Correspondence with Arthur Schlesinger
Union Theological Seminary
Broadway at 120th Street
New York 27, New York
April 15, 1954
Thank you for your letter. I have had an enthusiastic letter from my Mother and sister telling me how much Mother enjoyed her visit with you. Of course I greatly appreciated what you and Jim Loeb did for her.
What is more important to me now is that Ursula showed me your wonderful essay last night. I'm not surprised, but nevertheless amazed that you should have taken time to go through all of my inconsequential writings to get your material. Outside of the fact that you are too generous toward me, the essay is superb. I find the record of my travels, however embarrassing, and if you had not given chapter and verse I would not have believed that it took me so long to draw the conclusions from my presuppositions. I have only one correction. I entered the Socialist Party in 1928 and left it in either '36 or '37. Ursula is checking up on that and will write you. Roughly speaking, I was a Socialist for a decade rather than 15 years. Jim and I founded the U.D.A. in 1940 and I left the party quite a few years before that. I cannot understand why I rejected the main features of Socialism and still hung on to Marxist catastrophism.
My negative attitude toward Roosevelt is really a scandal considering that he elaborated a pragmatic approach which I should have appreciated long before I did. You are right, however, that my appreciation of Roosevelt was prompted by his foreign policy and I did not appreciate the significance of the domestic policy for a long time. In fact, this development is so tardy that it gives me a good indication of the ephemeral character of one's convictions, at least of my convictions, and of my unreliability.
/a/ Reinhold Niebuhr
Professor Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
Reinhold Niebuhr Papers: Library of Congress, Manuscript Reading Room