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tv   2018 Roosevelt Reading Festival - Susan Dunn A Blueprint for War  CSPAN  August 22, 2018 6:34am-7:21am EDT

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his 45 minute event was part of the roosevelt reading festival. [inaudible conversations] >> good afternoon and welcome, everyone. my name is paul sparrow. the director here at the franklin roosevelt presidential library museum. welcome to the 15th annual roosevelt reading festival. it's been a great day so far. [applause] i wanted thank you all for coming. how many of your members, raise your hand. look at that.
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your membership allows us to do programs like this. we have one of our trustees, dr. la mesa, who has been a strong supporter of the library for many years. thank you. we're lucky not to have a former you're here, cynthia cook. [applause] cynthia held with renovation and restoration of the exhibit and was a real force in helping modernize the library here. one of our key goals is to try to connect with the researchers who actually use the archives here. almost everyone who has spoken today has used the national archives in washington for our archives here and hyde park. it is important to see that these are living resources. these are things put away that they use everyday. over over a thousand researchers come here to hyde park to use their archives last year and probably 10,000 have access to materials online. this is a vibrant and important
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archive and it's critical to maintaining and keeping it. i am so proud to be introducing susan dunn today. she's a longtime supporter and friend of the library. she's been coming here for many years. she's the massachusetts professors at humanities at williams college and the author of a dozen books, including roosevelts purge: how fdr fought the change of the democratic party, 1940: fdr, hitler, the election amid the storm. that sounds like a bad law firm, doesn't it? [laughter] the three roosevelt, leaders who transformed america appeared in her new book, which is really very important for us. we are doing an exhibit on d-day. "a blueprint for war: fdr and hte hundred days that mobilized america." please welcome him one of the leading experts, susan dunn. [applause]
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>> thank you, paul, for that lovely introduction. can you hear me now? thank you. and so small the microphone was up there. thank you, paul, for that lovely introduction. i think we're all grateful to paul sparrow, the presidential library and museum. in close loud for organizing this wonderful roosevelt reading festival. [cheers and [applause] i would like to begin with a little story about escaping. in 1939, president franklin roosevelt proposed a two-year experiment. he wanted to move the date of thanksgiving up one week from the customary force thursday november to the goal was to extend the lucrative shopping season between thanksgiving and
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christmas and thereby give a boost to business. most states agreed to try the experiment, but the six new england states and 11 others decline. the mayor of plymouth, massachusetts, where pilgrims celebrated the first things giving in 1621 we -- in plymouth, massachusetts on the fourth thursday in november, 1940, 3000 men, women and children put on pilgrim costumes and poured into memorial hall to commemorate the first thanksgiving. some of them played the parts of governor william bradford, military advisor miles standish in the indian leader massasoit and they reenacted scenes from the past. the signing of the mayflower compact that was the first written expression of democratic self government in america, the
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landing at plymouth rock in the first thanksgiving. in the early evening as they all streamed out of memorial hall into the fresh falling snow in the wintry stillness of the november dusk, they heard the shout of newsboys selling a thursday evening paper. germany bombs plymouth. 200 tons of bombs fall on plymouth. for eight long hours, they had lifted their liquor couple of bombs on the british port city of limit on the english channel. 150 german planes destroying warehouses may be used to provide an block in the harbor in the harbor so that new shipments of rms couldn't arrive. the nazi goal was twofold to reduce to flames and rubble and
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industrial target and morale by depositing how upon its people. when the minister of the first church in plymouth, massachusetts heard the news of the bombing in plymouth, england, he dashed off a telegram to his british brethren. your sorrows are our sorrows he wrote. your battles are our battles. from plymouth, massachusetts to plymouth, england, saigon. god be. elsewhere in the united states on thanksgiving days and i people watched parades and attended church services, enjoy turkey dinners and played football. in the early evening they turn on the lights come and they, they laugh and they slept safely in their beds. but soon, americans would have to decide if the mayor and minister in plymouth, massachusetts was right.
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where the british sorrows, their battles are battles. and then franklin roosevelt and his team of advisers would have to answer those questions. and so i would like to discuss with you today the two crucial plans to roosevelt and his extraordinary team devised to answer those questions. the year before the attack on pearl harbor. the priorities and goals in case the nation entered war. and this statement would be known as plan dog. the second plan was a colossal program to rescue great britain by providing with armaments. and what fdr called the arsenal of democracy. and it was called cleanly.
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in 1940, roosevelt defeated his excellent republican opponent, wendell wilkie. the first american president to serve a third term in the white house. but after his election he was own tired from all the campaigning in speeches. and in fact, he was so tired that many people in washington and around the country feared that he wasn't really engaged in the terrible world crisis. fortunately, roosevelt was surrounded by a brilliant team of advisers. secretary of war, henry stimson. secretary of the navy, frank knox, army chief of staff, general george marshall and naval chief of operations, admiral stark. they admitted that it could be trying to work with their commander-in-chief. in november 1940, stimson wrote in his diary that the president i didn't mean to follow a
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consecutive chain of thought. he seemed to hop around from idea to idea stems and said it was like chasing a beam of sunshine around a vacant room. but stimson knox and marshall quartet understood the need for a clearly focused strategic plan and a formal statement of priorities and goals so that the army and navy chiefs would have a solid aces were coordinating their planning and for reading future military contingencies. in mid-november, the person who took the lead was admiral stark, who had the memorable nickname of betty. one evening in the late fall of 1940, he used an ancient device called a manual typewriter [laughter] and laid out a menu of four
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different wartime strategies that the united states could adopt. and at the end, he concluded with his own opinion of what america's prime objectives and strategy should be. stark posed the crucial question, we're should we fight the war and for what object is? he offered these four scenarios. plan a proposed that the united states maintain a purely defensive posture in the western hemisphere and avoid any involvement in the war for as long as possible though the u.s. could provide material help u.s. allies. plan b proposed a defensive posture in the atlantic but a fall offensive against japan in the pacific. and they rely on the british to hold their own in the atlantic indefinitely. plan c., this was the nightmare
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scenario. the u.s. would wage offensive wars on two fronts. the atlantic and the pacific. the stark emphasized a two ocean war would disperse u.s. forces and virtually preclude successful operations in either theater. the last scenario was playing d., the united states would direct all its efforts towards a strong offensive in the atlantic and an ally of written with the goal of defeating germany while maintaining only a defensive position against japan in the pacific. stark firmly recommended that the roosevelt administration adopt plan b. he rejected the other options as to when he laid out the logic of his argument. first, the security in its empire as well as the strength of its navy would greatly ensure
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the security of the united state in the western hemisphere. second, it was germany and not japan that most seriously threatened britain's security and even if survival. third, therefore it was germany that also posed the greatest danger to the security of the united states. and it was therefore in the interest of both american and british security should use the fall offensive strength of the united states in one single direction. and atlantic first defeats germany strategy. the quartet and the white house did indeed adopt plan d. the word dog stands for the letter d. and so, the strategy became known as plan dog and plan dog meant that the faith of the united states was now inextricably bound to that of
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britain. now even though in 1942 and most of 1943, more american forces would in fact be deployed against japan then against germany. plan dog never the less defined america's fair amount or time strategy and goals through the utterly unforeseeable events of the most destructive war in world history. and by the way, here's a footnote. if anyone ever mentions to you the paranoid conspiracy theory that fdr had really wanted the attack on pearl harbor to take place, you can mention to those people plan dog and explain to them that the last thing in the world that fdr and his team wanted was a two ocean war. for subject number two, it all
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started in early december 1943 when a pale and weary franklin roosevelt decided to exchange cold and gray washington for a warm and sunny caribbean cruise. before he left washington for miami come reporters asked him why he wasn't willing to say where he was going. well, fdr said i'm not going to deceive you. we are going to christmas island to buy christmas cards and then we are going to easter island to buy easter eggs. [laughter] and all the reporters laughed. in miami on december 3rd they boarded the uss tuscaloosa. they relaxed in the gentle breezes of the caribbean. they finished, played card games, joked around, drink martinis and watched movies in the evening on the deck.
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a navy plane delivered special letter for roosevelt for winston churchill who later said this was one of the most important letters he ever wrote. that letter catapulted roosevelt from calm seas and sunny blue skies into a dark war-torn world. churchill began his letter with a solemn observation that the future of our two democracies and their humane in light meant civilization now depended on the military aid that the u.s. could provide to britain and he asked for supreme and decisive help in our common cause. churchill did not ask for americans soldiers. instead, he very pointedly wrote, give us the tools and we will finish the job. he did not believe that the
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british could not win the war without american forces, but he couldn't do that yet to his american cousins. so he said that what the british needed with american ships, planes, tanks and other weapons. up to that point in december, the british had been able to pay for american weapons and transport them through dangerous waters on their own ships. and this policy was known as cash and carry. but not churchill wrote the moment approaches when we shall no longer be able to pay cash for shipping and other supplies. the bottom line is the world's greatest empire was begging the american president for help. fdr's closest aide comment harry hopkins had joined him on that
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cruise and hopkins watched the president sitting alone in his deck chair reading and rereading churchill's leather silently. and then hopkins wrote one evening fdr's mood suddenly changed. in a matter of days while sailing the caribbean, and the president had come up with one of the most consequential policies of the entire war. the commitment to supply the british army, navy and air force with all the tools of war the needed. everything, absolutely free of charge. and now there would be no more masquerade of american neutrality. it would be clear to the whole world where the united states stood and that was alongside and wedded to britain. if the president's plan was approved and funded by congress, the united states would become the unquestioned leader of the
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democratic forces in the war that was taking place between two world, the criminal world of the nazi gangsters and the enlightenment world of john locke, edmund burke, george washington, james madison, thomas jefferson and alexander hamilton. fdr returned to washington on december 16th. in the next day, he held one of his most memorable press conferences. as usual, he began by casually saying that he didn't have any particular news. and then he said there was one small item he could mention. he told the reporters that it was becoming all too clear that the u.s. needed to do everything it could to help the british empire defend itself and that
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meant supplying britain with more material. one reporter asked about payment and then fdr gave his famous reply, now when i'm trying to do is eliminate the dollar sign, the silly old foolish dollar sign. here's an illustration. suppose my neighbors house catches fire and i have a long garden hose. he takes my garden hose and connects it to my hydrant. i can help them put out the fire. i don't say that before the operation. you have to pay me $15 for it. i don't want $15. i want my garden hose back after the fire is over. but what if they get smashed up? he'll replace it. if i get a nice garden hose back, i'm in pretty good shape. another reporter asked the president at the thought that
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his new plan would take the u.s. further into war. and the president had a short reply. nope, not if it. roosevelt had framed his new policy in both moral and practical terms. he was following the golden rule by generously offering neighborly assistance to england, the mother country. and the mother country would somehow return the weapons after the war. of course, how exactly britain would do that remains conveniently vague. but is that what lemley really was? a phenomenally generous giveaway program or was it also a self-interested with provo. what roosevelt did name it and public was he was acting not just out of neighborly generosity, but also an american self-interest. he provided two british soldiers
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said they could do the fighting for him like a mercenary army. and he didn't admit that the u.s. wasn't really landing. it was buying. it was buying temporary security and it was buying time by equipping the british to fight for the u.s. geared up industrial production, trained all the men who had recently been drafted into military service and prepared for its own defense. the u.s. was also buying blood, the blood of british soldiers, pilots, sailors and civilians who would be killed while the u.s. remained on the sidelines. but britain was desperate and the u.s. was in a position to dictate terms in churchill's leather had acknowledged as much.
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two weeks later on december 29th, sunday evening, roosevelt was wheeled into the diplomatic reception room in the white house to deliver his 16th fireside chat. a few other people were in the room. some cabinet members, the president's mother, sarah and the hollywood actor, clark gable and his wife, carole lombard. this always makes me smile because my students have never heard of clark gable. and for that matter, they haven't heard of cary grant. you know the name humphrey bogart, but never one knows the name of cole porter, even though cole porter lived in williamstown just across the street from the college. across the country, hundreds of radio stations were tuned in and around the world, 100 million people listened on short wave radios from new york to california, the country came to a standstill.
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the president began by stating that the nazi had made it clear that they intended to enslave the whole of europe and dominate the rest of the world. he called this a form of tyranny in which there is no liberty, no religion, no hope. he said that because britain was the spearhead of resistance to nazi world conquest, the united states would pledge to send to britain every ounce and every ton of munitions that we could possibly spare. he explained that all the american industrial strength had to be mobilized for defense production and that the entire peacetime economy of the united states had to be placed on the wartime basis. and then he uttered the words that would go down in history. they must be the great arsenal
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of democracy. just while roosevelt was delivering his fireside chat, german planes were delivering something else. the worst attack on london is the beginning of the bullets that past september. they dropped hundreds of explosives and incendiary bombs that reduced east london to a flaming skeleton. "the new york times" london correspondent wrote that people on the east end of london said it was like reading trapped in a forest fire. when they tried to get out of the leaving do them part of london, they found themselves have been by what was toppling over in front of them. the famous american war correspondent, ernie pyle, was in london during the blitz and he described what it was like to go down every night to the air
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raid shelter at the liverpool street to. he wrote, i wasn't emotionally ready to see people laying around by the thousands on cold concrete. many were old. there were children, too. some asleep and some they were smart alex and they were quiet ones, they were hard-working people of middle age who had to rise at 5:00 and go to work. think of yourself as traveling every night at dusk to a subway station, sitting there all night trying to sleep. think of that as your destiny, every night from now on. a few days after the president's fireside chat, 70% of americans
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agreed, was tied to that of britain. they believed their own safety depended on a british victory? a week later in january 1941, another important speech, the state of the union. there was no like less, no touches of humor, the speech contained the grim truth he believed americans needed. every realist knows the democratic way of life is at this moment being assailed in every part of the world, then he discussed american age to great britain and the importance of speeding up war production. at the end of his speech he described his vision for the postwar future.
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he said he saw a world founded upon four essential universal human freedoms everywhere in the world, freedom of speech and expression, the freedom of every person to worship god in his own way, freedom from want and freedom from fear everywhere in the world. if you have a picture in your mind's i am norman rockwell's him illustrations they portrayed those freedoms in a particularly american context. a man in work clothes standing up to speak at a town meeting in arlington, vermont, people praying together at a church service, a grandmother in an apron serving turkey at a thanksgiving family dinner where children and adults around the table are smiling gleefully and the mother and father tucking
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their children into bed at night, but fdr repeated over and over, he wanted his four freedoms to be long to people everywhere in the world. his message about the four essential universal human freedoms gave a moral purpose to war. this wasn't a war for conquest. instead he held out hope that it would ultimately lead to a postwar world order founded on individual freedom, prosperity, tolerance, and international peace and security. and then came another speech in mid-january. fdr's third inaugural address. but after the december press conference, the dramatic arsenal of democracy fireside chat, and
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the four freedoms state of the union talk, this speech seemed a bit of an anticlimax but in my opinion it was the most important of all those talks. it was a philosophical, even spiritual talk about how precious democracy is and i think it is a very relevant and meaningful lesson for us to think about today. roosevelt said that a nation is like a person. it has a physical, intellectual and spiritual life. of the body must be clothed, fed and housed. mind must be kept informed and alert. but a nation, like a person, he said, has something deeper, something more permanent than the sum of all its parts. no single word could name it, he
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said, and yet we all understand what it is. for the united states, it was something he called the democratic aspiration, the living faith, quasi-divine purpose in national life, the ongoing quest for freedom, justice, equality and happiness. he said that if the spirit of america were killed, even though the nation's body and mind lived on, the america we know would have perished. to keep the democratic aspiration alive in a time of brutal warfare, he explained all citizens be called upon to make countless sacrifices. the guiding light of the nation's spirit, he said, would furnish the highest justification for every sacrifice we may make because of national defense.
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but what caught more notice than the speech was the military spectacle that followed it. parading down pennsylvania avenue were units of cavalry, infantry, navy, coast guard, marines, west point cadets, and apple a smidgen, motorcycles and tanks and in the sky above, airplanes flew in formation. it was an astoundingly militaristic extravaganza and that was also the message that fdr wanted to send, the united states was willing to fight for the democratic way of life which he called the most humane, the most advanced and the most unconquerable of all forms of human society. on january 10, 1941, the lease bill was introduced in the house and senate, its title was rather
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vague, a bill to promote the defense of the united states and for other purposes. but it had the patriotic number, house resolution 1776. the house foreign affairs committee and the senate foreign relations committee held hearings and supporters and opponents of the bill testified. secretary of state cordell hall was first to testify, and he painted a grim picture of the ruthless nazi enemy and insisted it was essential to the goal of american defense and self-preservation. the secretary of the treasury, henry morgan, gave a detailed report confirming the british simply didn't have the dollars to pay for the arms they needed.
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secretary of war henry simpson pointed out in the british navy was destroyed, the united states would be in real danger of information. so this would enable the british to fight while in the us geared up industrial production and prepared for its own defense. he didn't tell committee members what he thought, that american soldiers would eventually have to fight and die to get the job done. in his diary, stimson wrote we cannot permanently be in a position of tool makers for other nations that fight. the star witness for the opposition for the house of representatives was the man i love to hate. aviator charles lindbergh who
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became an american hero when he flew solo across the atlantic in a single engine plane, the spirit of st. louis. it is ironic the man whose flight inspired hope of transatlantic community and international cooperation was the leading spokesman for the america first committee, the powerful isolationist organization. lindbergh's message to the congressman was that no matter how much help the us might give britain, it was a foregone conclusion that britain could not win the war against germany. he also said the british german war was simply not an american affair. all the more so because the united states was protected by two vast oceans and could therefore remain a fortress, happily isolated from the rest
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of the world. at one point in his testimony a congressman bluntly asked lindbergh which side he wanted to win the war and lindbergh shockingly said this, i prefer to see neither side win. between britain and nazi germany there is not as much difference in philosophy as we have been led to believe. and believe it or not, he insisted that the real danger to the us way here at home and that roosevelt posed a greater threat to the united states than did hitler. for his part, fdr said if i should die tomorrow, i want you to know that i am absolutely convinced that lindbergh is a nazi.
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lindbergh's wife also pitched in and in the fall of 1940, she wrote a best-selling book called the wave of the future. for mrs. lindbergh, the wave of the future was fascism. she wrote that fascism and dictatorship, they are just infinitely more dynamic, modern, and energetic than america's 18th-century constitutional democracy with its slow-moving checks and balances and frequent elections. she argued that the conflict taking place in europe wasn't between good and evil, it was between the forces of the past and the forces of the future. and if the nazis were guilty of any minor mistakes or misdeeds, she said that was merely scum on the wave of the future.
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interestingly, eleanor roosevelt came out with a book of her own in the fall of 1940 and it was called the moral basis of democracy. she argued that the true essence of democracy is fraternity, sharing, sacrifice and an ethic of responsibility to the neighbors we know as well as for the people we don't know. american democracy, she noted, must be truly inclusive. all citizens should enjoy prosperity and equal rights and find meaning and pleasure in being active participants in a morally sound and robust society. together, those citizens would willingly risk their lives to refute the repulsive notion that
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fascism represented any kind of future. the star witness for the proponents was the man i do love, wendell wilkie, the indiana businessman who had been defeated by roosevelt in the 1940 election. when the election results came in on that election night, roosevelt, who was just 100 yards from right here, in the dining room of springwood, said i am glad i won but i am sorry wendell lost. in fact wilkie and roosevelt were not very different, they were both solid internationalists and anti-fascists who were totally committed to the survival of democracy. they were both well-educated, and they both had a moral conscience and wilkie was a
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pioneer in civil rights. wilkie told the senate committee that american and british democracies could not hope to defend themselves without led leaf. he took aim at all the appeasers, isolationists and lip service friends of britain like the ambassador to britain, joseph p kennedy, who he said all wanted to sabotage aid to the united kingdom. when one senator asked wilkie about all the biting and sarcastic things he said about fdr during the campaign, wilkie dismissed that and said it was the usual campaign oratory. finally, on march 11, 1941, both chambers of commerce that congress overwhelmingly passed the bill. speaker sam rayburn of texas,
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vice president henry wallace, rushed it over to the white house where fdr quickly read it, scrolled his name on it and it became law. that same day in the house of commons, churchill expressed britain's gratitude to the united states. he said this was a new magna carta that embodied the responsibilities of free democratic nations to uphold a moral civilization. churchill later memorably called it the most unsorted act in all of recorded history.
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it did indeed rescue britain but also rescued the united states. it mobilized the nation's industrial might from coast-to-coast, factories that had produced lawnmowers, vacuum cleaners, textiles and adding machines started making shrapnel, gas masks, automatic pistols and high precision instruments. automobile factories began producing scout cars and engines for airplanes and the labor force was booming. millions of people and women of all ages stream into factories and works on assembly lines. vocational high schools were on overtime training and retraining american men and women for new roles in the workforce. the manager of the state employment service in the small city of york, pennsylvania, said in january 1941, a year ago our task was to find jobs for pooh-pooh. now our task is to find men for
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jobs. what about housing? all the new workers needed places to live near the factory so roosevelt set up an agency called the division of defense housing, that supervised the construction of 21/2 million new homes along with schools and recreational facilities. all this powerful activity and energy produced prosperity throughout the country. and ironically this vitality fulfilled the promises of the new deal more than any of the economic programs of the 1930s. the number of the bill was 1776. in 1776, the rebellious children of the 13 colonies cut their ties with the mother country,
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declared their independence and went to war, all because that dastardly king of parliament refused to respect the rights the americans inherited from them from the british, the precious anglo-saxon and enlightenment principles of freedom under law, self-government, and the right of individuals to do process. in 1941, those rebellious kids of america did not issue a declaration of independence this time those bratty kids issued a powerful and, i hope, enduring declaration of independence, and not just under great britain but the rest of the globe. this marked the end of the era of american isolationism and retreat from world affairs that
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began in 1919 when the senate rejected woodrow wilson's league of nations. that meant the united states was embarking on a road to global leadership, until the election of 2016, america has sought to play the leading political, military and moral role in the world. in conclusion i would like to express my deep gratitude to franklin roosevelt, admiral stark, george marshall, henry simpson and frank knox for their commitment to democratic values and their generous spirit of internationalism and global responsibility. i thank all of you for listening to be today.
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[applause] >> we are running late so we will go to the book signing, we won't take questions right now. and bringing our family fun festival, free entertainment, it will be a great day, please come down. [inaudible conversations]
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>> the medical uses of psychedelic drugs in how to change your mind. book to be in prime time each night on c-span2. >> c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979 c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies. unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court and public policy events in washington dc and around the country. c-span provided by your cable or satellite provider.


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