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September 23, 1944: FDR gives a campaign speech to the Teamsters Union denouncing Republican attacks that he had sent a U.S. Navy destroyer to retrieve his dog Fala after leaving him behind on the Aleutian Islands.

Franklin D. Roosevelt's speech to the Teamsters Union.

Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Quonset hut mess hall in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska.
August 3, 1944
FDR Library Photo Collection. NPx. 48-22:3868(497).

Franklin D. Roosevelt fishing at Kodiak Island, Alaska.
August 7, 1944
FDR Library Photo Collection. NPx. 48-22:3868(498).

September 30, 1957

“What is the Soviet Union really like? It is a mass of contradictions and it takes study and thought to understand it. There is one symbol—the dove of peace—that you meet practically everywhere. I saw it painted on the side of a truck as I was driving through the streets, I looked down on it from the tower of Moscow University outlined in stone below me. The circus ended with the release of a number of doves of peace. Everywhere this seems to be the symbol. You might think that it was an effort to keep the people reminded of their need for peace. Heaven knows, they don’t need a reminder! They suffered enough in the war and you are soon aware of it. But that is not why it is done. It is done to remind the people that they must sacrifice and work for peace because their great enemy, the U.S., is trying to bring about a war. The dove of peace is a symbol that you carry away with you as being ever present, but don’t forget for a minute that it is really intended to teach the people of the Soviet Union that while they love peace and want no war, the government of the U.S. is planning an aggressive war and the Soviet government is only trying to protect the people of the Soviet Union from U.S. aggression. If you forget this, you will be lulled into a kind of security which is very dangerous for all of us, but you are going to need much more understanding, much more willingness to learn before you can hope to avoid this war that these people are being indoctrinated into believing that we in the U.S. might start. Guns and atomic weapons are not going to win this war or prevent it. Much, much more has to be done and to try to show you why I say this, I am going to tell you as much as I was able to find out about what the Soviet Union is today. I will begin by giving you my interview with Mr. Khrushchev. You may not agree with my conclusions but I want to give you the basis for my thinking and so I will take you to see in these articles one thing after another that I saw and then I will try to evaluate the price that is paid by the people of the Soviet Union for these things, and what they mean not only to the Soviet people but to the people of Asia, Africa, and South America as well. On this understanding alone, I believe, can we form a policy which may save us from the war that the people of the Soviet Union dread as much as we do.”

Click here for the complete My Day article.

September 18, 1941

“WASHINGTON, Wednesday—I received a letter in my mail yesterday, signed with an assumed name. The lady is much annoyed with the President because she has been told that he has been holding a bill on his desk, which happens to affect a particular situation in her own family. She has been told this over a long period, and feels that an injustice is being done because the President has not acted.

I have no idea what the particular provisions of this bill are, nor what the reasons are which have delayed the final signing which would make it effective, but I have learned from long experience that there are always reasons. No matter how much I may be interested in some particular case, there are invariably a great many cases which make further consideration necessary for one reason or another.

So, “Judy Grady,” whoever you may be, I’ll mention the case you are interested in to the President, but I doubt if it is “obstinacy” on his part which is holding up the final decision. I hope your “womanly spleen” won’t lead you into a course of action which will defeat the things you really care about. You happen to be annoyed over a serious situation which must, however, in the long run be considered from the point of view of “the many” rather than from the point of view of “the one.””

Click here for the complete My Day article.

September 16, 1940: FDR signed into law the Selective Training and Service Act, which set up the first peacetime military draft in U.S. history.

First drawing of the Selective Service.
October 29, 1940
FDR Library Photo Collection. NPx. 48-22:3712(32).

September 11, 1956

“GENEVA—It is amusing, far away in Switzerland where you feel cut off from American politics, to find yourself asked at every meal by your neighbors what you think is going to happen on Election Day.

I sat between an Italian and a Frenchman at lunch the other day and each one, in turn, gave me a little dissertation on American politics. Nothing was as difficult, however, as when I was asked last night to explain the electoral college system.

Just how many votes are there in the electoral college? I didn’t know. I could tell how many votes a state had in the Democratic convention, but I had completely forgotten the details of how the electoral college works. It is really good to be pinned down on your own government by foreigners, because it makes you go home and look up things carefully.

It is also interesting to read over here some of the columnists that are reprinted in the European edition of the New York Herald Tribune. I was especially interested in what Joseph Alsop said about the small poll made in Seattle and Portland, Oregon. If I had been asked, I would have said exactly what he did about the way the vote is lining up at the present time. So I felt quite proud to have my bunch verified, even by a small poll.”

Click here for the complete My Day article.

September 11, 1944: FDR dedicated the Boulder Dam by pressing a key in Washington to signal the startup of the dam’s first hydroelectric generator in Nevada.

FDR at the Boulder Dam.
September 30, 1935
FDR Library Photo Collection. NPx. 47-96:1798.

September 2, 1939

“HYDE PARK, Friday—At 5:00 o’clock this morning our telephone rang and it was the President in Washington to tell me the sad news that Germany had invaded Poland and that her planes were bombing Polish cities. He told me that Hitler was about to address the Reichstag, so we turned on the radio and listened until 6:00 o’clock.

Curiously enough, I had received a letter on my return last evening from a German friend who roomed with me in school in England. In this letter she said that when hate was rampant in the world, it was easy to believe harm of any nation, that she knew all the nations believed things that were not true about Germany, did not understand her position, and therefore hated her. She begged that we try to see Germany’s point of view and not to judge her harshly.

As I listened to Hitlers’ speech, this letter kept returning to my mind. How can you feel kindly toward a man who tells you that German minorities have been brutally treated, first in Czechoslovakia and then in Danzig, but that never can Germany be accused of being unfair to a minority? I have seen evidence with my own eyes of what this same man has done to people belonging to a minority group—not only Jews, but Christians, who have long been German citizens.

Can one help but question his integrity? His knowledge of history seems somewhat sketchy too, for, after all, Poland possessed Danzig many years prior to the time that it ever belonged to Germany. And how can you say that you do not intend to make war on women and children and then send planes to bomb cities?

No, I feel no bitterness against the German people. I am deeply sorry for them, as I am for the people of all other European nations facing this horrible crisis. But for the man who has taken this responsibility upon his shoulders I can feel little pity. It is hard to see how he can sleep at night and think of the people in many nations whom he may send to their deaths.”

Click here for the complete My Day article.

September 3, 1940: FDR approves the “destroyers for bases” deal with Great Britain.  Through this deal, the United States transferred destroyers to the British Navy in exchange for leases for British naval and air bases.

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