Did you know that FDR named his beloved Scottish terrier after a distant Scottish ancestor? Upon receiving the pet as a gift in 1940, Roosevelt changed the dog’s name from “Big Boy” to “Murray the Outlaw of Falahill” — “Fala” for short — in homage to the famous John Murray of Falahill.
Fala became Roosevelt’s constant companion and the most famous dog in America.
With both the Scottish Independence Referendum and The Roosevelts documentary in the news this week, here’s a little piece of Rooseveltian-Scottish trivia, courtesy of our colleagues at the fdrlibrary.
What are you following this week, The Roosevelts, or the referendum?
Franklin and Eleanor’s Marriage Certificate, March 17, 1905
Franklin asked his former Groton School headmaster, Rev. Endicott Peabody, to officiate at the wedding, saying “it would not be the same without you.” At the conclusion of the Episcopal ceremony, the official marriage certificate was signed. President Theodore Roosevelt and First Lady Edith Kermit Roosevelt signed as the witnesses.
Curious about Presidential History? Ask a Curator!
Do you have questions about Presidential history and artifacts? Tomorrow, the Presidential Libraries of the National Archives will be answering questions live for #AskaCurator Day on Twitter.
Over 600 museums from 40 countries will be participating, including our very own experts on Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Jimmy Carter. You can also ask curators at the National Archives Exhibits in Washington, D.C.
Museum Objects from the Presidential Libraries:
Rocking Chair used by John F. Kennedy in the Oval Office; RCA Radio Microphone used by FDR to deliver some of his Fireside Chats from the White House; HMS Resolute Desk replica at the JFK Library; Portrait by Octavio Ocampo presented to President Carter on the occasion of a state dinner honoring José López Portillo, President of Mexico, February 1979; 1957 Inaugural gown of Mamie Eisenhower; WWII POW Diary at the Truman Library;1952 Eisenhower campaign hat.
Welcome to Roosevelt Week! In conjunction with our Board Vice President Ken Burns’s new documentary series "The Roosevelts: An Intimate History," this week we will be featuring related records from the holdings of the usnatarchives and the fdrlibrary.
Theodore Roosevelt and the regiment under his command, the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry, known as the “Rough Riders,” became heroes after their victory at the Battle of San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War. Shortly after the war ended, Roosevelt was elected as Governor of New York, thanks in large part to his wartime exploits, beginning his long and storied career in high-profile politics.
Discover more about Teddy, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt in “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History,” premiering tonight on pbstv at 8pm EST.
Today in history, September 16, 1940, FDR signed the Selective Training and Service Act. It authorized the first peacetime military draft in American history.
Selective Service Signing Pen
“We must be the great arsenal of democracy. For us this is an emergency as serious as war itself. We must apply ourselves to our task with the same resolution, the same sense of urgency, the same spirit of patriotism and sacrifice as we would show were we at war.”
- Franklin Roosevelt, Fireside Chat, December 29, 1940
In the spring of 1940 German armies swept across Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, and Belgium. In June, France collapsed. Suddenly, Britain stood alone. FDR responded by increasing military spending and supporting a peacetime draft.
FDR used this pen to sign the Selective Training and Service Act on September 16, 1940. It authorized the first peacetime military draft in American history. The photo, taken on October 29, 1940, depicts the first drawing of the Selective Service.
August 25, 1921: FDR is Diagnosed with Polio
On this day in 1921, Dr. Robert Lovett diagnosed 39-year-old Franklin Roosevelt with infantile paralysis, more commonly known as polio. The diagnosis came a few weeks after a fall into icy waters that left him unable to feel parts of his body and hold his own weight.
Although there was no cure for polio at the time, FDR participated in rehabilitation classes and swimming exercises to regain his strength before re-entering politics.
Photo: President Roosevelt in his wheelchair on the porch at Top Cottage in Hyde Park, NY with his dog, Fala, and Ruthie Bie, granddaughter of the cottage’s caretaker. February 1941. Wikimedia Commons.
On August 14, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act.
Later that day, the Washington Post proclaimed that the Social Security Act was the “New Deal’s Most Important Act…Its importance cannot be exaggerated …because this legislation eventually will affect the lives of every man, woman, and child in the country.”
This poster was distributed from November 1936- July 1937 during the initial issuance of Social Security numbers through U.S. post offices and with the help of labor unions.
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.
Day 76: FDR Visits Alaska
On August 3, 1944 FDR arrived in Alaska for a six day inspection and fishing trip. While in Alaska FDR made stops at Adak, Kodiak, and Auke Bay. This flag of the President of the United States was used during FDR's trip to the Hawaiian Islands and Alaska in July-August 1944. It was made by the Signal Force of the heavy cruiser U.S.S. Baltimore.
This trip made news during the presidential campaign of 1944, when it was alleged that Fala was left behind in the Aleutian Islands and FDR sent a Navy destroyer back to retrieve him. In a speech to the Teamsters Union on September 23, 1944 FDR responded to the claims saying:
These Republican leaders have not been content with attacks on me, or my wife, or on my sons. No, not content with that, they now include my little dog, Fala. Well, of course, I don’t resent attacks, and my family doesn’t resent attacks, but Fala does resent them. You know, Fala is Scotch, and being a Scottie, as soon as he learned that the Republican fiction writers in Congress and out had concocted a story that I had left him behind on the Aleutian Islands and had sent a destroyer back to find him— at a cost to the taxpayers of two or three, or eight or twenty million dollars- his Scotch soul was furious. He has not been the same dog since. I am accustomed to hearing malicious falsehoods about myself—such as that old, worm-eaten chestnut that I have represented myself as indispensable. But I think I have a right to resent, to object to libelous statements about my dog.
Day 69: FDR Rides a Dirigible, 1918
Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first sitting president to ride in an airplane, an occasion marked by a very long overseas flight to attend the 1943 Casablanca conference. FDR’s distant cousin, Theodore, was the first president ever to fly, a trip that took place back in 1910 shortly after he had left the presidency.
FDR may have set an additional aviation first – we think he may have been the first president to fly on-board a dirigible airship (also known as 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.
Considered too vulnerable for use on the front, airships were primarily used for scouting missions and mine clearance throughout Western Europe during the war. The use of airships later declined as airplane technology advanced and after several high profile accidents. FDR was serving his second term as president when the infamous Hindenburg crashed in New Jersey in 1937.
FDR writes about the flying experience in his log of the trip saying:
I tried my hand at running the lateral stearing[sic] gear and also the elevating and depressing gear. The sensation is distinctly curious, less noise than an areo.[sic] and far more feeling of drifting at the mercy of the wind.