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FDR: SPACE RANGER

In March 1944, the publishers of the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century newspaper cartoon strip wrote to FDR asking permission to include a cartoon version of him in an upcoming strip. The proposed storyline had Buck Rogers exploring a new world and discovering a machine that could look back in time and compare good and evil. FDR, of course, was to be an example of humanity’s good, and Hitler and Japan’s Tojo were to be examples of evil. To sweeten the request, the publishers included a membership card making the President a member of the Buck Rogers Rocket Rangers! The White House gave permission for the proposed strip, but unfortunately we don’t know if it ever appeared. If anyone in the blogisphere can find FDR’s cameo in the Buck Rogers cartoon strip, we would love to see it!!!

116th Birthday of Dorothea Lange

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Dorothea Lange was one of several professional photographers hired by the government to document the plight of rural poverty in Depression-era America. Lange’s work on behalf of the Farm Security Administration (FSA) effectively humanized the epic scope of the Dust Bowl.

The FSA, created in 1937 as part of FDR’s New Deal, sought to ameliorate widespread and devastating poverty by funding farm development programs and “rural rehabilitation” for the nation’s dispossessed. The striking images produced by Lange and other FSA photographers brought much public attention to daily hardships faced by displaced sharecroppers, migrant workers, and Americans whose tragedies had been largely invisible.

The National Archives has over 1,000 of Dorothea Lange’s FSA documentary photographs online: http://research.archives.gov/search?&query=dorothea%20lange&v:sources=online&v:project=opa& 

You can also find more from photos from the FSA photography project through the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division: www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/fsa/


“The Five Sullivan Brothers” Poster (MO 2005.13.40.52.1)

 

On November 13, 1942, the USS Juneau, a light cruiser, was attacked and sunk during the battle for control of the island of Guadalcanal. On board the vessel were the five Sullivan brothers of Waterloo, Iowa:

George Thomas – 27, Gunner’s Mate Second Class

Francis “Frank” Henry – 26, Coxswain

Joseph “Joe” Eugene – 24, Seaman Second Class

Madison “Matt” Abel – 23, Seaman Second Class

Albert “Al” Leo – 20, Seaman Second Class

The five brothers had enlisted in the Navy on January 3, 1942 and requested to serve together. Four died during the attack on the Juneau. The fifth, George Thomas, made it onto a life raft where he survived for five days before succumbing either to wounds and exhaustion or a shark attack.

The story of the Sullivan brothers quickly became the focus of national attention and efforts to rally Americans around the war effort. This government poster commemorated the heroism and sacrifice of the men and their family. The photograph on the poster depicts the boys aboard the Juneau. There are five blue stars along the top, one star for each brother.

On this Memorial Day, we remember and honor those brave men and women who have served and died in defense of our country.

May 24, 1957

“HOUSTON—I am in Texas for two lectures on behalf of Bonds for Israel and arrived in Houston when a court hearing was being held on the speed for compliance with the Supreme Court’s order on desegregation of schools.

This led the press to ask me a number of questions which, as a guest, I felt it was unfortunate for me to have to answer, particularly since I feel that my attitude and beliefs on this question have been so well known.

I was glad, however, to be able to express my strong feelings against violence in this issue anywhere in our country. And so I regret the decision made in Texas against the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, for it seems to take away the right to use legal action to enforce the desegregation decision and, in a way, makes it more difficult to prevent violence.

I hope that I am wrong and that we will see a continuation of the staunchness shown by the citizens in Montgomery, Ala., who under the leadership of the Rev. Martin Luther King have adhered to non-violence.

But human beings have a breaking point if denied an outlet for their emotions and convictions. Then violence may seem to be the only answer, and that hurts us, both at home and abroad…”

May 27, 1935: The Supreme Court declares the National Industrial Recovery Act unconstitutional.

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Did you know:

  • On May 28, 1934 FDR reviewed the fleet off the entrance to the New York harbor while aboard the USS Indianapolis. The fleet consisted of 81 warships, a naval line that stretched for 12 miles, which took 90 minutes to pass.
  • On May 28, 1942 FDR sent greetings to Yank on the publication of its first issue. Yank was an army weekly magazine whose editorial staff consisted entirely of enlisted men.
  • On May 27, 1943, FDR issued an executive order establishing the Office of War Mobilization.

Elliott Roosevelt’s Army Air Force Service Dress Uniform
(MO 2005.16.1-2)

 

All four of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s sons served in America’s armed forces during World War II.

Elliott was an Army Air Corps reconnaissance pilot in the North Atlantic and Europe. He eventually achieved the rank of brigadier general. Franklin Jr. and John both entered the U.S. Navy. John rose to the rank of lieutenant commander. Franklin Jr. became a full commander and was awarded a Purple Heart and Silver Star. James chose combat duty with the Marines and received the Navy Cross and the Silver Star.

Elliott Roosevelt was the first Roosevelt son to enter the military. FDR was very proud of his son and visited him in training camp. Elliott later wrote that when FDR learned he had enlisted, he saluted him with a heartfelt toast: “To Elliott. He’s the first of the family to think seriously enough, and soberly enough, about the threat to America to join his country’s armed forces. We’re all very proud of him. I’m the proudest.” (As He Saw It, Elliott Roosevelt).

This is Elliott Roosevelt’s service dress uniform from when he was a captain in the Army Air Corps. The uniform consists of a black wool, fully lined, single-breasted jacket with double pockets on each breast and brass buttons, each with a U.S. seal. A maker’s tag on the left pocket reads: “The Lilley-Ames Co. of Columbus, Ohio.” Handwritten in ink on the tag is “Capt. Elliott Roosevelt”. Each sleeve has blue and gold bands at the ends. Also included are navy blue pants with royal blue and orange stripes running down each leg.

Armed Forces day is May 21. To learn more about this day, visit www.defense.gov/afd

May 20, 1954

“NEW YORK, Wednesday—…While I was on the Tex and Jinx show I was given the news of the unanimous Supreme Court decision that wiped out segregation in the schools. I am delighted this was a unanimous decision because I think it will be difficult for the states with segregated school systems to hold out against such a ruling.

If it were not for the fact that segregation in itself means inequality, the old rule of giving equal facilities might have gone on satisfying our sense of justice for a long time. It is very difficult, however, to ensure real equality under a segregated system, and the mere fact that you cannot move freely anywhere in your country and be as acceptable everywhere as your neighbor creates an inequality.

Southerners always bring up the question of marriage between the races and I realize that that is the question of real concern to people. But it seems to me a very personal question which must be settled by family environment and by the development of the cultural and social patterns within a country. One can no longer lay down rules as to what individuals will do in any area of their lives in a world that is changing as fast as ours is changing today.”

Click here for the complete My Day article.

May 18, 1933: The Tennessee Valley Authority was created.

Laborers at work in Tennessee Valley Authority forest tree nursery at Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
FDR Library Photo Collection. NPx. 53-227(1850).

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The New Deal Estore is a great place to shop for Roosevelt related books, gifts, and other treasures from the New Deal Store at the Roosevelt Library. Available at www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu, the Estore features everything from a selection of the latest books on the Roosevelts and their times, to T-shirts, ties and caps, multimedia, campaign memorabilia, and museum replicas. For items related to this week’s blog post, follow the links below:

This Land, This Nation: Conservation, Rural America and the New Deal by Sarah T. Phillips
Big Dams of the New Deal Era: A Confluence of Engineering and Politics by David P. Billington and Donald C. Jackson
FDR’s Alphabet Soup, New Deal America 1932-1939 by Tonya Bolden

From the Mountains of Clay County, Kentucky

“I am a cripple, a Veteran of the Spanish-American war and the father of three boys in the Armed Forces. I have a feeling that the pride engendered by carrying one of your canes, a cane from your collection, preferably one you had carried and discarded, would vastly improve my stride.” – Joseph L. Delph to FDR, April 5, 1943.

Throughout his Presidency, FDR received thousands of letters from the general public. Americans shared their reactions to Roosevelt’s speeches and policies, requested action on political issues, expressed support or voiced concern over the President’s approach to the New Deal and to the war effort. Some even requested financial or material support for themselves and their families.

Many of the letters were very personal in nature and the FDR administration made it a point to respond accordingly. Mr. Delph of Kentucky not only received a personal response from Grace Tully, FDR’s personal secretary, but one of President Roosevelt’s canes, as well. Delph wrote back, “Your gift to me is something that money could not buy. I shall carry it with much pride and it shall ever remain one of my most cherished possessions.”

Read all four pages of correspondence related to this 1943 cane request. Materials were reproduced from FDR’s President’s Personal File (PPF) 50-d: Congratulations, 1943.

Fala’s Sailor’s Cap (MO 2006.359)


FDR had a lifelong affection for pets. His best-known was Fala, a Scottish terrier given to him by his cousin, Daisy Suckley, in 1940. Fala became Roosevelt’s constant companion and the most famous dog in America. He appeared in newspapers, cartoons, books, and films. Fala often accompanied FDR on trips. One trip to Alaska sparked a famous political debate during the 1944 presidential election campaign. Republicans falsely claimed that Fala had been mistakenly left behind on an Alaskan island and that FDR had ordered a destroyer to retrieve him. Roosevelt disarmed his critics in a celebrated speech. Fala’s frugal “Scotch soul was furious,” FDR reported, at allegations that taxpayer dollars were spent to rescue him. Use this link to listen to an excerpt from the “Attack on Fala” – http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/archives/collections/avclips.html

After FDR’s death in 1945, Fala lived with Eleanor Roosevelt. He died in 1952 and is buried near the President and First Lady in the Rose Garden of FDR’s Hyde Park estate.

This small white sailor’s cap has a light blue image of a ship’s wheel with a battleship in the center shooting three beams of light. There are two metal pins on the inside with an elastic attached for securing to Fala’s head. Fala can be seen wearing this cap in the MGM movie short “Fala” released in 1943. To see a photograph of Fala wearing the cap, please visit: http://images.google.com/hosted/life/l?imgurl=2e4d9a5edbf039b3

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