roosevelt80days

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Day 56: FDR’s Cruise to Hawaii

On July 1, 1934, FDR boarded the USS Houston to begin his three week journey to the Territory of Hawaii. During the cruise FDR and his party made stops in the Bahamas, Haiti, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. Croix, Colombia, Panama, Cocos Island and Clipperton Island. These stops included visits with foreign leaders and dignitaries, sightseeing through various countries and lots of fishing. FDR landed in Hawaii on July 24th to begin his historic visit.

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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 20: Visit of the British Royals

“I think it would be an excellent thing for Anglo-American relations if you could visit the United States.”
-Franklin Roosevelt to King George VI, September 17, 1938

With war looming, FDR searched for ways to bolster ties with democratic nations opposing Hitler. When he invited England’s King George VI for a state visit in June 1939, the message was clear. No reigning British monarch had ever visited America. The invitation signaled a new era in Anglo-American cooperation.

FDR and ER planned every detail to ensure the King won sympathy and support. Their efforts paid off.  The public heartily welcomed the King and Queen in Washington. The royals visited Mount Vernon, where the King laid a wreath at George Washington’s grave. Later, they accompanied the Roosevelts to Hyde Park, where they enjoyed simple American pleasures, including a hot dog picnic. FDR and King George developed a real rapport. More important, press coverage of the royal visit fostered public sympathy with Britain.

During the British Royal visit of June 1939, King George VI president FDR with this House of Windsor gold inkwell, made by Garrard & Co. Ltd. of London.

You can read more about the 1939 Royal Visit here on our website.

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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 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 15: D-Day

On the night of June 6, 1944, President Roosevelt went on national radio to address the nation for the first time about the Normandy invasion. His speech took the form of a prayer.

The date and timing of the Normandy invasion had been top secret. During a national radio broadcast on June 5 about the Allied liberation of Rome, President Roosevelt made no mention of the Normandy operation, already underway at that time.

When he spoke to the country on June 6, the President felt the need to explain his earlier silence. Shortly before he went on the air, he added several handwritten lines to the opening of his speech that addressed that point. They read: “Last night, when I spoke to you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.”

You can read more on the Roosevelt’s and D-Day on our website. For more on D-Day from the National Archives, make sure you visit their new online exhibit “D-Day and the Normandy Invasion.”

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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 54: Quebec Conferences

FDR and Winston Churchill held two wartime conferences in Quebec. The first conference took place on August 17-24, 1943. The two discussed topics concerning the future operations in the Mediterranean and Operation Overlord. Conversations on atomic energy were also on the agenda, with FDR and Churchill agreeing that neither would communicate any information about atomic development to third parties, namely the Soviet Union, without each others consent.

The second Quebec Conference was held on September 11-16, 1944. The central topics of this conference were postwar policy towards Germany and postwar economic assistance to Britain.

Two silver models of a Whale and a Phoenix were presented to President Roosevelt by Prime Minister Winston Churchill at the Second Quebec Conference in September 1944. These are small scale models representing installations devised and built as part of the artificial harbor constructed off the beaches of Normandy in June 1944.

A Whale was an 80 foot long pontoon bridge causeway, which connected the Lobnitz pier to the shore.

A Phoenix was a hollow concrete caisson 200 feet long by 60 feet wide by 60 feet high. Laid end to end they formed a breakwater near the beach for landing craft to unload their cargo.

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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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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 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 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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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 6: The Gambia

FDR flew into Bathurst, Gambia on both his way to the Casablanca Conference and again on his way home. After arriving in Bathurst on January 13, 1943, FDR made a tour of the waterfront by boat.

These wood carvings of an Ashanti Head Chief and his court were carved of Sese wood by a native of Achimota, Gold Coast, Africa, and presented to FDR on June 29, 1943, by the His Excellency, Rt. Hon. The Viscount Swinton, Resident Minister for West Africa, Accra, Gold Coast as a souvenir of the Casablanca Conference. The figures shown here are the Queen Mother, the Head Chief, the Linguist, and the Umbrella Bearer.

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Day 12: Eleanor Roosevelt’s Long Trip Home from Japan

After leaving Japan at the end of June, Eleanor continued westward, making stops in Hong Kong, Thailand, Burma, India, Turkey, Greece, Yugoslavia, Austria, France and England. She chronicled her travels through her daily “My Day” columns. 

This silver smoking case was a gift from La'iad Phibunsongkhram, wife of Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram, Prime Minister of Thailand, after Eleanor Roosevelt’s trip to Thailand in July 1953. Inside of the case are a silver cigarette lighter, mirror, and receptacles for cigarettes and cosmetics. 

The Roosevelt Library plans quite a trip for Summer 2014! Join us as we journey to seven continents and 95 countries for Around the World in 80 Days with the Roosevelts. Look for hundreds of internationally themed photographs, museum objects, and historic documents on the Library’s Tumblr – fdrlibrary.tumblr.com – and other social media accounts beginning Memorial Day weekend and culminating with the August 9th opening of our special exhibit, Read My Pins - the Madeleine Albright Collection

80 consecutive days of special online features explore two lifetimes of travel and the Roosevelts’ common commitment to diplomacy and human rights. These posts draw on rich historical collections housed in both the Archives and Museum of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, and show the Roosevelts’ unique relationship with people and leaders across the globe. Learn how an American president worked directly with towering international figures, became the first to fly overseas while in office, and created the United Nations. Find out how Eleanor Roosevelt’s support of Allied troops in World War II and her advocacy for universal human rights inspired her famous moniker, First Lady of the World. We hope you’ll join us for this fascinating journey through the lives and work of two extraordinary global figures of the 20th century. Bon Voyage!