The FDR Tapes

Secret recordings made in the Oval Office of the President in the autumn of 1940

INTRODUCTION BY ARTHUR SCHLESINGER, JR. Read more »

The Strange Saga Of The President’s Desk

From the End of the Earth to the Oval Office

“To be President of the United States,” wrote Harry Truman, “is to be lonely, very lonely. …” Perhaps it is fitting, then, that when the President works in the Oval Office, his elbows are resting on a unique memento of drama and endurance in the loneliest place on earth. Read more »

Our Misplaced President

Historians are still puzzling over the discovery of an official White House portrait of President Roger Darcy Amboy, who appears to have held our nation’s highest office somewhere between Van Buren and Buchanan. Obscured by drapes for over a century, the painting was discovered by an Amboy descendant who had come to urethane the baseboards. Read more »

Machismo In The White House

LBJ AND VIETNAM

He was an old-fashioned man by the purest definition. Forget that he was enamored of twentieth-century artifacts—the telephone, television, supersonic airplanes, spacecraft—to which he adapted with a child’s wondering glee. His values were the relics of an earlier time; he had been shaped by an America both rawer and more confident than it later would become; his generation may have been the last to believe that for every problem there existed a workable solution: that the ultimate answer, as in old-time mathematics texts, always reposed in the back of the book.Read more »

Don’t Spare The Horses

It’S rough to be around a rider when he’s the President

In little more than seven weeks the Rough Rider would be leaving the White House. Nine months prior to his fifty-first birthday a still contagiously energetic Theodore Roosevelt was ready to demonstrate that his recent order setting physical standards for military promotion was not unreasonable. He believed that it was not too demanding to require Army and Navy officers either to walk fifty miles or to ride a hundred miles in three consecutive days. Read more »

The Summer White House In The Clouds

Perched on Mount Falcon as the mist rose and the cloudcapped towers caught the first rays of the morning sun, it would seem a dream palace, the residence of the Great Khan or a Dalai Lama, remote, unapproachable, yet somehow the center of the world. The rational air of midday would give the granite battlements and vast donjon the more formidable aspect of the krak des Chevaliers or Marienburg of the Teutonic Knights.Read more »

A Basement View Of Sir Winston

At 4:30 A.M. on a cold, drizzly day in the spring of 1944, there came a knock on the guarded door of the top-secret White House Map Room. The one officer on duty opened the door to admit a rotund gentleman in white tie and tails, smoking a cigar and offering a cordial “Good morning!” Read more »

The Drought And The Dole

Few places are more unpleasant ban Washington in the summer, and the summer of 1930 was worse than most. The pressures of the business downturn had kept Herbert Hoover a prisoner in the White House through a hot June and a hotter July —the stock-market crash was less than a year old—and in those days before air conditioning, editorial writers were beginning to express concern for the President’s health.Read more »

’Twas Was The Night Before Christmas…

When up on the roof there arose such a clatter That Herbert rushed out to see what was the matter

On Christmas morning of 1929 Fire Marshal C. G. Achstetter of Washington, D.C., commenced the tedious paperwork that follows a $135,000 fire. Reaching for his office form, “Fire Marshal’s Record of Fire,” he noted that it had been a hard month: 779 fires to date in 1929, and this most recent one was number 162 in December alone. Read more »

Another Assassination, Another Widow, Another Embattled Book

Just about a hundred years ago, there was another shattering presidential assassination, another desperately unhappy (albeit very different) widow, and another well-meaning but indiscreet intimate who wrote a book that someone named Robert would have liked to suppress. The book that outraged Robert Todd Lincoln was called Behind the Scenes; Or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House.