Roosevelt and Hopkins, an Intimate History

By Robert E. Sherwood | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVIII
Aid for Russia

As a measure for coping with the serious Catholic opposition to aid for the Soviet Union, Roosevelt decided to send Myron C. Taylor, his special Ambassador to Pope Pius XII, on another mission to Rome. Even this move raised difficult religious issues for there were many Protestants, including some important church leaders, who were deeply alarmed by any signs of collusion between the White House and the Vatican, as they had proved when Alfred E. Smith was a candidate for the Presidency in 1928. But Taylor was an ideal choice for this delicate mission. He was an eminent Protestant. He was also a former chairman of the board and continuing director of the U. S. Steel Corporation, and director of the American Telephone & Telegraph Company, the First National Bank of New York, the New York Central Railroad, etc.,—so that he could hardly be accused of subservience to Stalin.

In the handling of the supremely delicate problem presented by the antipathy of the Church toward Communism, Roosevelt received invaluable aid from such eminent Catholic laymen as Associate Justice Frank Murphy of the Supreme Court, Postmaster General Frank Walker and Philip Murray, who had succeeded John L. Lewis as president of the C.I.O. There were some impatient people who thought that the President exaggerated the strength of Catholic sentiment, but it was his way to tread with extreme wariness wherever religious sensibilities were involved; he knew a lot more than his advisers did about these sensibilities.

The preparations for the departure of the Harriman Mission to Moscow were immensely complicated, involving exhaustive negotiations and some heated arguments with the Army and Navy, the production and shipping authorities, and British representatives in Washington, over the long lists of items which might be pledged to the Soviet Union.

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