Day 77 - FDR visits the Panama Canal
Throughout his travels FDR made many trips through the Panama Canal, including a visit to the nearly completed Canal in 1912. The work on the Canal started under President Theodore Roosevelt and was finished in 1914. FDR traveled to Panama with his brother-in-law Hall Roosevelt and his friend and Republican Senate colleague J. Mayhew Wainright. The trio was given their own personal observation car to use through the nine-mile Culebra Cut. FDR wrote home to his mother Sara saying:
I can’t begin to describe it and have become so enthusiastic that if I didn’t stop I would write all night. The two things that impress me most are the Culebra Cut, because of the colossal hole made in the ground, and the locks because of the engineering problems and size. Imagine an intricate concrete structure nearly a mile long and three or four hundred feet wide, with double gates of steel weighing 700 tons apiece!
Our museum collection includes this watercolor painting of the U.S.S. Houston at the Panama Canal by Ian Marshall. This painting depicts the scene of the Houston passing through the Panama Canal on July 11, 1934 with President Roosevelt on board. This was the first passage through the completed Canal by a U.S. President while in office.
This campaign artifact in the shape of a lock is engraved with the phrase, “The lock to the White House.” When the cover on the keyhole is pushed aside, it reveals William Howard Taft’s name.
William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt drifted from friendship to animosity throughout Taft’s term. Roosevelt felt that Taft did not live up to the progressive ideals that Roosevelt put forth during his presidency. Despite his pledge to not run for office, Roosevelt encouraged the growing Progressive Party to nominate him for President, which he accepted. Taft campaigned against both his former friend as well as Democratic nominee Woodrow Wilson.
After Theodore Roosevelt won the 1904 election, he stated that he would not be a candidate for President again. However, as the sitting President of the party, he had a strong influence over who the Republicans would nominate in 1908.
William Howard Taft, a close political friend of Roosevelt’s, received the nomination on the first ballot. This stickpin from the archives of the Truman Presidential Library features a portrait photograph of William Howard Taft.
The White House Kitchen, 1948.
When Harry S Truman moved into The White House it had not been renovated since 1902, when Theodore Roosevelt was President. This image was taken right before the renovations made to the White House during Harry S. Truman’s time in office.
Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt were married on St. Patrick’s Day in 1905 in New York City. The wedding took place at the home of Eleanor’s aunt, Mrs. Henry Parrish Jr. The bride was given away by her uncle, President Theodore Roosevelt.
The newlyweds took their honeymoon over the summer and visited England, France, Germany, Italy, Scotland and Switzerland.
Here, Eleanor wears her wedding dress in a portrait from 1/20/05.
Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first sitting president to ride in an airplane - this weekend marks the anniversary of the overseas flight he took on January 14, 1943. FDR’s distant cousin, Theodore Roosevelt, was the first president ever to fly, a trip that took place back in 1910 shortly after he had left the presidency.
This post is not actually about planes though. It is about blimps (yessss!). FDR may have set an additional aviation first – we think he was the first president to fly on-board a dirigible airship (a.k.a. a blimp or zeppelin).
During World War I, serving as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, FDR traveled to Europe to inspect US Navy facilities. Several weeks into his trip, on August 17th, 1918 he visited a base in Paimboeuf, Western France where he was offered a ride aboard a French-built airship.
This photo shows FDR aboard the deck of the “dirigible balloon” that FDR was allowed to steer as well. In his notes he described it as a distinctly curious sensation that gave him the “feeling of drifting at the mercy of the wind.”
Do you know of an occasion in which a sitting, former, or future president traveled aboard such an aircraft before 1918?
-From the FDR Library
Today marks the 104th statehood anniversary of Oklahoma. On June 16, 1906 Congress passed HR 12707, which enabled the people of the Indian and Oklahoma Territories to form a state constitution and state government and to be admitted into the Union on equal footing with the existing states. Included in the bill file for HR 12707 is the pamphlet pictured above. It was submitted as evidence that the people in the territories were primed for statehood.
On September 17, 1907 the people of the Indian and Oklahoma Territories voted favorably on statehood. The vote was certified and delivered to the President Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt issued Presidential Proclamation 780 admitting Oklahoma as the forty-sixth state on November 16.
To find out more about Oklahoma Statehood records at the Center for Legislative Archives, visit our featured article on Oklahoma Statehood.
HR 12707, HR 59A-D28, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives
Cover of pamphlet, 1906, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives