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|Title||Anna Louise Strong letter to Eleanor Roosevelt offering advice regarding the President's 1940 re-election campaign, August 14, 1939|
|Author||Strong, Anna Louise (1885-1970)|
In this letter to Eleanor Roosevelt, Anna Louise Strong shares a number of ideas that had resulted from her "stimulating visit" with the First Lady. She is heartened by the President's recent public statements, which she feels add renewed energy to his re-election campaign. And Strong's impression from her travels is that "two-thirds of the people are behind the President, at least to the extent of wanting him rather than any one else they know." Her chief concern is that the Democratic Party's internal divisions will prevent them from responding effectively to a unified Republican party .
To respond to this crisis, Strong advocates a series of steps. She suggests to Roosevelt that she and the President ought to actively campaign for the third term -- that winning support will either allow him to win a third term or name his successor at the Democratic Convention, which are the only ways to avoid "catastrophe". Strong adds, though, that "nothing else will satisfy the people" other than the President running for re-election. She hopes that the President will continue to dissociate himself from radicals "in a friendly way" while identifying the majority of the country (himself included) in the liberal camp. Strong believes that, to beat the "reactionary" group backing John Nance Garner, the President must champion "the American tradition -- life, liberty, pursuit of happiness for all classes -- against a brutal reaction which threatens starvation and civil war to the people for the sake of their own dictatorship of industry." She believes this will be assisted if those on the left criticized the New Deal for not going far enough, attacking corruption and demanding that the government move faster and do more, while simultaneously remaining prepared to vote in support of the President. Strong suggests "people like Schwellenbach, Guyer, [and] organizations like the Washington Commonwealth Foundation" would be able to form such an organization. She suggests to Roosevelt that they should be pressured by the fact that their full-throated public support of the President at present only forces him to either accept the identity of "leader-on-the-left" or to move "further right" to remain in a "middle-of-the-road" position. Strong states that "the President is exactly where he ought to be for the bulk of the American people in this year of our Lord 1940. He certainly does not go as far as I would like to, and possibly not quite as far as you would like. But he goes as far as the American people would stand for."
Strong identifies another key problem in the fact that support for President Roosevelt is much higher than for the New Deal. "People trust Roosevelt as a human being, but they don't quite know what this damn New Deal is. Its friends never explained it fully; its foes mis-explain it, and corrupt it." She lists a number of incidents from across the Midwest to argue that "everybody makes capital on the New Deal except the New Dealers". Strong tells Roosevelt that a major publicity campaign is needed that will be national in scale but very specific in showing, on a county-by-county level, how people's communities have been affected by the New Deal. She emphasizes that the New Deal is not just about living conditions but about liberty, and uses the catchphrase, "The New Deal isn't a hand-out; it's a fighting chance." Strong herself claims not to know "what the New Deal is", and insists that "it must be defined and given a philosophy. The time is now, on the President's trip west." She believes that an economic crisis is coming, and that the President needs to identify what the "next steps of the New Deal" will be in response -- she advocates against simply expanding the WPA, and rejects Roosevelt's idea of public ownership of utilities, in favor of "increasing jobs ona wholesale scale". Strong thinks that "large-scale capital investment" by the government will be vitally important, targeting its loans "to any productive business which government decides is in line with public need". Alternatively, she suggests "a government guarantee of a minimum 2 1/2 percent profit on large scale things like really cheap housing, and other things that people need." Strong believes that there are other ways to do this also, but that the main thing is "to get jobs to people, through existing channels, by government guarantee.... which gives no excuse for the plea of 'lack of confidence'." She trusts that, if the President takes his plan to the people, Congress will be forced to pass it, and the path to re-election will be clear.
Anna Louise Strong (1885-1970) was an American journalist and political activist throughout her life. After spending much of the 1910s working as a progressive advocate for child welfare, she became involved in the labor movement in Seattle, and through that movement increasingly identified herself with international communism. This advocacy, along with her work for the Seattle Union Record, connected her to the events surrounding the Seattle General Strike in 1919. Strong later left Seattle, and spent much of the 1920s and 1930s living in the Soviet Union, meeting with men such as Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin, and writing books about her experiences for Western audiences in an attempt to build support for the USSR. During World War II, she continued to promote the cause of communism, although her support for the Chinese communist movement ultimately alienated her from the government in Moscow, limiting her to one visit to the Soviet Union in the final two decades of her life. She spent most of those years living in the People's Republic of China, befriending Zhou Enlai and Mao Zedong, and continuing to publish books and articles in support of communism until the end of her life.
Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) was First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945 as the wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt (as well as being the niece of an earlier American president, Theodore Roosevelt). In the 1930s, she had become a prominent advocate for the New Deal and the African-American civil rights movement. During World War II, she became an advocate for the United Nations, and later served as the United States' delegate to the U.N., chairing the commission that composed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Strong, Anna Louise, 1885-1970--Correspondence
Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962--Correspondence
New Deal, 1933-1939
Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945
United States. Works Progress Administration
|Geographic Coverage||United States|
|Digital Collection||Pamphlet and Textual Documents Collection|
|Digital ID Number||PAM0390|
|Ordering Information||To order a reproduction or inquire about permissions contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please cite the Order Number.|
|Repository||University of Washington Libraries. Special Collections Division|
|Repository Collection||Anna Louise Strong papers. Accession No. 1309-001. Box 4/17|
|Physical Description||3 leaves; 28 x 20 cm.|
|Digital Reproduction Information||Scanned from original text or image at 150 dpi saved in TIFF format, resized and enhanced using Adobe Photoshop, and imported as JPEG2000 using Contentdm software's JPEG2000 Extension. 2010.|