Eleanor Roosevelt to Lyndon B. Johnson, August 17, 1957

Dear Senator Johnson:

    I am sorry that you are disappointed in my support but you must realize that I understand very well your extremely clever strategy on the Civil Rights Bill. You may not have been "trying to fool the people" but you chose the one point on which good people might have some qualms and you built on that and that is why you have a goodly company of people with you. The end result, however, is that the Bill with this amendment will do very little since the "qualified voter" still has to qualify according to the laws of the states and none of you have touched on that particular point at any time. I have said that it is better to accept this bill than to have nothing, and even the NAACP agrees on that, but it would be fooling the people to have them think that this was a real vital step towards giving all our people the right to vote or any other civil rights.

    I doubt if the Republicans every really intended to do anything along this line but I can't say that I really believe the Democrats have intended to do much either, particularly those of you who come from Southern states or borderline states as Texas is.

    I admire your ability as a leader. You have certainly done a remarkable piece of work and I know how persuasive you are, but it is easier to look at actual results when you sit at a distance and are not really affected by what happens one way or another, and that is what I have been doing. I hope you pass the Bill and I shall say that it is better because it will at least show the world that we have moved a little but it will be a very little towards that fundamental right of every citizen—the right to vote.

    Now may I add that I have pointed out in a column which will come out on Tuesday that I fully expect that as Senate Leader you will cooperate with Senator Knowland and put back many of the foreign aid cuts, if not all. If the House Bill were approved there would be real harm done to the UN programs and foreign aid all the way down the line would suffer. I have said in this column that you and Senator Mansfield are too statesmanlike to allow this to happen though it is a perfectly natural desire to want to show up the Republicans in their leadership. You would not allow this desire to influence you in your decision as to the real good of the country.

    I hope I am correct in believing this and I am sorry to have caused your disappointment for, like everyone else, I find you a delightful and persuasive person and I have great admiration for your ability, but on the Civil Rights issue I am afraid I must hold to my own opinion.

Very Cordially yours,