The Wonderful Husband

Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s honeymoon was a lavish grand tour through a sunny, hospitable Europe. It was also filled with signs of the mutual bafflement that would one day embitter their marriage.

The captain of a transatlantic liner was his ship’s social arbiter as well as her commander. In consultation with the purser—and often only after contacting the home office—he carefully surveyed the passenger list, selecting from it for his own table in the great dining saloon that handful of men and women whose prominence was so obvious that even the most socially ambitious travelers would be willing to accept assignment elsewhere. Read more »

The New Deal And The Guru

How Franklin Roosevelt’s Secretary of Agriculture sent an eccentric Russian mystic on a sensitive mission to Asia and thereby created diplomatic havoc, personal humiliation, and embarrassment for the administration

Early in 1934 Secretary of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace appointed Nicholas Roerich, a renowned painter and a self-proclaimed guardian of world peace and culture, to lead a scientific expedition to North China and Manchuria, to search for drought-resistant grasses that might revive the Dust Bowl. By the time the project ended, in 1935, the eccentric artist had compromised America’s diplomatic position in Asia, embarrassed the Roosevelt administration, humiliated Wallace, and damaged the careers of several botanists.Read more »

Why the Candidates Still Use FDR as Their Measure

It’s not surprising that Democrats seek to wrap themselves in the Roosevelt cloak; what’s harder to understand is why so many Republicans do too. A distinguished historian explains.

When the American people got their first look at the entries in the 1988 presidential race, they sensed immediately that not one of the contenders measured up to their highest expectations.

 
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The Big Leak

So big was the leak that it might have caused us to lose World War II. So mysterious is the identity of the leaker that we can’t be sure to this day who it was…or at least not entirely sure.

Blazoned in huge black letters across page one of the December 4, 1941, issue of the Chicago Tribune was the headline: F.D.R.’S WAR PLANS! The Times Herald, the Tribune ’s Washington, D.C., ally, carried a similarly fevered banner. In both papers Chesly Manly, the Tribune's Washington correspondent, revealed what President Franklin D.Read more »

How Capitalism Survived The Twentieth Century

One hundred years ago many thoughtful people predicted the decline and disappearance of capitalism. What happened to make their prophecy wrong?

People nowadays interchange gifts and favors out of friendship,” says a character speaking from the vantage point of the year 2000 in Edward Bellamy’s 1888 novel, Looking Backward, “but buying and selling is considered absolutely inconsistent with the mutual benevolence and disinterestedness which should prevail between citizens and the sense of community interest which supports our social system.” Writing a century ago, Bellamy foresaw that by 2000 there would be no money and no wages.Read more »

1937 Fifty Years Ago

The headlines of July 3 stunned the country: EARHART PLANE DOWN … AMELIA LOST IN THE PACIFIC , they read. AE MISSES ISLAND ON LONG HOP … LADY LINDY LOST. Nine years earlier Amelia Earhart had captured the nation’s heart when she became the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a plane. But she had made that journey as a passenger and didn’t feel her fame was justified until 1932, when she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.Read more »

FDR The Last Photo

A picture taken the day before President Roosevelt’s death has been hidden away in an artist’s file until now

Commissioned to paint Franklin Roosevelt, Elizabeth Shoumatoff arrived in Warm Springs, Georgia, in early April, 1945. Before starting her day’s work on April 11, she asked an assistant, Nicholas Robbins, to snap a few pictures of the President.

One of these, the last taken, is a haunting document of Roosevelt’s final hours. Never published before, it is shown on the opposite page. Mrs. Shoumatoff, who died in 1980, left a memoir of this photo session and the fateful day that followed:

Taking Another Look At The Constitutional Blueprint

In this year of the bicentennial of the Constitution, American Heritage asked a number of historians, authors, and public figures to address themselves to one or both of these questions:

1. What change would you like to see in the Constitution and why?

2. What article or clause of the Constitution is of particular significance to you—and in what historical, political, personal, or other connection? Read more »

The House At Hyde Park

A biographer who knows it well tours Franklin Roosevelt’s home on the Hudson and finds it was not so much the President’s castle as it was his formidable mother’s.

For better than four years now I have been writing about Franklin Roosevelt’s youth, seeking the sources of the serene selfassurance that served him and his country so well during the two worst crises since the Civil War. In the course of that work I have spent months at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library at Hyde Park, New York, burrowing through his papers in search of clues. Read more »

“A Fair, Honorable, And Legitimate Trade”

The opium trade is remembered as a British outrage: English merchants, protected by English bayonets, turning China into a nation of addicts. But Americans got rich from this traffic—among them, a young man named Warren Delano. He didn’t talk about it afterward, of course. And neither did his grandson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Edward Delano arrived at Macao off the South China coast aboard the American vessel Oneida on December 7, 1840. His initial impression of the tiny Portuguese colony was reassuring. A crescent of handsome whitewashed houses with a half-dozen church spires scattered among them, clinging to a green hillside, it reminded Massachusetts boys like Ned of the fishing village of Nahant. Read more »