Typed Letter Signed; WITH: Life Was Meant to Be Lived. ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, JOSEPH P. LASH.
Typed Letter Signed; WITH: Life Was Meant to Be Lived

Typed Letter Signed; WITH: Life Was Meant to Be Lived

“I am not at all interested in holding the office of President...”


The letter, typed on Roosevelt’s Val-Kill Cottage stationery, is affixed to the verso of the half-title of the first edition of Joseph P. Lash’s beautiful tribute to Eleanor Roosevelt Life Was Meant to be Lived and reads in full:

April 26, 1955

Dear Mr. Wiseman,

Thank you very much for your letter. While I have a great deal of respect and admiration for Senator Humphrey, my first preference is for Mr. Stevenson.

I am not at all interested in holding the office of President but much appreciate your kind words.

Very sincerely yours,

[signed] Eleanor Roosevelt

“When [Roosevelt] left the White House on April 19, 1945, several political leaders, administration officials, and labor leaders urged her either to run for office or manage political organizations... Close friends and the media reinforced this expectation of a political career...

“ER had her own expectations about the future, but she was undecided about what actions she should take to achieve them. Fearing that her public life had died along with FDR, ER struggled to set her own course. In On My Own, she wrote she was sure of only three things when she returned to Hyde Park: she wanted to continue her columns, simplify her lifestyle, and ‘not feel old... [or] useless.’ She knew her keen interest in the world around her, her eagerness to confront ‘every challenge and opportunity to learn more,’ and her ‘great energy and self-discipline’ were tremendous assets.”

Because of her enormous popularity, she had to periodically address her refusal to run for higher office. In an article for Look, titled “Why I Do Not Choose To Run” she clearly explains her reasons: "The simple truth is that I have had my fill of public life of the more or less stereotyped kind." While she believed "that every citizen, as long as he is alive and able to work, has an obligation to work on public questions and . . . should choose the kind of work he is best fitted to do," she felt she would be happier outside the elected office. (Quotes from The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project).

In this letter, in addition to once again refusing to run for the presidency, Roosevelt endorses Adlai Stevenson as the Democratic nominee over Hubert Humphrey to face the incumbent Dwight Eisenhower in the 1956 presidential election. (Stevenson would secure the nomination over Humphrey but would lose to Eisenhower in the general election.)

The letter is tipped into a first edition of Joseph P. Lash’s Life Was Meant to Be Lived, an extensively illustrated “Centenary Portrait” of Roosevelt. 

Letter: Hyde Park, NY: April 26, 1955. On one page (approx. 6x7 inches) of Roosevelt’s Val-Kill stationery; fine condition. Life Was Meant to Be Lived: New York: Norton, 1984. Quarto, original cloth, original dust jacket. A near-fine copy.

Price: $1,250 .

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