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Posts Tagged ‘Franklin D. Roosevelt’

Franklin D. Roosevelt llegó a la Casa Blanca en momentos en que los Estados Unidos vivían una de las peores crisis de su historia.  En el invierno de 1932, los efectos de la  crisis habían superado la capacidad de las instituciones públicas de ayuda. El hambre amenazaba no sólo a la población urbana, sino también rural. En la ciudad de Nueva York se reportaron 95 muertes por inanición. El país parecía avocado a la anarquía, la revolución, la destrucción. Ante un clima de desesperanza general Roosevelt inició su mandato buscando inyectar confianza al pueblo estadounidense. Roosevelt comenzó esta campaña en su discurso inaugural pidiéndole a sus conciudadanos que sólo le tuvieran miedo al miedo mismo. Al día siguiente de su juramentación, Roosevelt emitió una proclama cerrando todos los bancos del país por cuatro días. Durante la crisis económica iniciada en 1929, la quiebra de bancos había minado la confianza de los norteamericanos, pues sólo en 1931 cerraron 2,000 instituciones bancarias.  El Presidente también convocó al Congreso a una sesión especial para que discutiera, entre otras cosas, la aprobación de una ley bancaria de emergencia. De acuerdo con esta ley, los bancos serían intervenidos por el gobierno federal y sólo se le permitiría abrir a aquellos que demostrasen solvencia. Los que no, recibirían ayuda del gobierno federal. Presionado por las circunstancias, el Congreso aprobó la ley rápidamente. La ley ayudó a disipar el pánico, pues tres cuartas partes de los bancos volvieron abrir sus puertas en los tres días siguientes avalados por el gobierno federal. Los ciudadanos recobraron así  la confianza  y  comenzaron a depositar su dinero  nuevamente en los bancos, poniendo fin a la crisis bancaria. Prueba de ello es que en 1934 sólo cerraron 61 bancos.

El 12 de marzo de 1933, una semana después de asumir la presidencia, Roosevelt emitió por radio su primera “charla hogareña” (fireside chat). En ésta, como en los cientos que seguirían semanalmente, el Presidente se dirigió a los estadounidenses de forma directa  para darles a conocer los pasos que su gobierno estaba tomando para la enfrentar las crisis. Las charlas radiales de Roosevelt se convirtieron en un excelente instrumento para mantener una comunicación directa con el pueblo, y darles ánimo y esperanza.  Su objetivo era claro: que el pueblo estadounidense  recuperara la confianza  en el gobierno y en sí mismo.

Comparto con mis lectores esta nota escrita por William A. Harris sudirector de la Biblioteca Presidencial Franklin D. Roosevelt, conmemorando 88 años de esa histórica primera fireside chat de Roosevelt. Esta incluye un archivo de voz en donde Roosevelt aborda uno de los principales problemas que enfrentaba Estados Unidos en marzo de 1933: la crisis bancaria.

Norberto Barreto Velázquez

Lima, 11 de marzo de 2021


Celebrating the First Fireside Chat

William A. Harris, Deputy Director

FDR Library March 19, 2021

With water at the ready and microphones arrayed before him, the President prepares for a radio address, 1934. (FDR Library, 47-96 1783)

This week marks the 88th anniversary of FDR’s first “Fireside Chat.” Though not identified as such on March 12, 1933, the President’s address to the nation marked a key moment in his new Administration. He would speak directly to the American people over the airwaves about the banking crisis. And he would come to them not in the formal setting of an inauguration or a conference, but in a more personal manner. He would join them by radio in their homes, after dinner, and speak frankly, in plain terms, about the crisis and and his Administration’s efforts to stabilize the financial system and move forward.

FDR had already begun to fashion his radio style through statewide addresses to the citizens of New York during his gubernatorial years, 1932. (FDR Library, 09-1712M)

Not a distant or aloof leader speaking down to his subjects, FDR opened his remarks with “my friends,” and proceeded to engage listeners on terms that made sense to them. Those who might normally be tuning into programs such as the Manhattan Symphony Orchestra or D.W. Griffith’s Hollywood sat rapt before their sets as the President spoke with them, not at them. That these talks became known as “Fireside Chats” is easy to understand in listening to the March 12th broadcast. Here was a President in complete command of the medium–engaging, stalwart, respectful, and altogether confident that his hosts, the American people, who’d invited him into their homes, would join him in tackling the issues at hand.

FDR’s remarks to the American people on the banking crisis, his first “Fireside Chat,” March 12, 1933. (FDR Library, 65-9:2(1-2) [dig]. RLxA-4)

The President’s radio remarks had been publicized beforehand in newspapers and on radio. Carried by all major networks at the time (NBC Red, NBC Blue, and CBS), he spoke from the White House promptly at 10:00 Eastern Time. The White House had yet to organize the radio and newsreel setups with the efficiency that would come later through experience, but the broadcast proved a success, judging from coverage in the press the following day and from mail and telegrams that poured into the White House.

In this 1930s photograph, the complexities of broadcasting live from the White House are readily evident. Announcers and technicians crowd along the wall in the Diplomatic Reception Room before a “Fireside Chat.” (Photo courtesy of Library of Congress, Harris and Ewing Collection)

Don’t forget the newsreels. Usually after the live radio broadcast, the President filmed a portion of his remarks for newsreel cameras. This 1930s view of the opposite side of the room from the previous photo evidences how crowded the room would get with equipment and personnel. (Photo courtesy of Library of Congress, Harris and Ewing Collection)

The address had an immediate impact in terms of instilling confidence in the banking system and the Administration’s executive and legislative program. Over the next twelve years, FDR would continue to go directly to the American people by radio, forging a personal relationship with everyday Americans unlike any other President before. He was a trailblazer in harnessing the power of technology and media to achieve his goals, and the impacts of his visionary approach are still felt today.

FDR used this RCA model 4-A-1 carbon condenser microphone, now in the Library’s collection, to deliver some of his Fireside Chats from the White House during the 1930s. (FDR Library, 5-7-MO-1997-10)Enter a caption

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El asalto al Capitolio por partidarios del Presidente Trump el 6 de enero de 2021 ha provocado infinidad de comentarios. Muchos lo han visto como un evento excepcional que no retrata ni refleja a los Estados Unidos.  Nada más alejado de la realidad.  En este artículo publicado por el diario La vanguardia, el escritor Francisco Martínez Hoyos  examina casos previos de violencia política y de intentonas golpistas.

Captura de pantalla 2021-01-14 a la(s) 16.36.23

De Newburgh a los Proud Boys: el golpismo antes de Trump

FRANCISCO MARTÍNEZ HOYOS

El mundo entero presenció los hechos con más o menos incredulidad. En Estados Unidos, la democracia más antigua de cuantas existen en el planeta, una horda de partidarios del presidente Trump irrumpía en el Capitolio mientras el Congreso ratificaba la victoria electoral de Joe Biden. Tras los incidentes planea la inquietante sombra del golpismo. Por sorprendente que parezca al tratarse de una república como la norteamericana, con una arraigada tradición de libertades, no es la primera vez que se lanza allí una amenaza contra el poder emanado del pueblo.

Cuando se produjo el primer peligro para la república, la conspiración de Newburgh, aún no había terminado la guerra de Independencia contra los británicos. En marzo de 1783, las tropas del ejército patriota estaban descontentas porque llevaban meses sin cobrar y no habían recibido de las pensiones vitalicias prometidas, que consistían en la mitad de la paga. Se difundió entonces una carta anónima que proponía resolver el problema con un acto contra el Congreso que no llegaba especificarse.

Ante la gravedad, el general Washington intervino de inmediato. En un emotivo discurso, emplazó a sus oficiales a mantenerse fieles al poder legislativo. Todo quedó en un susto cuando el Congreso satisfizo algunos atrasos a los soldados y les ofreció, en lugar de la proyectada pensión, cinco años de paga completa.

La estabilidad política norteamericana volvió a verse amenazada a principios del siglo XIX. Esta vez, el responsable fue un antiguo héroe de la guerra de la Independencia, Aaron Burr, protagonista de una carrera política tan polémica como turbulenta. Tras ocupar la vicepresidencia en el gabinete de Thomas Jefferson, entre 1801 y 1805, intervino en un plan para crear un nuevo estado con territorios mexicanos que serían arrebatos a España. Tal vez, esta hipotética nación también estaría integrada por territorios del Oeste de Estados Unidos, que se desgajarían de la Unión.

Retrato de Aaron Burr, por John Vanderlyn

Retrato de Aaron Burr, por John Vanderlyn.  Dominio público

¿Intentó, además, derrocar por la violencia al gobierno de Washington? Él aseguró que no, pero todo el asunto era lo bastante turbio como para que nada se pudiera dar por seguro. Uno de sus amigos y cómplices, el general James Wilkinson, que resultó ser un espía al servicio de los españoles, acabó por denunciar sus actividades. Burr sería juzgado por traición, aunque declarado inocente. Desde entonces, su controvertida figura ha suscitado un amplio debate.

A nivel estatal

No todo el golpismo se encaminaba a un cambio de poder en el conjunto del país. También se dieron intentonas en algunos los estados de la Unión, como Arkansas. Fue allí donde Joseph Brooks perdió las elecciones para gobernador en 1872. Al estar convencido de que su derrota no había sido justa, dos años después decidió alzarse en armas contra su antiguo rival, el también republicano Elisha Baxter. Contaba con el apoyo de una milicia de más de 600 hombres frente los 2.000 que respaldaban a Baxter.

La pugna violenta entre los dos líderes obligó al ejército federal a interponerse entre sus respectivos partidarios. Brooks acabó destituido, pero el presidente Grant le concedió un cargo en la administración de Correos de Little Rock.

Fue también en 1874 cuando la Liga Blanca, una organización paramilitar de antiguos confederados, se rebeló contra el gobierno de Luisiana en nombre del supremacismo blanco. Para sus partidarios, dar más oportunidades a la población negra significaba ejercer una tiranía. Ante los disturbios, las tropas federales tuvieron que intervenir y obligar a los rebeldes a retirarse.

Contra Roosevelt

Casi sesenta años después, en 1933, tuvo lugar un oscuro episodio, el Business Plot. Un prestigioso general retirado, Smedley Butler, afirmó que un grupo de capitalistas y banqueros le había tanteado para que encabezara un golpe de Estado fascista contra Roosevelt.

En aquellos momentos, en plena Gran Depresión, las gentes adineradas veían con suspicacia al presidente. Su política reformista, basada en la intervención del poder público sobre la economía, le había convertido en sospechoso de socialismo o comunismo. Lo cierto es que Roosevelt se proponía solucionar los problemas del capitalismo para que el sistema funcionara otra vez.

Smedley Butler con uniforme en una imagen sin datar

Smedley Butler con uniforme en una imagen sin datar
 Dominio público

Se suponía que Butler debía derrocar al gobierno al frente de una organización de veteranos de la Primera Guerra Mundial. En esos momentos, el descontento cundía entre los antiguos soldados. Un año antes, un movimiento de protesta había reclamado en Washington el pago de los bonos prometidos por el Congreso. El general MacArthur, futuro héroe en la lucha contra los japoneses, reprimió sin contemplaciones a los manifestantes.

Según Butler, los conjurados buscaban a un hombre fuerte al servicio de Wall Street. Partidario convencido de la democracia, el antiguo militar se negó en redondo a proporcionarles cualquier tipo de apoyo. Sin embargo, las personas a las que implicó negaron su intervención y finalmente no pasó nada. La prensa restó importancia al asunto, como si todo hubiera sido una fantasía.

En 1958, el historiador Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. señaló que pudo existir un plan sobre el papel sin que se diera ningún intento de llevarlo a cabo. Otros autores han concedido mayor relevancia a la conspiración. En 2007, Scott Horton, abogado conocido por su labor a favor de los derechos humanos, afirmó que entre los cómplices del Business Plot se hallaba Prescott Bush. Este banquero fue el padre del presidente George H. W. Bush y el abuelo de George W. Bush. Su implicación, a día de hoy, es un tema controvertido.

La intentona fracasó, pero fue más seria de lo que muchos quisieron admitir. Para cuestionarla se argumentó que era inverosímil que un grupo de extremistas de derechas se pusiera en contacto con un hombre como Butler, de conocido antifascismo. Pero para Roberto Muñoz Bolaños precisamente su fama de progresista lo convertía en una figura interesante para los artífices del plan. Se trataba, según este historiador, de “crear una situación de inestabilidad, que permitiera un cambio político radical y un giro autoritario en el sistema político”.

Nikita Kruschev y John Kennedy en un encuentro de 1961.

Nikita Kruschev y John Kennedy en un encuentro de 1961.

La mayoría de militares estadounidenses se han distinguido por su obediencia a las autoridades civiles, pero eso no significa que estén desprovistos de influencia. En 1961, al abandonar la presidencia, Eisenhower hizo un conocido discurso en el que advirtió a sus compatriotas contra los peligros del “complejo militar-industrial”, una alianza entre los mandos del Ejército y los fabricantes de armas. Unos y otros habían alcanzado el suficiente poder como para inmiscuirse en las decisiones de los políticos elegidos por el pueblo.

Este peligro se hizo patente durante la crisis de los misiles, en la que Estados Unidos y la Unión Soviética estuvieron al borde de una guerra nuclear. Miembros de la cúpula militar presionaron para que el presidente Kennedy respondiera a Moscú con la máxima contundencia por la instalación en Cuba de armamento atómico. Si eso significaba el uso del arsenal nuclear, que así fuera.

En el momento de mayor tensión, Kennedy avisó a Jruschov, el mandatario ruso, de que el Pentágono podía patrocinar un golpe en su contra si no se encontraba una salida a la pugna entre ambos países.

Donald Trump ha alentado actitudes golpistas al anunciar que no estaba dispuesto a acatar el resultado de las elecciones de noviembre. Poca duda hay de que su política populista ha ahondado en Estados Unidos una fractura social con incalculables consecuencias. ¿Qué salida cabe? El asalto al Congreso nos hace recordar una conocida cita de Jefferson, acerca de los deberes de todos los demócratas: “El precio de la libertad es la eterna vigilancia”.

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eleonor

En las últimas semanas he estado disfrutando del blog Presidential de la periodista del Washington Post Lilliam Cunningham. Dos capítulos son especialmente dignos de mención.  El primero de ellos es  dedicado a la figura de Franklin D. Roossevelt. FDR es, sin lugar a dudas, uno de los más importantes presidentes en la historia de Estados Unidos. Su liderato durante la gran depresión y la segunda guerra mundial marcó a la nación estadounidense. Cunningham aborda la figura de FDR desde la perspectiva de la primera dama, Eleonor Roosevelt. El resultado es un excelente  retrato de una mujer realmente excepcional y de su relación con FDR.

El segundo capítulo enfoca el presidente más controversial de la historia estadounidense: Richard M. Nixon. Quien debiera ser recordado por sus grandes logros diplomáticos,   es perseguido  por su papel en el escándalo de Watergate y su renuncia a la presidencia. Para analizar a Nixon, Cunningham recurre a un ícono del periodismo estadounidense, Bob Woodward. Uno de los principales actores del drama que llevó a Nixon fuera de la Casa Blanca, Woodward analiza de forma magistral el camino de odio y desconfianza que llevó a Nixon a su ruina.

Aquellos interesados en la historia política estadounidense encontrarán en este blog una fuente valiosa y de gran calidad.

Norberto Barreto Velázquez

Lima, 20 de septiembre de 2016

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The Presidential Juggler: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Rhetorical Flexibility, and Autofabrication

“You know I am a juggler, and I never let my right hand know what my left hand does. I may have one policy for Europe and one diametrically opposite for North and South America. I may be entirely inconsistent, and furthermore I am perfectly willing to mislead and tell untruths if it will help win the war.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945, US president 1933-1945) made the above comment to one of his cabinet members on May 15, 1942. Especially the first sentence has often been quoted since, almost to the point of becoming one of the best-known FDR epigrams along with “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”, and “This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny”. Although FDR said this in a private setting, it has by now – 70 years after his death – become an oft-quoted maxim, e.g. in Warren Kimball’s monograph The Juggler: Franklin Roosevelt as Wartime Statesman (1991). Indeed, FDR’s self-declared deviousness at juggling the images and impressions he projected has itself become a stock element of his long-standing public image.  That this is largely remembered as a positive attribute is exemplified in Hyde Park on Hudson (2012), in which FDR (Bill Murray) is portrayed as a sly genius, covertly playing the media and everybody else.

“I am a juggler, and I never let my right hand know what my left hand does,” reminds of the liar paradox (“This sentence is false.”) because Roosevelt is actually compellingly honest about his own dissimulation. “You know” in the full quotation enhances this effect, because it makes the addressee complicit in the performance of enchanting deception.

The New York Times reports Franklin D. Roosevelt's death (New York Times, 13 April 1945)

One of FDR’s key skills was his ability to exude a sense of authenticity. This authenticity was in the first place a rhetorical performance, but for instance his Fireside Chats continue to be experienced as frank and intimate. In the days after they were broadcast the White House would receive unprecedented deluges of letters from Americans who felt personally compelled to continue the conversation with the President.  However, within the display of rhetorical skill and seeming authenticity and frankness, there is a strong message in the “juggler” quote: Roosevelt is “perfectly willing to mislead and tell untruths” about his role in World War II. This is something he could not have said a year earlier, before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, when the United States were not officially engaged yet, and the public opinion still largely opposed intervention in the war overseas. Because it was well-known that the president, unlike most Americans, was keen to intervene in the European war to help Great Britain resist Nazi-Germany, saying that he would lie about the war would have been political suicide.

Admitting to deviousness would have damaged him, especially as a president who had just, unprecedentedly, been re-elected for a third term, a move that was frowned upon widely, by Americans traditionally wary of the corrupting effects of power. But in 1942, when there was a clear and external opponent to deceive, FDR could make such a statement and come across as transparent on the one hand, and immeasurably powerful on the other (immeasurable, because “I never let my right hand know what my left hand does”). This literal impossibility to measure his power expanded its magnitude to the immeasurably vast. Around the same time Roosevelt made the juggler remark, his administration, under Roosevelt’s responsibility and at his discretion, was incarcerating over 120,000 Japanese Americans, without any indication of potential disloyalty to the US.

This double act is characteristic for FDR – he on the one hand publicly and with great success, even into the future, positioned himself as a fascinating and a sympathetic icon, and at the same time decisively exerted the executive power vested in the president. Indeed, through saying he is a juggler (i.e. happy to beguile), he presented himself as frank and charming. He explicitly covered his actions as commander in chief (which in the case of the Japanese internment would later be qualified as war crimes) by a verbal self-presentation as informal and frank. The similarity with his first name is coincidental, although it is a coincidence he was apt to use to his advantage.

I call this double act – obscuring the less comfortable elements of wielding power through the self-presentation as an attractive public icon – autofabrication. Autofabrication is a coinage to complement Stephen Greenblatt’s celebrated term self-fashioning. In Renaissance Self-fashioning Greenblatt discusses the production of selves of exemplary renaissance authors from More to Shakespeare, arguing that they are both products of a particular culture with particular shaping demands on the individual, and also individuals reflecting on those cultural codes through their writing. Greenblatt argues that during and since the sixteenth century ideas of the self as mobile, and the belief that selves can be fashioned by internal and external factors, have acquired immense momentum in the western world. The success of the term, also for fruitful analysis of individuals who lived long after the 16th century, suggests he is right.

However, to understand larger-than-life political leaders such as Roosevelt it is not enough to regard them as products of a culture who simultaneously contribute to the development of their culture. Especially in a democratic setting, a leader like FDR is also a public icon, presumably representing the majority of the electorate – however impossible it is for one individual to actually represent millions of people. At the same time he was commander in chief, the formal embodiment of executive power. Especially in the context of war, this executive power is a life-and-death matter, a harsh fact that often needs to be obscured, for a democratic leader to survive politically. This conscious production of a positive public image, coupled with the necessary elision of visible power-wielding are the constitutive elements of autofabrication, complementary in the case of political leaders to self-fashioning.

Presenting oneself as an attractive icon for a majority of the electorate is a tour-de-force in itself. One of the key things Roosevelt did to pull this off, was to position himself as an extremely malleable vessel, which could easily be adopted as part of a range of narratives. Many of his best remembered speeches have an attractive emptiness. They are rhetorically strong, and easy to identify with, but at the same time non-committal: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”, “This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny”, and even the privately uttered “I am a juggler, and I never let my right hand know what my left hand does”, all have the quality of a soundbite. The latter only became well-known later, but all three are equally easy to incorporate in basic narratives of the political right wing as well as the left. And FDR treated both his political “right hand” and his “left hand” as metaphorical members of his iconic body, as well as like opponents.

And, however controversial FDR was and remains, both sides of the political spectrum continued this habit of adopting and adapting FDR long after his death. Reagan famously claimed to have voted for Roosevelt each time he ran, suggesting he lost touch with the Democratic Party only later (“I didn’t desert my party. It deserted me.” – quoted in William Leuchtenburg, In the Shadow of FDR, 212). Thus, the public image FDR laid the foundations of, at once obscured his most assertive use of executive power and made him, like a real juggler, seem so flexible and transparent that he can still be called upon to perform in almost any context or narrative. That, seventy years beyond the man’s death, the FDR icon remains so nimble, is a testament both to his rhetorical artfulness and the conceptual flexibility of his autofabrication.

Sara Polak (Leiden University, the Netherlands) is currently completing her doctoral dissertation on Franklin D. Roosevelt as a Cultural Icon in American Memory. She is interested in how cultural construction (of history, memory, disability, celebrity, etc.) is shaped by and shapes individual and collective identities and ideologies. She blogs about her PhD project and adjacent topics at http://www.sarapolak.nl.

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 The American Internment Camp You Never Heard of

by Jan Jarboe Russell

HNN January 20, 2015

 

The general history of America’s internment of its own citizens during World War II has long been focused on the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese, 62 percent of them American-born, who were forcibly evacuated from the Pacific coast after the bombings during World War II.

But what I learned during my five years of research for the book, The Train To Crystal City, is that that Executive Order 9066, which ordered the internment of Japanese, also allowed the Roosevelt administration to intern German and Italian immigrants and their American-born children.

About 6,000 Japanese, German, and Italians and their children were housed in a secret internment camp in Crystal City, Texas, a small desert town at the southern tip of Texas, about 35 miles from the Mexican border.

The history of the camp in Crystal City exposes a corner of American history that few knew existed. The camp opened in 1942 with the official purpose to reunite immigrant fathers who’d been arrested by the FBI as “enemy aliens” with their wives and children. It became the only interment camp in the U.S. that held entire families and multiple nationalities.

Earl Harrison, Roosevelt’s new commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, visited the small town of Crystal City, Texas on November 6, 1942, arriving by train from his home in Philadelphia. He walked around a 240-acre site that was previously used as a migrant worker camp for Mexican laborers. From Harrison’s point of view, the isolated location of the camp, far from areas considered vital to the war effort, was positive. It was as close to Siberia as we had in America – which made it an unlikely target for sabotage and protected its secrecy.

Week after week, month after month, from 1942 to 1948, trains with window shards pulled shut, carried civilians from all over the world across miles of flat, empty plains to the small desert town at the southern tip of Texas. Roosevelt not only arrested German, Japanese and Italians on American soil, but orchestrated the removal of 4,058 Germans, 2,264 Japanese and 288 Italians from thirteen Latin American countries – and locked many of them up in Crystal City.

A little known fact, documented by the historian Max Paul Friedman in his book, Nazis and Good Neighbors, is that 81 of those taken from Latin America were Jews who had fled persecution in Nazi Germany. One Jewish family – the Jacobis from Columbia – was interned in Crystal City.

But Crystal City had other secrets. It was the center of Roosevelt’s prisoner exchange program. On September 1, 1939, the day before Germany invaded Poland, Roosevelt created a division within the Department of State – the Special War Problems Division – to create a pool of Japanese and German “enemy aliens” – to be used as hostages in exchange when the U.S. inevitably joined the war.

Over the course of the war, thousands of prisoners in Crystal City, including their American-born children, were exchanged for ostensibly more important Americans – diplomats, businessmen, soldiers, physicians, and missionaries – behind enemy lines in Japan and Germany. The first of four exchanges in Crystal City took place in June 1942 and the second on September 2, 1943. During those exchanges, more than 2,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans were traded for Americans caught in Japan. In February 1944, 634 German immigrants and their children, were sent from Crystal City into Germany. On January 2, 1945, 428 more in Crystal City were traded into war.

Daily life in Crystal City was highly regimented. Every morning the American flag was raised in ceremony. As the camp awakened, sleepy night guards relinquished their posts to daytime guards. Censors, who were fluent in German and Japanese, read the incoming mail of internees and cut out portions that related in any way to the war effort. Internees were allowed to write only two letters and one postcard per week. These, too, were censored. Comic books were confiscated for fear that they contained coded messages. Officials kept a dossier on each internee. A small police force patrolled the camp. At the front gate, vehicles of visitors were searched, both upon entry and exit.

The roll calls seemed endless. Three times a day, a whistle blew in the camp, and everyone had to run back to their cottages and huts, form lines, show their faces and stand still for the count. In the presence of armed guards, absences were noted. Prisoners met visitors – friends or relatives – in a hut under the watchful eyes of surveillance officers. As for escape, everyone knew the penalty was death. In fact, for the duration of the camp’s history no one dared risk it.

Despite the harsh conditions, the children in the camp, most of them born in America, were humanely treated. The camp had three schools: the American school, where the teachers were certified by the Texas board of education, the Japanese school, taught by Japanese fathers and mothers, and the German school, taught by Germans. American-born teenagers were often in conflict with their foreign-born parents over issues of loyalty.

One anecdote tells the story. Shortly after the camp was opened, Earl Harrison – the head of the INS – visited the camp. During a tour given by Joseph O’Rourke, the officer in charge, Harrison and O’Rourke encountered a group of children. O’Rourke asked what they were doing. “Playing war,” a young boy said.

“Okay,” said O’Rourke. “But I hope nobody gets killed.” He and Harrison continued their tour.

On the way back, the two men stopped at the same spot and found the children seated on the ground, looking glum.

“What happened to the war?” O’Rourke asked.

“It ended,” they explained. “Nobody wanted to be the enemy. We all wanted to be the Americans.”

The fundamental questions of citizenship – the status of aliens, indeed the definition of who is and who is not an American – are perennial. The travesty in Crystal City was that given the high stakes during World War II and the anti-immigrant sentiment at the time, the cost to civil liberties was high.

© 2015 Jan Jarboe Russell, author of The Train to Crystal City: FDR’s Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America’s Only Family Internment Camp During World Wa

Jan Jarboe Russell, the author of “The Train to Crystal City: FDR’s Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America’s Only Family Internment Camp During World War II,” is a former Nieman Fellow, a contributing editor for Texas Monthly, and has written for the San Antonio Express-News, the New York Times, Slate, and other magazines. She is the author of “Lady Bird: A Biography of Mrs. Johnson” and has also compiled and edited “They Lived to Tell the Tale.” She lives in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband, Dr. Lewis F. Russell, Jr. For more information please visit her website, and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter.

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Even George Washington couldn’t get along with the Senate
By Jonathan Zimmerman

Los Angeles Time November 8, 2014

'Senators Only'

A sign for a private area for ‘Senators only’ is seen inside the Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images)

Will President Obama’s relations with the Senate change, now that Democrats have lost control of it? Probably not. And that’s because he didn’t have much of a relationship with it in the first place.

Neither did most of our previous presidents, even when the Senate was in their own party’s hands. Tension between the chief executive and the upper body of Congress is baked into our national DNA. And elections don’t seem to affect it all that much.
Tension between the chief executive and the upper body of Congress is baked into our national DNA. –

Before the nation’s first president took office, the Senate voted to bestow upon George Washington the title of “His Majesty, the President of the United States of America, and the Protector of the Same.” But Washington’s relationship with the Senate cooled just a few months later, when he visited the body to request its approval of a commission to negotiate land treaties with Native Americans.

Senators asked for time to consider the proposal, but Washington wanted their consent on the spot. He departed in a huff, leaving bad feelings on both sides. “I cannot be mistaken,” one senator wrote in his journal. “The President wishes to tread on the necks of the Senate.”
lRelated Can Obama’s presidency be saved.

The new Constitution gave the Senate power to approve federal appointments, not just treaties. When the Senate rejected his nominee for a naval post in Georgia, Washington personally went to the body to ask why. One senator replied that its deliberations were secret, and they were none of the president’s business anyhow. After that, Washington resolved never to visit the Senate again.

Similar acrimony arose between 19th century presidents and the Senate, even when the president (like our current chief executive) had served in the body himself. After nine-year Senate veteran John Tyler became the country’s first unelected president, replacing the deceased William Henry Harrison, one senator proposed that Tyler be addressed as “The Vice President, on whom, by the death of the late President, the powers and duties of the office of President have devolved.” The Senate went on to reject four of Tyler’s Cabinet nominees and four of his appointments to the Supreme Court.

Nor did it matter that Tyler’s own party, the Whigs, controlled the Senate. Two decades later, as the Civil War raged, not a single member of the GOP-dominated Senate supported Abraham Lincoln’s 1864 reelection bid. Lincoln was locked in a battle over postwar Reconstruction with his fellow Republicans, many of whom believed that his assassination would pave their way to victory. “By the gods,” GOP Sen. Ben Wade told Lincoln’s vice president, Andrew Johnson, after he assumed the presidency, “there will be no trouble now in running the government!”

But there was, of course, into the next century and beyond. Upon ascending to the White House in 1901, Theodore Roosevelt clashed with his GOP Senate colleagues over his plans for banking regulation, the construction of the Panama Canal and more. Privately, Roosevelt called one Republican senator “a well-meaning, pin-headed, anarchistic crank, of hirsute and slab-sided aspect.” As one of Roosevelt’s friends wrote, the president had “as much respect for the Senate as a dog has for a marriage license.” And the Senate returned the feelings, of course.

Woodrow Wilson got his taste of the Senate’s wrath after World War I, when it rejected his plea to join the League of Nations. “The senators of the United States have no use for their heads,” a bitter Wilson declared, “except to serve as a knot to keep their bodies from unraveling.”

And so it continued, from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s tangle with the Senate over his court-packing bill through Richard Nixon’s battle over White House tapes and Bill Clinton’s impeachment. During FDR’s failed bid to add justices to the Supreme Court, one of his Democratic foes in the Senate said the president was his own worst enemy. “Not as long as I am alive,” another Democratic senator quipped.

Unlike FDR, Obama will now have to deal with a GOP-led Senate. But it’s hard to imagine that Obama’s relationship with the body could get any chillier than it was when his party controlled it. Twelve Democratic senators were invited to the White House on St. Patrick’s Day, and exactly one showed up.

From the very start, the Senate has tried to show up the president — and vice versa. And that’s unlikely to change, no matter which party is in charge.

Jonathan Zimmerman is a professor of history and education at New York University. He is the author of the forthcoming “Too Hot to Handle: A Global History of Sex Education.

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Rare Footage of FDR at NIH

Rebecca C. Warlow

Circulating Now  September 10, 2014

On October 31, 1940, just days before President Franklin Delano Roosevelt would be elected to an unprecedented third term as President of the United States, he traveled to Bethesda to dedicate the National Cancer Institute and the new campus of what was then the National Institute of Health (NIH), before it would eventually become known in plural form—National Institutes of Health—as multiple units were established over subsequent years.

President Roosevelt stands at a podium surrounded by american flags at the top of the steps of a colonial brick building.

That late October afternoon, Roosevelt stood on the steps of the new main NIH building, ready to address a crowd of 3,000 people. Still relevant today, in a variety of contexts, are the subjects he discussed: the need for preparedness in light of war and for research into deadly diseases, recent improvements in public health and health care, and hope that the research conducted at NIH would lead to new cures for and even the prevention of disease.

Today, the National Library of Medicine is making the film of Roosevelt’s speech publicly available for the first time, nearly 74 years after the President made his speech. Sound recordings, transcripts, andphotographs of this event have been available publicly for many years. Our research suggests, however, that this rare film footage has not been seen publicly since its recording and may no longer exist anywhere else.

The live footage of the speech was given to NLM many years ago by the National Archives and Records Administration. The recording does not appear to have been professionally produced, although news organizations such as CBS were present on that day. The camera is unsteady in places, a hand sweeps across the lens, and the filming starts and stops, though it isn’t known whether this is a result of the original filming or of later editing.

While we have long been able to hear Roosevelt’s support for public health and medical research, now we can see him state some of his powerful words from this important speech, and truly appreciate the experience of being in the audience on that historic day. The President’s concluding words capture the weight of the moment: “Today the need for the conservation of health and physical fitness is greater than at any time in the nation’s history. In dedicating this Institute, I dedicate it to the underlying philosophy of public health, to the conservation of life, to the wise use of the vital resources of our nation. I voice for America, and for the stricken world, our hopes, our prayers, our faith, in the power of man’s humanity to man.”

Five years before Roosevelt’s dedication, in 1935, Luke and Helen Wilson had donated land in Bethesda, Maryland, to the government to be used as the new home of the National Institute of Health. At the dedication, President Roosevelt thanked Mrs. Wilson for the gift she and her husband had made to and for the benefit of the nation, “For the spacious grounds on which these buildings stand we are indebted to Mr. and Mrs. Luke I. Wilson, who wrote me in 1935, asking if part of their estate at Bethesda, Maryland, could be used to the benefit of the people of this nation. I would tell her now as she sits beside me that in their compassion for suffering, their hope for human action to alleviate it, she and her husband symbolized the aspirations of millions of Americans for a cause such as this. And we are very grateful.”

The Wilsons’ donated their land shortly before the President signed the Social Security Act in 1935. The Act contained provisions meant to assist in “establishing and maintaining adequate public health services” throughout the country. Roosevelt made certain in his speech to pointedly address those who opposed some of his proposed health care initiatives, stating that “neither the American people nor their government intend to socialize medical practice any more than they plan to socialize industry.”

The possibility of the United States entering the war in Europe was also clearly on the President’s mind. In his speech, he tied together the “strategic importance of health” with the need for the nation to be prepared for war, saying, “The total defense that we have heard so much about of late—that total defense which this nation seeks—involves a great deal more than building airplanes and ships and guns and bombs, for we cannot be a strong nation unless we are a healthy nation, and so we must recruit not only men and materials, but also knowledge and science in the service of national strength.”

Roosavelt, in a pinstripe suit, stands at a podium flanked by columns.

Roosevelt lauded the past work of the National Institute of Health and emphasized the need to be vigilant against illnesses from abroad. “These buildings, which we dedicate, represent new and improved housing for an institution which has a long and distinguished background of accomplishment in this task of research… Now that we are less than a day by plane from the jungle-type yellow fever of South America, less than two days from the sleeping sickness of equatorial Africa, less than three days from cholera and bubonic plague, the ramparts we watch must be civilian in addition to military.”

In his remarks, the President singled out the new National Cancer Institute (NCI) that he was dedicating. He praised the Institute, stating “It is promoting and stimulating cancer research throughout the nation; it is bringing to the people of the nation a message of hope because many forms of the disease are not only curable but even preventable. Beyond this, it is doing research here and in many universities to unravel the mysteries of cancer. We can have faith in the ultimate results of these efforts.”

It is our honor and privilege to make this film footage available now as excitement is building for the upcoming PBS broadcast of the new Ken Burns documentary, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, a landmark project that was funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities, with whom NLM is working on initiatives of common interest.

For their assistance in determining what research suggests to be the uniqueness of this footage, we thank our colleagues in the NLM’s Audiovisual Program and Development Branch of the Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications, the NIH Office of History, and the National Archives and Records Administration. We also thank our colleagues Dr. David Cantor for the extensive historical research he completed on the subject of FDR and the NIH before we initiated our effort to make this film public available, and especially Anatoliy Milihkiker, a contract archives technician in the History of Medicine Division, who recognized the unique content of this film as he undertook a recent survey of the our extensive historical audio-visual collections.

Portrait of Rebecca Warlow.Rebecca C. Warlow is Head of Images and Archives in the History of Medicine Division at the National Library of Medicine.

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Unprecedented Film of Franklin Delano Roosevelt Walking Donated to Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission

Harrisburg, Pa.May 15, 2014   PRNewswire-USNewswire

Never before seen footage of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt walking was unveiled today at the Pennsylvania State Archives. The film was shot in 1937 by Harrisburg native and Major League Baseball pitcher James (Jimmie) DeShong on his 8mm home movie camera.

Pennsylvania First Lady Susan Corbett, along with members of DeShong’s family unveiled the rare film.

Pres. Roosevelt was paralyzed from the waist down by polio in 1921. In the film, he is walking up a ramp in Washington, D.C.’sGriffith Stadium. Pres. Roosevelt is wearing braces on his legs as he holds an assistant’s arm and grasps a handrail to make it up the steps.

It is one of only two known extended film clips in existence showing Pres. Roosevelt walking. It is so rare, that filmmaker Ken Burns is using it in his upcoming documentary “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History”
 which will air on PBS beginningSeptember 14, 2014.

“We were thrilled with the discovery of a new piece of film footage of Franklin Delano Roosevelt walking. Any film of him struggling to get from one place to another is extremely rare, as the Secret Service either prohibited or confiscated cameras whenever FDR was making an attempt to propel himself from his car to anywhere else,” said Ken Burns. “The President wanted to minimize the public’s knowledge of the devastating effects polio had had on him – he was completely paralyzed from the waist down and he could not walk without the aid of a cane and braces on both legs. The press in those days complied with his request not to be filmed.”

DeShong however had extraordinary access to the field that day. He was able to get eight seconds of footage of President Roosevelt walking in a public setting.

DeShong’s daughter, Judith Savastio, donated the film, and all of its associated copyrights, to the Pennsylvania State Archives so that the archives can conserve, preserve, interpret and make it accessible to the public. The Pennsylvania State Archives was determined to be the most appropriate institution to receive the film as a donation due to its rare political, sports, and Pennsylvania-related content.

“We are extremely grateful that Mrs. Savastio chose Pennsylvania’s State Archives to care for and preserve this extraordinary film,” said First Lady and Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commissioner Susan Corbett. “Her generous donation is allowing the world to see something it has never seen before. This unique look at Franklin Delano Roosevelt gives us a better understanding of his physical struggles and his courage and strength in leading our country through difficult times despite personal challenges.”

Along with the historic footage of Pres. Roosevelt, several Major League baseball all-stars and executives can easily be identified in the film. They include Joe McCarthyCharlie Gehringer, Spud Chandler, Lou GehrigJimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, Hank Greenberg, Baseball Commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain LandisCarl Hubbell, Dizzy Dean, Lefty Gomez, Red Rolfe,Eddie Collins and Tom Yawkey.

In addition to the Major League Baseball and Pres. Roosevelt footage, the film also contains family and hunting scenes taken throughout Pennsylvania.

The original film was cleaned, preserved and digitized into high definition files by Florentine Films, the production company ofKen Burns.

To view an excerpt of the film including footage of Pres. Roosevelt and American and National League players visit www.phmc.state.pa.us.

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission is the official history agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Media Contact: Howard Pollman, 717-705-8639

Editors Note: The entire statement from Ken Burns is as follows:

“We were thrilled with the discovery of a new piece of film footage of Franklin Delano Roosevelt walking. Any film of him struggling to get from one place to another is extremely rare, as the Secret Service either prohibited or confiscated cameras whenever FDR was making an attempt to propel himself from his car to anywhere else. The President wanted to minimize the public’s knowledge of the devastating effects polio had had on him – he was completely paralyzed from the waist down and he could not walk without the aid of a cane and braces on both legs. The press in those days complied with his request not to be filmed.

We thought we had found and used all the rare bits and pieces that existed. But this remarkable 8 seconds provided to us by the Pennsylvania State Archives is one of the very best pieces of film that so clearly shows what a brave struggle it was for FDR to move. The fact that he is on an incline and that it is very windy makes his walking even more arduous. The wind even presses his pants against his withered legs and you can clearly see the braces underneath.

This priceless piece of film replaces a still photograph in a key sequence in Episode Four of our series on the Roosevelts and makes the scene far more moving by allowing the audience to see FDR in action. When the film was discovered, we had already completed our series, but once we saw this terrific find, we asked PBS for permission to do a re-edit on the broadcast master of Episode Four so that we could include it.

This 8 seconds enriches our series and helps deepen the American public’s understanding of the strength and fortitude this badly disabled man brought to the task of seeing our country through two of the worst crises in our history – the Depression and World War II.

Thanks so much to the wonderful folks at the Pennsylvania State Archives, especially Richard Saylor and Linda Ries, for allowing us the use of this remarkable film footage in our series for PBS – The Roosevelts: An Intimate History.”

 Ken Burns, Director and Producer

SOURCE Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission

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http://www.phmc.state.pa.us

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La Biblioteca y Archivo Presidencial Franklin D. Roosevelt acaba de inaugurar FRANKLIN, su portal de acceso libre a más de 300,000 documentos y fotos. Estoy totalmente seguro de que FRANKLIN, se convertirá en una herramienta muy útil para todos aquellos interesados en  el estudio de uno de los periodos más fascinantes de la historia norteamericana: la Era Roosevelt.

Franklin

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