On this day in 1933 FDR met with Amelia Earhart. This token was later given to the President to commemorate Amelia being the first women in world to fly alone across the Atlantic Ocean on May 21, 1932.
Letter from Fidel Castro to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 11/06/1940
Item from Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State. (03/05/1923 - 01/1961)
This letter from tweleve year-old Fidel Castro congratulates President Roosevelt on his re-election and asks the president to send him a ten dollar bill. Presidents receive hundreds of thousands of letters every year from children and adults sharing their concerns and well-wishes with him.
Happy 135th Birthday, Albert Einstein! (also, Pi Day!)
Theoretical physicist Albert Einstein was born on March 14, 1879, in Ulm Germany. He entered the United States in June of 1935 and filed this declaration of intent to become a citizen in January of 1936. He would become a U.S. citizen in 1940.
In 1939 he collaborated with fellow physicist Leo Szilard on a letter regarding advances in nuclear research to President Franklin Roosevelt, which would ultimately lead to the development of the Manhattan Project. During World War II, he also worked as a part-time Federal employee developing underwater weapons for the U.S. Navy. Some of his correspondence from this work is available in our online catalog.
In 1948 he appeared in this instructional film “Atomic Physics," explaining how the work of other scientists featured in the film illustrated his theory of equivalence of mass and energy.
FDR’s First Fireside Chat - March 12, 1933
FDR’s March 12, 1933 radio address on the banking crisis made a powerful impression on the public. His familiar speaking style made people feel as if he were sitting in their homes speaking directly to them.
The press soon labeled the speech a “Fireside Chat.” This term became associated with a series of informal radio addresses FDR made on important issues during his presidency. He used these speeches to bypass Congress and the press and speak directly to the nation.
Though the Fireside Chats seemed informal, Roosevelt carefully crafted them for his radio listeners. They usually ran for about thirty minutes and were generally delivered on Sunday evenings, when radio audiences were largest. Only a few radio technicians and advisers were in the room when FDR spoke. Roosevelt talked in a clear, informal, conversational style that featured intimate phrasing—including familiar expressions and terms like “we” and “you.” He imagined himself speaking to individuals, rather than a group. He spoke firmly, but softly, and deliberately slowed the pace of his speaking. The result was a new and powerful manner of presidential communication that inspired thousands of letters which often aided FDR in his political battles.
Roosevelt limited the number of his Fireside Chats, believing their impact would decline if he took to the airways too often. During his presidency, he made only thirty-one of them.
Radio microphone, Early 1930s
FDR used this RCA model 4-A-1 carbon condenser microphone to deliver some of his Fireside Chats from the White House.
“This nation asks for action, and action now.”
-Franklin Roosevelt, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933
In his inaugural address, FDR demanded “action, and action now” to fight the Great Depression. He did not waste any time in delivering on that promise. On his first full day in office he called Congress into special session. He had promised Americans a New Deal. Now he began to construct it.
Roosevelt’s New Deal would touch virtually every aspect of American economic life and forever change the role of the Federal Government in the lives of Americans.
On February 27, 1941 FDR addressed the annual Academy Awards dinner via the radio. In his address, he states:
The American motion picture as a national and international force is a phenomenon of our own generation. Within living memory we have seen it born and grow up into full maturity. We have seen the American motion picture become foremost in all the world. We have seen it reflect our civilization throughout the rest of the world—the aims and the aspirations and the ideals of a free people and of freedom itself.
You can read the full transcript here or listen above.
The “Court Packing” Plan — On This Day in 1937, FDR Proposes to Reorganize the Supreme Court
In November 1936, Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed to reorganize the federal judiciary by adding a new justice each time a justice reached age seventy and failed to retire. In this manner, the influence of older justices, including a number of conservatives, could be superseded by younger Roosevelt appointees supportive of the New Deal.
FDR’s “Court Packing Plan” was a response to a Supreme Court that was increasingly unwilling to support New Deal legislation. Upon announcement, it was widely opposed by the public, the press, and Congress. However, the Supreme Court did reverse course and began to uphold New Deal legislation. Read More at the Presidential Timeline
-from the FDR Library
A page from FDR’s reading copy of the Fireside Chat announcing the Supreme Court reorganization plan. 3/9/37.