APRIL 23, 1940
WASHINGTON, Monday—I left Hyde Park this morning under skies still gray with a sprinkling of snow in the air. I worried all the way down in the train for fear that the planes would not fly, but I could have spared myself the trouble, because I arrived in Washington in ample time. A blue sky was just emerging, little patches showing here and there through the clouds, but I had not reckoned on the wind. It nearly blew me off my feet in the short walk from the plane to the car, and I marvelled that we had flown down with so few bumps. Here and there we had felt a little motion but the upper air often seems smoother than it is near the earth.
It was a great pleasure to have a number of New York City friends come to lunch today. Later I was able to drop in for a minute at a party which was being given for the benefit of the Committee on the Control of Cancer. This Committee is very active everywhere and has done a very remarkable piece of work in acquainting people with the fact that whenever anything seems to be wrong physically, it is best to consult a doctor. The National League of American Pen Women were received at 4:00 o'clock and at 5:00 o'clock a group of ladies from the Columbia University Alumnae Club. At 5:30 still another group came to tea, and this evening a group of Barnard students will come in from 8:30 till nine. I presume they will ask questions, for I think they come from the social science department and have probably been visiting various government agencies.
I think it is very valuable for these young people to visit Washington and to familiarize themselves with all the various activities of government. It will point the way to many activities in states and communities with which they should familiarize themselves and it may give them ideas on the kind of work they might like to do in civic positions or in private industry or the professions.
The news from abroad continues to be disheartening to the extreme. I think the situation which was found to exist in Norway has made many people in this country more suspicious of every kind of foreign influence. I am not surprised at this and in one way it is helpful, but I think we must be extremely careful, lest in our anxiety to protect ourselves, we do away with some of our precious liberties. The regularly constituted government agencies always have the check of the courts, before which they must bring any accused person and present proof of guilt. This necessity of proving any suspicions should never be relaxed for a minute, because if we once begin to neglect any of our carefully built-up protections, we are leaning toward the solution arrived at by dictatorships to protect the dictator and not the public. Here, in the United States, we are interested in protecting the public.