“I don’t know whether I am doing a right deed as to plead to you. But I do know that I am all right to plead for my race…I am a Southern colored girl in New York.” –Miss South Carolinean, April 10, 1933
Letter from Miss South Carolinean [Carolinian] to President Franklin Roosevelt Regarding the Scottsboro Case
Clarence Norris, Charlie Weems, Haywood Patterson, Ozie Powell, Willie Robertson, Eugene Williams, Olen Montgomery, Andy Wright, and Ray Wright were known as the “Scottsboro Boys.” In 1931, the nine African Americans were tried and convicted of assault and rape in Alabama by all-white juries within two weeks. Eight were sentenced to death. In this letter to Franklin Roosevelt, “Miss South Carolinian” asked for the President’s help.
The initial speedy trials, the age of the defendants, the racial bias of the juries and the severity of the sentences led to arguments that the defendants never received fair trials and a movement to free them. Their case went to the Supreme Court of the United States, which ruled they were denied the right to counsel, violating their right to due process under the 14th amendment. Eventually, their sentences were commuted and charges against four were dropped, but their lives were forever changed as most spent years in jail. On November 21, 2013, posthumous pardons were issued by the state of Alabama to Charlie Weems, Andy Wright and Haywood Patterson.
This letter is among the featured items at the “Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures" exhibit now on display at the National Archives Museum.
FDR’s First Fireside Chat
Today in history, March 12, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his first Fireside Chat. Using the radio to speak directly to the nation, FDR laid out his plan to address the banking crisis of the Great Depression.
-from the FDR Library
March 4, 1933: First Inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt
On this day in 1933, the first inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt was held in Washington, D.C. The longest-serving president in U.S. history, and leader through the Great Depression and World War II — two of the nation’s worst crises — Franklin Delano Roosevelt is considered by many to be our greatest president.
Photo: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Joseph Robinson in Washington, Washington, D.C., March 4, 1933 (National Archives).
(Nice use of the Content Source link, pbsthisdayinhistory!)
Shirley Temple Black (April 23, 1928 - February 10, 2014)
Today we remember Shirley Temple. During her early years as an actress, Shirley visited with the Roosevelts at the White House and in Hollywood. In her March 19, 1938 “My Day” column, Eleanor Roosevelt had this to say about Shirley:
Our first visit was to Shirley Temple, whom I have had the pleasure of meeting before and who is, without exception, one of the most charming children I know. She is simple and unaffected and accepts the inevitable photographers and her as naturally as if this was the way every little girl lived her life
While visiting the White House in June 1938, Shirley presented FDR with a “Shirley Temple Police” Badge. She signed her letter from “Chief Shirley Temple.”
In July of 1938, Shirley and her parents visited Hyde Park for a picnic. Mrs. Roosevelt wrote all about the day in her July 11, 1938 “My Day” column.
The Roosevelt Grandchildren, 1945
Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt pose with their 13 grandchildren at the White House on January 20, 1945. In total the Roosevelts had over 20 grandchildren, including several who were born after the President’s death in 1945.
Franklin D. Roosevelt and E.R. with their 13 grandchildren in Washington, D.C, 01/20/1945
A Roosevelt Family Christmas
Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt were married in the spring of 1905. For Christmas that year, Franklin’s mother gave the newlyweds this sketch of a double townhouse she planned to build in New York City - one side for her and the other for them. Completed in 1908, the house had connecting doors on several floors.
-from the FDR Library
What was under your tree this morning? (We’re assuming no blueprints to a new townhouse.)
FDR reflects on Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address 75 years later:
The 150th Anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: FDR’s View
Today, one hundred-fifty years later, we pause to remember one of the greatest speeches ever made by a US President: Abraham Lincoln’s poetically beautiful Gettysburg Address, given November 19, 1863, upon the dedication of the National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
On July 3, 1938, speaking on the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, President Franklin D. Roosevelt reflected on Lincoln and his words:
“Immortal deeds and immortal words have created here at Gettysburg a shrine of American patriotism. We are encompassed by ‘The last full measure of devotion’ of many men and by the words in which Abraham Lincoln expressed the simple faith for which they died.
“It seldom helps to wonder how a statesman of one generation would surmount the crisis of another. A statesman deals with concrete difficulties—with things which must be done from day to day. Not often can he frame conscious patterns for the far off future.
“But the fullness of the stature of Lincoln’s nature and the fundamental conflict which events forced upon his Presidency invite us ever to turn to him for help.
“For the issue which he restated here at Gettysburg seventy five years ago will be the continuing issue before this Nation so long as we cling to the purposes for which the Nation was founded—to preserve under the changing conditions of each generation a people’s government for the people’s good.”
FDR found that Lincoln’s words were timeless. Roosevelt drew strength and insight from the promise of Lincoln’s words while leading the country in the defining battles of his own time.
In commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Liberties Act, the original Executive Order 9066 as well as the 1988 law are on display for a limited time in the National Archives Building in Washington, DC.
“Here we admit a wrong. Here we affirm our commitment as a nation to equal justice under the law.” —President Ronald Reagan, remarks on signing the Civil Liberties Act of 1988
On February 19, 1942, ten weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which permitted military commanders to “prescribe military areas … from which any or all persons may be excluded.” While the order did not mention any group by name, it profoundly affected the lives of Japanese Americans.
In March and April, Gen. John L. DeWitt issued a series of “Exclusion Orders” directed at “all persons of Japanese ancestry” in the Western Defense Command.
These orders led to the forced evacuation and incarceration of 120,000 Japanese American permanent residents and Japanese American citizens at 10 major camps and dozens of smaller sites. Held behind barbed wire and watched by armed guards, many Japanese Americans lost their homes and possessions. Congress passed laws enforcing the order with almost no debate, and the Supreme Court affirmed these actions.
Forty-six years later, President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. The law, which was preceded by a detailed historical study by a congressional commission, judged the incarceration “a grave injustice” that was “motivated largely by racial prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.” It offered an apology and $20,000 in restitution to each survivor.
Image: Persons of Japanese ancestry arrive at the Santa Anita Assembly Center from San Pedro. Evacuees lived at this center at the former Santa Anita race track before being moved inland to relocation centers. Clem Albers, Arcadia, CA, April 5, 1942. (Photo No. 210-G-3B-414)
Day 3: June 27
President Franklin D. Roosevelt commissioned the construction of a library and museum to house his vast collection of papers, books, and memorabilia. Many previous presidents donated their papers to the Library of Congress, but this was not the best fit for Roosevelt. Not only was his collection too expansive for that institution at the time, but Roosevelt was concerned about having all of the nation’s important documents housed in only one place. Instead, he built a new facility on a 16 acre section of his mother’s home in Hyde Park, NY – an institution that would become the nation’s first presidential library.
The official Library dedication was a small, quiet affair, with close friends and family attending the ceremony. No formal invitations were issued, but a small article appeared in the paper a few days before the ceremony inviting Roosevelt’s Hudson Valley neighbors to join them for the dedication at 4pm on June 30, 1941. A few speeches were given, and the Library was officially opened to the public.
Today in history — FDR Approves the National Archives Act
Photo: An image of the construction of the National Archives Building is from June 1934, the month that President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the National Archives Act.
Happy Birthday to Us!
Franklin D. Roosevelt, W. Wilson, Josephus Daniels, and William Jennings Bryan in Washington, DC, 06/14/1913
Then-Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Roosevelt shares the stage 100 years ago with President Woodrow Wilson, Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, and Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels.
President Franklin Roosevelt signed the ambitious but controversial Tennessee Valley Authority Act 80 years ago on May 18, 1933, to provide navigation, flood control, electricity generation, fertilizer manufacturing, and economic development in the Tennessee Valley, a region particularly affected by the Great Depression.
FDR at The First Presidential Library Dedication
The first Presidential Library and Museum was conceived and built under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s direction from 1939 to 1940 in Hyde Park, NY. The official FDR Library dedication was a small, quiet affair, with close friends and family attending the ceremony.
-History of the FDR Library
The Death of FDR
On April 12, 1945, Franklin D. Roosevelt, 63, President of the United States serving his fourth term, died of a cerebral hemorrhage in his cottage at the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation.
Vice President Harry S. Truman took the oath of office as President at 7:09 P.M., in the Cabinet Room in the White House. Chief Justice Harlan F. Stone of the Supreme Court administered the oath.
Shown here is the White House Stenographer’s Diary on the day of FDR’s death.
-from the FDR Library
Be sure to see Truman’s reaction in his post-script on a letter to his sister-in-law written the same day.