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Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 38th Visit to Georgia

Thirty-eighth Visit

December 15, 1940

Returning from a Caribbean cruise, Roosevelt stopped by Warm Springs for one day while searching for possible locations for military bases. He had lunch with the companions at the Foundation, then took a drive around the countryside. Speaking of the international tensions he said he was “trying to keep things steady.” He told the patients that he would return to Warm Springs in March “if the world survives.” The world did, but Roosevelt was unable to return until late the following year. Following is the full text of the remarks he made at Warm Springs on this day:

Informal Remarks of President Roosevelt
after Luncheon with Patients at the
Georgia Warm Springs Foundation
December 15, 1940

[Roosevelt made a brief stop in Warm Springs for a belated Thanksgiving luncheon. He was introduced by Basil O’Connor, chairman of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, who commented that this was actually a third Thanksgiving meal for patients at the Foundation. Roosevelt was obviously cognizant of the world situation—World War II was well underway in Europe—thus his comment near the end of his remarks - -“if the world survives.”]

As a matter of fact, I think you appreciate that the other doctor connected with Warm Springs, Dr. O’Connor, did such a good job on Thanksgiving day that I wondered if it was necessary for me to ever come back.

That idea about a third Thanksgiving is excellent. There has been so much criticism about Thanksgiving—having to have two—and I believe in compromise, so this is the third. If we hadn’t had turkey—I told Doc O’Connor I was going to put him in the middle of the table and carve him up.

I wish I could stay longer. As you know, that seems to be impossible at the present time. I have seen a great deal today and I told Dr. Irwin when I saw him this morning that there was one operation I was very much interested in—the first thing I was going to do after I got off the train was to see the timber operations up the road toward the Cascades (referring to the cutting of trees for timber on Pine Mountain). So, we are performing still another operation at Warm Springs.

I hope to be down here, without any question, if the world survives, next March for my usual two weeks in the spring.

While quite a number of you I have seen before—much to my delight—quite a number I haven’t seen before so I am going to stand over by the door, according to Thanksgiving custom, and see you all as I go out. It is fine to be here.

Source: National Archives

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 Springs.

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 38th Visit to Georgia View large image

FDR in his car at Warm Springs, December 1940
Source: Franklin D. Roosevelt Library

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 38th Visit to Georgia View large image

FDR in his car at Warm Springs, December 1940
Source: Franklin D. Roosevelt Library