Tuesday, February 27, 2007

FDR at 125

Did you all see the cover of Prologue for Winter 2006? The magazine celebrates FDR's 125th (January 30, 2007) with an issue full of interesting articles. While not all the articles are online, several are - which means you can read them without moving from where you are sitting!

First, here's an excerpt from the introduction to start you off: All the Presidents who have followed FDR have, to one extent or another, been compared to him. The author of the popular In the Shadow of FDR, William E. Leuchtenburg, noted that FDR was simply a tough act to follow for the 11 men who have succeeded him in the presidency:
"The shadow cast by FDR has created an imposing set of challenges with far-reaching consequences," Leuchtenburg wrote.
"The efforts of Roosevelt's successors. . . to prove their fidelity to FDR while distancing themselves from him," he added, "has done much to shape the course of events from the spring of 1945 to the present." In observance of the 125th anniversary of FDR's birth on January 30, 1882, Prologue devotes much of this issue to an examination of the nation's thirty-second President. The articles on the following pages examine FDR's place in history, his leadership, his impact on the nation, and his legacy.

What else can you get online?
Well, first you can get a list of events from the FDR library for 2007.
The first article available online is A "New" FDR Emerges, which has several noted FDR authors to comment on FDR: Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., James MacGregor Burns, Geoffrey Ward, Doris Kearns Goodwin, David M. Kennedy, Alan Brinkley, Warren F. Kimball, Joseph E. Persico, John Garry Clifford, Mark Leff, Frank Costiglioga and Jonathan Alter.
To whet your appetite for more, I'm going to quote Schlesinger's comments here:
American democracy has finally clasped FDR to its bosom. Polls show that Washington, Lincoln, and FDR are regarded beyond dispute as our three greatest Presidents. Newt Gingrich, no stouter-hearted Republican than Newt, rates FDR the greatest 20th-century President. FDR's New Deal is no longer to be condemned as a mortal threat to the American way of life. Instead, as President George W. Bush discovered when he tried to fool around with Social Security, New Deal reforms are generally blessed. And their architect is admired and adored.
It was not always thus. FDR was the most beloved of 20th-century American Presidents. He was also the most hated. Recall Madison Square Garden on October 31, 1936:
"I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and lust for power met their match." Over the cascade of cheers, he went on: "I should like to have it said—," but the mounting roar of anticipation threatened to drown out his words; he paused and cried, "Wait a moment!"; then "I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master."
The intensity of politics in a democracy emerges when the business community is challenged by other forms of countervailing power. Andrew Jackson and Theodore Roosevelt, like FDR, were stigmatized by short-sighted business leaders; but their historic eminence shows their indispensable role in the dynamics of democratic capitalism. Their historic function is to rescue capitalism from the capitalists, functions belatedly recognized by intelligent capitalists themselves.
The other article that is online is on FDR and his role in shaping the National Archives. The National Archives was officially created during the adminstration of Herbert Hoover, but it was FDR's administration that saw its real formation. Under FDR the First National Archivist was appointed. FDR took an active interest in the National Archives: The first Archivist of the United States, Dr. R.D.W. Connor, whom the President appointed in October 1934, quickly found that FDR's interest in the Archives went well beyond bricks and mortar issues. FDR closely monitored appointments to the Archives staff and made his own recommendations for staffing.
There is also a also short piece from Allen Weinstein (the current Archivist of the US if you don't know), about the death of Roosevelt.
There are more non-FDR articles online in this issue and more FDR articles if you look at the print version.

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