NEW YORK (Aug. 22)
Efforts were being made today by top leaders of the Democratic and Liberal Parties as well as by labor leaders, to induce Senator Herbert H. Lehman to reconsider his decision not to seek re-election to the U. S. Senate. They indicated that they will confer with Mr. Lehman with a view to urging him to change his mind.
In announcing yesterday that he intends to return to private life, Sen. Lehman emphasized that he reached this decision” with a very heavy heart.” His announcement came as a surprise although he has repeatedly hinted during recent months that he would not seek the Senate seat again.
Leading American newspapers today devoted editorials evaluating the 30-year record of Sen. Lehman’s public service, especially as Governor of New York State and as a member of the U. S. Senate. They also emphasized his activities as Director General of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration after World War II, and pointed out that, as chairman of the Joint Distribution Committee, he was responsible for raising $75,000,000 for Jewish relief purposes.
The New York Times said in its editorial: “Senator Lehman brought to public office the experience of a business man and the heart of a humanitarian. He was international in his horizons, has always resisted the narrowness of sectionalism. His philosophy has been consistently liberal. He has been a tireless worker, a penetrating student of legislation. His leadership in humanizing the immigration laws, in reducing the barriers of discrimination, in championing civil liberties, in promoting public housing and slum clearance has been unremitting and effective. It is not without reason that in these and other matters he has been called the conscience of the Senate.
The New York Post wrote: “Herbert Lehman’s retirement from the U. S. Senate would leave a lonely place against the sky.” Millions of New Yorkers have repeatedly demonstrated, by their votes, their respect and affection for him. To them, as to countless other Americans, he is a symbol of courage and conscience in public affairs. No one can doubt the sincerity of the statement he issued yesterday and the agony of private debate which preceded it. On reading his words one’s first impulse is to say we have no right to ask him to reconsider. No man ever had a deeper sense of duty and if he now feels impelled to withdraw, we surely have no moral claim on him; we are all his debtors. It would be equally intolerable, however, to accept his decision without striving to communicate to him our hope that he may yet be persuaded to make this final fight. Herbert Lehman’s virtues are many, and one of them is humility; he may underestimate the intensity and depth of popular feeling about his place in our political life.
In his announcement yesterday, Sen. Lehman said: “Public service has been my life for nearly thirty years. Despite the frustrations and disappointments attendant in every field of activity, I have found it a deeply rewarding experience. I have enjoyed my work and I hope that I have been able to make some contribution to my state and to the nation. I am grateful for the friendships I have made and for the opportunity of participating in measure in making important decisions affecting not only the welfare of my own state but of the entire free world. I have given to my work everything I have.
Sen. Lehman pledged in his statement to continue to fight for “equal justice and dignity for all, and for a world at peace.” He also emphasized that he expects to help bring about the election of Adlai Stevenson, Democratic candidate, as President of the United States.