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First Visit - April, 1913
Roosevelt's first visit to Georgia actually occurred before
the illness which left him paralyzed. Soon after being named Assistant
Secretary to the Navy, Roosevelt was sent on a Southern tour in search
of harbors which might support naval stations. One of these stops was Brunswick,
Georgia. While the harbor entrance proved too shallow for the Navy's need
at the time, Roosevelt was warmly welcomed and enjoyed his visit, showing
the warmth of personality and flexibility that served him so well throughout
his life. Writing of the visit later he said "Brunswick, I remember chiefly,
for the possum banquet they gave me -- every known variety of possum --
cooked in every known variety of style. I ate them all." (1)
October 4, 1924 - Roosevelt took his first swim in a Warm Springs pool. He said he had never felt water so pleasant. Whether the water had any special healing effects is unknown, but soon Roosevelt was able to stand in four feet of water - something he had been unable to do previously.
October 5-20, 1924 - Eleanor left soon after Roosevelt was settled in the cottage. Roosevelt stayed at Warm Springs, swimming almost daily. He also began to explore the local countryside and towns. It was here that Roosevelt got his first glimpse of rural southern poverty; it left a very strong impression on him - one that helped shape many of his New Deal programs a decade later. During this time he wrote Eleanor, then back in New York:
"...The legs are really improving a great deal. The walking and general exercising in the water is fine and I have worked out some special exercises also. This is really a discovery of a place and there is no doubt that I've got to do it some more. . . ." (2)Further evidence that Roosevelt quickly formulated plans for Warm Springs, and was touched by the
surrounding countryside, can be found in two more of his personal letters. The following excerpts were written in October of 1924, to his mother:
". . . I spent over an hour is the pool this a.m. and it is really wonderful and will I think do great good, though the Dr. says it takes three weeks to show the effects. Everyone is most kind and this afternoon Mr. Loyless has taken us for a motor trip through the surrounding country -- many peach orchards but also a good deal of neglect and poverty. . . ."(2A)
"Franklin D. Roosevelt, New York lawyer and banker, assistant secretary of the navy during the World War, and Democratic nominee for vice president in 1920, is literally swimming himself back to health and strength at Warm Springs, Ga.One final note on Roosevelt's first trip to Warm Springs. One of the natives of the town remembered him commenting on the weather during his visit: "I have been here for twenty-one days and it has been wonderful. Not one drop of rain. I think the citizens should change the name of the county from Meriwether to M-e-r-r-y W-e-a-t-h-e-r." (4)
Copies of the Atlanta Journal article were syndicated
nationwide, prompting a flood of requests from polio victims and their
families to visit Warm Springs. Meanwhile Roosevelt did much more than
plan to come back the following spring, he and several of his friends,
including Peabody and Macon newspaperman Tom Loyless, had big plans for
improving Warm Springs. [See photo
of FDR with friends on his first visit to Warm Springs]
Roosevelt welcomed the newcomers and immediately began helping them. There was no physician at Warm Springs; Roosevelt had a local doctor check the patients for any other health related problems. Then "Dr." Roosevelt took over. He began instructing the others on how to get into the pools, what exercises to do, and how to try to use muscles long left dormant by their disease. While "Dr." Roosevelt did not have a medical degree, he knew as much as anyone about physical therapy for polio victims; he had studied them all over the past four years. Years later, when Warm Springs was fully established as a haven for polio victims and well staffed with doctors and physical therapists, Roosevelt jokingly told an audience of the spring he spent there in 1925, in which he said "these . . . physiotherapists don't know anything about it. I invented it first." (5) There was some truth to that statement; Roosevelt did originate some of the physical therapies used in the Warm Springs pools, plus he developed charts to measure the growth of strength in muscles.
Roosevelt was doing much more than working as a pioneer physical therapist. He was busy with plans to expand and develop Warm Springs. He believed it could be both a resort and a haven for those stricken with infantile paralysis. New buildings and improved roads were a big part of his plan, and he was energetically discussing them with his friends, in particular Tom Loyless, editor of the Macon Telegraph and principal owner of Warm Springs (with the financial backing of George Peabody). Loyless was working with Roosevelt on the improvements to Warm Springs, while keeping up his column for the newspaper. When Roosevelt offered to lighten Loyless's workload by helping with road building, Loyless offered an alternative -- assume his column for a few weeks. Thus, central Georgia's Macon Telegraph had a New Yorker and future president doing nine editorial columns [view text] during the spring of 1925!(6) The property purchased by Roosevelt included the springs themselves, the hotel and cottages used by previous guests, and approximately twelve hundred acres of surrounding countryside. After the purchase he began serious investigation into the curative powers of the waters of Warm Springs. The American Orthopedic Association was holding a national convention in Atlanta, and Roosevelt convinced them to undertake detailed experimentation on the waters. Roosevelt also convinced Dr. LeRoy Hubbard, orthopedic surgeon for the New York State Dept. of Health, to head the committee doing the study. Dr. Hubbard, a swimming instructor, and the investigators studied twenty-three patients at Warm Springs for six months, and noted improvement in each case. They recommended establishing a permanent hydrotherapeutic center at Warm Springs. While Roosevelt was very excited by the possibilities inherent at Warm Springs, his wife Eleanor was more skeptical -- but still supportive. On May 4. she wrote to her husband:
". . . I know you love creative work, my only feeling is that Georgia is somewhat distant for you to keep in touch with what is really a big undertaking. One cannot, it seems to me, have vital interests in widely divided places . . . . Don't be discouraged by me; I have great confidence in your extraordinary interest and enthusiasm. . . ." (7)Roosevelt was not discouraged, but did leave the next day to spend the summer with his family in New York.
(8) While Roosevelt did not lose a fortune in Warm Springs he did have close to a $200,000 investment in it. Part of this was in building a set of new cottages; the first of which he built for himself. Again writing to his mother: ". . . I'm busy every second. . . . My house is started and they have dug the cellar and are beginning the foundations. Expect to leave the 8th. A great deal of love. Devotedly, FDR" (9) Actually he left on the 10th, returning to New York, but was back in Warm Springs three months later. In the interim he had established the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation in January 1927. It was a non-stock, non-profit institution, incorporated by Roosevelt, Peabody, Basil O'Connor, Herbert N. Straus, and Louis Howe. Dr. Hubbard was named chief physiotherapist and director of nurses.
"Dearest Mama -- It is good to get your letter and we shall think of you taking the boys to Hyde Park next Sunday. We are safely installed in the old cottage, not unpacked as we hope to move into the new cottage by early next week. The new cottage is too sweet, really very good in every way, the woodwork covering all walls and ceilings a great success, and the new furniture fits perfectly and is just the right color. Of course I am taking a good deal of stuff out of the hotel but there is much to buy and today Eleanor and Missy have gone to Atlanta to buy a stove and a refrigerator and a lot of small things, and they get back about six. This morning I have driven with Mr. Curtis and Miss Mahoney over the 'Pine Mountain Scenic Highway' -- five miles long, out to the Knob, marvelous views all the way . . . . I've been in the pool each day and done all the exercises and stretching and feel finely. The weather is warm and bright, the peach blossoms coming out, everything is nearly a month early and the local people say we shall have a cold, rainy March to make up for it. . . ." (10)The "Knob" in this letter refers to a plateau area on Pine Mountain which provided an excellent view of the surrounding countryside. It was a favorite place of Roosevelt's, and as Warm Springs grew it became a popular place for the companions to hold picnics. When Roosevelt mentions driving to the Knob he was being literal -- he had a Ford Model T (and later a Model A Convertible, then later a 1938 Ford Convertible, see photo) specially equipped with hand controls so he could drive himself around the area. He loved to do this, often stopping to chat with the local townspeople and farmers. [See 1929 .] In so doing he learned much about the plight
July 29 - August 3, 1927Roosevelt returned for a brief, one-week stay at Warm Springs, where he continued his efforts on behalf of the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation. Though the following letter to his aunt was penned at Hyde Park, it clearly shows the success he was having and the enthusiasm he felt about developments at Warm Springs. He was concerned, however, about the type people his efforts might attract; he was much more interested in helping paralysis victims than in catering to wealthy vacationers:
". . . I am sending you some of our folders about Warm Springs. The work of starting a combined resort and therapeutic center has been most fascinating for it is something which, so far as I know, has never been done in this country before.The interest in Warm Springs exceeded even Roosevelt's always optimistic predictions; by the end of the year seventy-one patients had been treated there and the staff had grown to one hundred and ten!
"The weather continues warm and heavenly and I'm busy every minute but am doing my exercises morning and afternoon with regularity..." (13)
Again writing to his mother, Roosevelt spoke of the literature being used to promote the Foundation. Apparently one of the doctors who had treated Roosevelt early in his illness was upset that his name was left out:
". . . I do wish he could come down here to see Warm Springs. Of course I can't be responsible for all the silly and untrue stories which gossip spreads. No circular about Warm Springs, no statement or authorized account has spoken of Warm Springs as being the only place which has helped one. You have I think a copy of the medical pamphlet, if not I enclose another. If Dr. McDonald is hurt I am sorry, but he has no cause to be. I am not giving to the public any history of my own case . . . . Why Dr. McDonald's name should appear in the literature about Warm Springs I really can't see -- the literature is not about me. Furthermore Dr. M has been constantly begged by me to come down and look things over. . . ." (14)Whatever disagreement existed between Roosevelt and Dr. McDonald was smoothed over; Dr. McDonald was frequently called to the White House during FDR's presidency, to adjust his leg braces.
On consecutive days in late November, Roosevelt wrote his mother with concerns about a distant relative who had contracted polio. Fortunately a mild lameness in one leg was the only lasting result, but the letters show the fear the disease caused, as well as the lack of understanding in how it was transmitted:
". . . I'm distressed to hear about Douglas and am writing Helen. I do hope he won't be left with much paralysis. Thank the Lord I haven't seen him for months, otherwise some people would always feel I gave it to him. . . . Eleanor writes it is a mild case, but apparently both arms and one leg are hit. I shall offer no advice of course, but only wrote Helen that rest and avoidance of muscle stretching and contractions are all important for at least 3 months. We have so many cases here that come to us from the so-called leading doctors where the treatment has been criminal and left permanently bad results that could with knowledge have been avoided. We don't of course take any cases till all soreness is gone, but we know from the history of dozens of cases what awful mistakes are made. I'm so glad the Tuxedo meeting was such a success. Forbes is a wonder. . . . Mr. Pope has been here for two days. Charles Peabody came today. . . . Very cold these past few days but we only missed one day in the pool. . . ." (15)The "Tuxedo meeting" referred to a meeting organized by Roosevelt's mother and her friends to raise money for the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation. Forbes Amory was a distant relative who was a strong advocate for the Foundation; Mr. Pope was Henry Pope of Chicago, whose daughter had polio. Amory later built a cottage at Warm Springs, while Pope became one of the Foundation's first trustees -- and ultimately donated $20,000 himself! The companions held an informal Thanksgiving dinner to mark the official closing of the season at Warm Springs. There were 80 companions in attendance. This was the beginning of what became an annual event each Thanksgiving, with the place at the head of the table reserved for Roosevelt.
Ironically, two of the people who would be bitter political enemies for Roosevelt were making the news during this visit. Georgia senator Walter F. George, who would oppose many of Roosevelt's New Deal policies, was "endorsed" for presidential nomination by the Georgia state Democratic Executive Committee. George was never a serious contender for president, but many southern states were looking for an alternative to Al Smith, who eventually did receive the nomination. State Commissioner of Agriculture Eugene Talmadge released a statement encouraging farmers to plant food crops first and money crops second, and not to devote too many acres to cotton; this was an idea long preached by Roosevelt. But Roosevelt and Talmadge (who became Georgia's governor at the same time Roosevelt was elected president) saw eye to eye on little else.
While visiting Warm Springs Roosevelt was invited to speak before the chamber of commerce of Americus and Sumter County. He used the occasion to praise the "blossoming spirit" of his second home, and also pushed his idea of using otherwise unproductive land to grow trees:
"In Georgia the movement towards the cities is growing by leaps and bounds and this means the abandonment of the farms or those farms that are not suited to the uses of agriculture. It means that we will have vacant lands but these can and should be used in growing timber." (16)
". . . I came up here last night with a party to buy furniture! Your cottage, Missy's cottage, Mrs. Pattison's and Mrs. Curtis'! They are all in the process of erection, and when you get here in April you will see yours up, though probably not finished till about the first of May.The Piersons, from Detroit, had taken over the cottage first occupied by Roosevelt on his initial visit to Warm Springs in 1924. There was good reason for Roosevelt to emphasize the word 'fine' in referring to Edsel Ford's check -- it was for $25,000! Ford sent with a note saying:
"Mrs. Ford and I are deeply impressed with the wonderful work which is being carried out here at Warm Springs and we would like to do something towards the development. I am sending herewith a check for twenty-five thousand dollars which I hope you will accept for the Foundation with our best wishes for its complete success. . . ." (18)The Ford donation was used to construct a glass enclosed pool [see photo] for the use of Warm Springs patients and helped spur the Foundation on to greater growth. With the Foundation firmly established, Roosevelt was able to devote more thoughts to politics -- and to the possibility of becoming actively involved again. On April 1 he wrote his mother:
". . . [I]f Smith is nominated, as probably will be, I shall have to do a lot of organizing work in July and the first part of August, with little time at Hyde Park. . . . Those talked-of plans for the following summer are merely theoretical. I doubt very much if I go over [to Europe], for I cannot see the object of sitting around hotels in Europe while the others 'sight see' and I can get more good out of Warm Springs than any place like Nauheim. You will see a big gain when you come next week I think! . . ." (19)"Smith" in the letter above referred to Al Smith, then governor of New York and Democratic candidate for President. Smith was indeed the nominee at the convention in Houston, with Roosevelt putting his name into nomination.
". . . I could do little work at Warm Springs and this week in New York have again been occupied with the National Committee Meeting. It was very hot in Houston [where the Democratic convention was held], also at Warm Springs, and this week in New York was even hotter! We had a tragedy at Warm Springs just before I left. That dear little Pattison girl, 'Tishy' the younger, died very suddenly after being ill for only a few hours, acute acidosis, and we were all much upset. The new winter pool is started and everything else is going well, with every bed taken. . . ." (20)Roosevelt also mentioned in this letter declining the nomination for governor, as well as declining an offer to become national chairman of the Democratic party. "Tishy" Pattison was the daughter of one of Warm Springs' generous benefactors. The "winter pool" was the glass enclosed structure being constructed thanks to Edsel Ford's contribution (see Eleventh Visit).
". . . I got here safely Wednesday evening and the weather is heavenly. The pool is lovely and I'm getting a real rest. . . . The new winter pool comes along well and will be ready in a month. I am borrowing the money for the Foundation to put in new water supply. It simply has to be done. . . ." (21)But the Democrats of New York were insistent that he run for governor, asserting that his candidacy was the only way Al Smith could win New York and thus the national election. They tried repeatedly over the next nine days to change his mind, with Smith himself leading the charge. Still Roosevelt respectfully declined, as he again wrote his mother on September 30:
"...I have had a difficult time turning down the Governorship, letters and telegrams by the dozen begging me to save the situation by running, but I have been perfectly firm. I only hope they don't try to stampede the Convention tomorrow and nominate me and then adjourn!..." (22)The convention did not nominate him and adjourn, but they did do something equally surprising. They kept delaying the nomination while further attempts were made to change Roosevelt's mind. Even his wife and mother were recruited to try and convince him. In mock exasperation his daughter wired him to "go ahead and take it" while he responded "you ought to be spanked." (23) On October 1st, Smith made what he thought would be his final attempt to persuade Roosevelt, when he again declined Smith went to the nominating committee to tell them to find another candidate. But the committee said there was no alternative, so Smith again tried to contact Roosevelt. Roosevelt foresaw there would be a late push, so he spent most of the afternoon on a picnic with the other companions, then spoke in Manchester, Ga. that evening. When he finally returned to Warm Springs, Smith once more pled with him to accept the nomination. When Roosevelt did not firmly state he would refuse the nomination, Smith hung up the phone. The next day Roosevelt was nominated by acclamation, and he accepted. While he was sincere in his reluctance to accept the nomination, once he agreed to run he fully intended to win. Rejoicing in his return to active politics and his improved health, Roosevelt criss-crossed the state for the next month, speaking from the back of his car.
November 6, 1928 - Ex-New York Gov. Al Smith lost the
presidential election to Herbert Hoover in the Democrats' worse showing since
the Civil War. Hoover won forty states, including Smith's native New York.
That evening election results seemed to indicate Roosevelt would lose his
race for governor as well. As late as midnight, his Republican opponent held
a considerable lead. Roosevelt went to bed shortly afterwards, thinking he
had lost the race. But his mother stayed up to watch the complete results.
This was before the days of scientific polling and electronic balloting,
so many votes remained uncounted. As more votes came in, the race narrowed
quickly. Finally, around four o'clock a.m., the official announcement was
made -- Franklin D. Roosevelt had been elected governor of New York.
At Thanksgiving Roosevelt carved the first turkey at what
would become an annual Founder's Day Thanksgiving dinner. His health
was as good as it had been since he had contracted polio. His chest and
arms were powerful from his swimming, and he carried a robust 190 pounds
on his six-foot frame. Tanned and fit, he would lead the companions in
their daily exercises and participate with them in whimsical speeches and
skits in the evening. After his Founder's Day speech on Thanksgiving he
challenged a group of the physiotherapists to a game of water football in
the new glass enclosed pool. The "football" was a sponge wrapped in oilskin;
the object of the game was to get the "ball' from one end of the pool to
the other. Roosevelt brashly predicted victory; even though his team of
companions lost the game it was one of the highest moments of his sojourn
at Warm Springs -- enjoying the warm water, sheltered pool, and camaraderie
before undertaking his responsibilities in the outside world. At the time
the country was in an economic boom; no one realized the stock market crash
and beginning of the Great Depression were less than a year away. Even
before he had assumed state office and before catastrophe struck the country,
some of the companions and his Georgia neighbors were suggesting Roosevelt
might be headed for greater things -- like the presidency.
". . . I am getting a fine rest down here, and expect to get back to Albany the last of this month. The Legislative Sessions were much as I expected, but I succeeded in getting through a very important and far reaching Farm Tax Relief Program, which equalizes and decreases the tax burden in the rural counties. Furthermore, I got the first step towards a plan for 'old age secured against want.'. . ." (25)Roosevelt's interest in agriculture extended beyond Warm Springs; he even had a small farm at his home in Hyde Park, and was involved in detail in its operation. Writing from Warm Springs, he asked a fellow farmer for some advice:
"I have written Moses Smith on my farm to get four or five acres ready for the squash seed. I told him to plow the land now and harrow it twice before the seed is put in about July 1st, and to put about six or eight loads of manure to the acre, harrowing it in. Is this correct? . . . Please write me any further directions as to how the common stock should be planted, whether it should be watered, whether the distribution should be wide or closely harrowed, whether it carries any bonuses (besides bugs), other stock in the same rows, etc. . . ." (26)Roosevelt enjoyed the opportunity to show Warm Springs to one of his cousins, and to brag about his suntan, as he told his mother:
"Eleanor got here safely last night and today we have had a nice visit from Lyman. He got here at 2:30 and we drove him all over the property including the Knob Road and he seemed much interested and looked well and was awfully nice about everything here. ... you won't know me when I get back, for I'm brown as a berry..." (27)Even though he was much more actively involved in politics now, Roosevelt did not abandon his fund raising attempts for the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation. Indeed his being governor now gave him access to more moneyed interests, and he used the opportunity. On the same day he left Warm Springs, June 4, he spoke to a group of bankers about the needs of the country's crippled in general, and about the work going on at Warm Springs in particular:
". . . [N]o state government, no national government, can afford to embark on a program that would look after the needs of 350,000 crippled persons in this country. It has to be a development of private charity." (28)Roosevelt then enthusiastically told about Warm Springs and encouraged all the bankers to come down and visit.
Meanwhile he continued to correspond from Warm Springs, working in references to the weather and his relaxation when he could:
"All goes well down here, except that it has rained almost constantly since we got here. . . ." (29)Always near the surface was that infectious Roosevelt sense of humor. Writing on Oct. 5 of his farming attempts in both Hyde Park and Warm Springs:
". . . 'Squashco Corporation Inc.' affairs. The members of the board of directors at Warm Springs are gratified that the younger members of the squash family, after three months of heliotherapy, have been taken indoors to prevent their little tootsies from being frost-bitten. It seems to the board that all credit should not go to Moses, but at least some of it to Pharaoh's daughter. What kind of noise did Pharaoh's daughter make to lure Moses and the husky youngsters from the bullrushes. It seems almost cannibalistic that these children will in the course of this coming winter make Child's fare. There will shortly be an opportunity for 'Squashco' to absorb the 'Pine Mountain Water Melon Corporation,' which ought to afford our holding company a glorious opportunity for hydrating the stock. Another offer will shortly be made for the sale of the 'Shiloh Valley Beef Cattle Co.' This also looks attractive, as we can afford to sell a little more 'bull.' . . ." (31)October 24-29, 1929 - Beginning with panic selling of stock on October 24 (Black Thursday), and culminating on Ocotber 29, (Black Tuesday), the stock market crashed. Over 16 million shares were traded on this day (an average day was around 3 million), most of them being sold. Stock prices plummeted and many people lost fortunes, some even their life savings in this financial disaster. While the matter is too complicated to assign a specific starting point, the stock market crash of 1929 was the defining moment which brought the "roaring twenties" days of prosperity to an end and ushered in the Great Depression.
"Ever so many thanks for that perfectly grand basket which the further we go down into gives more and more surprises. I am showing great restraint but Missy [his secretary] has sampled everything and I fear the worst. I do wish you were both down here even though the weather is vile. They have had a rainy cold autumn and it is not far above the freezing point at the present time. And the flue of the furnace is stopped up and so is my nose. . . . Last night we sat down one hundred and seventy-five strong at the Foundation dinner at the Inn, -- last year there were 103, in 1927 there were 49, and in 1926, 7, so you see how we grow." (32)
"Here are the sheets from our final liquidation sale of our late lamented friend Max William to be held at the Anderson Galleries this Wednesday evening, December 4 at 8:15 p.m. It is just possible that the recent little Flurry down town will make the prices comparatively low. . . ." (33)The "recent little Flurry" referred to the stock market crash. Obviously it quickly became a matter of national concern, and Roosevelt's opinions were wanted, but he was hesitant to offer them publicly -- for fear people might think he was campaigning for higher office -- which he had not seriously considered -- yet. On December 5, one day before returning to New York, he wrote:
". . . It is my thought that I should avoid in so far as possible a discussion of national issues except in most general terms for the very good reason that a whole lot of my well-meaning but silly friends will talk about my throwing my hat in the ring and their equally unjustified stories. It is difficult enough to be Governor of New York without taking on added burdens!" (34)
". . . Many thanks for your nice letter, but do, please, get it out of your head that I am in any shape, manner or form, thinking about 1932, or anything like it. . . ." (35)Roosevelt did his best to relax and avoid political disputes:
". . . If you were down here you would make no comment on anything but the delights of the pool and the balminess of the weather. Do not tempt me to comment on water power, prohibition, . . . or any other controversial questions. . . ." (36)In spite of his non-interest in the Presidency, Roosevelt could not help but acknowledge the national situation following the collapse of the stock market. In another letter to a friend he expressed some general opinions:
". . . There is no question in my mind that it is time for the country to become fairly radical for at least one generation. History shows that where this occurs occasionally, nations are saved from revolutions. One of the penalties of being Governor is that one has little time to think of the broader national problems. I have felt much out of them during the past year and a half because from 1913 on I had been in pretty close touch with the national problems and had, to a large extent, lost touch with the purely state problems in New York. . . . It would be misunderstood if I were to tell the public that I regard the present business slump as a great blessing, for while a nation goes speculation crazy and everybody is employed, the average citizen simply declines to think of fundamental principles. . . ." (37)Obviously, the "business slump" would get much worse and then Roosevelt would not consider it a "blessing." Still he was enjoying Warm Spring, as he wrote to old friend and ex-Governor Al Smith:
". . . I am having a grand time down here but still seen unable to catch up with correspondence, which appears to be impossible to escape. I still look forward to the time when you will come down and visit this place. I know you would enjoy it. We have a nice golf course and a swimming pool that I know is the best in the world! . . ." (38)Roosevelt wrote Lt. Governor Herbert Lehman, who was thinking of not running for re-election, to encourage him to run. In the process he explained why he (Roosevelt) had decided to seek a second term as Governor:
"Please excuse me for not writing before this but I have been much occupied with a thousand things down here which had to be attended to and, incidentally, I have been trying to get a little holiday from any thought of Albany! . . . [Y]ou and I are just about in the same boat, because you and I both have many reasons why we should not run again this autumn -- perfectly good personal reasons and probably wholly in accord with our own personal desires. Nevertheless, you and I both have the same kind of sense of obligation about going through with a task once undertaken and, frankly, the only reason either of us would run again is that sense of obligation to a great many million people. . . . And in the long run I am inclined to think that you and I would be more useful for the next two years in our present position than if we were to return to our own private interests and private life. . . ." (39)November 4, 1930 - Roosevelt was re-elected Governor of New York, winning by over 725,000 votes and doing something unprecedented in New York politics -- winning heavily Republican up state New York. Nationally, as the Depression deepened, the electorate showed their displeasure with the Republicans and elected a heavily Democratic majority to Congress in opposition to Republican President Herbert Hoover. Calls for Roosevelt to challenge Hoover had been increasing, and soon after the 1930 elections, Roosevelt confided to friends that he would indeed seek the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 1932.
The year 1930 was also a successful one for the Georgia
Warm Springs Foundation. While it had grown steadily since its inception,
1930 was a watershed year -- because with Roosevelt so busy in the political
arena, fund raising for the Foundation ceased being primarily a one-man
affair. Other patients and friends of the Foundation were responsible
for raising the $40,000 to build the Norman Wilson Infirmary in 1930.
Wilson was one of the early companions who had died shortly after leaving
Warm Springs. The Infirmary was designed for patients with minor illnesses.
"I am enclosing a letter from Mr. Whitman of the Georgian in Atlanta. I have talked with him about tax problems and I am wondering if it would be possible for you, while I am at Warm Springs, to run down with your wife and spend a couple of days with us. If you could come, I am sure that I could get Governor-elect Russell of Georgia to meet with us. Georgia's tax problem is a serious one, and young Russell is a fine fellow and has a great opportunity to start a new and sound system. ..." (40)Roosevelt and Richard B. Russell, Jr. would have a long relationship. Russell was elected to the United States Senate in 1932, when Roosevelt was elected President. Russell supported Roosevelt's New Deal policies early in his career, but his enthusiasm for them waned as the years went on. Still, his relationship with Roosevelt was never as volatile as those with fellow Georgia Senator Walter George and future Georgia governor Eugene Talmadge; these conflicts will be covered later.
When Roosevelt did return to Warm Springs his mind was still very much on the economy. Writing to a friend he expressed hope of showing frugality in government immediately:
"Will you send me inauguration plans as soon as possible showing the minimum amount we can run the inauguration for and the net saving over the amount spent last year? I want to give out a story on this from down here. I do hope you and Helen will be with us soon. We are looking forward to it greatly, and the pool, the golf course and the riding are all working one hundred percent -- also the opportunity for a real rest." (41)With so many pressing items it was hard for Roosevelt to get a "real rest," though he tried his best:
"...I am getting some exercise and at least a partial holiday. . . ." (42)But economic problems were at the forefront. Writing to one of his sons, he discussed a proposal to fly food into beleaguered New York City:
"I have thought about that plan of flying provisions from upstate farms to New York City, but I am convinced it is not practicable because of the great weight of things like apples or other fruits and vegetables. Five hundred pounds or even a thousand pounds of any raw food stuffs would be a mere drop in the bucket in the food supply of New York City and the cost of getting it there would be approximately five hundred times as much as if it came in a freight car or even in a motor truck. Also, the State has no possible fund for paying any of the expense. . . ." (43)As the preceding and following letter illustrate, Roosevelt (as much as he might wish it) could not escape the responsibilities of government during the economic crisis. Soon after returning to New York he wrote a friend:
"I am just back from Warm Springs, where I tried somewhat in vain to get a little holiday. . . ." (44)Roosevelt did not visit Warm Springs in the spring of 1931, being very busy coping with matters in New York. Plus, he was educating himself privately on national concerns, and keeping a close eye on the Democratic National Committee - its members and their varying statements on policy matters. Though he had not yet publicly announced his candidacy for President, plenty of people were encouraging him to run -- especially in the South. "Roosevelt for President" clubs sprang up throughout the South in 1931 (including one in Meriwether County); he did little to discourage their enthusiasm, just watched them surreptitiously to make sure they were not tied too closely to official state organizations or were not using his name and popularity to promote local factionalism. Some journalists continually nagged him on if and when he would declare his candidacy. In frustration Roosevelt wrote to the chief political correspondent for the New York Times:
"Once upon a time an unfortunate individual was elected Governor of the State and found there was Much To Do running the State without dipping into National Problems. One day he foolishly did discuss a National Problem because he thought it had something to do with the Progress and Prosperity of his own State. Thereupon, an All-Wise Press hopped all over him and said that he was obviously seeking national honors. Having learned his lesson he stayed within the State. A little later a great international problem arose and the Press and the President of his country made an excellent suggestion. The Governor, however, having learned his lesson, said nothing. Thereupon, an All-Wise Press chided the said Governor for not commenting on National and International Affairs." (45)As talk of Roosevelt's potential run for President gained strength, the question arose as to his physical capabilities. These questions were put to rest when a writer for Liberty magazine followed Roosevelt around for several days in Albany, observing him at work. In addition, three doctors examined Roosevelt and offered their opinions to the writer. The article appeared in the July 25, 1931 issue. All three doctors found Roosevelt to be be perfectly capable of doing his job. In conclusion he wrote:
". . . In fairness, then, to Franklin Roosevelt, let it be said that whether his traits of character indicate his fitness or unfitness for the presidency, he is physically fit." (46)A small touch of the absurd amongst the seriousness of the Depression managed to catch Roosevelt's eye, and he could not refrain from adding his comments. In early 1931 a controversy erupted in the South about the proper way to eat cornpone and potlikker. Huey Long, the flamboyant Louisiana politician, asserted cornpone should be dunked in potlikker, the editors of the Atlanta Constitution insisted it should be crumbled! From Hyde Park Roosevelt wrote, tongue-in-cheek:
The Columbus Ledger noted Roosevelt's arrival in
Warm Springs, and speculated on whether he might make an "inevitable"
political announcement, but he insisted on keeping politics out of this
visit. But the "Roosevelt for President" clubs were very active; the Meriwether
County club invited members of all other Georgia clubs (more than 60 total)
to the Foundation barbecue on October 13. Representatives from all 60 clubs
attended, as did Georgia Senator William J. Harris, Representatives Eugene
Cox and Carl Vinson, and writer Harry Stillwell Edwards, among other notables.
While Roosevelt welcomed them all he refused to be drawn into any discussion
of politics publicly. He delivered a brief speech praising Senator Harris,
Governor Russell, and the spirit of all Georgians for progressing against
the many obstacles facing them. Roosevelt then refereed a celebrity golf
match to raise money for the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation. Earlier on
this visit, he had accepted a $1000 check for the Foundation from the Manchester
". . . We are having grand weather. Eleanor, Jimmie and his wife, and Anna and her husband were all here for Thanksgiving. It was an awfully nice party. . . ." (48)Unfortunately the long time friendship between Smith and Roosevelt was about to be strained. Smith felt Roosevelt should have consulted him more on gubernatorial matters, plus Smith still harbored presidential aspirations of his own. The very day after Roosevelt penned the letter above, Atlanta Constitution editor and Roosevelt friend Clark Howell talked with Smith in New York, then reported the conversation to Roosevelt:
"...I had made an engagement with him [Smith] at 10:30 this morning, at his office in the Empire State. He seemed glad to see me. For a few minutes we indulged in generalities and then I got down to business, by telling him that my support of him 'through thick and thin,' and that Georgia's attitude toward him in the past, warranted me in having a perfectly frank talk with him, and in asking him to be perfectly frank with me. He replied that no man in the South had stood by him better than I had -- that he was grateful, and that he would deal perfectly frankly with me.Smith did not "come around" as Howell had hoped. He [Smith] let it be known that he would accept the presidential nomination if offered, then when it was apparent he could not win he led the efforts to block Roosevelt's nomination. The breach was never fully healed. Smith did speak on Roosevelt's behalf in New England during the campaign, but it was for the good of the party only. The two were never close friends again.
In the midst of the campaign, Roosevelt took his annual spring vacation to Warm Springs. On May 3 ,California held its primary. Roosevelt finished second, which meant he would not have enough delegates to secure a first ballot nomination at the convention. Yet he was not overly concerned, as he wrote a friend the following day:
". . . All goes well here. I am not the least bit disturbed by the California Primary result because Garner [John Nance Garner, the primary winner] will, I am sure, not join any mere 'block movement.' I am getting real sun and lots of sleep." (50)Roosevelt's instincts were right; Garner did not attempt to block the nomination.
Writing to another friend, Roosevelt told of moving into a new cottage at Warm Springs:
"We are all settled in the cottage and I can't find words to tell you how delighted I am with it. So far there is nothing I would want changed. I wish you and your wife would come down to visit us so that you would really know how nice it is.This cottage was the building which came to be knows as the "Little White House." The housewarming for the new cottage was on May 1, the day after Roosevelt arrived. It may seem obvious how the "Little White House" got its name, but think again! Read this note.
Roosevelt usually was able to ignore questions about his health, but when as editorial appeared in the New York Sun specifically charging that he might be physically unfit for the presidency because of his frequent visits to Warm Springs, he took umbrage and personally wired the editor:
"I feel sure the Sun editorial was written in good faith and on misinformation but without a political motive. But in view of the statement, which is fortunately not at all true, that I come to Warm Springs of necessity for my health I request that you send your son or George Van Slyke here at once to witness facts at first hand. I shall be here till Tuesday afternoon and shall expect one of them by Sunday morning. I am asking this of a friend in common decency. You would do the same if I charged publicly that you had to go to the Thousand Islands for two months each summer in order to keep alive. I shall appreciate a wire from you. . . ." (52)The Sun did not send anyone down, but did publish a letter from the chief physician at Warm Springs giving assurance that Roosevelt was in excellent health -- excellent enough to where one of the nation's largest insurance companies had issued a life insurance policy in Roosevelt's name to the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation.
The previous year, Oglethorpe University president Thornwell Jacobs had invited Roosevelt to deliver the school's commencement address and receive an honorary doctorate. Roosevelt did not accept the 1931 offer -- but finally accepted to speak at the 1932 ceremony. [Click here to view article about FDR's appearance and speech.] FDR's May 22, 1932 speech [see text] introduced the seeds of a new strategy to combat the Depression. President Hoover, along with most of the leading financiers of the day, believed government could do nothing to change the economic crisis but rather must follow a natural course. Roosevelt himself had originally thought the same thing, but as the Depression deepened his thoughts changed. Some of his ideas were radical -- controlling industrial and agricultural production, distributing incomes more equally, with the government being the pro-active force. This was a very significant change in the political and economic thought of the times. [Click here and here for photos]
The Democratic National Convention began on June 27, 1932. Roosevelt had a huge lead -- but not enough delegates to win the nomination on the first ballot. He gained a small number of delegates in both ballots two and three, then on the fourth the winner of the Texas and California primaries -- U.S House of Representatives Speaker John Nance Garner -- released his delegates to Roosevelt, securing the nomination. Garner was ultimately Roosevelt's running mate.
One of the defining moments of the Great Depression occurred in July of 1932. A large contingent of World War I veterans had converged on Washington to ask Congress and President Hoover to grant them the "bonus" they had been promised in 1924 (but which was not due until 1945). With the onset of the Depression, many veterans were unemployed and wanted their "bonus" immediately. They called themselves the Bonus Expeditionary Force, but the press labeled them the Bonus Army. Their numbers grew to as many as 15,000 until Congress voted against granting their benefits early, whereupon most left Washington disappointed. But several thousand remained to protest. For such a large group of hungry people, they were remarkably civil in their protest, though their constant presence was an affront to the administration. Finally, on July 28, 1932, Hoover ordered that the protesters be removed from Washington; moving immediately to carry out the order was Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur. MacArthur's assistant was Major Dwight D. Eisenhower. Eisenhower warned MacArthur not to talk to reporters over this "political" situation, but MacArthur looked on it as strictly a military operation.
Removal of the Bonus Army was carried out promptly -- the Army used tear gas (which killed two children), bayonets, and ultimately bullets to scatter the ragged, hungry, unarmed men. Ironically, Maj. George S. Patton led a cavalry charge that finally routed the protestors. One of the victims of this charge had won the Distinguished Service Cross in 1918 -- for saving the life of young officer George S. Patton!
News of the treatment of the Bonus Army galvanized an already angry public against President Hoover. When Roosevelt heard the news and saw the photographs, his reaction was equally emphatic:
"Why didn't Hoover offer the men coffee and sandwiches, instead of turning . . . Doug MacArthur loose? They're probably camping on the roads leading out of Washington. They must be in terrible shape." (53)They were, and some of them would return to Washington the following year. Roosevelt would handle them much more humanely and successfully than did Hoover.
Describing the scene of Roosevelt's passing through Atlanta, an Atlanta Constitution writer said:
"Today Georgia welcomes him in heartfelt, joyous acclaim, a modern Moses who is to lead a darkened America out of a wilderness of depression." (54)A crowd of over 10,000 people enthusiastically welcomed Roosevelt home to Warm Springs.The patients and staff welcomed him with a parade, then with the children sitting on the ground and other patients on the hospital porch, Roosevelt gave a quick speech:
"Two more weeks to go. . . . First, let me say this: this old hat, a lot of you people have seen it before. It's the same hat. But I don't think it is going to last much longer after the 8th of November. I have a superstition about hats in campaigns, and I am going to wear it until midnight of the 8th of November. . . . Well, it's fine to see, and I'm looking forward to coming down here for the usual Thanksgiving party at Warm Springs, and having a real old-fashioned Thanksgiving with my neighbors again. I thank you!" (55)
Roosevelt then returned to Atlanta; he did not leave the car during this visit. Atlanta had been proclaimed this day "Roosevelt Day." Roosevelt was honored with a parade attended by over 200,000 vocal supporters. Roosevelt mounted a stage [see photo] overflowing with flowers to deliver a campaign speech in which he scored the incumbent Hoover administration for failing to actively combat the Depression, which was hitting many already poor southerners especially hard. In his drive through the South Roosevelt made reference to "destruction, delay, deceit, and despair -- the four horsemen of the G.O.P." Upon his departure, Roosevelt requested that the flowers adorning the stage be delivered to the children's ward at Grady Hospital. (56)
November 8, 1932 -- Roosevelt was elected president in
a landslide over incumbent Herbert Hoover, with the Democrats also attaining
significant majorities in both houses of Congress. In Georgia, with
only a few precincts left uncounted, Roosevelt had won by a record margin
of 156,060-11,541. All but three of Georgia's counties had gone for Roosevelt,
and those three were among those with returns still incomplete. Nationwide
Roosevelt won the electoral vote 472-59, carrying all but six states. In
Meriwether County Roosevelt won overwhelmingly, 2900-37! In his four presidential
elections, Roosevelt carried Meriwether County by margins ranging from 12:1
to 50:1. [Click here for
national results] Ironically, he never carried Dutchess County, New York.
Patients at Warm Springs watched the election results being posted on a
specially erected "scoreboard," and cheered as it became apparent that Roosevelt
was a big winner.
". . . I am getting away to Warm Springs next week, but as you know must stop off at Washington to see the President. . . ." (57)
Roosevelt and Hoover would ride in the same car to his inauguration.
Always aware of the "forgotten man" (the title of one of his radio addresses) and children, Roosevelt wrote to the young daughter of one of his main campaign organizers:
"I loved getting your letter with the two dollars to help with the campaign. Thanks you many times.Also acknowledging the heavy hitters, Roosevelt wrote Senator Thomas J. Walsh:
"Now that the smoke of battle has cleared away, I want to write to tell you how very grateful I am for all that you did during the campaign. I feel that you know how much I appreciate your hard and most effective work on the campaign trips with me and I realize with a feeling of deep gratitude the long hours you spent on those hot, tiring days. When the victory arrived, I know that you must have felt a tremendous pride that you had had such a large part in it." (59)Walsh soon would be offered the position of Attorney General.
Yet he did not forget his friends in Warm Springs. While visiting there in late January and early February, he had one of his secretaries send the following note to the man in charge of organizing the inauguration:
"Mr. Roosevelt has asked me to send you this line to tell you that within this week he will have his complete list of special people to be taken care of at the Inauguration. He understands that there is to be a section in front of the Capitol steps reserved for Hyde Park people and patients from Warm Springs.Many of his New Deal ideas were already formulated, as indicated by the following two letters:
". . . What is your solution of the use of the buildings and power at Muscle Shoals, such use to retain constant control and ownership by the U.S. Government? I should much like to have your solution of what to do with this 'Deserted Village'." (61)Roosevelt's solution was to create the Tennessee Valley Authority. He was also well aware of the problems farmers were facing, largely due to his proximity to and conversations with many of them while at Warm Springs. Writing to another advisor:
"...I like your three requisites of a farm plan, but do please send me a line to tell me how you think we can accomplish the first requisite, - 'Increased farm prices for this crop year.' If you have that formula you are a wizard. . . ." (62)Roosevelt's solution was the Agricultural Adjustment Act, which incorporated most of the ideas he had formulated from his experiences with south Georgia farmers.
March 4, 1933 - Roosevelt was inaugurated President of the United States. In his inaugural address [see text] he called on the American people not to give in to despair and to help him fight the Great Depression, asserting that "the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself."
Roosevelt did not return to Warm Springs until late in 1933. He called a special session of Congress on March 9th to deal with the economy. With the Democrats holding a significant majority in both houses of Congress, virtually all of Roosevelt's "New Deal" was passed. The first piece of legislation (passed within four hours of the session's opening) re-opened the banks which had closed due to monetary shortages. Following in short order were the Agricultural Adjustment Act, the Tennessee Valley Authority Act, the National Industrial Recovery Act, and the Farm Mortgage Relief Act. The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Home Owners Loan Corporation were created; more banking and securities legislation was passed; and the administration was given the authority to devalue the dollar. Finally, government spending was cut drastically by the Economy Act. The special session adjourned June 16th.
While the Great Depression was far from over, at least now the American people knew action was being taken to combat it. Roosevelt had promised "action and action now" while promoting his New Deal, and he delivered. Not all of his policies were fundamentally sound, not all were popular, but all were intended to bring hope to a foundering nation while the economy hopefully stabilized.
One notable example of how Roosevelt dealt with victims
of the Great Depression occurred in the summer of 1933, when some of
the "Bonus Army" (see Twenty-third Visit) returned to Washington. Instead
of meeting them with guns, tear gas, and sabers (as Hoover had done), Roosevelt
sent his wife Eleanor to meet with them. She had been equally horrified
at their treatment the previous summer. With the economy in such dire condition,
Roosevelt felt he could not agree to the veterans' request that they be
given their bonuses early. But he (and Eleanor) did explained how the Civilian
Conservation Corps could provide employment for many of them, as it and
later the Works Progress Administration did. The veterans dispersed peacefully.
November 18 - December 6, 1933
Before returning to Warm Springs for his annual Thanksgiving visit, Roosevelt delivered an address in Savannah in celebration of Georgia's bicentennial [see text]. After his arrival in Warm Springs he wrote a letter to a friend talking about the recovery efforts:
". . . Now let me tell you something cheerful. This Southland has a smile on its face. Ten cent cotton has stopped foreclosures, saved banks and started people definitely on the upgrade. That means all the way from Virginia to Texas. Sears-Roebuck sales in Georgia are 110 per cent above 1932. . . . I am having a grand rest and am catching up on much needed sleep. . . ." (63)Writing to another friend he showed that his supreme efforts in fighting the Depression did not mean he had forgotten the Warm Springs Foundation. In fact he was urging this particular friend not to give too much!
". . . Carp tells you sent another check to Warm Springs. Don't do it again. We are raising bushels of money -- $25,000 from the New York Concert, and this will let us start another building." (64)As the preceding letter suggests, things at Warm Springs had been far from idle even without Roosevelt there in person. Georgia Power Company agreed to provide electricity to Roosevelt's farm, provided he pay to have his own transmission line built (which he did). Roosevelt's Georgia experiences led him to create the Rural Electrification Administration two years later. In his letter, Roosevelt referred to "another building." Constructed in 1933, Georgia Hall housed the Foundation's administrative offices, dining rooms and kitchens, game rooms, and reception area. More than just an office building, it became the place where all the patients at Warm Springs gathered to welcome the president when he arrived and see the him off when he departed from his second home. [see text of FDR's first Thanksgiving address from Georgia Hall] Most of the contributions were not as large as that mentioned from the New York concert in the letter above. People were encouraged to donate small amounts, and all received acknowledgement, as can be seen in this ticket from April 11, 1933. With FDR's growing national (and eventually worldwide) responsibilities, his trips would become less frequent -- but still very much treasured by both Roosevelt and his "companions."
see excerpts].Unemployment was still a major problem; Roosevelt's plan for dealing with it formulated in 1934 -- and resulted in the Works Progress Administration. Writing a friend from Warm Springs he suggested the idea:
"I suppose there will be a general attack on relief fund expenditures. . . . What I am seeking in the abolition of relief altogether. I cannot say so out loud yet but I hope to be able to substitute work for relief. . . . There will, of course, be a certain number of relief cases where work will not furnish the answer but it is my thought that in these cases all of the relief expenditures should once be borne by the States and localities as they used to be.Roosevelt held his annual Thanksgiving dinner [click here for text of his extemporaneous remarks] with the companions at Warm Springs in very high regard, as the following letter indicated:
". . . If you are not too exhausted why not run down and see me at Warm Springs while I am there -- any time except Thanksgiving day and the day before and the day after. . . ." (66)As mentioned in a previous letter, Roosevelt had toured the Tennessee Valley on his way to Warm Springs:
". . . The trip through the Tennessee Valley was a great success -- especially the visit to the Hermitage. The more I learn about old Andy Jackson the more I love him. . . ." (67)After returning to Washington Roosevelt commented on the South and its ongoing recovery from the Depression:
"Having been in the South for more than three weeks, it is perfectly clear to me that the present policy of crop control is working, and it will be continued. The opposition comes from people who cannot be blamed for opposing it. . . . [A]ll of that element -- the middle men -- the more cotton they handle the more money they make. . . .One more note about Roosevelt's 1934 Warm Springs visit -- he impressed the press corps (which now followed him virtually everywhere) were quite impressed when a mule salesman came to the Little White House, and the President was able to converse with him knowledgeably about his wares! Roosevelt purchased a mule for use on his farm.
see photo] This year saw the implementation of the Rural Electrification Administration, another agency created by Roosevelt largely based on his observations of the need for electricity on farms in rural Georgia. Roosevelt firmly believed rural life was better than urban life, and hoped to stem the tide of rural to urban migration. One method of doing this was to institute pioneering rural communities, in which the families would live in a kind of communal existence on individual farms, while sharing in the workload. One of these communities was Pine Mountain Valley, near Warm Springs. While these communities were never the success Roosevelt hoped for, Pine Mountain Valley did manage to operate until 1945. Roosevelt visited the fledgling community on his 1935 visit and was please with what he witnessed.
Yet Roosevelt did not ignore the urban situation. Under the auspices of the WPA, the nation's first public housing project -- Techwood Homes -- was constructed in Atlanta. Roosevelt was on hand to dedicate the project on Nov. 29:
"Within sight of you today stands a tribute to useful work under government supervision - the first slum clearance and low-rent housing project. Here, at the request of the citizens of Atlanta, we have cleared out nine square blocks of antiquated, squalid dwellings for years a detriment to this community. Today these hopeless dwellings are gone and in their places we see the bright, cheerful buildings of the Techwood Housing Project. Within a very short time people who never before could get a decent roof over their heads will live here in reasonable comfort and healthful, worthwhile surroundings..." (69)There was definitely a celebratory air on this visit to Atlanta; the Techwood dedication was but a small part of the festivities of a "Welcome Home" day for Roosevelt. Countless numbers turned out to welcome him, and more than fifty thousand heard him speak at Grant Field [see text]. See also images of one of the homecoming tickets; click here and here. Click here for an image of another homecoming ticket. (Donated by Brenda Lown, Columbia, SC)
Not so pleasing to Roosevelt were the words and actions of Georgia governor Eugene Talmadge. Talmadge was a fervent opponent of the New Deal, and took his dislike of Roosevelt's policies to a personal level. In an interview with the New York Times in 1935, he said:
"The greatest calamity to this country is that President Roosevelt can't walk around and hunt up people to talk to. The only voice to reach his wheelchair were the cries of the 'gimme crowd.'" (70)On another occasion Talmadge said that people could not respect "a man who can't walk a two by four." (71) Talmadge's insults had no effect on Roosevelt or his policies, and did little to dampen Georgians' enthusiastic support of Roosevelt.
While domestic issues still dominated the thoughts of Roosevelt and the country, he was not ignorant of the situation developing in Europe. Hitler's rise to power had coincided with Roosevelt's own. In fact, while Roosevelt was visiting Warm Springs for the first time in 1924, Hitler was resting comfortably in minimum security in Landesburg prison, writing Mein Kampf. The Nazi party had received a majority of German votes in 1932, when Roosevelt was elected president. Just over a month before Roosevelt's inauguration, Hitler had become chancellor of Germany. Writing from Warm Springs on December 2, Roosevelt discussed the German situation and the possibilities of U.S. neutrality in case of a conflict:
". . . [T]here had been no real change in German policy for the last few months. It seems clear that from the point of view of the group which now controls the destinies of the German people, their policy is succeeding admirably. Germany got an acceptance, passive though it may have been, of her rearmament by land and sea. . . .Roosevelt may have given lip service to neutrality, but as this letter makes clear, he was under no illusion as to which side he supported in the inevitable European conflict, and he desired some "discretion" to help the fellow democracies in Europe.
While domestic issues still dominated American politics, the situation abroad (especially in Europe) was worsening. Italy had invaded and conquered Ethiopia, civil war had broken out in Spain, and most ominously Germany had re-militarized the Rhineland on the French border -- in brazen defiance of the treaty which had ended World War I. Despite the fierce isolationist mood of the American people, Roosevelt was very concerned.
All this kept him away from Warm Springs almost the entire year. In all of 1936, Roosevelt was only able to spend one day in his "second home." Returning from a two-week fishing cruise, he boarded a train in Miami which passed through Warm Springs on April 9 enroute back to Washington. It was not a pleasant visit -- Roosevelt arrived in a driving rainstorm. In fact, heavy rains had plagued much of the South for several days. Three days earlier, on April 6, destructive storms had raged in Mississippi and Georgia. Tornadoes had struck Cordele and Gainesville [see photos], with the one hitting Gainesville especially deadly -- killing 187 people and leaving over 2000 homeless.
Roosevelt had breakfast on the train, then took a couple of hours to drive to the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation to visit his friends and "companions." He then had lunch at the Little White House with the Foundation's chief physician and leaders of his re-election campaign in Georgia. Reboarding the train he passed through central Georgia -- having to slow down several times as swelled creeks had partially flooded the railroad tracks. He made an unscheduled stop in Gainesville, where representatives of the Red Cross, Civilian Conservation Corps, Works Progress Administration, and War Department met with him for half an hour to discuss relief efforts from the storm. Before leaving Roosevelt delivered a few inspirational remarks [see text] before resuming his trip to Washington.
November 3, 1936 - Roosevelt was re-elected president
over Republican Alf Landon in a victory even more overwhelming than the one
four years previously. Roosevelt won all but two states, and won 523 of 531
electoral votes. In Warm Springs the tally was 210 votes for Roosevelt to
only 14 for Landon.
Internationally, Japan invaded Manchuria, in northern China, in 1937. With this Asian crisis added to the already smoldering situation in Europe -- where Hitler formally denounced the treaty which had ended World War I -- the world was inching ever closer to what seemed an inevitable large scale conflict. Yet the isolationist mood and the need to fight the Depression still dominated the thinking of most Americans.
Roosevelt arrived in Warm Springs on March 12, to a warm greeting by his fellow companions and almost all the townspeople of Warm Springs - schools had even closed for the occasion. The day after his arrival he was visited by Georgia Governor Eurith D. Rivers, who was one of Roosevelt's most vocal supporters in Georgia. That night a state Democratic celebration was held in nearby Columbus -- to commemorate the landslide victories by Roosevelt and his fellow Democrats in Georgia in the 1936 elections. Roosevelt needed to rest, and did not attend the meeting, but did send the following statement:
I want to convey to all of you my very cordial greetings. I wish that I could be with you tonight and talk to you personally. You all know how I love to come to Georgia and it has been grand to have the perfect weather with which we were greeted yesterday on arrival.This statement clearly shows how much Warm Springs still meant to Roosevelt, even if his visits had been few and short in the preceding years.
While Roosevelt may not have been able to spend much time personally at Warm Springs, his attempts to raise money for the Foundation and for polio research in general did not suffer. With the prestige of the presidential office and a number of talented people behind him, fund raising was going quite well, despite the Depression. It had become a tradition to hold "birthday balls" all around the country on Roosevelt's birthday (January 30) to raise money for the fight against polio. In 1937 Roosevelt established the National Foundation of Infantile Paralysis to co-ordinate all the fund raising efforts and the research trying to develop a vaccine. While the Warm Springs Foundation was certainly a part of this effort, the National Foundation was much broader in scope -- and proved to be a tremendous fund raiser -- raising over one million dollars in its first year alone -- all through volunteer work, every penny went toward fighting the disease and treating those who already suffered. Half of the money raised stayed in the local communities where it was collected.
Before departing Warm Springs, Roosevelt did deliver one
inspirational message to the patients there; he also mentioned his experiences
in the early days of Warm Springs. [see
In January 1938, famous comedian Eddie Cantor was visiting President Roosevelt in the White House. Cantor was active in fund raising for the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. One of his ideas was for him and other celebrities to appear on radio programs urging all those who could to send ten cents to Roosevelt for help in fighting the dreaded polio disease. For this fund raising effort Cantor vividly portrayed a parade of dimes from all over the country marching on the White House. He thus coined the term "March of Dimes" -- which would become one of the world's most successful organizations in raising money for research in preventing and treating childhood diseases.
In 1938, Roosevelt was able to return to his previous habit of visiting Warm Springs -- coming once in the spring and again in the fall for Thanksgiving, with a brief, but eventful, campaign trip in August. This does not mean that the world crisis had lessened; indeed signs of impending war were undeniable. In early March, just before Roosevelt's spring trip, Hitler had completed the Anschluss -- the quasi-political, quasi-military annexation of Austria. Japanese troops were rampaging the coastal cities of China. The American mood was still one of isolationism, though not of neutrality -- public opinion clearly favored China and the democracies of Europe. Roosevelt was quietly urging a significant re-armament and modernizing of the U.S. military, while pushing for a world peace conference abroad.
Yet when Roosevelt came south to Georgia in March 1938, the dire world situation was not his primary topic. Still stung from the defeat of his Supreme Court proposal, he had decided to target some of his chief opponents on this and other issues in the upcoming election primaries. One of those targeted was Senator Walter F. George of Georgia.
Before arriving in Warm Springs Roosevelt stopped to make a speech in Gainesville, Georgia. He had visited the city after a devastating tornado had struck in 1936, personally seeing to the recovery efforts. Also, he had supposed to visit Gainesville again on Dec. 8, 1937, in conjunction with dedication of a Roosevelt memorial -- but he had had to cancel because of illness. Now, three months later, the president spoke in newly named Roosevelt Square [see photos], where roughly 20,000 people (double Gainesville's population) had gathered. But this was not one of Roosevelt's traditional speeches heaping praise on Georgians. Instead he talked of the low wages and subsequent low purchasing power in the lower South -- saying that because of this the South "cannot and will not establish successful new industries." He claimed his administration was trying to help the poor of the South, but was being prevented by "selfishness on the part of a few." He warned to such people "in and out of public office, who still believe in the feudal system . . . the people of the United States . . . are going to say, 'We are sorry but we want people to represent us whose minds are cast in the 1938 mold.'. . ." (74) These statements were a barely veiled attack on Senator George, who had introduced Roosevelt to the gathering. George sat in stony silence during the speech, and there was only a smattering of applause from the crowd -- whereas Roosevelt was usually greeted very warmly in Georgia. [see full text of Gainesville speech] [see program, with photos, for Roosevelt's appearance in Gainesville]
March 30, 1938 - Roosevelt visited nearby Columbus, Ga. and Fort Benning, the U.S. Army training base. Some 50,000 people lined the streets of Columbus to greet Roosevelt, who was being conducted on the tour by Georgia Gov. Eurith D. Rivers. Roosevelt spoke briefly to the crowd, showing he knew the local history of his "second home":
"Mr. Mayor, My Friends of Columbus: I am grateful to you for this fine greeting. . . . This is not my first visit by any means and it is not going to be my last. As you know, there has been an association dating back about 110 years between Warm Springs and Columbus. I won't suggest that Warm Springs is as big and important as Columbus, but the old army engineers who came here about 110 years ago to lay out these wonderful streets of Columbus spent the night in Warm Springs on the way and from that time on people from Columbus have made Warm Springs a large part of what it is today and we feel very grateful to you for all that you have done to help us and so I am glad to come back after a few years, glad to see the fine progress that has been made in this city, in this county and in this part of Georgia because as I think back 15 or 20 years it looks to me as after all on every hand we can see the improvement in the process of living in the state of Georgia. That process and that progress are going to keep on in the days to come if you and I have anything to do with it. And so my friends, I have to go on to see how the army is getting on and I will be back with you again, I hope, real soon." (75)"Seeing how the army is getting on" referred to his visit to Fort Benning, which he toured after he left Columbus. Roosevelt was very aware of the dire situation in both Europe and China, and while he hoped conflict could be avoided, he did want the United States to be better prepared if it could not be avoided.
see text] Roosevelt had spent much of the summer and fall of 1938 campaigning for his supporters. He had some early success in the primaries helping defeat those who had opposed his policies. In August he turned his attention to Georgia and her senior senator Walter F. George. George, a very well respected Congressman, had supported much of Roosevelt's early New Deal ideas, such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, the National Labor Relations Act, the Agricultural Adjustment Act, Social Security, and the National Recovery Administration. But more recently George had opposed several Roosevelt proposals -- primarily on government reorganization and a wages and hours bill -- which would have established a minimum hourly wage for industrial workers. Roosevelt himself respected George, but knowing the influence George had in Congress, hoped to see him lose the primary election in September. Former governor Eugene Talmadge was running for George's seat, but Roosevelt and Talmadge thoroughly disliked each other. So Roosevelt had convinced the U.S. district attorney in Atlanta -- Lawrence Camp -- to run against George, hoping to use his presidential influence and his popularity in Georgia to help Camp win.
On the morning of August 11, Roosevelt spoke before the graduating class of the University of Georgia in Athens (click here for full text of speech). He spoke of his many experiences in Georgia and how they had shaped many of his New Deal ideas. He alluded to the poverty still prevalent in much of Georgia and how Georgians needed to support his efforts to raise purchasing power throughout the South with measures such as his wages and hours bill. He concluded his speech by saying:
"At heart, Georgia shows devotion to the principles of democracy. Georgia, like other states, has occasional lapses; but it really does not believe either in demagoguery or feudalism, even though they are dressed up in democratic clothes." (76)While no names were mentioned, these were obvious references to Talmadge (an avowed racist) and George (a noted proponent of big business -- which opposed the wages bill).
Roosevelt was then driven to Barnesville, Ga., where he was to speak [full text] at Gordon Military College; the occasion being the beginning of electrical service to local rural customers -- made possible through the efforts of the Rural Electrification Administration. But the crowd was not there to hear about electricity, but to hear Roosevelt and George speak on the same stage. Close to 30,000 people jammed the stadium where the two men would speak. Roosevelt spoke first, and briefly, about rural electrification, then turned his comments toward the need for more allies in Congress (see photo):
"...The man who says he is for progress but whose record shows that he hinders or hampers or tried to kill new measures of progress is dangerous. . . ." (77)At this point George took a piece of paper from his pocket and started making notes. Roosevelt continued:
"You, the people of Georgia, in the coming senatorial primary...have a perfect right to choose any candidate you wish...but because Georgia has been good enough to call me her adopted son and because for many long years I have regarded Georgia as my 'other state,' I feel no hesitation in telling you what I would do if I could vote here next month. . . . What I am about to say will be no news to my old friend...Senator Walter George. . . . Let me make it clear that he is, and I hope will always be, my personal friend. He is beyond question a gentleman and a scholar, but with whom I differ heartily and sincerely on the principles and policies of how the government of the United States ought to be run." (78)Turning to the two candidates (Camp also was on stage), Roosevelt dismissed Talmadge as someone "who concerns me not all," and then said of Camp:
"I have known him for many years. . . . I regard him not only as a public servant with successful experience but as a man who honestly believes that many things must be done and done now to improve the economic and social conditions of the country, a man who is willing to fight for those objectives. . . . I have no hesitation in saying that if I were able to vote in the September primaries in this state, I most assuredly should cast my ballot for Lawrence Camp." (79)A huge roar erupted from the audience -- some in favor (Camp had arranged to have many supporters present) and some opposed -- George was very popular . As Roosevelt left the stage George stood up, shook the president's hand, and said:
"Mr. President, I regret that you have taken this occasion to question my democracy and to attack my public record. I want you to know that I accept the challenge!" (80)And accept it he did. Roosevelt was the focus of the campaign. George insisted no one, not even the President, had the right to tell Georgians how they should vote, saying:
"The people of Georgia do not need to be told by the President of the United States whom to vote for. That is their business. We are capable of managing our affairs without outside help from the President." (81)George also turned his verbal guns on many of the President's advisors, speaking of the Wall Street lawyers who were trying to assume the power of saying who should or should not be senator from Georgia. Playing the Yankee card -- "the purge is a second march through Georgia . . . carpet-baggery glorified" -- was successful for George; he easily defeated Camp in the September 14 primary, handing Roosevelt one of his few political defeats.
But the persecutions continued; Roosevelt decided to call the U.S ambassadors to Germany and Italy home for a conference on the situation in Europe. They spent Nov. 27-28 at the Little White House briefing Roosevelt. While the persecutions were much more serious in Germany, Italy was beginning to harass the Jewish people within its borders as well.
Roosevelt did not completely ignore the political situation in his "second home" however, nor had he let George's victory in the recent election daunt him. Writing to a friend:
". . . Down here in Georgia there is a rather definite tendency to quit fighting the Administration and try to 'make up.' This tendency does not apply to some of the mossbacks...nor does it yet apply to Walter George. I think Dick Russell will be more inclined to go along -- and the same thing applies to quite a number of other Senators who come up in 1940. That is something for us to be watching. . . ." (83)Roosevelt did get some relaxation on his visit, and did not relish the thought of returning to Washington:
". . . I have been having a grand time down here at Warm Springs and hate the thought of going back next Sunday night to start the long grind. . . ." (84)
But finally it was time for Roosevelt to return to Washington. The Columbus newspaper reported:
"President Roosevelt, tanned and rested from two weeks of outdoor life, got ready today to return to Washington. . . . He also went for his almost daily swim. . . ." (85)
But international affairs soon overshadowed domestic ones. In March, Hitler occupied Czechoslovakia in brazen defiance of the previous year's Munich agreements designed (or so the European democracies hoped) to assure peace. Soon afterwards Italy invaded and occupied Albania. Hitler next turned his sights toward Poland. Britain and France, finally recognizing the futility of appeasement, pledged military intervention in case Germany attacked Poland.
It was soon after these events that Roosevelt took his spring visit to Warm Springs. While he certainly kept a close eye on world affairs, he was also proud to be on hand for the dedication of several new buildings on the grounds of the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation. Writing to his wife:
". . . Had successful dedication of medical and educational buildings. Lovely weather. . . ." (86)The new buildings being dedicated added tremendously to the Foundation. Included were a Medical Building -- a three-story orthopedic surgical facility [see text of Roosevelt's remarks], a school and occupational therapy building [see text of Roosevelt's remarks], a chapel and theater designed for wheelchairs, and two new dormitories.
May 22, 1939 - The "Axis" formed when Germany and Italy formally join in alliance.
August 23, 1939 - In a surprising development Germany and the Soviet Union sign a nonaggression pact.
September 1, 1939 - Germany invaded Poland. Two days later Britain and France formally declare war on Germany. World War II had begun.
September 27, 1939 - Warsaw, Poland's capital, fell to
the German blitzkrieg -- lightning war -- a modernized attack composed
of tanks, airplanes, and fast moving ground troops which overwhelmed Poland's
". . . I see no reason why, if things are really settling down to a Winter calm, you should not come over a week or ten days and let us have a chance to see you. Incidentally, it would do you lots of good. . . . I hope you will follow my practice of getting away for a few weeks for a short holiday. It saves my life. If you cannot fly over here, I do hope you will go down to the south of France, or even to North Africa for a really good place away from the telephone. I am absolutely certain that you are hounded to death on a million little things. . . ." (87)Soon after returning from Warm Springs, Roosevelt learned that the Russians had invaded Finland. He wrote to the U.S. ambassador in Japan of his concerns with both the Russians and Japanese:
"It is grand to get yours of November sixth on my return this morning from a few days' holiday in Warm Springs. In the meantime, the Finland attack has occurred and the whole of the United States is not only horrified but thoroughly angry. People are asking why one should have anything to do with the present Soviet leaders because their idea of civilization and human happiness is so totally different from ours."
Roosevelt arrived for a week's worth of rest and relaxation, while recovering from a bout with intestinal flu. He only gave one speech while visiting -- a radio broadcast to all the Young Democrats clubs throughout Georgia. It was a political speech, designed to encourage enthusiasm for the upcoming campaign, though he made no mention of seeking a third term as president. Speaking briefly of the international situation, he said "your government is keeping a cool head and a steady hand." (89)
Roosevelt did sign some minor bills and meet with the Canadian Prime Minister at Warm Springs, but did devote most of his time to relaxation. He drove around the countryside with his son Elliott and his wife,also visiting the Pine Mountain Valley community. But while Roosevelt may have been avoiding politics, the Georgia Democratic Party certainly was not. On April 25, the executive committee of the Georgia Democratic Party elected seventy-two delegates to the national convention -- all pledged to support Roosevelt for a third term. Governor Eurith D. Rivers was authorized to cast all of Georgia's twenty-four votes for Roosevelt at the convention. The committee passed a resolution, introduced and read by Atlanta Constitution executive editor Ralph McGill. The resolution commended Roosevelt, his administration and the Democratic Party, then added that the President's leadership was "enabling this country to maintain the democratic ideals and the liberties and rights of the individual through the peaceable solution of our social and economic problems, in marked contrast with the leadership of Europe where failure to solve the same problems brought dictatorships, loss of liberty, and war. . . . [I]t would seem as unwise to deprive ourselves of the asset of our army and navy or air force as to deprive this nation of the asset of Franklin D. Roosevelt." (90)
The resolution was sent to Warm Springs, but Roosevelt did not have time to respond. On the day it arrived, he departed for Washington, D.C., and events in Europe soon dominated the news.
May 10, 1940 - Germany launched a massive, simultaneous assault on France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and The Netherlands. On this same day Winston Churchill was appointed Prime Minister of Great Britain.
May 26, 1940 - Many British soldiers were evacuated from the French port city of Dunkirk.
June 14, 1940 - Germany army occupied Paris.
June 22, 1940 - France surrendered to Germany.
July-August, 1940 - German planes bombed British cities and military bases on an almost daily basis. The British Royal Air Force fought desperately to re-gain control of the skies in what became known as the Battle of Britain.
September 16, 1940 - Military conscription began in the United States.
September 27, 1940 - Germany and Italy officially formed the Tripartite Alliance with Japan.
November 5, 1940 - Roosevelt was elected to his third
term as President. At the time there was no constitutional prohibition against
seeking more than two terms as President, though tradition did weigh against
it. While there were some lukewarm attempts by Democratic politicians
(including Vice-President Garner) to gain the nomination, Roosevelt was
the overwhelming choice of most, especially in such perilous times. Wendell
Wilkie was the Republican nominee, and to his credit did not make military
conscription, or the war in Europe and Asia major issues. In fact he referred
to Roosevelt as "the Champ!" After the election, Roosevelt brought several
talented Republicans into his Cabinet to further the cause of bipartisanship.
March 11, 1941 - Roosevelt signed the Lend-Lease Act into law. This allowed the President the discretion to lend or lease military hardware to the British. There was little argument on the need to help the British; the only objection was giving the President so much authority. But Roosevelt was a man the people trusted to use the authority wisely. As he put it in one of his fireside chats, the United States should become "the arsenal of democracy."
June 22, 1941 - The always tenuous pact between Germany and the Soviet Union was broken when Operation Barbarossa -- the German invasion of the Soviet Union -- was launched.
August 9-12, 1941 - Roosevelt and Churchill met face-to-face for the first time off the southeastern coast of Newfoundland. They signed the Atlantic Charter -- an informal document agreeing on the principles of prosecuting the war and promoting democracy in peace time.
In the autumn of 1941, U.S.-Japanese relations grew increasingly
belligerent. Japan occupied much of China and refused to leave the country.
Furthermore Japan needed foreign oil to fuel its war machine and had
its eyes on Australia and many of the south Pacific islands. Japan was
also in alliance with Germany; and Hitler was none too happy with Roosevelt's
obvious favoring of and help to the British. But Hitler's main concern
was in the Soviet Union; he wanted the Russians conquered before he would
take on the U.S. However, Japan had no such hesitations. Its leaders intended
for Japan to be the supreme power in the Pacific, and the U.S was the
only country standing in their way. So while Japanese diplomats pretended
to negotiate for peace, the military prepared for war. It was with this
ominous threat overshadowing the country that Roosevelt next visited Warm
The annual Thanksgiving dinner had already been postponed twice because Roosevelt could not be there, but they finally were able to celebrate it on Nov. 29, though the mood was not very celebratory. Roosevelt gave an informal speech at the dinner [see full text], in which he mentioned having listened to the radio broadcasts of two football games -- Georgia-Georgia Tech and Army-Navy:
"They were great games, run in the spirit of peace. And the right kind of national spirit of peace is necessary for the right conduct of either the Georgia game or the Army-Navy game. How many other countries in the world could have things like that going on? . . . In days like these, our Thanksgiving next year may remind us of a peaceful past; it is always possible that our boys in the military and naval academies may be fighting for the defense of these American institutions of ours." (91)Roosevelt had to cut his visit short after Japanese Premier Tojo issued a statement threatening to "purge with a vengeance" all U.S. and British influence in the Far East. (92)
December 7, 1941 - Japanese airplanes launched a surprise attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor [see photos]. While the attack itself was certainly not a surprise -- conflict between the two nations seemed inevitable -- the site of the attack was a surprise. Roosevelt expected the first blow to fall on the Philippines (they too were attacked on this day); most of the Japanese forces were in Indochina. But the Japanese hoped to knock out the United States Pacific Fleet in one stroke. They very nearly succeeded. Eight battleships, nine cruisers, and many destroyers were sunk or damaged beyond repair. In addition many U.S. planes were caught and destroyed on the ground. Fortunately, the American aircraft carriers were out on maneuvers that fateful morning.
December 8, 1941 - Roosevelt delivered his famous "day of infamy" speech to Congress [text]. The United States and Great Britain declared war on Japan.
December 11, 1941 - United States and Germany declared war on each other. The United States' entry into World War II was now official and complete.
Leading the war effort prevented Roosevelt from visiting Warm Springs in 1942, and for all but two days of 1943. Yet his "second home" was never far from his heart; he still continued efforts to raise money for the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation and the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. And he also kept acquainted with even the smallest details of what was happening at Warm Springs. The Navy added a new building for treating paralyzed servicemen. Roosevelt also interceded when bureaucratic red tape delayed food and supply shipments to Warm Springs. In March of 1943 he received a letter signed only by the "Warm Springs Kids." The letter asked that the Foundation's pool be kept open; it was to be closed as a cost saving measure. Roosevelt wrote the head of the Foundation
". . . [A]s you know I am a crank on keeping the pool open. I wonder if we could do it on a concession basis. . . ." (93)April 10, 1942 - The Bataan Death March began, when the Japanese forced 76,000 Allied prisoners captured on the Philippines forced to march 60 miles under brutally hot conditions through the jungle to a prison camp. Along the way, 5,000 prisoners died.
May 7-8, 1942 - The Battle of Coral Sea -- the first battle fought soley with airplanes from aircraft carriers -- ended with an American victory.
June 4-5, 1942 - The Battle of Midway proved the turning point in the Pacific theater of the war. Japan hoped to wipe out what remained of the U.S. Navy. The Japanese sent 160 ships, including 5 aircraft carriers to assault Midway Island. Meeting them were only 60 American ships, with three aircraft carriers -- one already damaged. But in a remarkable feat of strategic planning and sheer courage, the Americans won a resounding victory, losing only the previously damaged carrier, while American planes sunk four of the five Japanese carriers.
November 8, 1942 - Operation Torch began - the Allied invasion of North Africa.
The year 1943 saw the United States reach new heights of industrial productivity. For all it horror, World War II put to rest any vestiges of the Great Depression. A Japanese leader had commented after the attack on Pearl Harbor that he hoped they had not wakened a sleeping a giant. They had. American factories immediately gearing for war production after Pearl Harbor, and in 1943 alone produced more armaments than in all previous years combined! The United States, as Roosevelt had predicted in 1940, truly became the "arsenal of democracy."
January 14-23, 1943 - Roosevelt and Churchill met at Casablanca.
January 27, 1943 - Massive bombing of Germany began, with the United States bombing during the daylight hours, and the British by night.
February 2, 1943 - In what many military historians believe to be the turning point in the European theater of World War II, the Russian Army soundly defeated the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad.
February 9, 1943 - Guadalcanal fell to American troops.
July 9-10, 1943 - Allied forces landed on Sicily.
July 22, 1943 - American forces captured Palermo.
July 27-28, 1943 - Allied incendiary bombs caused a firestorm in Hamburg, Germany.
September 9, 1943 - Allied forces landed in Italy.
November 28, 1943 - Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill met at Tehran, Iran.
December 24-26, 1943 - Russians began counter offensive in the Ukraine.
1944 was a good year for the war effort, but a poor one for Roosevelt's health. The tremendous physical and emotional pressure he faced began to take a toll; he lost weight and strength, and was afflicted with advancing heart disease. Nor was it a good year for polio victims -- there were over eighteen thousand cases reported that year -- the most since 1916! Also, 1944 was an election year. There was little debate about Roosevelt running for a fourth term, as the country looked to him for leadership. He had led them through the Great Depression and was valiantly leading them through a world war. The United States was emerging as the world's most powerful nation, and most could not foresee anyone else at the reins but Roosevelt. The only debate was on who his running mate would be. Harry S Truman was eventually chosen.
January 6, 1944 - Russian Army moved into Poland.
January 22, 1944 - Allied forces landed at Anzio, Italy.
January 27, 1944 - Russians broke siege of Leningrad.
May 12, 1944 - German forces in Crimea surrendered to Russia.
June 5, 1944 - Allied forced recaptured Rome.
June 6, 1944 - D-Day; Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy to begin invasion of northern Europe.
June 19-20, 1944 - Mariana Turkey Shoot, in which American forces destroy over 200 Japanese aircraft, while losing only 20.
June 22, 1944 - Russian Army began huge offensive.
June 27, 1944 - Americans freed Cherbourg, France.
July 9, 1944 - Allied forces liberated Caen.
July 18, 1944 - Americans liberated St. Lo.
July 20, 1944 - There was a failed assassination attempt of Hitler.
August 15, 1944 - Allied forces invaded southern France.
August 23, 1944 - Romania fell to the Russians.
August 25, 1944 - Allied forces liberated Paris.
September 13, 1944 - American troops reached the border of western Germany.
October 23-26, 1944 - Battle of Leyte Gulf - largest naval battle in history to that point. Americans destroyed majority of remaining Japanese navy.
November 7, 1944 - Roosevelt was elected to his fourth
term as President; his vice-presidential running mate was Harry Truman.
Although he was not well, Roosevelt ran a vigorous campaign and appeared
as a strong leader to the American people and to the world.
At the Founder's Day dinner, Roosevelt of course mentioned the war effort -- but most of his talk was a remembrance of past days at Warm Springs. He recalled the first Founder's Day dinner in 1928 and the tremendous growth of the Foundation since then. Many long-time residents of Warm Springs had difficulty watching the President. When he had given the Founder's Day speech in 1928, he had been a robust, healthy, tanned 190 pounds just off a victorious campaign in New York and eager to return to public life. Now he weighed only 160 pounds, had little appetite or energy, and his complexion was pale. Still, he stayed after the dinner to watch a skit performed by the children entitled "The Spirit of Warm Springs." It was a lively skit dedicated to Roosevelt, and he enjoyed it. To top it off and to celebrate the just finished campaign, two staff members came out in a donkey suit and did a dance for the President. Despite his weariness, he remained to shake hands with all the guests as they left.
Warm Springs had always been considered a magical place by Roosevelt, and it soon began working its wonders on him again. He took one swim in the heated indoor pool, but his blood pressure soared and his doctor suggested he stay out of the pools. But he did relax, drive around the countryside, and soak up the "spirit" of Warm Springs. His appetite returned, he began to put on weight, and the color returned to his complexion. When the time came for him to depart his friends felt much better about him and eagerly anticipated his next visit the following spring.
December 15, 1944 - Americans began invasion of The Philippines.
December 16, 1944 - Germans launched counter offensive against American and British forces in western Europe in what became known as the "Battle of the Bulge."
January 16, 1945 - "Battle of the Bulge" ended in German defeat.
January 19, 1945 - German line on the Eastern Front collapsed in face of Russian offensive.
February 4-11, 1945 - Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill met for the Yalta Conference.
February 13-14, 1945 - Allied bombing caused firestorm in Dresden.
February 19, 1945 - American forces landed on Iwo Jima - an island close enough to Japan to allow airplanes to reach Japan and return without the need to refuel. The forces met fierce Japanese resistance, including kamikaze attacks.
March 16, 1945 - Americans took control of Iwo Jima.
April 1, 1945 - American forces invaded Okinawa, even
closer to Japan than Iwo Jima.
Before long, Warm Springs seemed to be reviving Roosevelt again. As he had his previous visit, he arrived pale and listless. But soon his color and his appetite returned. He began to do more work, preparing a speech for the nation's Jefferson Day dinners and looking over state papers. He even planned to attend a barbecue the afternoon of April 12, then watch the children of Warm Springs rehearse a minstrel show. It was to be the busy, enjoyable-type social day he had enjoyed at Warm Springs in the early years.
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