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tv   The Presidency Franklin Eleanor Roosevelt Partnership  CSPAN  May 4, 2022 2:09pm-3:09pm EDT

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it's just really fascinating to get to see all of this and getting to see the pictures and getting to see some of the old pop culture items. it's just a one-of-a-kind exhibit. our featured speaker. today is paul sparrow. paul wouldn't have a job today and frankly neither would i if it wasn't for fra >> our featured speaker today
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is paul sparrow. paul wouldn't have a job today and frankly neither would i've it was not for franklin roosevelt. feat that is not matched today by our current presidents paul is the director of the franklin roosevelt library and museum before the fdr library. he was the deputy director and senior vice president for broadcasting and new media at the museum. he was a founding partner at the university of maryland's future of informational alliance and a pioneer in interactive digital media prior to his work at the museum. sparrow is a emmy award-winning television producer. he started his television career at kpix in san francisco and i saw we've got some folks from california, so we'll have to let us know if they they know your work paul from california and that are you with this fall? i'm here. yes. thank you patrick for having me here to them. i'm really pleased to be part of this series. i them in their fantastic. terrific we're delighted to have you before we let you jump in. i have to ask. how are you doing?
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how's the staff doing with the with the pandemic and everything? well, as you know, the national archives has taken a very conservative approach and staff health and safety has been the number one priority. so we've been closed to the public since march our staff is healthy and well we started bringing some of the staff back on part-time, but then as the detection rate increase we've closed back down again, but we're hoping that with the vaccine and with the trends we're seeing that hopefully will be able to get back to work soon. that's a fingers crossed. we're all looking forward to that. we miss our visitors. well, i know you've got a great presentation to give us so i'm gonna get out of the way give you the screen and the mic and afterwards we will obviously take q&a. so again, i invite our our viewers if you would like to ask a question. don't don't feel like you have to wait till the end you can get them in the in the chat box as paul's talking and we'll try and get to as many as possible when
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we get to the q&a paul. it's all yours. hey patrick, i appreciate that and welcome to you all. i'm a huge fan of the national archives foundation and very very pleased to be able to tonight to talk to you about franklin eleanor roosevelt who i think are probably the most important couple in 20 century american history we can start with our first slide. go ahead to the next one. so franklin roosevelt, you know really is the sun of sarah and james roosevelt go to the next slide and here he is in 1900 as he just graduated from groton and about to head off to harvard. he had had a truly privileged childhood growing up here on the hudson valley on the riverside on 1000 acres of property with a summer home and campobello and an apartment family had apartment in manhattan, and he really was. part of the very privileged elite next slide, please. there were two branches of the
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roosevelt family one branch that lived up in the hudson valley. that's the franklin roosevelt side another branch which lived out on long island, and that was the teddy roosevelt side. and this is eleanor roosevelt in her wedding dress, and she was given away by her uncle teddy roosevelt who happened to be president of the united states at the time her mother and father both died when she was young a child and so she became sort of teddy roosevelt's surrogate daughter and part of this big roosevelt family next slide, please. now frankly that eleanor has seen each other and family events while they were growing up, but as he was graduating from harvard, he really sort of fell for her and this is 1905. this is right after the wedding and as you can see, you know, they were a handsome couple and they were the melding of two branches of this family and as
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theodore roosevelt famously said to eleanor is good. you're keeping the name in the family. and of course. their wedding was scheduled for march 17th, because her uncle teddy was going to be in new york for saint patrick's day because as his other daughter once commented on him teddy roosevelt liked to be the baby at every christening the bride at every wedding and the corps said every funeral next slide, please. the young family grew quickly. eleanor was not a great mother by her own admissions in her autobiography. she had not had a nurturing mother growing up because he had been orphan so young, but she started having children and then in 1910 or so at franklin roosevelt gets into politics runs for state senate and when woodrow wilson is elected president. he is appointed as an assistant secretary of the navy and they all moved to washington dc now the wife of the assistant secretary of the navy back then
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had very very specific and rigid social responsibilities calling on the wives of other naval officers hosting these events and things and eleanor was not familiar with the washington social scene. so she needed someone to help her so she hired a young girl from a very prominent family next slide. please named lucy mercer now lucy was very efficient. her family was on hard times, but they had a really hepatic background and she was very very good at her job and during this time as franklin roosevelt was sort of rising to prominence in the democratic party. they were a power couple so when the war breaks out next slide please franklin roosevelt's role as the assistant secretary the navy becomes very important. he actually goes is a photograph of him in france in 1918. he had just flown on an airplane for the first time. you can see him with the helmet coming down off the plane and he
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was over there to inspect the naval operations. that was a tremendous effort obviously of getting all of the american soldiers over there and the materials and the supplies and he was really in his element. he loved the navy. he'd studied naval history from the time. he was a young boy, and of course you all know that in 1918. there was a terrible epidemic that's swept the world a pandemic the spanish flu and as fdr was coming home from the trip to europe. he got quite to sick and when he arrived at home, he was taken off the boat in an ambulance and put to bed and eleanor roosevelt began unpacking his things and in the process of unpacking his clothes she discovered a bundle of love >> eleanor roosevelt began unpacking his things and in the process of unpacking his clothes, she discovered a bundle of letters from lucy mercer. it turns out her husband had been having an affair with her social secretary. this is a really big moment in
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their relationship, in some ways in 20th century american history because as, you can go to the next slide please. as they are struggling with this, this is a photograph taken in 1920, they are trying to discover. eleanor offers to franklin a divorce if he wants one. now franklin was in love with lucy and there was a great moment where the whole thing had come apart. but franklin's mother, sarah roosevelt was a very powerful figure in franklin's life, told him that if he divorced eleanor, his political career would be over and she would disown him. franklin and eleanor came to an understanding, franklin agreed that he would never see lucy again and that they would continue on as a partnership. decidedthere was five childrent they had to take care of. there was his political career.
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they decided to stay together. although, clearly, the relationship was fractured. next slide please. the next year, 1921, franklin gets polio. this promising career on this dynamic, energetic, very, very, strong democratic leader is thrown into some question. polio has seriously handicapped him. that photo is in palm springs, georgia. he became very interested in this polio center he was trying to develop down there in georgia. he sort of disappears off the scene. meanwhile eleanor roosevelt becomes the public face of the roosevelt name. she starts attending meetings, she joins the women's democratic coalition, she becomes very active. and as she becomes more active in this case, she's keeping the
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roosevelt name alive. after a few years franklin gradually comes back into the political scene. famously in 1928 he runs for governor of new york. he becomes governor of new york. his political career is launched. very few people realize just how physically handicapped he was at that point. he was essentially paralyzed from the waist down. yet he developed a walking style which let him pretend, people knew he had polio, but people could pretend that he wasn't that severely crippled. next slide, please. the two of them were incredibly powerful and dynamic campaigners. he decided to run as president in 1932 as the depression ran across the country, eleanor was a really strong supporter and a wonderful aid on the campaign trail. fdr standing up, you would know he was paralyzed from the waist down, he's wearing steel leg braces.
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he is holding on to the railing so it would appear as if he could stand. when he walked he would always hold on to the arm of his son, or his bodyguard, someone like that. usually have obtained in the other hand. it would appear that he could walk. he won the 1932 presidential election with a very large majority. he came into the white house with this very progressive agenda to remake the way the federal government interacts with the american people. a course eleanor was really convinced -- that very strong, progressive, she believed the federal government's job to help people who need help. she was in many ways the conscience of the administration. franklin roosevelt was much more pragmatic. he wanted to get things done. that was always the question, how do you get what needs to be done, done. and still meet the goals and ideals of eleanor roosevelt.
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next slide, please. one of their most remarkable abilities where that both of them were masters of their media. during their era newspapers where the dominant source of information but radio was emerging as really the best way to communicate to people. a way to transcend the political editors of the newspapers and really communicate directly with the people. franklin became an absolute master of the radio. famously he becomes president on march 4th, he was the last president inaugurated in march during the weeks of a terrible banking crisis. banks are floundering all across the country. this first fireside chat radio address he tries to calm the country that they closed the banks he is going to reopen the banks they're going to try to solve this problem. as the comedian will roger said, fdr explain the banking crisis
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so well that even the bankers understood what had happened. he was so persuasive, so calming, so reassuring about the future positive about it, when they reopen the banks instead of there being a run on the banks, which was the great fear. in fact people flowed their money back into the banks. nothing economically had changed, he had essentially ended the banking crisis but doing what he believed was the most important thing. as he famously said in his first inaugural address, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. he was talking about the banking crisis. eleanor also had a remarkable radio career. she did radio programs, she started a serial in 1935, she started daily newspaper column. she had a very strong public voice which was unprecedented for a first lady up to that point. she also became the eyes and ears over the. she would travel the country, talking to people, and she
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would come back and report to him. he really understood what was happening out there thanks to her. famous cartoons of eleanor roosevelt showing up unexpected places, like in a coal mine, places like that. they were a dynamic team with tremendous influence on the american public. the public was fascinated with them. here they are sitting in the front yard or franklin's mother's home in high park, new york. it's called spring would. it's where he grew up. it really was the center of his life. you look at this beautiful picture you can see the rolling hills, you can still see much of this landscape there as it exists. one of fdr's closest assistance was a name called missy lohan, marjory missy the hand. she was with him through his polio, when he became vice president, and she became really like of staff when they moved to the white house. she took a lot of home movies.
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we are going to look at some of those home movies now to give you a little bit of a behind the scenes look at the roosevelts. we can go ahead with the video. here is, hyde springs, georgia. so this is in the backyard of spring would, again. you can see eleanor knitting. eleanor knitted constantly. you'll see urinating on boats, and cars, on trains, there was a way she could be productive. franklin, of course, was enormously intelligent and absorb huge amounts of information. even when he was on vacation, or in his home, he came up to spring with a lot they would bring stacks the papers to read, that is his daughter the tall blot with his grandchildren there. playing in the backyard. this is the home at spring would. he had a study, before the lab rate was built, he had a study at his mother's house.
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that was where he did his official work. that is missy on the left and mcintyre on the right. robert mcintyre, his formal secretary. in this room which you can still see when you visit the house you can see the books and the desk, this is where he would play with his stamp collection. he was an avid collector. he collected stamps, ship models, one of the things about the situation is they didn't really have their own home. this was fdr's mother's home. not his home. here they are back in georgia. there is missy in the middle there. someone else was using her camera to shoot this. you can see some rare footage you can see how withered his legs are. the reason he loved these pools at warm springs it because hit allowed him to feel as though he was able to swim and have some freedom. he spent almost half of his fortune converting that into a
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polio rehabilitation center. here's home movies of that still photo you saw. the relationship between the two of them at this point was very complicated. eleanor was still somewhat removed emotionally from their relationship. she was developing her own persona as a, you know, very active first lady. franklin was brilliant in the way that he would use her. she would come out with a new idea or say something that would generate a lot of controversy. he would say oh, that's the misses i have no control over her. but if it was well accepted they would move on with it. -- those are the fourth sons there at a party. and the daughter at the far-right. mother's birthday party where the entire clan got together in the backyard of spring would. four boys, very good-looking young men. all concerned in active duty during world war ii. more home of ease from a place
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near warm springs foundation. they loved to have these picnics. they would have picnics in spring would, -- at the end of the first hundred days this is amazing footage. this is the end of the first hundred days he sailed his boat with his son and a couple of boys up the new england coast to his home in camp a ballot canada. that's his son james there. eleanor wasn't on the boat she did not care for sailing. this man with paralyzed from the waist down on a 40 foot yacht sailing the north atlantic. you know, as president of the united states it goes to a lot of his characteristics. he loved to live life! he wanted to be an adventure. he loved to see. anything to have to do with the sea. here is the media that followed him anywhere. the ceo of the navy he was so passionate about it. you can see here how he's standing holding on to his son's arm the cane in one hand.
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if you were to see these in a news real adam movie theater you would think he is perfectly you know, capable standing. this is the last sequence. this is the car we have at the museum. on the property they had up in warm high park. they grew trees they grew corn in other things. everywhere they went there was a photo opportunity. you can see the press they're everywhere they went. thank you, now on to the next slide. the effectiveness. so their relationship was remarkable in the effectiveness it had in changing american politics. most importantly it change the relationship between the federal government and the american public. next slide please. of course 1939 world war ii breaks out, hitler invades
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poland and everything changes. the efforts around the social renovation after the depression give way to having to prepare america, which is very isolationist, in order to get involved in this european war. most americans didn't want to have anything to do with it. in 1940 during the administration fdr makes the controversial decision to run for a third term, which no one had ever done in american history. he is reelected, this is inauguration day 1941. he and eleanor leaving the white house this was -- he felt that he was the best person to deal with these international crises and to help transition america into a wartime footing and material he famously talked about america become in the arsenal of democracy. we would not send our voice to fight, but provide the weapon the material for england, this would be a union to fight nazi
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germany. next slide please. now eleanor, this is march of 1941. eleanor was a strong champion of civil rights. here she is down at the tuskegee institute. this is one of my favorite photographs of her because there is a lot of controversy about whether african americans can serve in the military, what rules they could play. she goes down to sticky sticky institute, that is chief anderson behind the controls and she he takes up for a flight, flies around for 45 minutes. an african american man and a white first lady in a small plane. it was radical, but it changed the perception and essentially helped create the tuskegee airmen and then eventually the red tails. this is the kind of thing that she would do. she would use her celebrity, use her voice of authority to change the way that people thought about african americans, about immigrants, about poor people and she really dedicated herself to changing that equilibrium. nick slide please. so in june of 1941, the library
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opened. here is fdr in the white suit. doing the opening ceremonies for the presidential library. prior to this point, the president just took everything with them. all their papers were considered their personal property, and he really believed that presidential papers belongs to the american public. he built the library to house both his presidential records, but also his collections, his books, his ship models, his paintings. his collection was the one thing that he did not give the american public, because when he died, he managed to sell it. inside the museum, this was called the oddities gallery were all the little weird gifts that would come into him, either from the american public or from people, were put on display. the large thinks like head is still on display at the library today. next slide please. in august of 1941, again america still is not in the war, but the wars raging on in the
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world. fdr has this secret meeting with winston churchill. they draft the atlantic charter, which is essentially the framework for why america should fight this war. this is not a war to preserve the british empire, this is about saving democracy. next slide please. that is december of 1941, the japanese attack pearl harbor and any isolation resistance to getting involved in the war goes away. this is a critical moment in this transition of fdr from a regular presidential to wartime president, and he goes on to mobilize the most extraordinary military alliance in the history of the world. next slide please. in 1942, the americans and the british and the allies land in north africa. in january of 43, he and churchill have another meeting in casablanca, with all their military. after the meeting is over, churchill insist that fdr come with him tamara cash. here they are in the tower in
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marrakech in the middle of where they were staying in. two people had to literally carry fdr up the stairwell because it was too narrow to get the wheelchair out there. they're looking out across america, marrakech towards the mountains. there is an extraordinary moment in this relationship between the two of them. the next day, as fdr is going on a plane, churchill t-shirts to his aid and say that is the greatest man i've ever known. he returns to this spot and does the only painting he did during the entire war of this scene and then he then gave the painting to franklin roosevelt. next slide please. eleanor, meanwhile, takes on this role of being the mother to all of the soldiers who are fighting. in the summer of 1943, she engages with an extremely dangerous mission and she towards the pacific, visiting thousands of soldiers and sailors who were wounded. every soldier sailor she met, she would give them their home address, her family as we get a
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letter, it was an extraordinary brave and difficult journey. these were on pressurized military aircraft she was flying through a war zone. but it really showed her commitment to being supportive of american troops. next live please. then, of course, in november of 43, they have the famous conference. here we have the first time the big three are together. this is really fdr at the height of his power, and at the height, he is still healthy and he is just the person that both churchill and stall and look to. churchill install and did not trust each other. they were trying to decide on the post world war, what will happen with eastern europe, will russia come into the war? it was an extraordinary moment, these three men commanded a military force, even to this day that is unprecedented. next slide please. unfortunately, on the trip home,
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fdr becomes quite ill. in the early parts of 1944, he starts really suffering from illness. d-day happens on june of 1944 and the balance of the war starts to shift dramatically as allied troops begin their march across western europe and the soviet troops began their march from the east. next slide please. fdr, however, is in fairly bad health. that's his daughter and on the left and eleanor on the right. you can see he has lost a tremendous amount of weight. anna has moved into the white house at this point and essentially become the hostess, because eleanor is traveling so much. eleanor is not as concerned about franklin's health as she has sort of seen it slowly degrade, whereas anna were is forcing to have tests done, which reveals he has congestive heart failure, extremely high blood pressure, hypertension and that he needed to do some dramatic changes to his
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lifestyle. next slide please. of course, this is also the moment when he's running for president in 1944 for an equally on president precedent it fourth or. it's one of the few color photographs taken that summer before the election. you can see he has lost weight, this is the picture that makes him look as good as he could at that moment. but he runs for president and he is reelected. at this point, you know, the doctors are being pretty honest with him telling him if you run for office, you will probably die. you need to stop working and rest. yet, he decided to go ahead and do it anyway. this is the moment, as they decide to run for fourth term, that he selects harry truman to be his vice president. next slide. then, in february of 1945, the big three meet again. it is a grueling trip. 14,000 miles. it takes a tremendous toll on fdr.
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they don't resolve some of the issues, such as what is going to happen with eastern europe, they do resolve some of the bigger issues. the united nations, soviets agreed to join the united nations and coming to work against japan. however, his health is not recovering. next slide please. he goes, when he returns home, he goes down to warm springs to try to recover, because the first meeting of the united nations will be at the end of april. this photograph was taken on april 11th. he died the next day, april 12th. now, unfortunately one of the people who were with him in warm springs was lucy mercer, who had married a man named rutherford who had died recently. lucy was there. when eleanor came down the next day to retrieve the body, franklin's cousin told her that lucy had been there. so eleanor lost her job, her husband and found out that he had been seeing his former
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mistress all in the same day. and yet she put together an extraordinary public face. that information did not get out for years. next slide please. his casket is moved from palm springs, it goes on a train, thousands of people lined the tracks. it comes out to washington as a big national ceremony, and then it comes up to hyde park. you see here the casket on the case, as it rolls up. soldiers and sailors lining the pathway, all the way up to the rose garden where he was buried. next slide please. after his death, initially as eleanor said well the stories over. she was up to her home. but, of course, the story is not over. if you only look at eleanor's career from the time she left the white house to the time she died, you would still say she is one of the most important women in the 20th century history. next live please. president truman puts around the united nations commission,
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she chaired the committee that draft the universal declaration of human rights. she championed civil rights, women's rights. she is the most famous american women in the world, one of the most powerful politicians in the democratic party. she leaves a lasting legacy of commitment to human rights. next slide please. she dies in 1962, and you can see here, this is the burial site on the home. that is the marble, the first grave with the flag is fdr's grave, and the grave next to it is eleanor's. this is the site, as a matter of fact in just a few days, franklin's birthday is january 30th, every year there is a refilling ceremony and it is a very spiritual place. next live please. eleanor roosevelt papers along with franklin roosevelt papers and 400 other people are stored here at the fdr library and museum.
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we are closed right now, but obviously we are dedicated to preserving these records, making them available to the public and telling the story of the roosevelt legacy. next slide please. we have been doing a tremendous amount of these virtual meetings, and we have almost 1 million documents online, you can go franklin, which is our search, look at the master speech files, all the documents, thousands of photographs as well. next lied. we infer encourage you to join us on our social media sites because obviously social media is where you communicate. we will see you on twitter, facebook, instagram or youtube. that is the end of my presentation, thank you. >> that is fantastic. got to get a selfie in. right? that is a wonderful overview. i have been looking forward to having you in the series because i have to say, for this job, i worked at the un foundation and when i had the opportunity to come up and
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visit for your wife all at the library, i remember that train ride up the hudson and how struck i was making my way to the hyde park and then to see the property and the museum. so, it is a great one. they are all great, but in different ways. hopefully folks, when we get back to regular days, they will be coming to see you. you mentioned the museum is closed. i want to go before i jump into my questions, i want to remind folks to get their questions in the youtube chat box. i see some have come in, so we will be taking notes there. the museum is closed and in regular times, i know all the presidential libraries focus on research. what kind of researcher folks coming in doing? do we not know everything about the roosevelts yet? can you talk to us a little bit, how many folks maybe come and do research here? what kind of projects, without
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getting into specifics, are people looking into? >> we get about 1000 on site researchers every year and then, you know many thousands who do research online or put in requests or email other sources. you know, they research all sorts of things. because we have a collection that is outside of just franklin roosevelt, we have the refugee board, people are interested in the american response to the holocaust. we have several million letters to eleanor roosevelt. people who are interested in eleanor roosevelt story. we have the family's personal correspondence, we have the whole roosevelt family documents going back to the mid 17th century. so there is a tremendous amount of material. we have all the backroom papers. when world war ii started, fdr created a map with all the communications of all the military bases around the world, they come through the map room to fdr. any day, any moment, he can go in and see what is happening in
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the pacific. what is happening in north africa, what is happening in the soviet union. we had the exhibit several years ago about d-day and we found these incredible maps, which we realized these were the maps that were drawn out for him to see the events of the allied forces. so there is a lot of material there and people are still discovering new material all the time. we got new home movies just a few years ago, showing fdr at the white house. you know, material is coming up all the time. >> that's terrific. you hit on one of the questions about the materials there and what is their. related to that, is there an eleanor roosevelt papers project? >> well, we have digitized some of eleanor roosevelt papers. one of our goals is to obviously digitize all of the records here. we have about 17 million pages, so we have a ways to go. we want to digitize these letters to eleanor roosevelt because they are extraordinary.
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during this period, especially the early part of the administration, when the depression is just ravaging the country, people write to her, they say things like i have no winter coat, you dress so well, can you send me an extra winter coat? my father has no money, he is starving, can you send me $5 so he does not starve? one african american women wrote that her father was walking down the street and a white man pulled over to pick up truck and said get my truck, i want you to pick up my cotton. a 65 year old man said i don't do that anymore and they beat him. she was reaching out to eleanor roosevelt for justice. those letters, we think are incredible snapshots of america during one of the most difficult times in our history and i think there is great knowledge to be gained from that. at this point, you have to come up here literally and go through the boxes and look at all of these letters, we can digitize them and organize them, so you can sort by state, gender, topic, date, you know, it would be a tremendous resource. absolutely, that is a big
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priority of the archives. provide more access to the presidential libraries, digitally. we always get the question about biographies. >> do you have a favorite, or a recommendation when you tell people if they want to learn about fdr? >> there are thousands, literally thousands of books about the roosevelts. if you are just starting and you don't really know much about in the book i usually recommend is no ordinary time by goodwin, written almost 20 years ago now. she was such a extraordinary rider in such a really tease book. they encapsulate the relationship of their time, encapsulates the dynamics of their relationship. the title, no ordinary time, comes from one of franklin's speeches. it helps frame the bigger story. if you are interested in will work to you can read nigel hamilton's trilogy about fdr's command. if you are really interested in
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eleanor roosevelt, you can dive into different subjects that are specific because there is such a large amount of history to cover here. from the early 1920s all the way through to 1962. >> okay. i want to talk a little bit about relationships it has been said that truman didn't know anything about the manhattan project until he took over. before we jump into that what was fdr's relationship with hoover? he did have the hoover presidential library earlier on in our series. what about the fact that truman didn't know about the project is that a relationship of their dynamic relationship? can you talk a little bit about that there. >> he had a very bad relationship with hoover. -- back then, remember, he was inaugurated on march 4th but elected in november, or early december. there was a long period where the country was experiencing
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severe economic crisis. 25% unemployment. literally millions of people living on the street, homeless. farms closing, banks closing! homes being foreclosed on. fdr's vision for what he wanted to do, what he campaigned on, the idea of the new deal. the federal government is gonna get involved, they're gonna find ways to help these people. of course hoover was the old school, thought the federal government's role was not getting involved into peoples lives. you had to let the market recover. during that period hoover put enormous pressure on fdr to reneged and promised he wouldn't follow up with his new deal ideas's. he would stick with hoover's program. roosevelt refused! for lots of good reasons. he was elected to do what he said he was going to do. there was tremendous bad blood between them. hoover thought roosevelt was a lightweight. ignorant he thought he would ruin the company. he spent the rest of his life campaigning against fdr.
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it was a very fraught relationship. on the drive from the white house to the capitol building during the inauguration hoover just sat there and refused to talk to him. there are some very famous photograph of the two of them sitting there. fdr, charming man that he was kept trying to make small talk and eventually gave up in just waved to the crowd. the situation with truman was very different. fdr had a vice president for his first two terms, jack norman -- for his third term he brought in wallace, henry wallace, who had been his agricultural secretary. wallace was very liberal and progressive. the democratic did not want him to be vice president during the fourth term because there is such a high risk of him dying. truman was selected. fdr did not have much of a relationship of truman. he knew him because he had been in the senate. he did not have much of a relationship with truman. during that period after the
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election fdr was somewhat ill, he traveled a lot. he went to the yalta conference. he came back, he was really focused on starting up the united nations. they only had three meetings. the entire file a correspondence between them is roughly a dozen pages. i think fdr assumed he had more time. eventually he would bring truman into the narrative and explain these things to him. my theory has always been that fdr's plan was that as soon as the war ended was he would step down as president of the united states and become the head of the united nations, which was the head that he was the most passionate about. he wanted someone like truman to be president under the united states could he thought that he could work with him, truman would not compete with him in that role of the post world leader of the free world. i think that is partly what happened there. i think it was one of fdr's greatest mistakes. not briefing truman.
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japanese internment was a terrible -- and not supporting federal lynching laws was a mistake. not briefing truman was certainly a major failure on his part. i think it had to do with the fact that he couldn't accept his own mortality. he might die and he had responsibility to brief truman so he was prepared to become president. are there any presidential papers that indicate that he was thinking of stepping down at a certain point? or is this historian lore? >> the only reference to it is from his distant cousin daisy, who spent a significant amount of time with him especially towards the end of his like. she has a home up here. she kept diaries of their meetings in their correspondents. she was the only one that really put it down on paper saying that he had discussed this with her. i think if you look at what he was focused on, what was most important to him, the post war
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world. how these former empires like britain and france were going to deal with a non-colonial based world. how america would have to be one of the four policemen at the site. that would stop another war from happening. >> was, speaking of relationships, was his uncle teddy influential in his presidency at all? >> fdr idolized teddy roosevelt. mirrored his career like teddy roosevelt, he ran for state raja slater. like teddy roosevelt he was assistant secretary of the navy. like teddy roosevelt he was governor of new york. and then of course the idea of being a wartime president, you know, he had studied teddy's feelings about creating the great white navy, projecting american force overseas. teddy roosevelt was a
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tremendous influence over him. politically teddy roosevelt was a colossal -- he tried to expand the american empire. fdr felt very strongly that all of those colonies needed to be free. >> i want to remind folks that they can put their questions in the chat. got a couple, got some here that are cute up. we want to welcome folks from around the country. fdr lovers from coast to coast as you can imagine. as far away from california, omaha, nebraska. houston, palm beach, a course it's a little chilly in d.c. today i would like to be in palm beach. massachusetts, new jersey, vermont, a lot of folks from the d.c. area. south bend, indiana. pennsylvania. we have the country covered here. we have covered a lot of information so let me jump into some of these questions. but and we will encourage more to come in. a couple more logistic things
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for folks. is hyde park the same as spring would? >> hyde park is a town in upstate new york along the hudson, spring wood is the name of the house in the property. a lot of the estates along the hudson river are named estates. some of them don't even have addresses they are just known for generations as spring would, middle wood, that is why there is a distinction between hyde park, which is the town and spurring wood which is the home. >> understood. sort of related geography here. was there a reason that eleanor didn't move to spring would after fdr's death? >> very much because it was fdr's mother's home. eleanor never felt comfortable there. there was a lot of tension between eleanor and sarah. sarah was a very important person. very domineering, often
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overshadowing eleanor. criticizing her and the way that she raised her children. eleanor never really felt comfortable in spring would. she needed that separation, plus fdr had planned to give the home and all its property to the national park service. he had already donated the library to the national archives, and the property that it was on. it's surrounded by the spring would've state. eleanor said okay, give us one year and we will give it all to the national park service, i will move off. >> and where did the roosevelt family money come from? >> it's an interesting story. it really is about the wealth and development of new york city. originally the clouds vaughan rosenfeld's came to new york probably around 16 16. he started out as a farmer. over the generation z became investors. they owned property. they were involved in the sugar
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trade but the railroad, involved in banking. fdr's descendants helped start the bank of new york with alexander hamilton. they were involved in a lot of different things. they were never of a financial status like the vanderbilts, the melons, but they were in that upper class of wealth. most of it came from investments. >> okay, can you talk a little bit about the descendants. so we often get this question are there any descendants involved with the library now? related or -- have any descendants run for elected office? >> there were five children, and oldest daughter in the four boys. james, elliott, michael junior, and john. several of them were congressman, ran for office.
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between the five children there were 19 marriages. it was a complicated set of descendants. a number of the grandchildren are directly involved with the library. and roosevelt is the chair of the roosevelt institute board. her cousin nancy roosevelt ireland is the chair of library trustees. there are at least eight or nine other family members who are directly involved. -- but the next generation, several great grandchildren who are now involved. it has been a bum consistent sort of relationship. in the early days the family members were not directly involved in the management of either the property or the library but now they have made connections with us, their support is very important. >> you mentioned towards the beginning about fdr
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extramarital affair. he didn't really talk about relationships that eleanor had. how that might have impacted their relationship. can you sort of talk about that? give us some context for that? >> sure and there is, this is one of those areas where people have to decide for themselves. there is no evidence that supports that eleanor roosevelt never had extramarital sexual relationships with anyone. we know that fdr had an affair with lucy birch or. again there is no evidence with him having a sexual affair with anyone else. there is no question that there was a disconnect emotionally between franklin and eleanor. eleanor had a need for strong emotional connections. there were a period, she developed intense emotional relationships with a series of men. earl miller, her bodyguard, and
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state trooper. they developed a very strong relationship. a reporter, covering the campaign trail in 1932. any hancock was a lesbian, and they developed a very strong relationship. we don't know what may have happened behind closed doors. joe lash, a young student who she became involved with for the students movement. she will, when she died a photograph of joe was in her wallet. none of her children but there was one of joe. there was a doctor who she became involved with at the end of her life. these were emotional relationships that she needed. i don't personally think they were sexual relationships. we don't know, i always say it doesn't matter but people want to know they're always asking, we just don't have a definitive answer other than i think eleanor roosevelt was very victorian in her morals. it would've been outside for framework to have extramarital
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affairs. >> we talk a little bit about relationships, politics, can you talk about -- politicians i should say. can you talk about his relationship with the press. you talk about the mastery of radio, both of them. what about congress? the supreme court? any thoughts on that? with >> three very different questions. one with the press. fdr held 998 press conferences during his 12 years in office. his press conferences, particularly in the or the days he would just open the door and he would let them come into the oval office statements around him and talk all the transcripts on there was about website, those are all fascinating. everything was off the record but, he would sort of have the banter with them he would occasionally feed them information for their stories, the press who covered him, loved him. their bosses hated it. basically every major newspaper
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in america endorsed his opponent and every election that he ran. it was a split feeling there, but the reporters really loved him and they had an agreement with the white house that they would not show fdr's disability. they never took pictures of him in a wheelchair, he has had to be lifted and carried out of a car anytime he went anywhere. he'd often have to be carried and into position when he was giving speeches. and they did not filament. you can see some of the outtakes of the newsreel footage, whoever is doing the introduction of fdr, the camera pans away from the podium as the audience is clapping, once he is at the podium, the camera pans back. it's a real agreement that some somebody would never have today, but it was a good relationship between the press and fdr. fdr had in his first election in 1932, he had a dominant
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control of both houses, senate and the house. he had super majorities, he increased those super majorities in 1936 when he was reelected. he lost a little bit of his power in terms of congress in 1940. so he had a supermajority's, particularly in the early days who wanted him to succeed because the come because the country was in such desperate situation. he had a relationship with the southern democrats, who are very conservative, anti-civil rights, isolationist. he actually had a lot of trouble with the southern democrats from his own party. when he was elected in 1940, actually before the election in 1940, he appointed to republicans, one to be the secretary of war, and the other to be the secretary of the navy. so he had a complicated relationship with congress. he was a master at getting legislation accomplished. when you look at his first 100 days, 15 pieces,
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extraordinarily complicated, major pieces of legislation. we have just never seen anything like that since then. legislation is not like an executive order, you cannot just write something down. legislation means the congress has to pass. to which the supreme court was very contentious, especially in the early days, because after a few years, they started striking down many of the critical new deal legislation that was trying to help people. fdr floated the idea of, after the 1936 election, of stacking the supreme court, adding one new judge for every judge over the age of 70, which would total up to 15. so that they could help with the workload. this was such a sort of outrageous idea, even his own party rejected it and it never came to pass. but, through natural evolution, a couple of justices retire, new justices came in and they shifted their support for the new deal and he ended up appointing some of the most important federal supreme court
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judges in the history of america. he ended up appointing eight supreme court justices. >> well, we are getting close to the end of time here. i do have a couple of presidential library questions for you. so, can you talk about the roosevelt institute, you know every presidential library has different configurations on foundation that supports it. can you talk a little bit about that relationship? but the library does, versus what they do. >> sure. the fdr presidential library museum as part of the national archives, it's a federal agency, we are responsible for preserving and protecting these record, the federal government pays for the building, the staffing, etc. however the federal government will not pay for things like special exhibits, websites, programming, educational efforts, so all of that sort of things that we associate with museums have to be paid for with private money. so the roseville institute originally was the lincoln eleanor roosevelt institute, it's not just the roseville
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institute. they are the final ones to funnel private money to help us through these programs. like many of the other presidential library foundations, we also have other efforts that they are involved with. one is the campus network, which is an extraordinary collection of the groups across the country, i think about 10,000 students involved in over 150 campuses who are designed to train the next generation of political leaders. they come to hyde park, a group comes to hyde park every summer. it is a very inspiring experience for them. then, the roosevelt institute has a tag where they bring together the great minds who develop new progressive economic policy ideas based on the core beliefs of franklin eleanor roosevelt. so the three different units work separately, but worked together. felicia wang, who is the ceo of the roseville institute has done a really remarkable job.
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>> she's terrific. we have a group in new jersey interested in putting together new presidential library from cleveland. any advice for them? this might be a longer answer or they may want to follow up with you directly. >> i think you have to define what you want to do. we have multiple functions because we are both a federal repository, we are in educational center, a research center and we are a museum. the big question is what are you trying to do? do you want to be a museum? tell that story to people who have a better understanding of the time and the man, and that is a great thing to do because the thing i love about presidential libraries is that there have been slices of american history and that they really dive deep into that period of american history. whether you are looking at the reagan library, kennedy library, you can drill down and really see what was happening in america during that period, unlike other museums which have a much broader scope.
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in that sense, telling that story and that period in american history is an important thing to do. the other idea is are you making available the records of that administration to help researchers come in? have you accumulated enough volume of material to be a research center to help you decide because that is a sort of different institution. >> very good. well, before i wrap up, i want to give you a chance to plug what might be coming up. we are all going to think about the sunnier days later in the year where we are reopen, people are coming. you might not have that calendar set, but any big exhibits, programs, maybe next year you are looking at or even later this this year that you want folks to know about? >> we originally had planned to open an exhibit of march 2020, which was called fdr's final campaign and it looks at that
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last sort of year when he was running for office and the war in europe and the development of the united nations and he is campaigning for his life because of his illness. it we've stoves threads together. at this point, we are planning on opening that exhibit, hopefully the spring or the summer to tell that story. then, in 2022, we are hoping to do an exhibit on the roosevelts and civil rights and look at how what's their policies affected african americans, how eleanor worked with the civil rights leaders in the 50s and 60s and just try to reveal some of the structural inequalities that, despite both franklin and eleanor roosevelt being very progressive, there were things that they just cannot do. many legislation excluded african americans. it's an important thing to look at and understand what people talk about when they talk about structural racism.
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sometimes it's not racism, it's the politics of what you can accomplish, and we think it is an important story to tell. >> that's terrific to look forward to. in the meantime, folks as you mentioned earlier, they can find you online, explore and research. i will give a pitch to everyone out there to go visit, when the opportunity gives you that chance because it is a terrific property, the museum is wonderful and i was a shopper at your gift store as well. all in all, it will be a great day.


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