Franklin D. Roosevelt

Facts, information and articles about Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd U.S. President

Franklin D. Roosevelt Facts






Eleanor Roosevelt

Years Of Military Service



32 President of the United States of America
Began the Social Security program


Assistant Secretary of the Navy

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Franklin Roosevelt signing declaration of war against Japan
Franklin Roosevelt signing declaration of war against Japan
Franklin D. Roosevelt summary: The only president who has ever held four terms in office, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born on January 30, 1882, into a world of privilege. He had an elderly father who died when he was in his first year at Harvard. He was his mother’s only child. She was twenty-six years younger than his father and doted on Franklin. The family lived in Hyde Park, NY at the time of Franklin’s birth.

During his time at Harvard, Roosevelt studied law and became editor of The Harvard Crimson, in 1903. Upon urging by his mother, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Anna Eleanor Roosevelt were engaged. They were fifth cousins, which explained why a Roosevelt married a Roosevelt on March 17, 1905. In the next eleven years, six children were born to the couple.

After his marriage, Roosevelt entered Columbia Law School which he promptly left upon passing the Bar Exam two years later. In 1910, and again in 1912, he held the Senate seat as a Democrat. President Wilson appointed him Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1913. Then, in 1928 and 1930 he ran for, and won, the Governor’s seat of New York.

In 1921, at the age of 39, he fell victim to the polio virus. With dauntless courage, he regained his ability to walk. By 1932 he gained his first of four presidential terms. During his terms, he used his presidential power to ease the hardships the Great Depression had on the nation. He began the Social Security program, instituted slightly higher taxes for the wealthy, greatly relieved unemployment and extended much needed assistance to people in dire need of losing their homes and farms.

He died in Warm Springs, Georgia on April 12, 1945 at the age of sixty-three.



Articles Featuring Franklin D. Roosevelt From History Net Magazines

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President Franklin D. Roosevelt Flew to Meet British Prime Minister Winston Churchill for a Summit in Casablanca

Roosevelt and Churchill forged a close friendship as their countries struggled against Hitler, but their relationship did not begin well. They had first met in 1918 at a dinner in London, when Churchill was minister of munitions and Roosevelt the young assistant secretary of the navy. Churchill quickly forgot the encounter, but Roosevelt did not. Years later he recalled that Churchill acted like a stinker and was one of the few men in public life who was rude to me. As president, Roosevelt put his feelings aside in 1939, when Churchill returned to the post of first lord of the admiralty. It is because you and I occupied similar positions in the First World War that I want you to know how glad I am that you are back in the Admiralty, he wrote. After Churchill became prime minister in 1940, he and Roosevelt met a second time for a wartime conference aboard ship off the Newfoundland coast in August 1941. And Churchill traveled to Washington several times after the United States entered the war, even spending the Christmas holidays at the White House after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Following the start of Operation Torch, Roosevelt planned to meet with Churchill in Casablanca early in 1943. It would not be an easy trip for the 60-year-old president, and his aides worried that he might not be up to it. Polio had confined Roosevelt to a wheelchair since 1921, making an already strenuous round-trip journey of nearly 17,000 miles even more of a challenge. But the president was determined to make the journey, and a thorough physical examination put presidential physician Admiral Ross T. McIntire’s worries to rest.

Roosevelt loved an adventure, and he loved to travel — even if his travels, at least as president, had been confined to leisurely train trips and jaunts by car. Roosevelt had not flown since 1932, when he traveled from Albany, New York, to Chicago to accept his nomination at the Democratic national convention. In fact, no U.S. president had ever flown while in office. The Secret Service still regarded flying as a dangerous mode of transport. For the trip to Casablanca, however, air travel was the only realistic option, as German submarines lurking in the Atlantic made a surface crossing too risky. Early in the morning of January 11, Roosevelt’s train reached Miami. Waiting there were two flying boats, Boeing 314s chartered by the navy from Pan American for wartime duty. The four-engine 314s were the largest commercial aircraft of their day. They could carry 40 overnight passengers in relative luxury and had a range of 3,500 miles. One of them, the Dixie Clipper, had inaugurated the first regularly scheduled service across the Atlantic in June 1939. This was the airplane designated for the president and his personal staff, including Admiral McIntire, Admiral William D. Leahy, the president’s chief of staff, and Harry Hopkins, the former social worker turned presidential aide and advisor. The pilot, navy reserve Lieutenant Howard Cone, held the title Master of Ocean Flying, the highest commercial pilot rating. Other members of the party boarded the second flying boat, the Atlantic Clipper. Once everyone was aboard, the two flying boats taxied out to begin the long journey to Trinidad, the first stop.

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Lieutenant Cone had a happy passenger that day. Hopkins wrote that the president was so thrilled to be making the trip that he acted like a sixteen year old. Over Haiti Roosevelt asked Cone to detour over the Citadel, a fortress FDR had visited in 1917 when he was assistant navy secretary. But Admiral McIntire worried as the unpressurized plane reached its cruising altitude of 9,000 feet, and he saw the president occasionally turn pale in the thin air.

Admiral Leahy had contracted the flu, and he remained behind in Trinidad. Roosevelt wrote to Margaret Suckley, his cousin and confidante, I shall miss him, as he is such an old friend and a wise counselor. Leahy would have been especially valuable as an advisor on the knotty problems of French politics. By 1940 Germany had occupied most of France but had allowed a French regime based at Vichy nominal independence over the remainder, and Leahy had served as Roosevelt’s ambassador to the Vichy government. Issues relating to France were especially convoluted in North Africa. Algeria and Morocco were French colonies, and the Americans coming ashore for Operation Torch had initially fought against defending Vichy troops.

On the morning of January 12, the two flying boats left Trinidad and headed southeast along the South American coast and across the equator to Belm, Brazil, on the Amazon delta. Late that afternoon, as the clippers refueled, the president visited with the air transport command officers who ferried aircraft across the South Atlantic to West Africa and on to the North African theater. Then it was time to begin the longest leg of the trip, the 2,100-mile crossing to Bathurst, in the British West African colony of Gambia. The two Boeings had to fight stiff headwinds during a 19-hour flight, but Roosevelt endured it with equanimity, enjoying cocktails, dinner, and a good night’s sleep. At the U.S. base in Bathurst the cruiser USS Memphis was waiting, but the president felt so energetic when he arrived that he insisted on touring the harbor for nearly an hour before boarding. That night, while other members of the party watched a film on the deck of the Memphis, Roosevelt retired to his cabin to deal with dispatches and write letters. Roosevelt rose early the next day and was driven across Bathurst to Yundum Field, where an army C-54 transport plane was waiting to take him to Casablanca. Roosevelt had always been a staunch critic of colonialism, and what he saw on his drive through the crowded British port to the airfield only reinforced his views. Writing to Suckley, he described the crowds of semi-dressed natives — thatched huts — great poverty and emaciation and added that Bathurst was an awful, pestiferous hole.

The final flight required the C-54 to climb to nearly 15,000 feet to cross the Atlas Mountains, and Admiral McIntire grew concerned about the effect the altitude would have on Roosevelt. The president did have to take what he described to Suckley as a few whiffs of oxygen, but the flight went smoothly, and the president’s plane reached Casablanca on the evening of January 14. It taxied to a stop near a bomb crater left by the recent fighting, a stark reminder that the president was now within range of Axis bombers.

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U.S. forces had taken over the Anfa Hotel for the conference. A compound of several luxurious villas in an exclusive Casablanca suburb, the hotel revealed another side of colonialism — the wealth it offered to a fortunate few. But the hotel provided Roosevelt and Churchill separate quarters in close proximity, and it was a perfect choice for the summit.

Roosevelt had watched the newly released film Casablanca during the past New Year’s celebrations, and the intrigue portrayed in the Humphrey Bogart/Ingrid Bergman classic was still a characteristic of the newly liberated city. Before the president arrived, Secret Service agents had discovered and destroyed several recording devices that unknown parties had placed in some of the Anfa villas. Medical officers tested all the food and liquor the two leaders would consume in Casablanca, and the supplies remained under heavy guard. Barbed wire surrounded the hotel, American troops guarded the buildings, and antiaircraft batteries and fighter planes protected the area.

Soon after Roosevelt arrived, Churchill came to the president’s door, eager to greet him. Less than an hour later, the conference began over a candlelit dinner. Roosevelt invited Churchill and his military chiefs to dine with him and his chiefs and aides. The meeting was relaxed and went on until the early hours of the morning. The talks were spread out over eight days. Although the British and American chiefs of staff of the armed forces dealt with much of the hard work of negotiations, the presence of Roosevelt and Churchill was vital in assuring that the chiefs came to an agreement. But the two leaders did confer most evenings, sometimes until after midnight. Churchill kept the president up until 2:30 a.m. on January 23 working on a joint communiqu to Stalin. The success at Casablanca was partly due to Roosevelt’s sympathy for aspects of the British position. The president wanted a massive invasion of the European mainland as quickly as possible, but he also wanted to intensify the fighting against Japan and keep U.S. troops in action and advancing. Furthermore, Roosevelt needed some early victories for U.S. forces. By ousting German forces from North Africa and then moving on to Mediterranean targets — as Churchill proposed — the U.S. could demonstrate to the American public that the tide of war had turned. At the same time, Roosevelt and Churchill could show Stalin they were continuing to press German armed forces on a second front, however limited.

Because Churchill’s strategy prevailed, some have declared the Casablanca conference a victory for British negotiators. But this view overlooks the fact that the Americans also gained British commitments to long-term goals that went well beyond the immediate objectives in the Mediterranean. While the Americans agreed to follow victory in North Africa with an assault on Sicily, the British agreed to begin a massive buildup of Allied forces in Britain for an invasion of France by a specific target date — May 1, 1944 — or sooner if the German war machine unexpectedly faltered. (The actual invasion would take place on June 6, 1944.) For the Pacific theater, the negotiators agreed on compromise language stating that operations would continue using the forces already allocated, with the goal of attaining a position of readiness for a full-scale offensive against Japan after Germany’s defeat. The Casablanca agreement also called for an expanded bombing campaign against Germany, continued efforts to provide war supplies to the Soviet Union, and increased efforts to assist the Nationalist Chinese against Japan. Roosevelt spent much time and effort attempting to arrange a reconciliation between rival French leaders, General Charles de Gaulle, commander of the Britain-based Free French; and General Henri Giraud, high commissioner of French North and West Africa. Many Americans wanted the United States to throw its weight entirely behind de Gaulle, but Roosevelt did not trust the general, whom he viewed as an imperialist and potential autocrat. Yet some arrangement was necessary. We will call Giraud the bridegroom, and I shall send for him from Algiers, Roosevelt told Churchill. On your side, you will send to London for the bride, de Gaulle, and we will arrange a shotgun wedding. While Roosevelt’s plans for a wedding fell short, he did get the two rivals to shake hands for photographers before the conference ended.

The president enjoyed the conviviality and relaxation of the cocktail hour and a dinner party, and both leaders found time for lighter moments at Casablanca. According to General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the commander of Operation Torch, Roosevelt behaved with optimism and buoyancy, amounting almost to lightheartedness… Successful in shaking loose for a few days many burdens of state, he seemed to experience a tremendous uplift from the fact that he had secretly slipped away from Washington and was engaged in a historic meeting on territory that only two months before had been a battleground. The presence of family members added to the pleasant social atmosphere. Lieutenant Colonel Elliott Roosevelt served as greeter to distinguished guests at the presidential villa, and Lieutenant Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., whose destroyer had taken part in the Operation Torch landings, was present too. Churchill’s son Randolph, recently recovered from injuries sustained returning from a commando raid on Benghazi, Libya, joined the prime minister, while Sergeant Robert Hopkins had been ordered off the frontlines in Tunisia to be with his father. Safety concerns kept Roosevelt away from the front, but he greatly enjoyed a drive he made up the coast on January 21 with the commander of U.S. troops in Morocco, General George S. Patton. With a fighter escort flying cover, the party traveled past American troop encampments and vast stores of gasoline and ammunition. North of Rabat, the president reviewed thousands of American troops who expected to see General Mark Clark, the Fifth Army commander drive past. Most kept their composure when they saw the president, thought to be in the United States. As he slowly drove past the ranks of troops, Roosevelt roared with laughter when he heard one soldier exclaim, Jesus, it’s the old man himself! On the evening of January 22, the president invited Churchill and Morocco’s Sultan Sidi Muhammad to dinner. Harry Hopkins later wrote that the sultan came loaded with presents — a gold dagger for the president, and some gold bracelets for Mrs. Roosevelt and a gold tiara which looked to me like the kind the gals wear in the circus, riding on white horses. In deference to the sultan’s Islamic faith, Roosevelt served no alcohol, much to Churchill’s chagrin. The prime minister’s dismay increased when Roosevelt steered the conversation toward colonialism, a particular sore point between the president and Churchill, who wanted to maintain Britain’s colonies after the war. Morocco had been a French protectorate since 1912, and Roosevelt sketched out for the sultan the role that America could play in post-colonial Morocco. Churchill knew that Roosevelt’s views on France’s colonies applied to Britain’s as well, and the prime minister moved uneasily in his chair until the conversation changed to another subject.

At the final Casablanca press conference on January 24, Roosevelt announced that the Allies would seek the unconditional surrender of Germany and Japan. Churchill later claimed he was surprised by the president’s statement, as they had only briefly discussed the subject. Roosevelt himself said that the idea simply popped into my mind as he reflected on General Ulysses S. Grant’s strategy toward the South during the American Civil War. Previously, Britain aimed only to destroy the German government, leaving open the possibility of dealing with any successor regime. At Casablanca, Roosevelt successfully argued that the experience of two world wars showed that German society had been Prussianized and had to be completely rebuilt.

After the January 24 press conference, Churchill suggested to Roosevelt that they take an overnight trip to Marrakech to see the sunset on the snows of the Atlas Mountains. The two leaders relaxed and enjoyed a picnic during the five-hour journey to Marrakech and arrived at about 6:00 p.m. A six-story sloping tower provided a perfect view of the mountains, but as the narrow, winding stairs couldn’t accommodate Roosevelt’s wheelchair, two Secret Service agents made a cradle of their hands and carried the president to the top of the tower. There the two world leaders sat for half an hour enjoying the view. After dinner, they made toasts to each other, and Churchill sang, with Roosevelt joining in the choruses. Roosevelt and his entourage were preparing to leave Marrakech at 7:30 a.m. on January 25 when Churchill rushed out at the last minute to say goodbye. With his usual disregard for convention, the prime minister appeared wearing a red-dragon dressing gown and black velvet slippers with his initials embroidered on the toes. Photographers begged for a shot but obligingly lowered their cameras when Churchill implored, You simply cannot do this to me.

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By the time President Roosevelt arrived in Gambia, he was running a slight fever, and he rested onboard the Memphis. On January 27, before boarding the Dixie Clipper for the Atlantic crossing, Roosevelt took a day trip to Liberia, officially for discussions with President Edwin Barclay over wartime matters — although he seemed more focused on learning just how workers produced latex at Firestone’s vast Liberian plantations. Roosevelt turned 61 during the return trip across the Atlantic, and he and his advisors enjoyed a birthday lunch as they flew over Haiti.

Roosevelt had told the assembled sailors on the Memphis that during 10 days in Casablanca, the United States and Britain had agreed on plans to keep the war going at full speed during the rest of 1943. We hope it will be over by then, but you can never tell. If it is not over, we will be even more ready in 1944 for the final victory. But the president’s timetable was too optimistic, and he did not live to see the unconditional surrender of Germany in May 1945 and of Japan in September. Nevertheless, the Casablanca agreements were a historic achievement, and Roosevelt and Churchill considered the meeting a great success. As Churchill said at the closing press conference, Even when there is some delay there is design and purpose and, as the president has said, the unconquerable will to pursue this quality until we have procured the unconditional surrender of the criminal forces who plunged the world into storm and ruin.

This article was written by Raymond W. Copson and originally published in the April 2002 issue of American History Magazine. For more great articles, subscribe to American History magazine today!

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Saboteurs: The Nazi Raid on America (Book Review)Reviewed by Robert Citino By Michael DobbsAlfred A. Knopf, New York, 2004 In June 1942, German submarines landed two small groups of saboteurs on the U.S. coastline, one near Amagansett, Long Island, and the other near Jacksonville, Florida. Operation Pastorius had begun, its objective to destroy industrial and communications facilities throughout the United States. The …
The Path to Victory: The Mediterranean Theater in World War II (Book Review)Reviewed by Geoffrey Wawro By Douglas PorchFS&G, New York, 2004 Just after Pearl Harbor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and the Allied chiefs of staff met in Washington to craft a common strategy for what had quite suddenly — in American eyes — become "World War II." They resolved to "beat Germany first," while "containing …
Russia’s Life-Saver: Lend-Lease Aid to the U.S.S.R. in World War II (Book Review)Reviewed by Michael Parrish By Albert L. WeeksLexington Books, New York, 2004 A wartime cartoon in The New Yorker shows the docks of Murmansk covered with off-loaded containers and a Soviet official having trouble finding the word "spam" in the dictionary. Spam was one of the many food items sent to the former Soviet Union …

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Top Secret WWII Bat and Bird Bomber ProgramAt the outset of World War II, innovative plans were laid to send some talented fliers to the front lines.
World War II: Winston Churchill’s Vision of VictoryThe British prime minister's deft handling of the ship of state ensured that the Allies endured the darkest moments of World War II and were ready for victory when it finally came.
Phoebe and Vernon Omlie: From Barnstormers to Aviation InnovatorsPhoebe and Vernon Omlie set out to transform their barnstorming act into a profitable business in 1920s Memphis.
Hewitt T. ‘Shorty’ Wheless and Boyd T. ‘Buzz’ Wagner: World War II Fighter Pilots'Shorty' Wheless and 'Buzz' Wagner typified the kind of air warriors the American public was eager to recognize early on during World War II.
American History: Transformation of the U.S. Supreme CourtThe last four decades have witnessed a fundamental transformation in the types of men, and now women, who exercise the broad and untrammeled judicial power of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Attack on Pearl Harbor: Why Weren’t We WarnedThe contention that broken Japanese codes could have alerted the United States won't go away. But is there a simpler explanation than a failure of intelligence?
World War II: Siege of BudapestHitler's determination to prevent the Soviets from overrunning Hungary sealed the 'Pearl of the Danube's' fate.
Picture of the Day: January 5George Washington Carver After devoting his life to helping fellow African Americans through education, George Washington Carver died on January 5, 1943, at Tuskegee, Alabama. Carver was born the son of a slave woman in the early 1860s, went to college in Iowa and then headed to Alabama in 1896. There, at the Tuskegee Institute, …
Mildred Elizabeth Sisk: American-Born Axis SallyAmerican-born Axis Sally made propaganda broadcasts for Radio Berlin in Hitler's Germany, and paid the price for treason after the war.
Captain Eddie Rickenbacker: America’s World War I Ace of AcesWhen America's WWI Ace of Aces Edward Rickenbacker became president of Eastern Air Lines, he said: 'I will always keep in mind that I am in the greatest business in the world ... and I can serve humanity more completely in my line of endeavor than in any other.'
World War II: Operation MatterhornIn an effort to assure Chiang Kai-shek that the United States was ready to stop Japan from taking all of China, the U.S. Army Air Forces deployed the first Boeing B-29 in that theater of operations.
Jimmy Doolittle and the Tokyo Raiders Strike Japan During World War IILed by legendary flier Jimmy Doolittle, 16 U.S. Army B-25 bombers broke through Japanese defenses on April 18, 1942, to strike Tokyo and other cities in broad daylight. The daring and dramatic raid stunned Japan, revived American morale, and signaled a new course for the Pacific War.
Dietrich von Choltitz: Saved of Paris From Destruction During World War IIAdolf Hitler had decreed that Paris should be left a smoking ruin, but Dietrich von Choltitz thought better of his Fuhrer's order.
DC-3 AirlinerThe Douglas Aircraft Company's Grand Old Lady of the Skies -- the DC-3 -- still plies the airways it pioneered as the first practical airliner.
World War II: Interview with U.S. Navy Photographer Jack StewartAs a U.S. Navy photographer on the aircraft carrier Essex, Jack Stewart had a ringside seat when a Japanese kamikaze attacked his ship on November 25, 1944.
D-Day: The Beginning of the End for Nazi GermanyA perilous airborne strike and the mightiest assemblage of seaborne power yet seen heralded the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany.
Picture of the Day: November 30Sir Winston Churchill Sir Winston Churchill was born on November 30, 1874, in Oxfordshire, England. After attending the Royal Military College, he served as a reporter and writer, and then in different positions in Parliament as his political power grew. His most influential role was as British prime minister during World War II from 1940 …
Operation Varsity: Allied Airborne Assault Over the Rhine RiverParatroopers from two Allied divisions were droppped east of the great natural barrier, penetrating into Germany itself.
World War II: 761st Tank BattalionThe 761st 'Black Panther' Tank Battalion was the first African-American armored unit to see combat.
Erroll Boyd: World War I Combat Pilot and Aviation DaredevilWorld War I combat pilot and aviation daredevil Erroll Boyd's flight to London in 1930 made him the first to cross the North Atlantic outside the summer season.
World War II: Mexican Air Force Helped Liberate the PhilippinesThe only Mexican Air Force unit to serve overseas during World War II, the Aztec Eagles fought to liberate the Philippines.
Military History: Interview with Colonel Lewis L. MillettIn the course of his 35-year military career, Lewis L. Millett received the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, two Legions of Merit, three Bronze Stars, four Purple Hearts, three Air Medals, the Army Commendation Medal and numerous foreign awards -- until he stopped accepting them.
Alaska Highway: The Biggest and Hardest Job Since the Panama CanalAfter the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, the United States feared that Alaska was vulnerable to invasion. To allay those fears, the government embarked on a monumental job of road building through some of the most remote and inaccessible terrain in North America.
World War II: Convoy PQ-17As their escorts turned away, the ships of the doomed Allied convoy followed orders and began to disperse in the Arctic waters.
World War II: German Raid on BariDubbed the 'second Pearl Harbor,' the 1943 German attack on Bari also revealed an Allied secret--mustard gas.

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French Marshal Joseph JoffreRetired French Marshal 'Papa' Joffre helped shape the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) in World War I.
World War II: America’s Office of Strategic Services’ Struggle to Regain BurmaDetachment 101 harried the Japanese in Burma and provided close support for regular Allied forces.
Operation Torch: Sub-Task Force Goalpost Capture Port LyauteyIn the crucible of Operation Torch, the men of Sub-Task Force Goalpost received their baptism of fire capturing the Moroccan town of Port Lyautey.
Captain John Miller: Test Pilot of the Autogiro and the Grumman J2F DuckCaptain John Miller had what it took to fly the weird ones -- the autogiro and the Grumman J2F Duck.
The ‘Bonus Army’ War in WashingtonIn 1932 World War I veterans seeking a bonus promised by Congress were attacked and driven out of Washington, D.C., by troops of the U.S. Army under the command of Douglas MacArthur, Dwight D. Eisenhower and George Patton.
Operation Torch: Allied Invasion of North AfricaThe Allied invasion of North Africa was a necessary first step on the road to victory in Europe.
Dwight D. Eisenhower: Douglas MacArthur’s Aide in the 1930sFor seven long years during the 1930s, Dwight D. Eisenhower slaved away as Douglas MacArthur's aide, enduring humiliation and even betrayal at the hands of his imperious boss. Though their tempestuous relationship often boiled over into shouting matches, it nevertheless proved mutually beneficial.
Picture of the Day: March 12FDR’s Fireside Chats President Roosevelt makes his first Sunday evening fireside chats on March 12, 1933. Roosevelt gave 31 chats from March 1933 and June 1944 to explain his policies to the public via radio broadcasts. This photo was taken during his April 28, 1935 broadcast in Washington, D.C. Photo: Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, National …
Joe Palooka: A Comic Strip Character Goes to WarIn 1940, one man saw the gathering war clouds and decided to forgo his career and enlist in the United States Army. His name was Joe Palooka-and he was a comic strip character.
Aviation History: Three U.S. Flying Boats Were the First to Fly Across the Atlantic in 1919In the spring of 1919, three Navy-Curtiss flying boats set out to beat the competition and be the first to fly across the Atlantic Ocean.
Book Review: Vietnam, the Necessary War (Michael Lind) : VNA provocative new study of the Vietnam War places it in the larger context of a global conflict. By Michael D. HullAmerica fought the war in Vietnam because of geopolitics, and forfeited the war because of domestic politics. The ultimate responsibility lay with neither the new civilian policy elite nor the American press, but with …
Book Review: Mr. Truman’s War: The Final Victories of World War II and the Birth of the Post War World (J. Robert Moskin) : WW2Mr. Truman’s War: The Final Victories of World War II and the Birth of the PostWar World, by J. Robert Moskin, Random House, New York, 1996, $30. Many students of history have wondered how Harry S. Truman was able to step into the presidency upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt and do such a …
Book Review: The Unsinkable Navy: The Politics of U.S. Navy Expansion in World War II (Joel R. Davidson) : WW2The Unsinkable Navy: The Politics of U.S. Navy Expansion in World War II, by Joel R. Davidson, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Md., 1996, $28.95.At the end of the day on December 7, 1941, the U.S. Pacific Fleet was in ruins. Yet three years later, in the midst of a two-ocean war, the United States had …
Book Review: Scapegoats (Edward L. Beach): WWIISCAPEGOATSThe surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, has been a source of debate ever since and will probably continue to be, because it is difficult to fix terms of reference. For example, was the probable withholding of information from the commanders on the scene that of commission (criminal conspiracy) or omission (ineptitude)? …
Book Review: Great Battles and Leaders of the Second World War ( Winston S. Churchill) : WW2Great Battles and Leaders of the Second World War by Winston S. Churchill, Houghton Mifflin, New York, 1995,$40. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was stunned and upset when he received news of the fall of Singapore in February 1942. He was outraged when he heard that Lt. Gen. Arthur Percival’s garrison in Malaya had failed …
Book Review: Wartime Missions of Harry L. Hopkins (Matthew B. Wills) : WW2The lengthy travels of Harry L. Hopkins, FDR’s trusted lieutenant, did much to foster cooperation among the Allies. By C. Brian KellyPolitically, he was not the most popular of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s lieutenants. But historically, Harry L. Hopkins played a crucial role for the Allies in World War II. Indeed, he was vital to …
Book Review: Day of Deceit (by Robert B. Stinnett) : WWIIDay of Deceit rewrites the history leading to the Pearl Harbor attack.By Michael D. HullWhile battles raged in Europe, North Africa and China, opinion polls in the summer of 1940 indicated that most Americans did not want their country involved in another war. Disillusioned by the failure of their nation’s idealistic commitment to “make the …
Book Review: Hunters in the Shallows (by Curtis L. Nelson) : WW2Hunters in the Shallows, by Curtis L. Nelson, Batsford Brassey, Washington, D.C., 1998, $28.95.It was March 11, 1942, and American fortunes were at a low ebb in the beleaguered Philippine Islands. A pall of death shrouded the battered fortress of Corregidor. The stench of destruction was in the air, and defeat at the hands of …
Book Review: Better Than Good: A Black Sailor’s War 1943-1945 (by Adolph W. Newton with Winston Eldridge) : WW2Better Than Good: A Black Sailor’s War 1943-1945, by Adolph W. Newton with Winston Eldridge, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Md., 1999, $25.95.In Better Than Good, Adolph Newton does an excellent job of recounting his experiences as one of the few African Americans to serve in the general enlisted ranks of the U.S. Navy during World …
Book Review: The Right to Fight (by Gerald Astor) : MHBlack U.S. servicemen had to prove themselves in World War I–and again in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.By Michael D. Hull Then the U.S. 369th Infantry Regiment landed in France early in 1918, no division in the American Expeditionary Force wanted it, because its soldiers were black. Eventually the commanding general of the AEF, …
Book Review: Bernt Balchen, Polar Aviator (Carroll V. Glines) : AHC.V. Glines’ biography of underappreciated Bernt Balchen chronicles an adventuresome life. By Walter J. Boyne Bernt Balchen is without question one of the most underappreciated heroes of our times. A man of immense personal courage, and gifted with the highest level of skills both in flying and in leadership, Balchen was for more than 30 …
Book Review: RISING TIDE: THE GREAT MISSISSIPPI FLOOD OF 1927 AND HOW IT CHANGED AMERICA (John M. Barry) : AHRISING TIDE: THE GREAT MISSISSIPPI FLOOD OF 1927 AND HOW IT CHANGED AMERICA, by John M. Barry, Simon & Schuster, $27.50.In this volume, which chronicles the 1927 flood of the Mississippi River, whose waters swept across an area the size of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Vermont combined, Barry relates the details of a catastrophe …
Book Review: FIGHTING WITH ALLIES: AMERICA AND BRITAIN IN PEACE AND AT WAR (Sir Robin Renwick) : AHFIGHTING WITH ALLIES: AMERICA AND BRITAIN IN PEACEAND AT WAR , by Sir Robin Renwick (Times Books, 468 pages, $35.00).Renwick, the formerBritish ambassador to the United States, analyzes the so-called “specialrelationship” that exists between the U.S. and Great Britain, explaining how andwhy it evolved by examining the letters, journals, and speeches of such notableleaders as …
Book Review: ONCE UPON A TIME IN NEW YORK: JIMMY WALKER, FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, AND THE LAST GREAT BATTLE OF THE JAZZ AGE (by Herbert Mitgang) : AHIONCE UPON A TIME IN NEW YORK: JIMMY WALKER, FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, AND THE LAST GREAT BATTLE OF THE JAZZ AGE, by Herbert Mitgang, Free Press, 259 pages, $25.00.PEOPLE who knew Jimmy Walker, the mayor of New York City from 1926 to 1932, invariably used the same words to describe him: “beguiling,” “charming,” “dapper,” “boyish,” and …
Book Review: A HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE (by Paul Johnson) : AHA HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, by Paul Johnson, HarperCollins, 1,100 pages, $35.British journalist Paul Johnson has undertaken as his latest project nothing less than a massive history of the United States–a country he calls “endlessly varied, multicolored and multiracial, immensely materialistic and overwhelmingly idealistic, ceaselessly innovative, thrusting, grabbing, buttonholing, noisy, questioning, anxious to do …

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The Niihau IncidentA bizarre chain of events on the Hawaiian island of Niihau may have had far-reaching consequences for Japanese Americans during the war.
Multi-Media Review: BELLA VISTA: AN UNSEEN VIEW OF WWII : AHBELLA VISTA: AN UNSEEN VIEW OF WWII (KSPS Public Television, $24.95). This video, originally produced for the PublicBroadcasting System, relates a little-known incident of World War II that began inMarch 1941, less than three weeks after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signedinto law the Lend-Lease program that allowed the United States to providearmaments and other war …
Multi-Media Review: The Presidential Memorials: AHTHE PRESIDENTIAL MEMORIALS(Arts & Entertainment Television Networks, $19.95). Part of the History Channel’s Great American Monuments series, this video program presents the colorful history of the tributes built in Washington, D.C., to immortalize three of America’s greatest presidents–George Washington (1732-99), Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), and Abraham Lincoln (1809-65). The film reveals such information as why the …
Lord Root of the Matter: March ’00 American History FeatureLord Root of the Matter Lacking an official title for most of his years in Washington, Harry Hopkins came to be known as President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s "Deputy President." by Bill McIlvaine JOKING TO THE PRESS that "we are going to Christmas Island to buy Christmas cards, and to Easter Island to buy Easter eggs," …
Multi-Media Review: GREAT AMERICAN SPEECHES: 80 YEARS OF POLITICAL ORATORY : AHGREAT AMERICAN SPEECHES: 80 YEARS OF POLITICAL ORATORY, (Pieri & Spring Productions, $34.95). The product of a two-year search through more than four hundred U.S. archives andfilm repositories, this two-volume video set presents the greatest political speeches by Americans ever recorded on film.Several of the orations have been edited to accommodate the four-hour videotape format, …
Multi-Media Review: AMERICAN PRESIDENTS: THE MOST POWERFUL MAN ON EARTH : AHAMERICAN PRESIDENTS: THE MOST POWERFUL MAN ONEARTH (Mentorom Multimedia, $29.98) Presented by Walter Cronkite, in collaborationwith the National Archives and Records Administration and its presidentiallibraries, this two-volume CD-ROM set for Windows–“Shaping ModernAmerica” and “The Cold War”–traces the history of modern America through theterms of office of 11 presidents, from Herbert Hoover (1874-1964) to GeorgeBush (1924- …
Multi-Media Review: SEEING THE FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT HOME & MUSEUM WITH JULIAN PADOWICZ (Audiotape) : AHSEEING THE FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT HOME & MUSEUM WITH JULIAN PADOWICZ, BFI AudioBooks, $24.95. Retired documentary filmmaker Julian Padowicz began this project as an aid for the elderly and disabled who weren’t easily able to complete the Franklin D. Roosevelt Home and Museum tour at Hyde Park, New York. The venture grew into a six-hour, …
Multi-Media Review: Death Becomes the Ghost–Volume I: The Glory, Volume II: The Shame (VHS) : WW2Death Becomes the Ghost–Volume I: The Glory, Volume II: The Shame, Grade A Productions, New York, two-volume videotape, 1997, $39.95. The heavy cruiser USS Houston (CA 30) led an existence that was different from most other U.S. Navy ships during World War II. While other cruisers sailed as part of task forces, engaging the Japanese …
American History: August ’00 LettersSHAPING THE FUTURE It would take a railroad buff, a steel industry buff, and a history buff (and I’m all three) to fully appreciate the photograph shown in the “American Album” for March/April 2000. The tables were arranged in a special shape–to form a cross-section of a railroad rail, one of the main products of …
“The Most Contented GIs in Europe”: October ’99 American History FeatureThe Most Contented GIs in Europe As World War II drew to a close, American soldiers in Europe traded their weapons for textbooks and prepared for return to civilian life. By Hervie Haufler In the summer of 1945, I was one of more than two-and-a-half million United States soldiers whose main task had ended with …
World War II: March 1999 From the EditorAdmiral John H. Towers was the architect of the U.S. Navy’s carrier aviation program. Admirals Chester W. Nimitz, Ernest J. King, Raymond A. Spruance and Marc A. Mitscher have their place in history assured. Their accomplishments during the war are well documented, as is the public acclaim accorded them. However, another naval flag officer, a …
The GI Bill – Cover Page: October ’99 American History FeatureThe GI Bill More than 2,250,000 American veterans of WWII received at least part of their college education as a result of legislation known as “the GI Bill.” By Michael D. Haydock By the time the last American World War II veteran was graduated in 1956, the United States was richer by 450,000 engineers; 238,000 …
Strike Against Japan – March ’98 Aviation History FeatureTokyo Fifty-six years ago, Jimmy Doolittle’s raiders carried out some historic firsts when their B-25s dropped the first bombs on Tokyo. By C.V. Glines   The surprise Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor of December 7, 1941, was only the beginning of bad news from the Pacific. In the ensuing weeks, Wake Island, Singapore, Hong Kong …
Defining The Jet – January ’98 Aviation History FeatureDefining the Jet The Cold War accelerated jet aircraft development without a shot being fired in the 1940s. By Jon Guttman The end of World War II saw the elimination of fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan as world powers, but also resulted in a squaring off between the two principal victors of the …
D-Day’s Mighty Host – May ’98 World War II FeatureA perilous airborne strike and the mightiest assemblage of seaborne power yet seen heralded the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany. By David R. Jennys The road to the invasion of Nazi-controlled France began more than two years prior to its actual execution. In its early stages, the invasion plan was a British operation …
Kursk – March ’98 World War II FeatureLaffey The embattled destroyer survived horrific damagefrom attacks by 22 Japanese aircraft off Okinawa. By Dale P. Harper Commander Frederick Julian Becton, captain of the destroyer USS Laffey (DD 724), took the radio message his communications officer handed him on April 12, 1945, but the concerned look on the young officer’s face made Becton suspect …
Midway – May ’98 World War II FeatureMidway Admiral Raymond A. Spruance displayed outstanding leadership and command capabilities during the battle that turned the tide in the Pacific. By Michael D. Hull Admiral Chester W. Nimitz called him “a fine man, a sterling character, and a great leader,” and said, “nothing you can say about him would be praise enough.” Admiral William …
The Bitter Battle for Berlin – Sidebar: March ’98 World War II FeatureThe capture of Berlin was left to the Soviets, but the Western Allies nevertheless occupied zones in the German capital. Berlin was considered by many of the Western Allies to be one of the prime objectives of the war. While plans to seize the capital city included an airborne assault by the 82nd and 101st …
Turning Points: One Sunday in December: December ’98 American History FeatureDawn came up golden over Pearl Harbor, just waking from tropic dreams. December 7, 1941 would be a day of deceit. A day of shock and horror. A day, for Americans, ever to be remembered.
Perspectives:’Black Panther’ Tank Battalion – January ’98 World War II FeatureThe 761st ‘Black Panther’ Tank Battalion was the first African-American armored unit to see combat. By Joseph E. Wilson, Jr. Before and during mobilization for World War II, officials in Washington, D.C., debated whether or not African-American soldiers should be used in armored units. Many military men and politicians believed that blacks did not have …
American History: March ’98 Letters1919 ARMORED CADILLACAn interesting prelude to the transcontinental trip by military motor described in “From D.C. to the Golden Gate” (November/December 1997 issue) was conducted by Colonel Royal P. Davidson. He traveled in a cavalcade of eight Cadillac cars, one a fully armored car with cupola and machine gun, for the purpose of showing the …
They’re not all Piper Cubs – November ’97 Aviation History FeatureThey're not all Piper Cubs The ubiquitous yellow two-seater that spawned an industry lived to become a misnomer. By Charles Spence Someone once asked William T. Piper, Sr., if he wanted to be known as the Henry Ford of the airplane business. Piper reportedly replied, “No, I would prefer that Mr. Ford be known as …
‘Lady Lindy': The Remarkable Life of Amelia Earhart – July ’97 Aviation History Feature'Lady Lindy': The Remarkable Life of Amelia Earhart A tomboy who defied early-20th-century conventions, Earhart successfully crusaded for women pilots’ place in the sky. By C.V. Glines They called Amelia Earhart “Lady Lindy” after her first flight across the Atlantic. She was tall and slim, with short, wind-swept hair, and looked so remarkably like Charles …

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