tv Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum CSPAN June 18, 2017 2:02pm-2:33pm EDT
>> welcome to new york on american history tv located on the hudson river 90 miles north of new york city. it is the hometown of president franklin delano roosevelt. here where he lived in his family's estate. his presidential library, and where you will find first lady eleanor roosevelt at the national historic site. with the help of our cable partners, for the next few hours, we will talk with local historians as we hit -- explore the history of the area and the roosevelt connection to it. franklinwith a look at roosevelt's unprecedented for term presidency. at his presidential library, the first of its kind in the national archive system. >> the library was created in 1941 and was the first presidential library operated by the national archive records administration. the library was established by
president roosevelt, looking for the papers ofrve his administration and also his personal papers. and so, he created a library on the grounds of his estate here in hyde park, new york. he -- basically, what he decided to do was raise private money to build the library, and then he gave it to the government to be operated by the national archives. that model was followed by subsequent presidents. so this is the first of the presidential libraries that was created and operated by the national archives. about 10 years ago, the library embarked on a really ambitious plan to look at the entire museum and really bring it all up to date. the completely new galleries opened in 2013, and everything you see at the museum now dates from that 2013 reopening. it is all brand-new, a fresh look at both the lives of franklin and eleanor roosevelt and of the roosevelt presidency.
the exhibition begins in 1932, the year franklin roosevelt was elected president of united states. 1932 was a year of tremendous crisis for the nation and the world. the country was in the third year of the great depression. in 1929, when the depression began, unemployment in the united states was at 3.2%. by the time roosevelt was running for president in the fall of 1932, it is almost 25%. so the context of the election in 1932 was of a nation really in a state of disarray and fear. this gallery really points that out. we have dramatic photography which shows you the state of affairs nationally. this photograph in particular is
very poignant. it is a photograph of new york central park in 1932. in the foreground, you see a shanty town, one of many like this that had sprouted up across the nation. there were many of them and they were nicknamed hoovervilles, after the sitting president herbert hoover. this particular one, people are living in this shanty town in the shadow of the metropolitan museum of art. this is a very poignant reminder of the scale of human suffering in the year 1932, when franklin roosevelt is running for president. the 1932 democratic convention was held in chicago, and when roosevelt was nominated, he received word of the nomination in albany, and then he did something really unprecedented in american politics, and quite dramatic. he actually flew out to the convention to accept the nomination in person.
up to that point, when american presidential candidates received the nomination of their party, they would receive a delegation formally at their home, or in a political site in their home state, but they did not go to the convention, and they did not deliver a speech at the convention. well, roosevelt broke with that convention in a very dramatic way. here he is delivering his acceptance speech at the convention. it is a really electrifying moment in american political history. it is in this speech where he first uses the expression a new deal. fdr: i pledge myself to a new deal for the american people. herman: that expression, the new deal, becomes obviously very highly associated with his entire presidency, but it is premiered at this moment when he delivers his acceptance speech. roosevelt is elected in a landslide in 1932. in those days, after the election, there was a long period between when the election took place and when the president actually took the oath of office. on march 4, 1933, fdr takes the oath of office as president of the united states, and he takes the oath on this enormous and historic family bible.
this is a dutch family bible that had been in his family for generations. it had come over with the roosevelts in the 17th century when the family came over to america. this is a unique bible in many regards. most importantly, it is the only bible used by a president for four different inaugurals, because of course franklin roosevelt was elected to four terms as america's president. subsequently, there was a constitutional amendment that limits presidents to two terms. so this is unique. it is a dutch bible in dutch and it is quite large. i always say i feel sorry for the clerk who had to hold this during the inaugural ceremonies. roosevelt's 1933 inaugural is famous for many reasons, but the most enduring line from his speech is something we all remember. fdr: most of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
herman: and he says that at a time when the nation really is in a state of fear. it is the low point of the great depression. people are frightened. i think he is trying to steel the nerves of the nation with that line. the interesting thing is that there is a lot of speculation about where it came from. we have on display here the first pages from several drafts of the speech. the first is in roosevelt's handwriting, and it was written in late february 1933. the first draft, you don't see the line about fear itself. it does appear on page one of the final draft, which was put together on march 1, 1933. that is the first time we see it in the speech. there has been a lot written and discussed about where this line comes from.
we know that fdr's chief political advisor, louis howe, is the person that put the line into the speech. but we don't really know for sure where he got that line from. there are all sorts of theories. i think the most plausible one is that henry david thoreau, a century earlier, had once written "nothing is so much to be feared as fear." that is a line which is awfully close to the one that was inserted into the speech for roosevelt to deliver, so it may be that it is thoreau we have to thank for that, but there are theories about that. the last draft i want to show you is the actual reading copy, page one of the actual reading copy that roosevelt used on march 4, 1933. what is interesting about this draft is you see a little line at the top that roosevelt has added.
he wrote that, we know, in pencil while he was waiting in the capital building to go out to deliver the speech. the line as you see it on that page, "this is a day of consecration." when he delivers it, he says "this is a day of national consecration." up until the age of 39, franklin roosevelt had really a charmed life, including a political career that was on an upward trajectory. in 1920, he had been the democratic party's candidate for vice president of the united states, and he was widely seen as a likely candidate for president in 1924 or 1928. however, at this point in his life, tragedy struck. in 1921, roosevelt contracted
polio that left him paralyzed permanently from the waist down. initially, he withdrew from politics completely. and really, it was a crisis in his life and the period where he sort of disappeared from politics for a period of time. during that period, he focused on trying to find a cure for his condition, although he never was able to walk again unassisted. but he also worked on building up his body, trying to figure out a way to plausibly be able
to reenter political life. and so he built up his upper body, and he is looking for ways to be able to stand in public, to be able to at least approximate some sort of ability to walk in public. in order to do that, he had to use very heavy steel braces. these are an example from our collection. these weighed about 10 pounds, they locked at the knees.
it was only through the use of braces like these that fdr could stand. they would allow him to stand, but in order to be able to mimic the ability to walk in public, he needed to do more. so, he would take a cane, like this one, which belonged to him, and he would often lock arms with a very strong companion, and then supporting himself on those two sources, he would pitch his body forward, and have a slow, jerky kind of walk he could do over short distances. this took tremendous physical strength, and he had to build up his upper body over time to do that. it also took a great deal of concentration. the interesting thing about roosevelt is over time, he is able to master that to the point where he could be smiling and nodding and acting as if he doesn't have a care in the world, when in fact, he is focusing very carefully on being able to walk that short distance. these kinds of techniques gave him the ability to go back into
the public life, and reenter politics. it took a long time for him to get to that point, however. it is not until 1928 that he runs again for political office. in that year, he runs for governor of new york. he is elected narrowly, and reelected in a landslide in 1930. that is what sets him up for becoming the democratic party's candidate for president in 1932. after the march 4 inaugural, fdr springs into action during what became known as his first hundred days. during those first hundred days in office, he passes a whole series of legislation and other acts that really just galvanized the nation's attention, and really he is pushing reforms in a whole variety of areas, trying to arrest the decline of the nation and turn the tide of the depression. arguably, the most important achievement of fdr's first term, and the one that he was most proud of, was the social security act, passed in 1935. it provided for old age pensions for americans and unemployment insurance. again, this was probably fdr's proudest achievement of the entire new deal and a real high point of his first term. one of the things we wanted to be sure visitors to the museum
understood was the continuing reality of fdr's disability. this is a man who is paralyzed from the waist down. what is interesting is to see what the public perception of that was. one of the things we always point out to visitors here is that we have 130,000 photographs of fdr in our collections, but we only have four that show him in a wheelchair. that is because there was an unspoken rule that was observed by the press and the media at the time, that you don't photograph the president sitting in a wheelchair. you don't photograph him in ways that would reveal the extent of his disability. the public knew that fdr had contracted polio, and they knew that he had some form of disability, but what was not understood was just how great of a disability it was. so this incredible photograph of fdr is taken right in front of the home in hyde park on election night in 1936, and of course, he is beaming because he has just won a tremendous victory. this is a huge landslide. he wins every state in the nation, except maine and vermont. his mother is standing to the left of him, sara delano roosevelt. two of his sons. and on the far right, eleanor roosevelt. his victory was so immense that fdr really felt confident going into his second term, that he was going to be able to expand the new deal. he had all kinds of ambitious plans for what he wanted to do on the domestic front during the second term. but as a lot of presidents find out as they go into their second term, events can sometimes take surprising turns. and in fact, his second term turns out to be a lot different than what he thought it might be. very early in the second term, fdr gets involved in a big conflict with congress.
he becomes concerned that the supreme court is striking down a lot of new deal legislation, and he becomes concerned in particular that a court case involving the social security act might end with the court striking it down as unconstitutional. so come he comes up with a plan that he calls a reform plan, but that his opponents call a court packing plan. it was a plan to put additional members onto the supreme court. presumably at one point, he would get a majority that would support his legislation. this becomes a very contentious issue, and despite the large democratic majorities in the house and senate, his plan for the reform of the court, or the court packing as it was called, failed. it is a major political defeat for him. and then on top of that, the country goes into a recession. the unemployment rate had been going down throughout his first term, but then in 1937-1938, the so-called roosevelt recession comes in, and unemployment begins to go back up. this also weakens him politically at a critical moment. despite the importance of these developments, i think the most dramatic and important development that occurred during roosevelt's second term, and one that really takes the whole focus of his presidency in a different direction, are the
rise of threats overseas that occur during the mid and late 1930's. this large map of both europe and also of asia begins to illustrate that story. you have overseas threats arising with japan, in asia, with germany and italy, in europe and north africa. and these threats, these rising overseas threats, occupy more and more of roosevelt's time and attention. ultimately, they lead to his decision to run for an unprecedented third term as president. the 1940 election was very controversial for two reasons. one, fdr was running for an impressive than it third term as president. no previous president had ever
served more than two terms. in the other big issue was the war. world war ii broke out in europe in 1939. and in the subsequent year, there were tremendous advances by germany in europe. and roosevelt was very concerned to provide aid to great britain, which was really struggling hard to hold out against anoxia onslaught -- nazi on-site, but american public opinion was very isolated. people had sympathy, but they were very weary of getting involved directly. there was a lot of fear in some parts of the country that roosevelt, if he was reelected, was going to pull the nation into world war ii. so, that issue was also a key wondering the 1940 campaign. in the end, roosevelt was reelected to a third term. he lost some support in the
midwest, but he still wins by a very comfortable margin, 54.8% of the vote to 48.8% of the vote for his opponent wendell will keep -- wendell wilkey. roosevelt was in his private study on a sunday afternoon, and most of the white house staff was that of the building. roosevelt was alone except for his close advisor, harry hopkins. roosevelt was working with his stamp collection when selling the phone on his desk rings, and is definite as the secretary of the navy telling him that the pearl harbor naval base in hawaii is under attack by japan. roosevelt immediately called in his advisers, all the stuff comes back to the white house, and they go into crisis mode. and in the late afternoon, roosevelt, at one point, asks all the staff members to leave his study, except for his private secretary. at that point, he sits down with her and he dictates himself the first draft of one of the most
famous speeches of his presidency. >> yesterday, december 7, 1941, a date that will live in infamy. >> this is the first draft of that speech. roosevelt dictated it to his president -- dictated it to the secretary, and she typed it up. what you see on these pages and pencil is fdr personally editing his speech. there are a lot of fascinating edits, but the most famous one is the one he did to the first sentence. in the first sentence come he takes the words world history and strike it out and turns it to anthony and changes the word simultaneously to suddenly. that way, he transforms the sentence into yesterday, december 7, 1941, a date that will live in infamy, the 96 of
america will suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval air forces from japan. it is one of the most memorable lines of his presidency, and the whole speech is a 1 and a short one -- the whole speech is a memorable one and a short one. this enormous globe was actually in the oval office during world war ii. fdr received this as a gift from general george the marshall who was chief of staff during the war. marshall had a number of these large globes made under a special order from a company in chicago. and he gave it to fdr as a christmas gift in 1942. roosevelt kept it in the oval office. the globe is balanced on finely tuned rovers, so if i were to
touch it with a light touch, i could move it in any way. this sort of thing was very handy for disabled president to have at his fingertips when he is planning and is involved in a global war. and roosevelt made a lot of use of this during world war ii. one of the things we look at is fdr's attendance at key wartime conferences. he went to a number of compasses during the war, but arguably, the two most important was the tehran conference and the yalta. he met with winston churchill, joseph stalin, and of course, roosevelt. long before the end of the war, fdr is a rethinking about the postwar period. so, in november of 1943 when he journeys to tehran, he is -- he has several important things on the agenda, one of them is trying to ensure that his partners in the allied coalition will sign on to the idea of a postwar organization, becomes the united nations, that he
hopes will hope to turn the outbreak of another world war. another document on display is actually a little sketch that fdr made at the tehran conference in 1943. this is in his handwriting. in this drawing, you can see in fdr's own writing, a broad sketch of what he thought the united nations might be. it starts on the left with this little circle marked 40 un. the representative the 40 nations fighting the axis powers. this represents what becomes it you and general assembly.
in the center is executive committee. this is really the full-time staff of what will become the united nations. and the last circle, which is marked 4 police, is roosevelt's conception of what became the security council of the united nations. the four police rosa had in mind when united states, great britain, the soviet union, and the fourth country was going to be china, which he felt was an up-and-coming power and deserving of being among the four policeman, or the security council of the united nations. there come he brought stroked the idea that he is kicking in his mind for this postwar organization. i think it is very telling that those about us thinking so far ahead. this is 1943 and the war is far from over, but he is our rethinking the on the horizon and what comes after the war. in 1944, in the midst of world war ii, fdr runs for an unprecedented fourth term as president of the united states. you can see in this photograph, the president by this time is in ill health. he is suffering from heart disease, and he's really slowing down, although the public isn't quite aware of how ill he is. roosevelt runs in 1944, and at the democratic convention, there was a big fight over who was
going to be his running mate. his sitting vice president was henry wallace, a very liberal figure within the democratic party. and there were members of the party who were more conservative who really did not want wallace in that position. they were looking for a more conservative vice president, and in the end, there was a compromise. the conservatives and the liberals agreed on a candidate for vice president. and that man you see is harry truman. this photograph we are looking at is actually at the 1945 inaugural. if you look closely at it, fdr is really not in good health at this point. in fact, he dies three-month after this photograph is taken -- he dies three months after this photograph is taken in 1945 and is succeeded by harry truman who is standing to the left in the photograph. shortly after the inaugural, fdr departed on a 75 mile journey to yalta which was the final of the great conferences he attended, with the big 3 -- talent, churchill, roosevelt -- stalin, churchill, and roosevelt. after that, fdr returns to the united states and appears before congress in march of 1945, reporting on what he had done at
seated position. and he did that because he was exhausted and suffering from poor health. and in the course of that speech, he directly in knowledges his disability -- directly acknowledges his disability for the first time. >> members of congress, i hope that you will pardon me for an unusual posture of sitting down during the presentation of what i want to say. i know you will realize that it makes it a lot easier for me without not having to carry 10 pounds of steel at the bottom of my legs because i have just completed a 1400 mile trip. [applause] >> this was an extraordinary moment at the end of his life and at the end of his presidency. it is the only time during his presidency where he knowledges -- where he acknowledges his disability. fdr then traveled toward georgia where he kept a retreat for many years. it was a side of the rehabilitation center he set up in the 1920's for the treatment of polio patients, like himself. he was in warm springs on april 12, 1945, when he was stricken by a massive cerebral hemorrhage and by that afternoon. it was a profound shock for the country. people in his inner circle
understood that the president was very ill, but the general public did not know that. so, when the announcement came on april 12, 1945 of his death, there was grief of a real profound nature throughout the nation. what you need to understand about this is the countries at war, he has been president for over 12 years, younger people, especially had no other president. i often point out to people that if you were a soldier or a sailor, you would have been very young when he was first inaugurated. this hits with real power across
the nation, and we see it reflected in the film and the photography of the public mournng that occurs in the days and weeks -- public mourning that occurs in the days and weeks after his death. ♪ at the very end of the gallery killing with fdr's presidency, we present the most important artifact and our entire collection. and that is the actual office desk and chair -- oval office desk and chair that the president used throughout his presidency. in the aftermath of fdr's death, his successor, harry truman, did not feel right keeping the desk and chair used by fdr. so he gave them both to eleanor roosevelt, and she donated them to the roosevelt library. there are put on display here in 1945, and remain on public display ever since.
in addition to the actual desk and chair, we have many of the items that the president had on the desk at the time of his death. we have it arranged to the way it was the last time he sat here. what you see is a wide variety of things. some serious items, a lot of whimsical items. fdr had a sense of humor and enjoyed love -- and enjoyed having stuffed animals and toys on his desk, but again, some very serious items. things that he was using in the course of his day. on the left side of the desk, you see a portfolio that has the portraits of his four sons, who also worked in america's military during world war ii. like all parents, his children are serving in the military, he
wanted to have a photo of them nearby, in this case, on his working desk. you also see on the right side of the desk, his daily schedule. that would've been a schedule tucked into that folder every day, giving him a list of appointments and what he was supposed to be doing during the day. we have it arranged for the last he was at the desk in march of 1945. one last thing i will point out about the chair, if you look carefully at the arm rests, you see it is worn down. that is from over 12 years of the president using it and being disabled, he is putting a lot of pressure on their getting in and out of the chair, and it is worn down really heavily as you see on the left and the right side. france and roosevelt is selling one of the most consequential presidents in our entire history.
he dramatically changed the relationship of the american people to the federal government. he advocated reforms that have a continuing impact on our lives today. and he had a worldwide impact through his advocacy the united nations and other international organizations, which he hoped would ensure greater international cooperation, and ultimately, greater peace among nations. ♪ >> coming up, we will visit springwood, the home of president roosevelt, where he was born, where he lived, and his final resting place. >> this was home, this was where his heart always was. is always been here and it always will be. this is where he found his strength and happiness through his life. franklin delano roosevelt, the 32nd president of the united states, was born and raised in this house. the roosevelts originally had a different estate down the road on this property.