Friday, August 14, 2015

FDR Trumps Today’s Presidential Wannabes

It was a pure coincidence that I visited the presidential library of perhaps the greatest president of the 20th century on the same day the first presidential debate was held for one of the craziest field of Republican contenders of the 21st century.

Having been to Jimmy Carter's and Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidential libraries, I was so excited to hit my third such place when I visited Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s library in Hyde Park, New York. There are 13 such libraries and it’s on my bucket list to hit all of them.  I’m so glad the first three I came to visit were for Democrats.  FDR’s library is he first of the 13 to be created – and the only one to open for a sitting president.

FDR was the only president to hold office with a severe handicap.  He was paralyzed from the chest down due to catching polio at age 39.  The former New York governor is also the only person to serve more than two terms as president, dying in office while early into his fourth term, just months before World War II would come to an end and the Untied Nations would be born.

I’m a student of history but I admittedly felt overwhelmed to see just how much this man had to overcome and endure, a presidency that challenged him from day one at the height of the Depression in 1933.

A month before he was to take office, a man attempted to assassinate him, firing five shots and killing the mayor of Chicago in the process.  Not only did he battle the Great Depression and a recession, he delivered landmark policies, such as Social Security, that stand today.  He also ruled during World War II, the bloodiest war in the history of the planet.  He did all of this with a compromised body.

His presidency also gave us the greatest First Lady, a woman who became a civil rights activist and a leader in her own right, Eleanor Roosevelt.

In addition to touring the museum, one can see the house he was born, raised, and lived in until he died.  It’s nearly 200 years old and in impressive condition.

The gift shop, though unimpressive, did feature many books, including ones written by or about the Roosevelts, as well as books about World War II, the Greatest Generation, politics, and related subjects.  I picked up a bargain – a four-dollar copy of his greatest speeches, called Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Great Speeches.

I also bought reprints of newspapers reflecting key moments in history.  The headline from The Norfolk Ledge-Dispatch dated May 7, 1945, read as follows: NAZIS QUIT: V-E DAY OFFICIALLY TOMORROW.

The other, from The Herald Examiner (in Chicago), dated December 6, 1933, blared this headline: Prohibition Era Ended!  Loop crowds Hail repeal.

It was interesting to see how the newspapers looked back then, some 70 years ago.  It was physically bigger. The width of these broadsheets extended about four feet when opened fully.  The photos are in black and white.  Some ads use illustrations.  Some of the comic strips were familiar, like Blondie and Mickey Mouse.  There was more emphasis on news than entertainment, features, and sports.  It’s cool to go back in time and read about historical events.

Here are some select speech passages from the book I’d purchased – you may find them of value:

Oct. 14, 1936
"But I know, and you know, and every independent business man who has had to struggle against the competition of monopolies knows, that this concentration of economic power in all-embracing corporations does not represent private enterprise as we Americans cherish it and propose to foster it. On the contrary, it represents private enterprise which has become a kind of private government, a power unto itself—a regimentation of other people's money and other people's lives.

"The people of America have no quarrel with business. They insist only that the power of concentrated wealth shall not be abused."

Jan 6, 1941
"The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic systems are simple. They are:
Equality of opportunity for youth and for others.
Jobs for those who can work.
Security for those who need it.
The ending of special privilege for the few.
The preservation of civil liberties for all.
The enjoyment -- The enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living.
These are the simple, the basic things that must never be lost sight of in the turmoil and unbelievable complexity of our modern world. The inner and abiding strength of our economic and political systems is dependent upon the degree to which they fulfill these expectations."

Dec. 8, 1941
"Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan."

Jan. 20, 1945
"And so today, in this year of war, 1945, we have learned lessons, at a fearful cost, and we shall profit by them."


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

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