The Director of the Office of Public Affairs ( Russell ) to the Under Secretary of State ( Acheson )


Mr. Acheson: In my talk with Mrs. Roosevelt1 there was a rather wide coverage of the problem of U.S.-U.S.S.R. relations, but two principal points emerged:

(1) Mrs. Roosevelt feels very strongly that Secretary Marshall or President Truman should meet with Marshal Stalin to effect an overall solution of the problems between the two countries. I told Mrs. Roosevelt that such an effort had been made at Yalta but that it had not turned out to be very successful and that we had been retreating ever since. I said that it was our feeling that before a further thoroughgoing exploration with the Russians would be fruitful it was necessary to indicate very clearly that we did not intend to retreat any further. I said that the present program in Greece was an important part of our effort to indicate to the Russians that we had stopped retreating. I said that I had no direct knowledge from either you or General Marshall that an effort would be made to sit down with Stalin and work out our problems, but that I was nevertheless convinced that that was the intention. I said that we believed that the Russians think and act only in terms of strict realism and that we are trying to deal with them on those terms. Mrs. Roosevelt said that if this was the explanation of the Greek program she agreed with it and was willing to leave it up to Secretary Marshall’s judgment as to when the over-all approach should be made to Stalin.

Mrs. Roosevelt felt at the beginning of our discussion that the President should have stated more explicitly in his March 12 speech2 exactly what the situation was. I assured her that that question had been gone into very thoroughly in the State Department and that it was our feeling that, having the purposes which I had mentioned in mind, it was not wise to go any further than the President did in analyzing the situation; and that the “two ways of life” formula pitched our action on a basis that was both realistic and defensible [Page 548] from the point of view of an over-all peace objective. Although Mrs. Roosevelt did not specifically concur in this statement, it was my impression that she was inclined to agree with it after I had stated it.

(2) Mrs. Roosevelt took very definite exception to the Executive Order dealing with the elimination of Communists and fellow travelers from the Government. She said, after we had been talking some time, that she went along with the Greek policy but that the Executive Order and other similar actions by the Administration undercut our position abroad and weakened our reputation as a true and strong democracy. She said that she thought it was the responsibility of the State Department to demonstrate to the President that our domestic policies must fortify our efforts to sell democracy abroad. I told Mrs. Roosevelt that that was a rather large order for the State Department and that we were kept fairly busy keeping up with the problems of straight foreign policy. I said that I thought that she and other prominent citizens and the groups to which they belonged could play a very important role in that respect. Mrs. Roosevelt urged me, however, to impress upon the Department the point which she had just made.

I spent about an hour and a quarter with Mrs. Roosevelt. She was very cordial throughout and I left with the definite impression that she not only would not take any action to embarrass the Administration in its Greek policy, but on the contrary endorsed it, provided it is regarded as constituting a step toward an effort at thoroughgoing discussions with the Russians as soon as the Secretary may feel that an opportune moment has arrived.

As far as I know the only person in addition to Mrs. Roosevelt, you and myself who know of my visit are Richard Winslow,3 the Secretary-General of our delegation in New York who was present when the calls came in to me from you and from Mrs. Roosevelt, and who had already heard of Mrs. Roosevelt’s call of the previous day to you; my secretary; and two or three people on your staff.

F[rancis] H. R[ussell]
  1. Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, widow of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
  2. For the text of the message delivered before a joint session of the Congress on Greece and Turkey (the Truman Doctrine), see Department of State Bulletin, March 23, 1947, pp. 534–537. Documentation on United States economic and military aid to Greece and Turkey is presented in volume v .
  3. Secretary-General of the United States Mission to the United Nations.