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.
An enduring legacy of the New Deal, FDR established the Civilian Conservation Corps with an executive order signed April 5, 1933.
In the midst of the Great Depression, the program put thousands of unemployed young men to work, planting trees, building roads, improving State and National Parks, even combating forest fires and other natural disasters.
Never a permanent agency, the scale of the CCC was reduced as the economy improved, and it was disbanded in 1942 as the country geared up for World War II.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt threw out the first pitch at a game between the Washington Senators and the Boston Red Sox at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C., on April 24, 1934.
Discover more baseball stories in our new, free eBook, Baseball: The National Pastime in the National Archives. Download it for free on our eBooks page or on iTunes.
You can also learn more about the history of Presidents and baseball on the Prologue blog and at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum.
The Beer-Wine Revenue Act - March 22, 1933
80 years ago, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Beer–Wine Revenue Act into law on March 22, 1933. This law amended the Volstead Act and permitted the sale of beer and wine with an alcohol content of less than 3.2% by volume. The act represented the first relaxation of the prohibition laws since 1918 and was followed up at the end of the year with the passage of the 21st Amendment repealing prohibition. Repeal of prohibition laws was a key plank in the Democratic platform during the 1932 Presidential election as reflected in Clifford Berryman’s cartoon.
Franklin Roosevelt established the Jackson Hole National Monument in Wyoming 70 years ago today on March 15, 1943. It would later be combined with the Grand Teton National Park in 1950.
Presidential Proclamation 2578 of March 15, 1943, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt establishing Jackson Hole National Monument.: 03/15/1943
March 12, 1933, FDR’s First Fireside Chat on the Banking Crisis
As one of his first acts to confront the worsening impact of the Great Depression, newly elected President Roosevelt declared a nation-wide bank holiday starting on March 6, 1933 effectively shutting down the American banking system following a month long run on their reserves. Roosevelt went on the radio in his first “fireside chat” to dispel rumors and explain his actions. When banks reopened on March 13th, the public lined up to redeposit their cash. The bank holiday, along with the Emergency Banking Act passed on March 9th, is credited with restoring public confidence in the banking sector.