roosevelt80days

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Day 30 - Missale Trajectense (Missal of Utrecht)

During the 1932 presidential campaign, personal interest stories about Democratic candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt appeared in newspapers across the country. The stories often commented on FDR’s love of books and book collecting. Dr. F.W. Schaefer, then a resident of the Savoy Hotel in New York City, presented a special item to FDR for his personal library.

The volume that Dr. Schaefer sent to FDR was the Missale Trajectense, a Catholic order of service printed in Utrecht, Holland, in 1480–twelve years before Columbus sailed the ocean blue. As described by Dr. Schaefer, the book was printed by Conrad Winter von Homborgh, near Cologne, Germany. It is bound in embossed pig-skin over boards with ten bronze bosses protecting the cover. In addition to the printed text, the Missale includes hand illuminated lettering, and at some point during its life, handwritten Gregorian chants were added to the back of the book. There is only one other known copy in existence in Germany, and to our knowledge it is one of the oldest intact printed items in the Presidential Library system.
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Day 35 - Cairo Conference

From November 22-26, 1943 FDR met with Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and the Anglo-American combined chiefs of staff for the Cairo Conference. This meeting preceded the Teheran Conference and was primarily held to discuss Far Eastern military operations, to enhance the symbolic importance of China in the war effort and postwar planning and to provide for a U.S.-British meeting before the Teheran Conference with Stalin.

In addition to meeting on war strategy, FDR and Churchill visited the pyramids and had a traditional American Thanksgiving meal - including two turkeys FDR had brought from home.

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Day 71: Eleanor Roosevelt visits the Soviet Union

“Eager that I see the Lenin-Stalin Mausoleum in Red Square, the three of us set out early. Fronting the Kremlin wall, it was probably the prime sight-seeing monument in the whole of the Soviet Union. It was odd to be with Mrs. Roosevelt in a place where she was hardly recognized. Later, thanks to her special request, we were granted permission to visit Lenin’s private apartment in the Kremlin, something that David did not want me to miss.” – Edna Gurewitsch, Kindred Souls: The Friendship of Eleanor Roosevelt and David Gurewitsch

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Day 47 - Yalta Conference

“I didn’t say the result was good. I said it was the best I could do.”
-Franklin Roosevelt to diplomat Adolf Berle, Jr.

In the winter of 1945, Roosevelt met with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin for the last time. The setting was the Ukrainian town of Yalta.

The Big Three gathered to chart a course for final victory in World War II.  But during the Yalta Conference, they also struggled to create the basis for post-war cooperation.

FDR received Stalin’s firm commitment to enter the increasingly bloody war against Japan three months after Germany’s defeat. With American casualties rising in the Pacific war— and the atomic bomb yet untested— this was a significant achievement for the President. The Big Three also formally agreed to another of FDR’s priorities—the establishment of the United Nations organization. But there were serious disagreements about the future of Germany and the fate of areas occupied by Soviet armies, especially Poland.  

While at the Yalta Conference, Joseph Stalin presented President Roosevelt with this set of bear fur gloves and Dukat papirosa (unfiltered) cigarettes. Inside the box are 13 unused cigarettes.

 As a memento of the trip, this short snorter was created using a one chervonitz Soviet bill. A short snorter was a bill, typically from the destination country, signed by fellow travelers of a transoceanic flight. While Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, and Steve Early’s names are handwritten on the edges of the bill, they did not sign the bill. The bill was signed by Edwin M. Watson (just days before he died), Ross T. McIntire, Edward Flynn, Harry L. Hopkins, James F. Byrnes, William Leahy, an unidentifiable signature, and Anna Roosevelt Boettiger.

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Day 41: Franklin and Eleanor’s Diplomatic Passports

One of the great adventures of Franklin’s years as Assistant Secretary of the Navy was his trip to Europe in the summer of 1918 to inspect American naval bases and confer with Allied leaders. He returned to Europe in 1919 during the Paris Peace Conference to terminate naval contracts and dispose of surplus American property. Eleanor accompanied him on the 1919 voyage.

Eleanor’s world travels after the White House years continued until her death in 1962. This diplomatic passport was issued in February 1962 prior to her last trip to Europe. She made stops in London, France, Israel and Switzerland.  

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Today we begin “Around the World in 80 Days with the Roosevelts.” Follow along as we journey around the world chronicling two lifetimes of travel and the Roosevelts’ common commitment to diplomacy and human rights.

Day 1: Eleanor Roosevelt in the South Pacfic

From August 17-September 24, 1943, Eleanor Roosevelt undertook a 25,000 mile trip to the South Pacific as a representative of the American Red Cross. During her trip she made 17 stops in Australia, New Zealand and a number of small Pacific Islands, including Guadalcanal, Bora Bora, Samoa, Fiji, New Caledonia and Christmas Island.

Eleanor spent most of the trip visiting about 400,000 servicemen at military bases, hospitals, nursing homes and American Red Cross recreation clubs. She chronicled her experiences in her “My Day” columns, the proceeds from which she donated to the Red Cross.

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Day 19: Visits by Winston Churchill

“It is fun to be in the same decade with you.”
-Franklin Roosevelt to Winston Churchill, January 1942

The friendship between Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill formed the core of the Anglo-American alliance during World War II.

On September 11, 1939—ten days after Germany invaded Poland— FDR wrote a confidential letter to Churchill, who had just entered the British cabinet as First Lord of the Admiralty. Roosevelt wanted to open a direct line of communication with him. He encouraged Churchill to “keep me in touch personally with anything you want me to know about.”

FDR’s note was the start of an extraordinary six-year correspondence between the two men that totaled almost 2000 messages.

Between 1941 and 1945, they would also spend 113 days together, beginning with an August 1941 meeting in the North Atlantic and ending at the Yalta Conference in February 1945. Churchill made visits to the United States in 1941, 1942, 1943 & 1944, including a trip to Washington, D.C. shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

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Day 74: Eleanor Roosevelt and the United Nations

“We stand today at the threshold of a great event both in the life of the United Nations and in the life of mankind… . This declaration may well become the international Magna Carta of all men everywhere.”
-Eleanor Roosevelt, Speech to U.N. General Assembly on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, December 9, 1948

In December 1945, seeking to signal America’s commitment to the new United Nations organization— and cement his ties to a powerful Democratic party figure— President Harry Truman appointed Eleanor Roosevelt to America’s first delegation to the General Assembly.

Eleanor quickly became a major force on refugee and human rights issues. From 1946 to 1951 she chaired the U.N. Human Rights Commission leading the effort to draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  An able and determined negotiator, she clashed frequently with Soviet delegates over the definition of human liberties. In the process, she pushed the State Department to recognize that human rights are not only civil and political rights, but social and economic rights too. The Declaration was Eleanor’s proudest achievement at the U.N. It created the modern definition of human rights. Today it is the standard for establishing norms governing international behavior regarding the rights of individuals.

Eleanor’s duties as a delegate to the United Nations included many trips abroad to London, Paris and Geneva. Eleanor received several gifts during these trips including:

  • A tortoise shell box presented to ER by an English woman as a token of appreciation in the winter of 1946.
  • A color print of the painting by Frank Beresford of Eleanor Roosevelt addressing the United Nations in London, England, on February 12, 1946. Inscribed and presented to ER by the artist.
  • A University of Lyon Academic Stole and Cap presented to ER in November 1948 when she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by the University of Lyon, France.
  • A silver United Nations medallion presented to ER by the government of France.
  • A watercolor of the Rue des Corps-Saints in Geneva’s Old Town by Harry Urban. Presented to ER by the artist in April 1951. The painting hung in the living room of ER’s NYC apartment until her death.
  • A group of French commemorative medallions, including one for FDR, from the government of France given to ER during her 1951-52 trip.
  • A lithograph of The American Church of Paris by Frank Milton Armington. Presented to ER by the church’s minister, Clayton E. Williams, in December 1951. The print hung in the living room of ER’s NYC apartment until her death.
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Day 26: Eleanor Roosevelt in India

In 1952 Eleanor made a significant trip to Asia – a month of which was spent in India. Having been invited by Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Eleanor chronicled her trip through her “My Day” columns and later in her book India and the Awakening East. Through her writings she worked on educating Americans on what was a little-known country at the time.

Her “My Day” column from March 3, 1952 talks about her excitement at finally visiting India:

It is very exciting to be in India after reading my father’s letters of many years ago, which told of his trip under very different circumstances 89 years ago. Meeting people from here and reading books about it are not quite the same as seeing with one’s own eyes. It is really a joy to feel that I have accomplished something I have talked about and hoped for, but really did not ever expect to see. My impressions are becoming very well crystallized in my mind as I go forward on this trip, and it is certainly most interesting to see the difference that a landscape takes on when it is peopled by so many more inhabitants than one would see at home in the same area of space.

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Day 69: FDR Rides a Dirigible, 1918

Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first sitting president to ride in an airplane, an occasion marked by a very long overseas flight to attend the 1943 Casablanca conference. FDR’s distant cousin, Theodore, was the first president ever to fly, a trip that took place back in 1910 shortly after he had left the presidency.

FDR may have set an additional aviation first – we think he may have been the first president to fly on-board a dirigible airship (also known as a blimp or zeppelin)!

During World War I, serving as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, FDR traveled to Europe to inspect US Navy facilities. Several weeks into his trip, on August 17th, 1918 he visited a base in Paimboeuf, Western France where he was offered a ride aboard a French-built airship.

Considered too vulnerable for use on the front, airships were primarily used for scouting missions and mine clearance throughout Western Europe during the war. The use of airships later declined as airplane technology advanced and after several high profile accidents. FDR was serving his second term as president when the infamous Hindenburg crashed in New Jersey in 1937.

FDR writes about the flying experience in his log of the trip saying:

I tried my hand at running the lateral stearing[sic] gear and also the elevating and depressing gear. The sensation is distinctly curious, less noise than an areo.[sic] and far more feeling of drifting at the mercy of the wind.

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Day 61: FDR’s Childhood Trips to Germany

FDR made a number of trips to Europe with his parents during his childhood, including numerous trips to Germany. The Roosevelts often traveled to Germany to visit several ancient springs in hope that they would help Mr. James’ health.

Roosevelt historian Geoff Ward recounts a story of one of these German trips in his book Before the Trumpet. During a trip in 1896 FDR and his tutor Mr. Dumper “found themselves under arrest four times in one busy day of bicycling – for picking cherries along the roadside, for wheeling their bicycles into a railroad depot, for riding into Strasbourg after dusk…and finally, for inadvertent slaughter of a panicky goose that had thrust its long neck between the spokes of Mr. Dumper’s front wheel.” FDR managed to get them out of the first three violations without a fine, but in the end they did have to pay five marks to the owner of the goose. “Franklin always maintained the bird had really ‘committed suicide.’”

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Day 58: Franklin and Eleanor’s European Honeymoon

Franklin and Eleanor were married on March 17, 1905 in New York City where Eleanor’s uncle, President Theodore Roosevelt, gave away the bride and stole the show for the day. The following summer Franklin and Eleanor departed for an extended three month summer honeymoon. The couple traveled from Britain through France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and back to Britain again before returning home in time for Franklin to begin his second year of law school at Columbia University.

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Day 49 - Eleanor in Great Britain

In October 1942, Eleanor traveled to Great Britain on a goodwill trip to help foster Anglo-American relations. While there she toured the country - meeting with American servicemen, British women defense workers, Prime Minister Churchill, members of Parliament and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

Eleanor talked about the trip in her autobiography saying:

The next event of real importance to me was my husband’s decision that I should accept Queen Elizabeth’s invitation to go to Great Britain to see the work the women were doing in the war and to visit our servicemen stationed there. I did not know that one of the reasons my husband was eager to have me go over there was that those men would shortly be leaving for North Africa for the invasion…

The trip to Great Britain seemed to offer me a chance to do something that might be useful…I visited universities and innumerable factories, stayed on estates where the grounds were now being used for agricultural purposes and in country houses whose owners, now living in one small part of them, had turned them into nurseries for evacuated or wounded children. I saw the way the Women’s Voluntary Services had organized to perform innumerable duties, from moving into a town which had just been bombed and needed everything from food to laundry service, to looking after the billeting of workers who had been moved from one factory to another.

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Day 67 - Eleanor’s Childhood Trips to Switzerland

Between 1899 and 1902, Eleanor spent three years at Allenswood, an elite boarding school for girls near London. During holidays she frequently travelled throughout England and continental Europe visiting friends and relatives, including a trip in 1900 to St. Moritz, Switzerland.

From Eleanor’s autobiography:

As the summer holidays came nearer my excitement grew for I was to travel to Saint-Moritz in Switzerland to spend my holiday with the Mortimers.

My first view of these beautiful mountains was breath-taking, for I had never seen any high mountains. I lived opposite the Catskill Mountains in summer and loved them, but how much more majestic were these great snow-capped peaks all around us as we drove into the Engadine. The little Swiss chalets, built into the sides of the hills and with places under them for all the livestock that did not actually wander into the kitchen, were picturesque, but strange to my eyes with their fretwork decoration…

The hotels [in Saint-Moritz] all bordered the lake, and the thing that I remember best about my time there was the fact that Tissie and I got up every morning early enough to walk to a little café that perched out above the lake on a promontory at one end. There we drank coffee or cocoa and ate rolls with fresh butter and honey, the sun just peeping out over the mountains and touching us with its warm rays. I can still remember how utterly contented I was!

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Day 32 - FDR and Stamps

FDR began to collect stamps as a child.  The far-flung business interests of his Delano relatives provided the young collector with a steady supply of foreign stamps. From his stamps he gained an invaluable knowledge of peoples and of geography. The green stamp album above was young Franklin’s first stamp album. In it he carefully stored the stamps from his well-traveled relatives.

This hobby persisted with Roosevelt his entire life and he was well-known for his collection. As a result, he was often presented with stamps, stamp covers, and stamp albums as gifts from foreign Heads-of-State and governments. Here you can see a few of the stamp-related gifts from all over the world FDR received during his presidency:

  • Album of postage stamps of the U.S.S.R. Cover painted by the Handicraft Artists of Palech, U.S.S.R. Gifted to FDR on the occasion of the 1939 New York World’s Fair.
  • Painted leather stamp album cover from Kyösti Kallio, President of the Republic of Finland, in 1938.

  • Carved leather stamp album commemorating the opening of the Nuevo Laredo—Mexico City Highway in 1936. A gift from President Lázaro Cárdenas of Mexico.
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Day 76: FDR Visits Alaska

On August 3, 1944 FDR arrived in Alaska for a six day inspection and fishing trip. While in Alaska FDR made stops at Adak, Kodiak, and Auke Bay. This flag of the President of the United States was used during FDR’s trip to the Hawaiian Islands and Alaska in July-August 1944. It was made by the Signal Force of the heavy cruiser U.S.S. Baltimore.

This trip made news during the presidential campaign of 1944, when it was alleged that Fala was left behind in the Aleutian Islands and FDR sent a Navy destroyer back to retrieve him. In a speech to the Teamsters Union on September 23, 1944 FDR responded to the claims saying:

These Republican leaders have not been content with attacks on me, or my wife, or on my sons. No, not content with that, they now include my little dog, Fala. Well, of course, I don’t resent attacks, and my family doesn’t resent attacks, but Fala does resent them. You know, Fala is Scotch, and being a Scottie, as soon as he learned that the Republican fiction writers in Congress and out had concocted a story that I had left him behind on the Aleutian Islands and had sent a destroyer back to find him— at a cost to the taxpayers of two or three, or eight or twenty million dollars- his Scotch soul was furious. He has not been the same dog since. I am accustomed to hearing malicious falsehoods about myself—such as that old, worm-eaten chestnut that I have represented myself as indispensable. But I think I have a right to resent, to object to libelous statements about my dog.

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Day 8: Eleanor Roosevelt in Israel

Eleanor Roosevelt strongly supported Israel from the time of its founding in 1948, often using her political influence to advocate with officials in Washington for support of the Jewish state. She made numerous trips there, the first in 1952 and the last in 1962, just 8 months before her death.

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Day 72: FDR visits the front in WWI

FDR served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy during World War I. During the summer of 1918 he traveled to Europe to visit the front lines of the fighting in France. FDR made stops in England and Paris before heading towards the trenches. He visited the battlefields at Château-Thierry, Belleau Wood, and Verdun, was briefly under enemy fire and came within a mile of the German lines. FDR wrote about his experience in a log he kept during the trip.

This “Tankstelle,” or “Gas Station,” signboard was found by FDR within a half hour after the Germans had evacuated an area in France, during the big Allied offensive in August 1918.