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On December 4, 2013, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library launched FRANKLIN. What is FRANKLIN you ask?
FRANKLIN is a virtual research room and digital repository that provides free and open access to the digitized collections of the Roosevelt Library – to everyone, anywhere in the world. Whether you are a lover of history, a student working on a school project, or an experienced scholar and author, FRANKLIN opens a door to some of the most significant and in-demand historical materials our Library has to offer. Now you can search by keyword, browse through photograph galleries and document lists, and for the first time open whole folders of archival documents online – a level of discovery that till now was only possible in-person.
Many of the most important documents of the twentieth century are now available for you to view on FRANKLIN – from your living room, classroom, office or dorm room. With this initial launch, FRANKLIN makes 350,000 documents and 2,000 public domain photographs available to you now. And we will be adding even more digitized content in the months and years to come.
FRANKLIN is the result of a special cooperative effort — a unique combination of public, nonprofit, and corporate support. The Roosevelt Library and its parent agency, the National Archives, worked with nonprofit partner the Roosevelt Institute to digitize a large amount of microfilmed archival documents. The Library’s digital partner and web host, Marist College, then developed and implemented FRANKLIN’s underlying database infrastructure based on the Archon platform. Marist runs the system using powerful servers manufactured by Marist and Roosevelt Library corporate partner, IBM.
So go to the Roosevelt Library’s website www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu to start exploring FRANKLIN today!
The ties between the Roosevelt and Kennedy families go back to World War I when Franklin D. Roosevelt was Assistant Secretary of the Navy. In November 1917, Joseph P. Kennedy was the Assistant General Manager of the Fore River Shipbuilding Corporation in Quincy, Massachusetts, when a labor strike threatened the company’s contribution to the Navy’s shipbuilding program. Assistant Secretary Roosevelt appealed to Fore River’s management and to the striking workers “to sink all minor differences and to get together for the sake of the success of our country in this war at once.” The strike ended a few days later.
As New York Governor Franklin Roosevelt prepared to seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for president at the convention in Chicago in July 1932, Joseph P. Kennedy—now working in Hollywood and New York—lent his support to FDR, both financially and politically. Kennedy was one of those who were known as “WRBC”, or With Roosevelt Before Chicago. He donated to the campaign, met with Governor Roosevelt and his Brains Trust in Albany, and helped convince supporters of John Nance Garner to throw their delegates to Roosevelt at the convention. Kennedy continued to advise Roosevelt after he won the nomination, and in August Kennedy wrote to FDR: “As I told you over the phone unless they [the Republicans] can put two and one half million men back to work and get wheat up to twenty or twenty five cents a bushel the result will be overwhelming for Roosevelt.” Roosevelt even invited Kennedy along on the campaign train that fall.
As the New Deal began to take shape, one of FDR’s early reforms was the creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC was designed to protect investors from fraudulent and unethical practices in the stock market. FDR began to assemble his choices for the five-person Commission, and Joseph Kennedy was selected to be the first chairman. As a June 15, 1934 memorandum indicates, FDR’s choice of Kennedy as chairman reflected the man’s “executive ability, knowledge of habits and customs of business to be regulated and ability to moderate different points of view…” Kennedy received a five year appointment, and although he resigned in September 1935 to return to private business, he received high praise for effectively working with both Washington and Wall Street to implement the new regulations.
Kennedy again supported FDR’s nomination for the presidency in 1936, and in 1937 returned to public service to become the first chairman of the newly created Maritime Commission that had been established to revitalize the United States shipping industry. Then, in March 1938, Kennedy received the appointment he most wanted in Roosevelt’s government: Ambassador to the Court of St. James – the first Irish Catholic American to hold this prestigious diplomatic post. As the new U.S. Ambassador in London, Kennedy had a front row seat to the worsening international crisis in Europe. When war finally came in September 1939, Kennedy’s public support for American neutrality conflicted with Roosevelt’s increasing efforts to provide aid to Britain. Roosevelt and Kennedy met in October 1940 to try to iron out their differences, but it was clear the split could not be repaired. Kennedy resigned after FDR’s election to a Third Term in November.
Despite their later policy differences, the ties between FDR and Joseph Kennedy extended to the next generation of Kennedys. In 1935, FDR learned that young Bobby Kennedy was a stamp collector and sent the boy some of stamps for his collection. In 1940, recent Harvard graduate John F. Kennedy sent an inscribed first edition of his recently published book, Why England Slept, to FDR for his book collection. As was his custom, FDR signed the flyleaf underneath Jack Kennedy’s signature. And in 1944, FDR was shocked to learn of the death of Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., while on a combat bombing mission, and the President wrote a heartfelt condolence letter to the elder Joe Kennedy.
FDR’s own death in April 1945 brought an end to Joseph Kennedy’s years of collaboration with Franklin Roosevelt. But post-war America saw the rise of a new Kennedy to prominence, John F. Kennedy. As a leading figure in the Democratic Party, Eleanor Roosevelt saw JFK grow from a Congressman, to a United States Senator, then a potential nominee for vice president in 1956, and finally the Democratic Party’s nominee for president in 1960.
A longtime supporter of the liberal Adlai Stevenson’s runs for the presidency, Eleanor Roosevelt had concerns about JFK’s commitment to some of the liberal causes that she held dear. During the 1950s, ER challenged John Kennedy to be more vocal in his opposition to McCarthyism. And in 1960, Mrs. Roosevelt feared that JFK’s caution on civil rights issues was an attempt to garner votes in the more conservative southern states that might backfire and cost him votes in the more liberal north.
On August 14, 1960, Kennedy came to Hyde Park to pay his respects to Mrs. Roosevelt and to gain her full support for his candidacy. After visiting the Roosevelt Library and the FDR Home to deliver a speech commemorating the 25th anniversary of Social Security, JFK had tea with Mrs. Roosevelt at her Val-Kill home where they talked over the issues and his campaign. Following the meeting, Eleanor Roosevelt threw her full support behind the Kennedy-Johnson ticket.
During the campaign, Mrs. Roosevelt never hesitated to give her advice to the young candidate, including commenting on the first televised presidential debates. After his election, President Kennedy appointed ER to be the chairperson of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women. Mrs. Roosevelt’s death on November 7, 1962 brought President and Mrs. Kennedy, as well as former presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower and Vice President Lyndon Johnson to Hyde Park to attend the funeral and witness her burial in the Rose Garden next to Franklin D. Roosevelt on November 10, 1962. A little over a year later, JFK himself would be gone, bringing the curtain down on the collaboration of the Roosevelts and Kennedys that spanned more than a half a century.
Today, one hundred-fifty years later, we pause to remember one of the greatest speeches ever made by a US President: Abraham Lincoln’s poetically beautiful Gettysburg Address, given November 19, 1863, upon the dedication of the National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
On July 3, 1938, speaking on the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, President Franklin D. Roosevelt reflected on Lincoln and his words:
“Immortal deeds and immortal words have created here at Gettysburg a shrine of American patriotism. We are encompassed by ‘The last full measure of devotion’ of many men and by the words in which Abraham Lincoln expressed the simple faith for which they died.
“It seldom helps to wonder how a statesman of one generation would surmount the crisis of another. A statesman deals with concrete difficulties—with things which must be done from day to day. Not often can he frame conscious patterns for the far off future.
“But the fullness of the stature of Lincoln’s nature and the fundamental conflict which events forced upon his Presidency invite us ever to turn to him for help.
“For the issue which he restated here at Gettysburg seventy five years ago will be the continuing issue before this Nation so long as we cling to the purposes for which the Nation was founded—to preserve under the changing conditions of each generation a people’s government for the people’s good.”
FDR found that Lincoln’s words were timeless. Roosevelt drew strength and insight from the promise of Lincoln’s words while leading the country in the defining battles of his own time.
80th Anniversary – Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1933 Presidential Inauguration
Eighty years ago, on March 4, 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated as President of the United States for the first time. As he approached the rostrum to take the oath of office at the Capitol, he braced himself on his son James’s arm. Breaking precedent, he recited the entire oath, instead of simply repeating “I do.” Then, as the crowd grew quiet, he opened his inaugural address.
The new President was addressing a nation that was struggling amidst the greatest economic depression in its history. Roosevelt offered his fellow Americans reassurance: “This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive, and will prosper.” Then, in bold words that reverberate in public memory, he proclaimed, “. . . the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
This now-famous line got little reaction. The greatest applause came when Roosevelt declared that if Congress didn’t act, he would ask for “broad Executive power to wage a war against the emergency. . . .” Americans were ready to grant FDR sweeping power. As he proclaimed, “This nation asks for action, and action now.”
Roosevelt took all four of his presidential oaths of office on this leather bound, Dutch language Bible. The Bible was made in 1686 and contains Roosevelt family records from the early 18th century.
The slideshow below shows images of President Roosevelt taken on March 4, 1933.
The Birthday Balls and the Fight Against Infantile Paralysis
FDR contracted polio in 1921 at the age of 39, and was paralyzed from the waist down. For the rest of his life, FDR was committed to finding a way to rehabilitate himself as well as others afflicted with infantile paralysis.
In 1924, FDR visited a rundown spa in Warm Springs, Georgia where it was said that the buoyant mineral waters had therapeutic powers. After six weeks, he was convinced that he had made more progress in his rehabilitation than at any time in the previous three years. He built a home for himself at Warm Springs.
In 1926 when the spa faced hardship, he purchased the facility for $200,000, creating a therapeutic center called the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation. It opened its doors to patients from all over the country, providing medical treatment and an opportunity to spend time with others suffering the effects of polio.
FDR returned to politics, serving as Governor of New York from 1929-1932, and elected President in 1933. Even with the burdens of office, he regularly visited Warm Springs for treatment and rest, becoming known to the patients as “Dr. Roosevelt.” But the growing demands on the facility, and the increasing number of patients being treated there, required more money than FDR alone or a small number of contributors could provide.
At the suggestion of a public relations consultant, business magnate and FDR political ally Henry L. Doherty launched the National Committee for Birthday Balls that sponsored a dance in every town across the nation, both to celebrate the President’s birthday but also to raise money for the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation.
The first Birthday Ball was held in 1934, with 4,376 communities joining in 600 separate celebrations that raised over one million dollars for Warm Springs. Future Birthday Balls continued to raise about a million dollars per year, with contributions split between Warm Springs and the local communities where the balls were held.
In 1938, FDR created the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, not only to help Warm Springs but also the victims of polio throughout the country. To increase awareness of the campaign, radio personality and philanthropist Eddie Cantor took to the air waves and urged Americans to send their loose change to President Roosevelt in “a march of dimes to reach all the way to the White House.”
Soon, millions of dimes flooded the White House. In 1945, the annual March of Dimes campaign raised 18.9 million dollars for the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. Ultimately, the March of Dimes (as the National Foundation became known) financially supported the research and development of a polio vaccine by Jonas Salk in 1955, eradicating the disease throughout most of the world by the 1960s.
Franklin Roosevelt’s dedication to finding a cure for polio benefited millions of children worldwide. But it was the participation of Americans across the nation in Birthday Balls that made the campaign a success. Their hard work and financial support supported the development of new methods of treatment to improve the lives of those stricken with polio and the creation of a vaccine to protect future generations from its devastation. Although the Birthday Balls ended in 1945 with the death of President Roosevelt, both of their legacies live on in the March of Dimes.
70th Anniversary of the Casablanca Conference – January 14-24, 1943
From 1942 to 1944 one subject dominated Allied strategic debate—the creation of a Second Front in Europe. This thorny issue caused friction between America, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union. It topped the agenda of the January 1943 summit meeting between FDR and Winston Churchill at Casablanca, Morocco, held shortly after the Allied invasion of North Africa.
Though Soviet leader Stalin didn’t attend this meeting, his feelings were clear. For 18 months, the Soviets had single-handedly resisted a massive German invasion. Stalin demanded that his allies strike quickly at the heart of Hitler’s empire in northwest Europe, establishing a “second from” to draw off some German forces from the USSR.
FDR’s military advisers favored the earliest possible assault on northwest Europe. But Churchill argued that a large buildup of forces was necessary to ensure a successful invasion. Because this was unlikely in 1943, he pushed for a more limited, “peripheral” strategy of attack along the edges of the Axis empire, starting with an assault on Sicily. Meanwhile, a buildup of forces in Britain for an invasion of northwest Europe would begin. Roosevelt, eager to keep the American public focused on the fighting in Europe, agreed.
To ease Stalin’s disappointment, FDR offered a signal of Anglo-American resolve: he announced the Allies would only accept an “unconditional surrender” from the Axis Powers.
Below is a series of objects, photographs, and documents from the FDR Library’s collection related to the Casablanca Conference.
This flag of the President of the United States was handmade on board the U.S.S. Memphis by five sailors at FDR’s request and flown from that ship while at anchor in Bathurst, Gambia, West Africa, in January 1943. The Memphis had been ordered to anchor off Bathurst in order to provide safe quarters for FDR and his party en route to and from the Casablanca Conference. This was the first time the President’s flag had ever been flown from an American warship in an African Port. Upon seeing the flag for the first time, President Roosevelt stated that “No ship has ever made a President’s flag is such record time, and it is a darn good flag.”
These pages from the guestbook at the Casablanca Conference include the signatures of Sultan Mohammed V of Morocco, Churchill, Roosevelt, advisor to the President Harry Hopkins, Minister to French North Africa Robert D. Murphy, General George S. Patton, naval aide to the President Admiral John L. McCrea, Elliott Roosevelt, and co-President of the Free French Forces General Henri Giraud. From the Roosevelt Family, Business & Personal Papers.
FDR used this U.S. Army mess kit and canteen at a field luncheon during his visit to Rabat, Morocco, to review American troops on January 21, 1943.
Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill with their Chiefs of Staff, January 22, 1943. NPx 66-104(20)
On the evening of January 22, the Sultan of Morocco hosted Roosevelt and Churchill to dinner. During the dinner he presented these gifts to the President. The dagger is fitted with a gold hilt and sheath and is encased in a teakwood box inlaid with mother-of-pearl. The gold tiara encrusted with semi-precious stones from the Atlas Mountains and a pair of gold bracelets from the Sultan’s collection of family jewels were presented as gifts for First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
Pearl Harbor Prisoner Petition, December 8, 1941
The “unprovoked and dastardly attack” by Japan on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, brought an immediate unity of purpose to the nation. Thousands of letters flooded into the White House after the attack, and especially after FDR delivered his War Message to Congress (the “date which will live in infamy” speech) on December 8th. Citizens of all political persuasions and from all parts of the country pledged their support, volunteered their service, and offered to enlist in the military. One of the most interesting examples among the President’s papers is a petition that FDR received signed by prisoners at Folsom State Penitentiary in California. This is the first page of the bound petition that contains 39 pages and 1,746 signatures.
Thanksgiving during the War, 1943
During World War II, President Roosevelt made a number of trips to meet with foreign leaders to discuss the war effort and the postwar world. At the end of 1943, FDR traveled to Cairo, Egypt and Teheran, Iran to meet with Winston Churchill, Chiang Kai-shek and Joseph Stalin. The meeting of FDR, Churchill and Stalin in Teheran was the first for the “Big Three.”
On November 25, 1943, Thanksgiving Day, FDR was in Cairo with Winston Churchill and Chiang Kai-shek.
Below is a handwritten page from FDR’s diary of the Cairo and Teheran conferences. On this page from November 26th, FDR writes about hosting Thanksgiving dinner for American and British officials – including Churchill. FDR writes that he had the Chiangs to tea and then the British to dinner with two turkeys he had brought from home.
Get Out the Vote Statement
Below is a statement by FDR urging people to vote in the 1942 mid-term elections. In it he says “we are engaged in an all-out war to keep democracy alive. Democracy survives through the courage and fortitude and wisdom of many generations of fighting Americans. And that includes using not only bullets but also ballots.”
Vice Presidential Spotlight: Harry S. Truman
A former farmer and haberdasher, World War I veteran, and successful local Missouri politician, Harry Truman won a United States Senate seat in 1934. He enthusiastically supported the New Deal and was seen as a Roosevelt loyalist. After winning reelection in 1940, Truman distinguished himself by chairing a respected Senate committee investigating the defense industry. Although Truman never sought the vice presidency, Democratic Party leaders opposed Henry Wallace remaining on the 1944 ticket, and Truman was named to replace him. When FDR died on April 12, 1945, Truman succeeded to the presidency without knowing about the atomic bomb project or what had been agreed to at Yalta.
It was Eleanor Roosevelt that informed Truman of FDR’s death. Late in 1945, Truman appointed ER to the U.S. delegation to the United Nations, where she remained throughout Truman’s presidency. Despite her official position, ER did not hesitate to criticize Truman for his weakness on domestic issues, and a foreign policy she believed weakened the United Nations and was too confrontational towards the Soviet Union. She reluctantly supported Truman in the 1948 election, and they maintained a complex relationship that lasted until her death in 1962.
For more information on Harry Truman, please visit the Truman Library Website: http://www.trumanlibrary.org/