Preface: For those of you who still don’t know about the Battle of Athens (TN), it involved WW II veterans (both Republicans and Democrats) taking up arms (and dynamite) to literally blow some corrupt election thieves out of their town and out of their politics. Here is an excellent link:
Here is what Eleanor Roosevelt had to say about the Battle of Athens (TN). Her nationally syndicated column on the Battle was reprinted in its entirety in the Athens, TN paper, as follows:
SOURCE: /The Daily Post-Athenian/, Athens, Tenn., August 7, 1946
Mrs. Roosevelt Grasps Local Facts Better Than Most
Editor’s Note — Our attention has been called to Mrs. Roosevelt’s column
upon McMinn. She seems to have grasped the facts and significance better
than any other outside writer:
McMinn A Warning — By Eleanor Roosevelt
New York, Monday — After any war, the use of force throughout the world
is almost taken for granted. Men involved in the war have been trained
to use force, and they have discovered that, when you want something,
you can take it. The return to peacetime methods governed by law and
persuasion is usually difficult.
We in the U.S.A., who have long boasted that, in our political life,
freedom in the use of the secret ballot made it possible for us to
register the will of the people without the use of force, have had a
rude awakening as we read of conditions in McMinn County, Tennessee,
which brought about the use of force in the recent primary. If a
political machine does not allow the people free expression, then
freedom-loving people lose their faith in the machinery under which
their government functions.
In this particular case, a group of young veterans organized to oust the
local machine and elect their own slate in the primary. We may deplore
the use of force but we must also recognize the lesson which this
incident points for us all. When the majority of the people know what
they want, they will obtain it.
Any local, state or national government, or any political machine, in
order to live, must give the people assurance that they can express
their will freely and that their votes will be counted. The most
powerful machine cannot exist without the support of the people.
Political bosses and political machinery can be good, but the minute
they cease to express the will of the people, their days are numbered.
This is a lesson which wise political leaders learn young, and you can
be pretty sure that, when a boss stays in power, he gives the majority
of the people what they think they want. If he is bad and indulges in
practices which are dishonest, or if he acts for his own interests
alone, the people are unwilling to condone these practices.
When the people decide that conditions in their town, county, state or
country must change, they will change them. If the leadership has been
wise, they will be able to do it peacefully through a secret ballot
which is honestly counted, but if the leader has become inflated and too
sure of his own importance, he may bring about the kind of action which
was taken in Tennessee.
If we want to continue to be a mature people who, at home and abroad,
settle our difficulties peacefully and not through the use of force,
then we will take to heart this lesson and we will jealously guard our
rights. What goes on before an election, the threats or persuasion by
political leaders, may be bad but it cannot prevent the people from
really registering their will if they wish to.
The decisive action which has just occurred in our midst is a warning,
and one which we cannot afford to overlook.