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In 1960 Eleanor Roosevelt strongly supported Adlai Stevenson and encouraged him to seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for President. That year, however, the Party pinned their hopes on a promising fresh face, and the nomination went to John F. Kennedy. Eleanor had some reservations about JFK, but she supported his bid for president after he made a visit to her home, Val-Kill, in Hyde Park, NY in August of that year.

On September 26, 1960 JFK and Richard Nixon held the first televised presidential debate. After the debate, Eleanor wrote this letter to JFK with her opinions on both his and Nixon’s performance.

JFK responded by kindly thanking Eleanor for her advice and comments.

From Trixie to Queen Beatrix

 

Picnic for Princess Juliana of the Netherlands at Val-kill, Hyde Park, New York, October 9, 1943. L-R: Secret Service, Secret Service, Princess Irene, Princess Beatrix, Princess Juliana, Mrs. J.R. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt in background with unidentified man, FDR, children's nurse, Grace Tully, Ethel Roosevelt (Mrs. FDR, Jr.). Photo by Margaret Suckley.

 

Bravely waiting until the last moment, the Royal Family of the Netherlands barely escaped Hitler’s clutches as the German armies swept through their homeland in May 1940. Queen Wilhelmina set up residence in London, while Princess Juliana and her family came to North America, splitting their time between Canada and the United States. Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt became close friends with Juliana, and FDR especially adored her daughters Trixie and Irene.

In the summer of 1942, Princess Juliana leased a small estate in Lee, Massachusetts where she and her young children lived for several months. The estate was close enough for the Roosevelts to drive there from Hyde Park for lunch or tea. The Royals also regularly visited Hyde Park. Seeing that the young princesses were having trouble with their swimming, FDR gave Trixie and Irene each a set of waterwings to help them float.

In this charming letter, Trixie and Irene thank the President for his gift and for the Roosevelts’ hospitality on recent picnics in Hyde Park. They also express their affection for FDR’s dog, Fala.

Trixie is now Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, having succeeded her mother Queen Juliana to the throne in 1980.

 

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).

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Did you know:

  • On September 27, 1938 FDR appealed to German Chancellor Adolf Hitler for a peaceful solution of the Czechoslovakian crisis.
  • On September 26, 1940 FDR dedicated the new National Airport in Washington, D.C.

September 22, 1942

“NEW YORK, Monday—…After writing my column yesterday, I began to think about how people, who have never been in public life, little know about the everyday things involved in living not as one chooses, but as one must.

Those of us who have lived in government houses know that no government house is ever our own, nor is it ever a home. For instance, I love the White House. It is a simple, dignified and beautiful government building. I take great pride in it, but it is not that intimate, personal thing—”my own home.”

I am always glad to see my children in the White House, because unless I did, I would often miss opportunities of seeing them. But it is at home, in our own house, in our own surroundings, that I really like to welcome them; for that is ours and we have an obligation only to our family and our own friends there.

It is a curious thing which is often stressed in electing a man to office in this country, we, naturally, do not elect his wife nor his children to office. Yet some people think that there is something very glamorous and much to be envied in this rather anomalous position, where you have certain responsibilities, pleasures and privileges imposed upon you through somebody else’s position.

You may find a woman living in the White House who has no interest in public affairs, and yet, willy-nilly, she must live there and she must entertain very often, for no reason except that her husband is in public office.

Many a shy and retiring child, I am sure, has suffered from being pointed out as the child of a President, or even the grandchild. No one will deny that there are great opportunities. To be the relative of a man in public life is useful in assisting those throughout the United States who need help, and it is also useful in meeting people of outstanding interest. Nevertheless, there are a considerable number of drawbacks.

Click here for the complete My Day article.

September 18, 1946

“NEW YORK, Tuesday—I have just finished reading a novel called “Mr. Adam” by Pat Frank. It is inspired by our new ability to destroy, and deals with the numerous things that may develop from the power that we can now unleash. It is pure imagination, but there is just enough possibility that it might come true to make one read it with interest—and with the hope that it may make us realize what fearful responsibilities now rest upon us and what a very great people we must be if we are going to face up to these responsibilities.

We have the secret of the atom bomb. How long we alone will have it, nobody knows. But while we have it, the responsibility of what happens in the world is in our hands. Soon we may share it with others, and then we will have the uncomfortable feeling that, unless the other people of the world have goodwill and face up to their responsibilities toward humanity in general, we may have very little time left upon this planet.

One of the characteristics of human beings in the past has been never to face disagreeable realities until they were actually forced to do so. Fundamentally, that is the reason why we did not, after World War I, do much to prevent World War II. Sometimes I wonder if we intend to be so blind again!”

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).

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Did you know:

  • On September 20, 1940 FDR signed a tax act designed to raise $3,553,400,000 in revenue. This was the largest tax increase in U.S. history.
  • On September 17, 1942 FDR issued an executive order providing for coordination of a rubber program which developed a synthetic rubber industry.

FDR and the Masons

Some amazing stonework going on at the FDR Library as part of our renovation has brought to mind that many great buildings and monuments were erected with the assistance of the Order of Freemasons, or Masons. And many U.S. presidents, including FDR, were members of the Masons. Franklin Roosevelt was initiated October 10, 1911, passed November 14, 1911, and raised November 28, 1911, in Holland Lodge, No. 8, New York City.

FDR at his induction into the Albany lodge on February 28, 1929 (while he was Governor of New York).

He petitioned the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in the Albany Consistory of New York, February 28, 1929, and received his 32nd degree the same day. On March 26, 1930, he became a Shriner in Cyrus Temple, AAONOMS (Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine), Albany, New York. He was also a member of Greenwood Forest, Tall Cedars of Lebanon in Warwick, New York. On October 30, 1931, he was made a Prophet at Sight in Tri-Po-Bed Grotto, MOVPER (Mystic Order Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm) of Poughkeepsie, New York. Franklin Roosevelt held a number of honorary memberships in various Masonic lodges, among them in the Architect Lodge, No. 519, New York, where he raised his sons, Franklin, Jr. and James, on November 7, 1935. He was also an Honorary Grand Master of Georgia, and, in 1934, was made Honorary Grand Master of the Order of Demolay.

There is no evidence that FDR was given any type of Masonic rite as part of his funeral, or that he was buried dressed in Masonic apron.

Historical Materials

Holland Lodge : This group of items from FDR’s papers relate to his membership in Holland Lodge No. 8, including the earliest membership card we could locate as well as the last membership card sent to the President in March 1945.

Speech Materials : These documents are from the President’s Master Speech file and include FDR’s draft of the speech he gave to the Architect Lodge on November 7, 1935 when Franklin and James were raised, as well as an excerpt from a press conference the previous day where he talks about the upcoming ceremony.

FDR at the initiation ceremony for James and Franklin, Jr. at the Architect Lodge in Manhattan on November 7, 1935.

FDR’s World Map Globe (MO 1944.121.5)

 

For Christmas in 1942, President Roosevelt received a rather large gift—a 50-inch diameter, 500 pound globe from the U.S. Army. The giant globe—which was believed to be the largest and most accurate printed globe of its time—was commissioned by Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall. It took over 50 geographers, cartographers, and draftsmen from the Geographic Division of the Office of Strategic Services to compile the information to make the globe. The globe was constructed by the Weber Costello Company of Chicago Heights, Illinois. At 1/10,000,000th the size of the earth, it was large enough to contain over 17,000 place names.

The globe consists of two wooden interlocking halves pasted over with printed paper gores. Each gore measures 48-inches by 36-inches. The globe rests on a series of rubber balls set within a steel stand, which allowed the President to rotate it in any direction.

Two identical globes were produced at the same time. One was presented to Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The other was used by General Marshall and Secretary of War Henry Stimson. Churchill’s globe now resides at Chartwell, his family estate in Kent, England. The other globe is at the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Marshall later ordered a number of additional globes for schools and other government agencies.

Seen here is a photograph of the President examining his globe, which he had placed near his Oval Office desk.

 

September 2, 1940

“HYDE PARK, Sunday—To me and to every citizen of the United States, Labor Day must be one of the most significant days on our calendar. On this day we should think with pride of the growing place which the worker is taking in this country. In every walk of life, the man who actually does the work is gaining in influence and respect. That is as it should be in a democracy, and it is the surest way of proving that we intend to preserve democracy.

I was talking to a Frenchwoman the other day who, though married to a citizen of Venezuela, has lived many years of her married life in France and left there only last June. One thought she expressed has been echoing and re-echoing in my mind. It ran approximately like this:

“I wish I could tell the people in America what happened to the spirit of France. There were too many people there who had either a little money or a great deal, who cared more about what they had than about France, and who believed the Hitler propaganda that communism was something imminent and threatening because of demands being made by the workers. They were therefore almost willing to invite Mr. Hitler to control their country, in the hope that by doing so they would continue to retain all that they had without making any concessions to the workers.

“They never realized that these workers in their country had a right to share some of the things controlled by the little and big employer in shop or factory, mine or field. Now these employers have learned to their sorrow that Mr. Hitler has taken everything.”

She told me the story of a woman whose father was a self-made man, owner of a fairly big business, and who slept with her jewels under her pillow every night because she was afraid that the workers would come and burn the factory when they heard of the French army’s collapse. The workers did nothing of the kind, but Mr. Hitler has taken over the factory—and no doubt her jewels, though that was not mentioned in the tale. But all that went to make the factory a success is gone, and her country is gone too.

There is a lesson for us in this tragedy. Our people must be one. On Labor Day we must remember that this nation is founded to do away with classes and special privilege; that employer and worker have the same interest, which is to see that everyone in this nation has a life worth living. Only thus can we be sure that Labor Day will continue to be celebrated.”

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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Did you know:

  • On September 1, 1937, FDR signed the National Housing Act establishing the U.S. Housing Authority.
  • On September 2, 1940 FDR dedicated the Chickamauga Dam near Chattanooga, TN.
  • On September 7, 1941, FDR’s mother Sara passed away.

 

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