Upstairs at the Roosevelts: Growing Up with Franklin and Eleanor

By Curtis Roosevelt | Go to book overview

13
To Europe with My Grandmother

I had known for many years that my grandmother was a political pro. I observed this savvy in the White House and later with visitors in her New York City apartment on Washington Square. But it was at the United Nations in Paris in 1948 that I realized just how seasoned a professional she was. I listened while she discussed tactics with her advisers, and also with other UN delegates with whom she worked closely.

Because of her reputation in America as first lady and as “Mrs. Roosevelt”—a reputation that had crossed the Atlantic, being equally well known in Europe—she had an influence in UN circles no other American delegate had. As could be expected, this brought out annoyance among a few of the other U.S. delegates. But when it came to a tough assignment, particularly the need to confront the Soviet Union, it was to Eleanor Roosevelt they turned.

I was very proud of her having been chosen to answer Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko in the General Assembly’s debate on the contentious issue of the rights of refugees. None of the more senior American delegates wanted to take him on. Eleanor’s straightforward speech—no mincing of words—was not the usual “diplomatic” approach. The delegates were delighted, full of praise for her. Even fellow delegate John Foster Dulles, a most prominent Republican,

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