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“Affectionately, F.D.R.” Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Long-Lost Letters to Daisy Suckley

“Affectionately, F.D.R.” Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Long-Lost Letters To Daisy Suckley. These extraordinary letters document the warm friendship and affection between President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Margaret “Daisy” Suckley, a distant cousin. FDR and Daisy shared a family heritage, treasuring their common roots in the Hudson Valley and the same social milieu. “Wilderstein,” Daisy’s home in Rhinebeck, New York, was less than a dozen miles from FDR’s family home at Hyde Park but the two did not really become acquainted until 1922 when Franklin’s mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt, invited her to visit with him as he continued his recovery from polio at Hyde Park. Their closer friendship began with the start of his presidency -- after Daisy attended his inauguration on March 4, 1933 -- and ended during a visit with him at Warm Springs, just before he died there on April 12, 1945. During FDR’s twelve years in the presidency, Daisy visited him at the White House, went on trips with him, helped organize the papers at his new presidential library, and gave him his beloved Scottish terrier, Fala. Daisy’s diaries, her letters to FDR, and more than three dozen surviving handwritten letters from FDR to her were only found after her death in 1991, just short of her 100th birthday. Superbly edited by Roosevelt biographer Geoffrey C. Ward, they were published in Closest Companion: The Unknown Story of the Intimate Friendship Between Franklin Roosevelt and Margaret Suckley (1995). In this volume Daisy comments on his work, current issues, the doings of friends and family, and her visits with Franklin. And the president reciprocates. Displayed here are sixteen letters written by FDR, revealing his complete trust in her discretion as he writes frankly about his daily life, private meetings, influential people, and important events, all narratives leavened by his sense of humor and descriptive skills. Roosevelt House is honored to receive this generous gift of FDR letters from Roger and Susan Hertog. Their display is most fitting at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College, which sustains the public policy and human rights legacies of Eleanor Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt in their former New York City home. The exhibition has been curated by Roosevelt House Historian Deborah Gardner and designed by Production Assistant Daniel Culkin. Assistance was also provided by the staff of Roosevelt House and Hunter College. A Gift of Roger and Susan Hertog

These extraordinary letters document the warm friendship and affection between President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Margaret “Daisy” Suckley, a distant cousin.

FDR and Daisy shared a family heritage, treasuring their common roots in the Hudson Valley and the same social milieu. “Wilderstein,” Daisy’s home in Rhinebeck, New York, was less than a dozen miles from FDR’s family home at Hyde Park but the two did not really become acquainted until 1922 when Franklin’s mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt, invited her to visit with him as he continued his recovery from polio at Hyde Park.

Their closer friendship began with the start of his presidency — after Daisy attended his inauguration on March 4, 1933 — and ended during a visit with him at Warm Springs, just before he died there on April 12, 1945.  During FDR’s twelve years in the presidency, Daisy visited him at the White House, went on trips with him, helped organize the papers at his new presidential library, and gave him his beloved Scottish terrier, Fala.

Daisy’s diaries, her letters to FDR, and more than three dozen surviving handwritten letters from FDR to her were only found after her death in 1991, just short of her 100th birthday.  Superbly edited by Roosevelt biographer Geoffrey C. Ward, they were published in Closest Companion: The Unknown Story of the Intimate Friendship Between Franklin Roosevelt and Margaret Suckley (1995). In this volume Daisy comments on his work, current issues, the doings of friends and family, and her visits with Franklin. And the president reciprocates.  Displayed here are sixteen letters written by FDR, revealing his complete trust in her discretion as he writes frankly about his daily life, private meetings, influential people, and important events, all narratives leavened by his sense of humor and descriptive skills.

Roosevelt House is honored to receive this generous gift of FDR letters from Roger and Susan Hertog. Their display is most fitting at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College, which sustains the public policy and human rights legacies of Eleanor Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt in their former New York City home.

This exhibition was curated by Roosevelt House Historian Deborah Gardner and designed by Production Assistant Daniel Culkin. Assistance was also provided by the staff of Roosevelt House and Hunter College. This exhibit was on display in the Spring of 2019.

A Gift of Roger and Susan Hertog

 


Memories and Visits

Oct 22nd, 1934, The White House, Washington

Dear Daisy –

Thanks ever so much for speaking to Helen Crosby about that silly little old ornithological diary – if she finds it you will be amused by the enthusiasms of a Dutchess County naturalist at the age of twelve! That was before you had begun to attend dancing class.

The plans are changed and the Museum (?)  ceremonies on the 27th put off – till next year – so we expect {second page} to get to H.P. the morning of the Nov. 3rd & stay at least till the evening of Election Day – Do please come down one of those afternoons – whichever is best for you – only let me know a little in advance which is the most convenient – I hope to have a real four days without political thoughts – isn’t that a grand idea for the period immediately preceding an important election? Come & tell me about ships and {third page} cabbages & Kings – the mythological kind – but not about sealing wax – that would be too much like the State Department – It will be nice.

Affectionately yours, F.D.R.

Notes:
H.P. = Hyde Park
Helen Crosby was the daughter of Maunsell S. Crosby (1887-1931), Daisy’s neighbor and FDR’s boyhood friend and knowledgeable fellow aficionado in ornithology. (Ward, p.14)


A Day Out Together

Nov 14 ‘34, The White House, Washington

Dear Daisy –

I’m glad you liked our day – I did too – very much – Will you go again in the spring to rediscover some more of our County? I think you added several years to my life & much to my happiness – Don’t forget that it would be nice if you can come down to a party in the Winter – if you can give me a little suggestion as to approximate times I can {second page} offer you a choice of diplomats – or Congress – or Army & Navy – or Departments! I think it a very pious idea.

By the way my dear – how do you think I can tell you anything about the Young fiancé of the friend of yours if you do not give me his name or the kind of exam he took! Write me at once to Warm Springs, Georgia, by order of the President – Uncle – {third page} Cousin – or just perhaps me – giving the necessary data – And too it is best to enclose it in another envelope to Miss LeHand as otherwise it might get lost in the general mailing room.

Yours affectionately, F.D.R.

Yes – the Election was surprisingly good – but – well – I suppose it means more work__

Note:
Congressional elections in 1934:  Democrats now controlled 3/4 of the House and held a supermajority in the Senate, 69 out of 96. (Ward, p.15)

 


Reading and Holidays

December 22, [1934, ds], The White House, Washington

Dear Daisy –

No news yet from the Civil Service people, but I am jogging their memories & will let you know soon__

I like our “Earth” enormously – it is a joy to find the rapier thrusts do not outweigh the vision & the hope – It is like you to like it & for that I am glad.

The period of rush is upon us here – but I am full of health after {second page} the two weeks at Warm Springs – some day you must see that spot – you would like the great pines & the red earth – but it’s very different & can never take the place of our River. By the way I know another hill which you & I will go to in the spring.

It is possible I may spend Feb. 24-28 at Hyde Park – a change of scene will be in order by then – perhaps you will be in Rhinebeck, then – {third page} But in any event carry through the Washington trip if you can – it does not have to be a gold lace party unless you demand it! And in the meantime a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year – I know of no one who, as we say in the Navy “rates it more.”

Aff, F

Notes:
“Earth” probably refers to The Good Earth by Pearl Buck published in 1931. (Ward, p.15)  Buck (1892-1973) was raised in China, spoke the language fluently, and knew the culture. She won the 1932 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Good Earth.  She was a great advocate for the Chinese people and raised funds to help refugees during the wars that ravaged the country from the 1930s inward.  Like her friend Eleanor Roosevelt, Buck was quite progressive and supported civil rights and equal rights for women.

FDR visited his “Little White House” 17 times during his presidency at the polio treatment center he had created in Warm Springs, Georgia. (Ward, p.16)

 


Excursions and Political Concerns

Wed. Eve – [c. March 7, 1935, ds] The White House, Washington

Dear Daisy –

I had hoped for it – & this morning it came,  – & don’t ever leave out the dots & dashes & exclamation points – I love them__ It was good that you got those days on the River – only I think you might have taken me with you when you slipped off, hatless, in the wind__ There is a hill – in the back country – perhaps this spring we can go to it__ Why is it that ourRiver & our country side seem so to be a part {second page}of us? Perhaps it’s the “common” Beekman ancestry! By the way were you photographed in the old dress you wore at the Rhinebeck celebration when that General Delafield person presided? If so the Pres. wants one__

It’s a little hurricane we’re passing through down here – & rather risky to the future of the country – but it’s worse in other countries & I’m trying to keep a very tight rein on myself – for the time has not come yet to speak out__

{third page}You do help – very understanding one – and I am glad.

Aff F.

Entirely forgot to send you this weeks ago – Apparently the young man is safely in a better job! Now you owe me one!

Handwritten note by Daisy in pencil: Answered that no picture was taken. March 19th wrote enclosing picture taken at Bournemouth England in 1291!

Notes:
William Beekman, a possible ancestor of FDR and Daisy who were 6th cousins once removed; Eleanor Roosevelt was related to Daisy thru the Livingston family as 4th cousins.  [Brigadier] General [John Ross] Delafield George Delafield was another wealthy Hudson River neighbor. (Ward, pp.17)

This letter was written just after March 4, 1935, the second anniversary of FDR’s presidency, and the hurricane refers to delays with the Social Security bill, a huge work relief bill stalled, and the radical criticisms of the New Deal by Senator Huey Long of Louisiana. (Ward, p.18)

 


To The White House

Thursday [April 18, 1935, ds] The White House, Washington

Dear D –

I’m so glad about next week – the only change is that Thursday evening is a lot better than Friday because Laura Delano & a lot of schools girls will be here Friday & on Thursday evening I think you will have to have a solitary meal with me… (Pen ran dry) So can you change to Thursday? Also I hope you and VH [Virginia Hunt] can lunch with us Sat or Sunday – I {second page} will get that arrangement made here via the social Secretary!

You might very nicely telephone me Wed Evening when you get in (about 7 p.m.) or Thurs a.m. about 9.15 (if you are awake). I’m glad you had the party with Henry__ He is an old dear – He’s years older than I am – two – but I always want to “mother” him!

Next week –

Aff, F

Notes:
Laura Delano (1885-1972) was FDR’s first cousin and often a companion with Daisy during their visits with FDR; Virginia Hunt was a Livingston and old friend of Daisy. Henry Latrobe Roosevelt (1879-1936) was appointed by FDR Assistant Secretary of the Navy in March 1933, the fifth Roosevelt to hold that position (following Theodore, FDR, Theodore Jr, and Theodore Douglas Robinson, Eleanor’s nephew. (Ward, p.9)  Latrobe had served in the U.S. Marine Corps 1899-1920. Due to the poor health of the Secretary of the Navy, Henry served as Acting Secretary and made many tours of inspection and speeches, calling for the strengthening of the Navy as a deterrent to war.

 


West Point

Thurs. Night [June 13, 1935, ds]

Thank you – my dear – for that bestest of afternoons – I told you there were a million things I wanted to talk about & I think I only talked about a dozen – so if you will work out 12/1,000,000, you see how often you will have to come again – does it horrify you? Don’t we live in the nicest part of all the world – and am I a Fortunate Person?

Wednesday at West Point was a really very perfect little ceremony because of its simplicity & brevity – {second page} and I hope you liked what I said__ On the train I dictated & had conferences – & found Wash. as usual a bedlam – last night the Parade was a fiasco – rain & more rain & I got wet & the old sinus is “acting up” today making me cross to everybody – I don’t think that I could be cross to you.

Yours affec, F

Is it all set for the 22nd? Is it a big party? Can you stay after lunch? Such a lot of answersrequired.

Notes:
Parade of 15,000 Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. (Ward, p.26)

FDR had attended the West Point graduation ceremony on June 12. [check] In the published version of the letters, editor Geoffrey Ward quotes from the speech words that would be totally apt today: “The greatest need of the world today is the assurance of permanent peace – an assurance based on mutual understanding and mutual regard.”  FDR’s comment of course looks back to his experience after World War I when the United States failed to join the League of Nations founded to assure a permanent peace, as well as referring to the then unsettled situation in Europe.


Trip to Boulder Dam and California

 Monday Eve, Sept 30th [1935, ds]

I wish so much my dear that you could have been at Boulder Dam today – Nothing I could say would give you a picture of the immensity of the whole canvas__ A huge peak – bigger than a hundred other peaks near by – was clear at seventy five miles – The colors marvelous – yet not a tree or grass in sight – Do you know the pictures of Gustave Doreillustrating Milton’s Paradise Lost? – I love the desert & rocks – but not to live among – still true to Dutchess [County]!

Some day though {second page} you must see this country – It has been a successfultrip – really happy crowds of people – even bigger than last year – & there is no doubt of thegreat gains in prosperity. My difficulty is in having to keep on my “braces” from early morn till nearly midnight because at every stop – even a water tower a crowd surrounds the rearplatform & I cannot disappoint them by refusing to go out & say “Howdy” –

This p.m. we took a glorious drive up a canyon on a new narrow road, which {third page} greatly alarmed the newspaper men but was really not dangerous.

Tomorrow a day in Los Angeles – a huge gathering in the Coliseum – 110,000 people – & I am to appear, drive slowly around & say a few kind words__ I can’t make out if I am thelion in the Roman arena or the Early Christian Martyr – I have a new sympathy for both.

I will add to this tomorrow {fourth page} in San Diego – but in the meantime there is noreason why I should not tell you that I miss you very much__ It was a week ago yesterday__ Allowing for three hours’ difference in time you are now very soundly asleep at 3 a.m. in Rhinebeck & I hope you are having very happy dreams__ I look forward to my letter on the ship__

Thursday midnight! Safely here at Coronado Beach (San Diego) & both your letters are here & constitute the real news – It is a long road to Panama__

Notes:
This letter described FDR’s experience as he visited to dedicate the almost finished Boulder Dam, his delight in the Western landscape, and his coming trip to Los Angeles. The letter displays so many aspects of his correspondence with Daisy: fearless, awed by the dam and the beauty of the landscape, humor, care for the common people, and his ability to turn a phrase.

With the temperature over 100 degrees and accompanied by Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, FDR spoke to some 10,000 people from a temporary platform overlooking the dam, addressing the workers:  “and you especially who have built Boulder Dam: This morning I came, I saw and I was conquered, as everyone would be who sees for the first time this great feat of mankind.”  The Dam was finished in 1936 and renamed Hoover Dam in 1947 as it was started late under the administration of  President Hoover but mostly but it took New Deal funding to finish it. The Dam impounded Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States.

During this visit FDR visited a CCC camp which entailed driving on a very narrow road which terrified his companions but not the President as he notes.  (Ward, p.41)  FDR loved the trip with its large crowds, and seeing “gains in prosperity.” He rarely refers to his disability  but here he talks about his uncomfortable braces that supported his legs while standing, either bolstered by the arm of an aide, a cane, or holding on to a railing.

“It is a long road to Panama.” FDR would have an informal visit with President Arias of Panama, stopping in Balboa, on his way back from the West coast, Oct. 16, 1935.

 


Al Smith, Former Ally

Sunday Jan. 19th, [1936, DS]

How did you like Al Smith’s speech – He did himself little good I think – but it is a queer thing that I can’t hate him in spite of the things he has said & done__
Note:
This brief message shows FDR’s willingness to forgive his old mentor Al Smith who had been a progressive legislator and governor of New York State.  FDR had nominated him to be the Democratic presidential candidate in 1924, when he wasn’t selected, and then again in 1928 when he did become the candidate (and lost the national election) at the same time FDR ran for NYS governor to succeed him and won. When FDR received the presidential nomination in 1932, disappointing Smith’s hopes to have another chance, that ended the men’s friendship.  Smith became a founding member of the American Liberty League in 1934 in opposition to the New Deal, drawing in conservative Democrats as well as wealthy Republicans.  Their goal was to deny FDR a second term for his alleged socialism and to overturn the New Deal which they regarded as undermining American liberties. FDR mocked and criticized the League upon its founding, and attacked its principles in his State of the Union address to Congress on January 3, 1936, the first to be delivered at night so the entire nation could hear the radio broadcast. At the heart of his remarks were references to the “entrenched greed” of the League’s leaders, who would overthrow the New Deal for their profit and to the detriment of the greater good.

Al Smith responded for the League at its dinner in a nationally broadcast speech at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC on January 25, 1936.  This suggests that this portion of the letter may have been written after Jan 25; FDR often sent Daisy letters that had been written over several days.

 


Campaign Year

[Jan. 30th, ’36 ds]

__ will you not worry about all the horrid and unnecessary things of this political year? You are so right about them – but we must bear with them & while we try not to add to them still we must get the truth brought out – And if we carry on and lose at least we will have tried honorably – And there are lots & lots of other thrilling things to do in this life__

 

Note:
In this brief note FDR reflects on the coming 1936 campaign year.

 


Death of Louis Howe

April 29th [1936, ds] 

Thurs. What a week – why did I come back – why this endless task – why run again – why see the endless streams of people – why the damned old basket of mail which is either full or hanging over my head or just emptied & ready to be filled.

{second page} The book work you’ve been doing in the O. Library – & solemn political problems – & Louis Howe (I wanted to tell you about him) & enough other things to take 365 days a year for 50 years__

But – wasn’t it a grand trip to the Azores, etc., etc., etc., & weren’t…
Note:
Louis Howe, FDR’s closest advisor, died April 18, 1936 after a long illness. (Ward, p.82).  Howe had first met FDR in 1911 when he became a Senator in the NYS legislature and saw his potential. He went with FDR to Washington when he became Assistant Secretary of the Navy, moved into the 65thStreet home in 1921when FDR was recovering from polio, and then moved to the Governor’s Mansion with him in 1928, and finally to the White House in 1933. His death was major loss for FDR.

FDR refers to the tiresome aspects of the campaign for re-election. Azores – seems to refer to drive through Dutchess County.

 


Final Campaign Rally in 1936

Oct 31st, ‘36, 49 East 65th Street

Handwritten note by Daisy Suckley upper left hand corner: “I took with me: Muriel Gordon, Mary Crowell, Etienne Jalenques, Rosalie Brown, Margy Brown

Handwritten note by Daisy Suckley upper right: “6 tickets enclosed for Democratic Rally at Mad. Sq. Garden.”

Dear D.

Here are six tickets. You should get there by about 6 to 6.30 p.m. – What a long wait.

Can you call me now before 10.40 at Rhinelander 7890 – or between 2.30 & 3 p.m.? Very important.

F

Notes:
A week after this rally, FDR won all states except Maine and Vermont, as well as a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress, with the greatest popular vote to date. (Ward, 81)  The rally at Madison Square Garden, then located on Eighth Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets, was held on October 31 with 20,000 people in attendance who applauded FDR for 13 minutes at his arrival to address them. His last oration of the campaign, it is considered one of FDR’s most powerful speeches as he responded to Republican criticism of the New Deal, “Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred.”

Daisy’s guests included her friend Muriel Gordon and her cousin Mary Crowell. (Ward, pp.58, 331) Rosalie Brown and Margy Brown were sisters and first cousins of Daisy (and 6th cousins to FDR). Daisy had lived in the NYC home of Rosalie’s grandmother, Mrs. Langdon, at 399 Park Avenue.

 


Diplomacy in South America

 

December 5, 1936 [U.S.S. Indianapolis]

[Mailed Miami, Fla. Dec.13th 6 p.m. ds]

Sat. the 5th, ‘36

It is three days since I “scribbled” on Wed. eve on our way to Montevideo – and I fear it was a very doleful scribble – but you will understand as always – & though I tried talking to a very wise little bird and it helped, still it was only proxy help, – & only C.P. could really answer – The more I think of it all, the more I dwell on poor Gus’s love of the farm – he was so utterly wrapped up in it – all of a happy future was placed there – all kinds of enchanting vistas – not only of a happy life in Dutchess, but of all kinds of new adventures – gardening, trees, blueberries. And with it all I am certain that he thought much of the days when he would live there and at the same time be near to you and to me – He would so have loved the things he was buying – in Rio a “bargain” – always a bargain – a collection of horrible plates & saucers with butterflies and butterfly wings under the transparent surface – and some huge artificial flowers made out of bird feathers__

What shall we do about the place? – We cannot tell yet of course till I have seen the nephew – The boy should probably sell it & put the money in trust for himself with Gus’s life insurance – about $5000 I think – That, with the value of the farm – {second page} say another $5,000 – would give him an income of $400 a year – But I hate to see that place just sold to any body – don’t you? Should I buy it – & you & I manage it? I long so to talk it all over with you – and I can’t with anyone else & wouldn’t want to if I could.

Thursday at Montevideo was really nice, for on landing I drove for over two hours with Pres. Terra – all through the city with its waving & cheering crowds. Then out along the wonderful beaches & rocky promontories, & back through the country to his villa – Then a formal lunch, his speech & mine, then a reception, then back to the ship & dramatic departure with 75,000 people on the quay. The last time Pres. Terra entertained a visiting President (Vargas of Brazil last year), he was shot through the shoulder by an anarchist – & we got word they might try to get him again but would take precautions not to hit me.

I must learn Spanish – Why don’t you move to W. & learn it with me__

Thursday night was an asterisk moment for me (very quietly) – at 11p.m. we turned out of the Rio de la Plata & headed North – do you know {third page} whither that leads? This after noon we passed Rio & at 3 anchored at Cape Frio for three hours, got into the launches & fished – not very successful, but lovely scenery and enough “groupers” for a couple of good chowders!

Sunday 6th – A long sermon in a baking sun – (& I wore my hat all through it) – & I have been filing papers & answering many election letters – also getting tanned again. – I’m so thrilled about the coronation – of course you must go – it’s a grand chance – & I so hope today’s news of the King does not cast doubt on the Ceremony!

Tuesday 8th – A very interesting searchlight drill between this ship and the Chester just after dark tonight – The two ships 5 miles apart abreast of each other – each picked up the other & the problem was to blind the “enemy” gunners by keeping the searchlights on the target in spite of changes in course and the roll of the ship.

At 7:35 p.m. we crossed the Equator! & now I’m back in the Northern Hemisphere where incidentally I think I belong. It has been muggy & sticky all day – a following wind.

{fourth page} Wednesday 9th – We hear that at Port of Spain on Friday we shall get 2 pouches & in them I count on a letter – I hope two – Also we hear that Col. Starling will fly home from there that day – so I shall send this to be mailed by him in Miami – He should get there by Sat night or Sun morning – so perhaps you’ll get this Monday – the day before I land – We plan to get to W. Tuesday evening late – too late I fear for me to telephone you – but I hope to find a letter awaiting – & I will call you up Wed. eve about 6:30.

I am having a simple service for Gus at the W.H. Wed. morning early – & then the body will be taken to N.Y. for the internment & Jimmy will go with it.  I do want to go myself – but there are several things that make it absolutely necessary to stay in W. & settle them.

Today we have been quiet – amusing ourselves by making a “pool” on what the King Edward situation will be on Jan 1. We wrote it all down & all agree he would still be King – & I think he will make the lady “Dutchess of Cornwall” – not Queen – & marry her & keep the throne – So you will go to his Coronation!

{fifth page} Thursday 10th – All wrong! He did abdicate – & right in the middle of our lunch! Nevertheless, I suppose the Coronation will take place – “as usual” – only with a different victim – I hope much you & Virginia have arranged for rooms in London, for I hear that they are very hard to get.

We get in to the Port of Spain at 4 a.m. so I must close this – without even seeing your letter. It is such a long time since 3 weeks ago last Monday – Goodnight.

Aff, F

Notes:
Gus Gennerich (1887-1936) first met FDR as a NYC police officer assigned to guard Governor Roosevelt in 1929. When FDR became president, Gus joined the U.S. Secret Service and was assigned to the president. Guard, aide, and friend, his sudden death in Rio was a personal loss for both FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt. (Ward, p.93)  Colonel Edmund Starling, head of FDR’s Secret Service detail. (Ward, p.94)  Virginia Hunt was a Livingston and old friend of Daisy.

This was part of month-long trip to South America (Nov 17-Dec 15) to promote FDR’s “Good Neighbor” policy with the countries of the Southern hemisphere. He left before Thanksgiving on the U.S.S. Indianapolis – commissioned just two weeks after the President’s election on November 15, 1932 – and the itinerary included stops in Rio de Janiero where he addressed the Brazilian Congress, Buenos Aires where he attended a session of the Inter-American Conference for the Maintenance of Peace, and then Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay. There he toured with President Gabriel Terra, which included a drive through the city, lunch in his countryside villa, and speeches. He joked with Terra about surviving an  assassination attempt the previous year, having survived one himself  in February 1933. Large crowds welcomed FDR everywhere. During the trip back north to Rio, the battleship anchored so FDR could fish, one of his favorite pastimes. The U.S.S. Indianapolis also engaged in a war drill with another ship; it was torpedoed and sunk on July 30, 1945 by a Japanese submarine.

FDR comments about the impending coronation of King Edward VIII and speculates about whether he would marry his mistress Wallis Simpson or not. The next day he hears that Edward abdicated to stay with Simpson; he was succeeded by his brother George VI.

 


Caribbean Vacation

U.S.S. Philadelphia Sat. April 30 [1938, DS]

Dear M –

So far so good – A perfect day – getting off from the Navy Yard at 9.30 and the run down the River past Charleston with its “Battery” & the old house & the slave market is always fascinating – Then past Fort Sumter – the walls are much lower than during the Siege – Fort Moultrie is on the left – firing a 21gun salute as the C is C. [Commander in Chief]  proceeds to sea. Outside it is smooth & even the destroyer “Fanning” escorting us does not roll or pitch – {second page} There are six in our party – Capt. Woodson, Col. Watson, Dr. McIntire, M. H. McIntyre & Rudolph Forster.

After lunch I slept for two hours & then went on the forward deck for some sun – and tonight played with stamps – Now it is 10.15 & I’m in bed and ….

Sunday – Service on the quarter deck under a huge awning & the Chaplain is OK! Much better than that unfortunate solemn idiot who was on the So. Am. cruise – As a result there was a good turn-out of the crew – about 250 instead of the handful that used to go to services on the Indianapolis.

A quiet p.m., more sun & stamps {third page} & so far I haven’t done any work – One detective story nearly finished – Movies tonight & now it’s bed & 10.20….

Monday – This a.m. we anchored on Silver Bank – a formation under water about 30 miles each way with from 20 to 50 feet of water on it, & on all sides it is surrounded by water a mile or more deep. The charts show four or five places on the N.W. side where the coral heads are supposed to come to the surface & I figured it out that there {fourth page} would be fish – but we looked for them in vain – & any way the sea was too rough to lower a boat for trolling. So we ran down to Samana Bay at the N.E. end of Santo Domingo & anchored for the night close to marvelous mountains 3,000 feet high – with very thick vegetation. It is I think by far the richest of the Islands – even more so than Cuba or Jamaica & “only man is vile” – 3,000,000 of them – all a problem – The Haiti end (1/3 with 2/3 of the population) is all black – The Santo Domingo end (2/3 with less than 1,000,000 people) is a potpourri {fifth page} of Spanish & negro with traces of French etc, etc. They live with comparative happiness next to nature & in complete poverty. Why disturb them?

[May 3, 1938, ds] Tuesday – off bright & early in the whale boats & trolled for 5 hours – Very few fish but a real sunburn – rather painful at this minute on my shoulders & neck – We passed close to a tiny town amid cocoanut palms, tin houses & tin roofs – but lots of color & lots of dirt.

This p.m. we are steaming for Sombrero Island far to the East & now we are just North {sixth page} of Puerto Rico. We get mail at San Juan on Thurs. a.m. & I will post this there & you will get it either Sat. p.m. or Mon. morning.

I am glad about July, but don’t you think it would do you good if you could stay at Nantucket for a week & get a change of air? Or you could go there a week before Aunt S. returns & bring her back – I had as you know thought of going on the cruise about July 7 for 28 days but I can put it off & go as late as the 20th – What do you think? {7th page}

Wed. Eve. – A good day, or rather morning, at Sombrero – a flat mass of coral a mile long with a lighthouse – It is almost 30 feet above water & the sea breaks on the windward side & send fountains of spray high in the air – Nothing between it & Africa.

[drawing with lighthouse]

Now we are on the way home! Tomorrow early we get a pouch at San Juan & this will go via {eight page} many hands & planes – I’m sorry not to be back Sunday morning early – It has been very nice out on the bow & tonight there was a sunset – and some spray. Bonne nuit.

Affec., FDR

Notes:
FDR leaves from Charleston, describing the historic sites he is passing, for a trip to the Caribbean. He sails past Haiti, Santo Domingo, and Puerto Rico, fishing along the way.  He had visited Puerto Rico in July 1934 but did not do so on this trip with the ship just stopping to pick up mail. FDR always relaxed on these trips, with the companionship of his closest male friends and advisors.  He continues to describe the landscape and maritime features as well as adding a sketch of a lighthouse.  Sombrero Island is the northernmost island of the Lesser Antilles.

[finish] Capt. Walter B. Woodson was FDR’s naval aide. (Ward, p.113), Col. Watson, Admiral Dr. Ross McIntire (FDR’s official physician).  Marvin. H. McIntyre was his press aide. Rudolph Forster

 


Warm Springs

April 5 [1939, ds], Georgia Warm Springs Foundation, Warm Springs, Georgia

Dear Daisy

I find that in all probability I can go to Charlottesville and Endless Caverns either Friday & Sat. April 21 & 22, or Sat. & Sunday April 22 & 23 – It would be grand if we could make up a “caravan,” visit Monticello, I spending the night with F. Jr. & all of you joining me at the Caverns, where I would join you the next day for lunch. {second page} I am writing to Betty – & I do hope you can come down –

Down here we are having real spring & yesterday I picked a lot of azalea & honeysuckle out on the Knob – I get back to Washington Monday at noon, in time to supervise egg-rolling from the South Porch!

Happy Easter.

Affectionately, FDR

Notes:
FDR is discussing a possible trip to Virginia later in the month to include a visit to his son Franklin Jr studying law at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and also visiting Monticello and Endless Caverns.  The caverns were a tourist attraction near New Market, Virginia.

Through all the letters he wrote while sailing or at Warm Springs, he takes pleasure in the warmth – probably because he didn’t suffer from his chronic sinus problems as he did in colder climes. The Knob is a reference to Dowdell’s Knob, a valley overlook on Pine Mountain where FDR liked to enjoy the view – today it is part of  the FD Roosevelt State Park  with structures built by the CCC — and there is a statue of him sitting on his removable car seat with visible braces. He liked to have picnics there and took guests from Warm Springs to enjoy the scenery with him.

 


Conference in Casablanca

[January 14 – 30, 1943, Facsimile]

Jan.14. Thursday Night, Casablanca

An amazing day! As you know we got in to Bathurst yesterday p.m. – & we all went to bed early on the Memphis, & got up in the dark this a.m. – went ashore at 7 a.m. a drive through the tiny town to the airport 22 miles out. A paved but very bumpy road, through crowds of semi-dressed natives – thatched huts – great poverty and emaciation – On the whole I am glad the U.S. is not a great Colonial power –

Through a wood – and then an incredible up-to-date U.S. airport – only 3 or 400 U.S. troops &mechanics but every day more & more of our planes are going through on the way to the front. We got off at 8.45 in a C54 transport plane – the runway was a steel mesh net 6,000 feet long.  C.R. Smith with Big. Gen’l – great friend of Elliott – used to be head of the big air line to Calif. via So. Route – Now in charge of the air ferry.

We flew north along the Coast & in an hour came over Dakar & got a good look at it. Then over St. Louis, a very old French port – Then inland over the {second page} desert – Never saw it before – worse than our Western Desert – Not flat at all & not as light as I had thought – more a brown yellow with lots of rocks and wind erosion. Five hours of this at an elevation of 6,000 feet.  Then ahead a great chain of mountains – snowy top – The Atlas run from the Coast in Southern Morocco East & North & then East again until they lose themselves in Tunis – We flew over a pass 10,000 ft. & I tried a few whiffs of oxygen – I didn’t have to but it did make it easier – North of the Mts. we suddenly descended over the first oasis of Marrakesh – a great city going back to the Berbers even before the Arabs came – We may go there is Casablanca is bombed.

At last at 4 p.m. Casablanca & the ocean came in sight – I was landed at a field 22 miles from Town & driven under heavy guard in a car with soaped windows to this delightful villa belonging to a Mme. Bessan whose army husband is a prisoner in France – She {third page} & her child were ejected as were the other cottage owners & sent to the hotel in Town.

W.S.C. came in from next door, & we have a staff dinner here for twelve – Who do you suppose was at the airport? Elliott – looking very fit & mighty proud of his D.F.C.

Wed. Jan.20
I have not added to this for six days & because of the Winston hours

I sleep to 9 a.m. – then morning conferences – then a luncheon – then a nap for an hour, then more talk – & a dinner at 8 which lasts to an average of 2 a.m.

  1. Jr. gave me a complete surprise by turning up the day after I got here – The U.S.S. Mayrant waiting to take an empty convoy back. He had no idea I was here. That was Friday last & he did not leave till Tues. a.m.

We are getting on very well with our staff conferences. W.S.C. agreed the first night to try to bring Giraud  &  De Gaulle {fourth page} together – I got Giraud from Algiers on Sunday morning but De Gaulle refused Churchill’s invitation to come from London. He has declined a second invitation – says he will not be “duressed” by W.S.C. & especially by the American President – Today I asked W.S.C. who paid De Gaulle’s salary – W.S.C. beamed – good idea – no come – no pay

Thurs. 21
De Gaulle will come! Tomorrow! I went “up the line” this a.m. beyond Rabat where the Sultan of Naga [lives?] –  reviewed about 30,000 Am. Troops, saw Ft. Media & Am. Cemetery – a very stirring day for me & a complete surprise to the Troops.

I forgot to mention that Mon. night we had 5 WAACS to dine – awfully nice girls but very military & efficient!

Saturday 23
Finished the Staff conferences – all agreed – De Gaulle a headache – said yesterday he was Jeanne d ’Arc & {fifth page} today that he is Georges Clemenceau!

Sunday 24
At Marrakesh – We got De Gaulle & Giraud to shake hands & be photographed – They agree to continue conversations –

Then W.S.C. & I drove here from Casablanca – 140 miles – troops all the way to this fantastic villa built by Moses Taylor in 1927 – Marvelous view of the snow capped Atlas.

Mon. 25
U.S.S. Memphis – Left Marrakesh at 6 a.m. & got here at 5 – like coming home.

Tues. 26
A bit of bronchial trouble & a slight temperature – but I went out in a big launch for 2 hours with Lord Swinton, the Brit. Resident Minister for W. Africa. I am not impressed by what I have seen of the Colonial Gov. of Gambia but I think S. is a good man to supervise all these colonies.

{sixth page} Wed 27
Liberia – Got to Marshall at 12, left at 3. Back to the Memphis at 7 p.m. Left on clipper at 10 p.m.

Thurs 28
Got to Natal Brazil at 8 a.m., good flight. Pres. Vargas on U.S.S. Humboldt at 12 – lunch – expected air field__ He back to dine & we got out [xxx?]

Fri 29
Left at 6 a.m. got to Trinidad (army field) at 5 p.m.

Sat. 30
Left Trinidad at 6 a.m. got to Miami at 4 p.m. Birthday party 8,000 ft. up over Haiti – I drank CPs health.

Notes:
-The Casablanca Conference in Morocco in January 1943 brought together  President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill; Soviet leader Joseph Stalin did not attend. They agreed to invade Sicily in the first step towards regaining control of Europe from the Axis Powers, and discussed strategies in the Pacific and Far East as well as a bombing campaign of Germany. They tried to mediate the competing claims of Generals Henri Giraud and Charles de Gaulle for leadership of the Free French Forces, and announced a demand for unconditional surrender from Japan, Germany, and Italy.

-Bathurst (now known as Banjul), the capital of  Gambia.

-Brigadier General C.R. ( Cyrus Rowlett)  had been president of American Airlines before the war. He joined the U.S. Army Air Forces and was a leader of the Air Transport Command.

-Elliott Roosevelt, born 1910, serving in the U.S. Army Air Forces. He was wearing his Distinguished Flying Cross awarded for dangerous air missions gathering intelligence.

-W.S.C. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

-Franklin Roosevelt Jr., born 1914, was a Naval officer and served on several destroyers in active sea battles during the war.

-General Henri Giraud and General Charles De Gaulle were rivals for command and leadership of the Free French forces. Both men had fought in World War I, and been prisoners of the Germans; Giraud also suffered that fate in WWII but then escaped.

-WAACS Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps established May 1942.

-Moses Taylor, who had inherited millions from his grandfather and namesake, and his wife Edith were fixtures of the social scene in New York and Rhode Island where they built a mansion in the French style, possibly to remind them of the son they had lost in WW I combat.

 


A Rest at Bernard Baruch’s Southern Home in South Caolina

[May 2, 1944, ds, unsent]

Tuesday –

A lovely place – plantation for a King – big house about 8 miles from the station – Bernie, Ross, Pa, Bill, Leahy, & I – and my mess from the Potomac – We are up the river about 10 miles from the sea – lovely trees & a modern fire proof house.

I am really feeling “no good” – don’t want to do anything & want to sleep all the time. I love your letter – keep sending.

Thursday

I’m too sorry about Maude Elliot – She was a really grand person – & wish her husband had been too! Remind me to tell you about the “Pines.”

I forgot to tell you that Dr. Bruin [Bruenn] came down, too – He is one of the best heart men – Tho’ my own is definitely better. Does queer things still__ I wish so you were here.

Notes:
FDR was writing from the 16,000 acre plantation “Hobcaw Barony” owned by his friend and advisor,Bernard Baruch, near Georgetown, South Carolina where the president had gone for a good rest as his health declined. FDR stayed for a month. This was just about the time when he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure by a heart specialist, Lt. Commander Howard G. Bruenn (=Bruin). His regular doctor (and keeper of all health secrets) was also there, Admiral Ross McIntire (=Ross), and several close friends. Pa=Col. Edwin M. Watson, military advisor and close friend. Leahy=Admiral William D. Leahy, key military advisor who had accompanied FDR to Casablanca. Maude Stoutenburgh Elliot had died in early April and also belonged to an old Hudson River family whose home was near Hyde Park; the Pines was land she gave to local churches to be used as a park. Bernie of course was Bernard M. Baruch, who had been born in South Carolina but grew up in New York City, graduated from City College, went to Wall Street and the made the fortune that enabled him to purchase the 16,000 acre Hobcaw Barony in 1905.

 


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