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Letter to Governor Roosevelt from Miss Keller (February 10, 1931)

Transcription of Letter

93 Seminole Avenue, Forest Hills, L.I., N.Y.,

February 10, 1931

Dear Governor Roosevelt,

If I were asked to define the characteristics of a great governor, I would reply, the will to put himself in the place of others; the desire to help others out of positions from which he himself would recoil; and the wisdom to recognize constructive effort that is worthy of encouragement. Because I believe you have these characteristics in an unusual degree, I dare to approach you with a request which I trust will not seem out of key with the high projects that occupy your thoughts. My request concerns six million people who must live out their days under the covert (sic) of blindness and the thousand denials and restraints it entails.

The American Foundation for the Blind has made arrangements to hold a congress of workers for the sightless here in New York City next April. The opening is to take place on the evening of April the 13th at International House, Columbia University. Thirty-two nations are to send from one to six delegates each to the conference. It promises to be the most progressive gathering ever assembled in the history of the blind. Certainly there will be more nations represented than in any previous convention of the kind.

Naturally the American blind and their friends wish to do everything possible to make the visit of the delegates pleasant and memorable.

There is a unanimous wish on the part of everybody connected with the arrangements for the meetings that you should preside at the opening of the conference. This is the favor that I am blushingly asking of you, knowing as I so well do the innumerable demands that are daily made upon your strength and time. The only thing which gives me courage to ask it is the knowledge I have of your ever ready sympathy for the unfortunate. Personally, I shall be deeply grateful if you answer this letter favorably, even while thinking of what Epaminondas said of the old man who died just before the great battle, "How came he to have so much leisure as to die when there was so much doing?"

Thanking you for your delightful letter, which made me very happy, I am, with sincere regards,

Cordially yours,

Helen Keller

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