students of American history will look forward to viewing these programs.
Another idea, which has considerable appeal to me, has recently been put forth and, if carried out, I'm sure it will succeed in creating a new picture of America in many parts of the world.
The primary idea is to emphasize our leadership in the cause of peace, and the suggestion for going about it is both novel and practical.
This would entail taking six of our ships that are now in "moth balls" and putting them in condition to sail. These would include a hospital ship and a small carrier, and their mission would be to tour the world to cope with disasters and meet any special needs in the underdeveloped areas of the world. Planes from the carrier would be available to fly far inland if necessary.
Such a fleet would be called "The New Great White Fleet." President Theodore Roosevelt, in 1907, sent the original great white fleet around the world to demonstrate our military strength. But this new fleet would travel only on missions of mercy and peace.
It is estimated that the cost of commissioning and operating for 18 months would be about 30 million dollars, and I understand that bipartisan enabling legislation will be introduced in both houses of Congress on this program. I am sure that raising this money will not be easy, and I doubt that Congress would be willing to appropriate out of government funds. But this idea has such great value as a demonstration of what we are really interested in and what our country could do to improve the living standards of peoples throughout the world that perhaps some of the money that now goes into armaments could go into this peace mission.
On Thursday of last week I went over to West Shokan, here in New York State, to see Mary Margaret McBride's country home and I had a most pleasant time. The house is built of redwood on top of a hill that looks at higher hills all around it. The ceiling of the living room goes to a peak high above the rest of the house and is supported by two huge beams that must be at least 200 years old. All along the corridors and in several rooms there are book cases—so many books that one wonders how they could ever have been accumulated.
Mary Margaret took us to a wonderful little restaurant for lunch, called Watson Hollow Inn, which I would be glad to recommend to anyone, but you must telephone ahead to let them know you're coming.