Someone asked her what the president said when she told him she was coming to Australia. “I didn’t tell him,” she laughed. “He told me. We were going up in the elevator together at the White House one night and he said,” I think it would be nice if you went to the islands, Australia and New Zealand. “So j ‘said,’ When do I start? ‘ And he said, ‘I’ll let you know.’ “

Ms Roosevelt said she had never seen Mr Churchill more energetic or in a better mood than he was during the two days he spent in the White House before the Quebec conference.

“I’m sure he and the president feel the tide has turned,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some tough times ahead or that we can relax a bit.”

Here, a Red Cross officer broke in to tell him that Allied forces had landed in Italy.

“What kind of opposition do they encounter? Was Mrs. Roosevelt’s immediate question. “Hopefully it’s a bit like Kiska.”

When reminded that the next day would see the war enter its fifth year, she paid a warm tribute to the “remarkable steadfastness” of the people of Great Britain and the Dominions during these four years of war. It was this firmness that had impressed her most in British women. They all looked tired, but the thought still in their minds was, “We have to keep going. This spirit was also typical of Dominion women.

Women at peace table

Mrs. Roosevelt then underlined the essential role that women must play after the war in the work of reconstruction and in the active and determined “crusade” for peace, without which she is convinced that no real and lasting peace will ever be. carried out.

“Women have to decide exactly what they want and work for it,” she said. “In a democracy, it depends on each citizen what you get from a democratic way of life, and women must take their share of the responsibility in ensuring that all the sacrifices of war were not in vain. “

When asked if she thought there should be women at the peace table, Roosevelt left no doubt about her point of view. “Of course,” she said. I have always thought that women should take their place with men. It is necessary in everyday life, and it is also necessary in government. At the peace table, the perspective of women must be represented if we are to create the kind of world we want to achieve.

Although the granting of suffrage to women has done nothing spectacular in terms of reform, she is convinced that over the past two decades women have been largely responsible for the growing trend towards legislation dealing with the rights of women. human beings as human beings. Women must seize all opportunities and create others of increasing benevolence and better understanding among peoples. In America, sentiment today was in stark contrast to that prevailing in 1918. Now across the country there was much more willingness to accept that the United States must participate in a ” world plan ”.

Eleanor Roosevelt surrounded by sailors in Canberra.Credit:Fairfax Archives

While there had always been a strong sentiment in America against the Communist Party, there was today, she said, a great admiration for the Russians in their great struggle, and a sincere desire to work with them after the war.

An American reporter asked anxiously if there was still bark from rationing coffee at home. When Mrs. Roosevelt shook her head, he said, “Then the president doesn’t have to use the land twice,” and the president’s wife laughed and said she guessed that despite everything Mr. Roosevelt had sworn he felt much better when he had to drink milk instead of coffee, he would be back at the cafe now, She went on to relate that although she had never had a hard time with her housekeeping at home. White House because of rationing, she often had problems in their country house, Hyde Park.

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“It’s the cook’s fault, not the coupons.” she said. See, she’s been part of the family for years and she just doesn’t see why the President of the United States should be rationed. “

Ms Roosevelt added that after the war she hoped to return to Australia one day.


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