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tv   Springwood President Franklin Roosevelts Home  CSPAN  December 3, 2017 6:00pm-6:31pm EST

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by america's cable television programs and is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. springwood estate in hyde park new york is the birthplace and final resting place of franklin roosevelt. about fdr's stories time in the home from a national park service ranger who leads us on a tour of the national historic site. this was home. this is where his heart was. my heart has always been here and always will be. this is where he always grew strength and happiness. roosevelt,lano or the 32nd president of the united states was born and raised in this house and he was buried on the estate as well.
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roosevelt originally had a different estate down the road. the house burned to the ground fdr's father, james roosevelt, purchased the home in to be their new the hudson valley. james andnts were sarah delano roosevelt. mr. james roosevelt had a wife before sarah named rebecca howland. she passed away in 1876. in 1880, mr. james married sarah delano. when he married sarah, he was 52 years old, and she was only 26 years old. she was half his age. james and sarah only had the one child, franklin delano roosevelt. when mr. james roosevelt bought
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this property in 1867, it was a 17 room farmhouse with about 110 acres of land and several outbuildings. he paid the price of what would be an expensive car these days, but back then it would have been he had a growing family, and he decided as early as 1907 that he was going to be, president of the united states one day -- going to become president of the quite often, events would be held here such as when he announced he would run for vice president of the united states. the big announcement was held here.
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quite often he would bring, once he was president, main foreign dignitaries to his house. especially during the war years, he felt it was a way they could get away from the pressures of wartime in your -- in europe. many times, his political associates would come here, and they would talk about medical -- political strategy. it was at many times the center i would like to show you the beautiful library living room which fdr called the heart of the house. this was set up so that there was a glass lore here, so people -- glass floor here, so people could see the actual ramp that fdr used to go down into the library living room. this was the original ramp he would use every time he was here to get into one of his favorite rooms in the house. the library living room was one
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he had during the about adding -- dreamed about adding on to the home when he marched it in 1915. he had gone on a trip to europe and been in a house like this in -- in england europe, and he had seen a room like this which he had admired greatly. he decided, one day if you -- if he did change the house here, then he would have a room like the one he admired so much. this room was used for entertaining. when the king and queen of great britain came here in june of 1939, fdr wanted to serve dinner drinks in this room. they said it was ok, but they did not necessarily think that he for dinner -- that before dinner drinks would not be proper before dinner. his mother felt that dragging -- drinking tea would have been more proper.
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he told the visiting great britain king that, and he was told that his mother would have done the exact same thing. as he left the governorship, these two chairs were given to him as gifts. according to his wife, when they visited here, he would always sit on the chair on the left and his mother used the one on the right. this was sarah roosevelt's home, too. very much so. over the mantle is a portrait of franklin delano roosevelt's great, great grandfather who started the family business as a sugar refinery in new york city. he was also a part of the provisional congress which ratified the constitution of the united states. very early on in this nation's
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history, there was a roosevelt involved in american history. -- in public service. you notice fdr's wheelchair here as well. it was something he decided -- designed himself. he loved this wheelchair, because when he sat in it and put a blanket over his legs, you could not tell it was a wheelchair. he never used to sit and that wheelchair for long periods of time. it was basically only used to get from room to room. when he would come into this room, he would get off of that chair and onto the one right next to the desk, and that is where he would spend his time. fdr contracted polio in the age -- at the age of 39 years old. it is believed he picked up the polio virus at a boy scout cap he was -- camp he was speaking at over the summer.
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they think that because several boys at that camp also came down with polio. when speaking with the boys, spend some time at the camp, and then he went to the island summer home of the roosevelts off the coast of maine. a few days after arriving, he did not feel very well. he was achy and tired. he thought he was only coming down with a minor bug, so he decided to go to bed early. he walked up the steps to the second floor, and that was the last time would walk up the stairs unaided. the next morning, he could barely walk at all. you can imagine how devastating that was for him. he did not know what he had or is it was a permanent condition. for the first time in his life, he knew what despair and loss was. he had lost the use of his legs. up until that time, he had quite the charmed life.
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he had a wonderful home, a wonderful family. he had a comfortable lifestyle. after that, he would understand what people in the great depression were feeling when they had lost everything. their homes, their jobs, their lives and savings. he would understand the feelings of loss and despair. in fact, his wife was once asked if polio affected her husband mentally, and she said, "yes, it did". did. only someone who has gone through the type of suffering that my husband has that they can relate to the suffering of mankind." and after the polio, fdr could certainly understand that. he spent a lot of time in the hospital at the city, hoping that if you did enough physical -- if he did enough physical therapy we could get back the that she could get back the use of his legs. one of the ways he tried to exercise his legs was to walk using the braces on his legs
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which each weighed about seven pounds. he also used crutches, and he would walk down to the entrance rows which is quite a walk. he never made it all the way down. he would make it about three quarters of the way down. he was dragging quite a bit of steel with him. later in georgia, someone told him about the mineral waters there that could perhaps help him with his legs. so, he tried that treatment. for a number of years, he used to go regularly to warm springs. he spent quite a bit of time there, and he always hoped that would perhaps eventually help him, but he was never able to walk again after the polio. however, he was always trying to find a year -- a cure for polio. it was his poll as president of
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the united states at the time that the march of dimes started. when money was raised to try and get research going for polio. that is why today you have the fdr face on the dimes, because that was the way they were trying to raise funds to find the cure to end this horrible illness. down the hallway and reading it -- leading into the north wing of the house is the study that fdr used in this house. it is a very interesting room. there is a lot of history here. this is where fdr would meet with heads of state. that's heads of state that came to visit here. it was really, i would say, the most historic room in the house. this is where fdr and prime minister winston churchill initialed the document called
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"the hyde park eight memoir. -- aid memoir." this memoir talked about the atomic bomb, future uses of the atomic bomb, its use against the japanese, and keeping the development of the atomic bomb secret from the russians. it was also a fun room, because this is where fdr love to have -- loved to have cocktails before dinner. he loved to call the cocktail hour the children's hour based off of the public -- the poem. the hour when he could bring people together to have fun and talk about the little stories you like telling -- stories he liked telling. he loved mixing the cocktails himself, because it was another thing he could do independently. it was a time he could relax and
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be fdr the person and not necessarily the president of the united states. after the polio, house posed a bit of a challenge for franklin delano roosevelt. there are a lot of steps here. to get up these stairs would have been difficult unless he was crawling up the steps on a regular basis. and itre was a lift here had been in prior to fdr's contracting polio. it was very difficult to move them up and down, so that is why they installed this lift. it was actually a hand operated
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lift similar to a dumbwaiter. when fdr contracted polio, it was a great way for him to get from floor to floor. the suggestion was that perhaps he should have it motorized rather than use it as it was, but fdr did not want to have it motorized, because the man who said that there is nothing to fear but your itself actually had a real fear of fire. he was worried that if there was a motorized lift put in here and there was a fire in the house, he could die trying to escape. he felt this would be a safer way to operate. he loved it like this, because it gave him a rear -- real feeling of independence. the fear of fire came from an early point in his life. when he was a little boy, he and his mother had gone to the
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family estate, his mother's family estate, for a party. while he was there, his on, -- his on laura was getting ready for the party. she was using a curling iron. she knocked over a heating iron. it caught on fire. the flames spread to her clothing, and she ran out of the house. she died as a result of the fire on her close. clothes. the was also a small fire in the dining room area at this house when he was a young boy that he and his father helped to put out, but it was something that remained throughout his life that there was going to be an awful fire here. he was very close to his mother and father, but his father died when franklin was only 18 years old. so, his mother became the main
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person in his life. eleanor and sarah roosevelt had an interesting relationship over time. when she and fdr were first married, eleanor looked at sarah as the mother she never really had. so, i would say they were probably pretty close in the beginning. sarah helped eleanor with running the household, because eleanor had no idea how to run the household or even raise children while sarah was very good at that. so, she kind of took over. when eleanor roosevelt became more dependent -- independent and wanted to take over more control of the household, you have these two, strong women trying to take control of the household which led to some tension in their relationship. you have to read that eleanor
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-- remember that eleanor roosevelt was pretty much living in her mother-in-law's home. eleanor roosevelt had a great relationship with her father, elliott roosevelt, but she did not have such a great relationship with her mother. her mother was a very beautiful woman who felt that eleanor was not pretty enough as a little girl. she made fun of her, so eleanor was very much alienated from her mother. both of her parents died by the time she was 10 years old, so she really did not have a good example of being a good mother. that is why, when she had her own children, it was a little bit difficult for her to adjust to motherhood. they had six children although it is often mentioned they only had five, because one child died very little at only eight months of age. the rest of them grew into adults. eleanor loved the child, and it
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-- lost a child and it was devastating to her. we are on the second floor of the roosevelt home. on the right-hand side are pretty much just rooms -- much guest rooms, and on the left are the family rooms. when this house was an large, they had to put in in extra long hallway because they added in this extra wing onto the house. this wing that we will be looking at was meant to be an extra suite of rooms for franklin and eleanor to use, but, at one point, his mother, sarah, moved in with him. -- them. we are in the bedroom of franklin and eleanor roosevelt. once fdr contracted polio, according to eleanor roosevelt, she moved into the room next door which was originally a type of dressing room or sitting room
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for this section of the house. she did this, because, once he had polio, he really needed a manservant to help get him out of bed, dressed, and so forth. so, for privacy reasons, she needed to move next door. historians speculate that eleanor roosevelt moved into the next room after she discovered that fdr had a relationship with her social secretary, and she felt that she did not want to be in the same room as him so she moved into the room next door. next to the bed, there are a couple of phones. there is one on the little table next to the bed, and then there is the one on the wall. the one on the wall is really important, because that was the direct line to the white house. fdr could pick up that phone, and he would get the white house telephone operator whenever he
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needed. it was right within reach for him, which was great. in this room, there was a little chair that his famous scottie dog used to sleep on. that was his special spot in the room. it was a room where in the morning fdr would often meet with his staff. he would spend some time in bed looking at the papers first, and he would then have a quick meeting with any members of his cabinet or staff that he needed to. that is why there are some chairs in here so that they can sit and talk with the president right here. this room has a wonderful view of the hudson river, and that was very important to fdr. he loved the hudson river. what are the best thing -- it was one of the best things about the hudson valley for him. this beautiful river that ran behind his house which he used
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-- which he learned to sail a vote on as a little boy. -- a boat on as a little boy. he used to say that his favorite job, next to being president of the united states, was when he was assistant secretary of the navy under woodrow wilson, because it gave him a lot of opportunity to spend time on ships. even in this room, he had something that was naval related, because up above the doorway is the commission that make him the assistant secretary of the navy signed by woodrow wilson. below the commission, fdr -- below the commission was the doorway that leads into eleanor roosevelt's bedroom. though we moved into a room and it is very small there is not , much in here, because eleanor roosevelt eventually had her own
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little retreat which was on the roosevelt estate. it was a place that fdr built for her on land that he owned. after that point in life -- in her life which happened around 1926, she began using it more and more often. whenever she came to hyde park without fdr, she would spend the days and nights there. if you came to hyde park with dr -- with fdr, she would spend the days there and the next back here. for her, it was her home at hyde park. she never felt at home in this house. this was her mother-in-law's house, and she would say that she was just a visitor or all those years. so, she loved that little house. later on, she had a building
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that was originally built as a furniture factory converted into a retreat for herself. that was really the place that she loved to be more than any other place in hyde park. at the end of this hallway is a cute, little painting of fdr as a little boy. he had long hair until he was about five years old. his mother loved the long hair on him. they say that she cried when they cut his hair short. just the cutest little thing that a lot of visitors see and wonder who the little girl is. it was not a little girl. it was fdr as a little boy. in a wing of this house, you have fdr's bedroom, eleanor roosevelt's bedroom, and sarah roosevelt's bedroom. they were all connected i door's -- by doors so they could walk into any room they wanted
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by opening a door. when sarah roosevelt built a townhouse for franklin and eleanor roosevelt as a christmas gift in 1906 in new york city, that place had connecting doors from one apartment into the next, because sarah roosevelt built the building as a duplex. she would live in half, and for england and eleanor roosevelt lived in the other half. there were connecting doors on various levels, so that sarah could pop into this section whenever she wanted to unannounced. it made eleanor roosevelt unhappy. she wrote about this townhouse, and you can kind of read between the lines where she mentions that it was not a great thing where sarah was living right next to them and that she decorated their part of the townhouse and so forth.
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i would imagine that she was not happy to be in a wing of this house where sarah could also open the doorway from her bedroom into eleanor roosevelt's bedroom, or early on franklin and eleanor's shared bedroom, whenever she wanted to. when she moved out of the house, she moved all of the furniture from the room where franklin delano roosevelt was born into this room. so, the birth room became a guest room. so this, in essence, became the master bedroom to the house. after sarah died, she left a note saying that she wanted the birth room furniture put back into the room where fdr was born, because she knew that fdr planned to turn it over to the national park service and open it up to the public. she wanted the room to appear as it was when he was born in it. so, this became more of a guest
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bedroom after this point. sarah roosevelt passed away in september of 1941. they say that, right after she died, a giant oak tree fell over on the property. it is almost a symbol of the end of a very important part of the story of this estate. after sarah died, it was hard for fdr to come back here, because his mother would always be at the front door or front porch greeting him when he came up the steps. it was devastating for him. he was so close to his mother. for him, something very important had gone out of his life. as much as he loved this house, when he came back here, he felt the emptiness and loss without sarah's strong presence in it. franklin was really around for
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-- roosevelt died in april of 1945 and she died in 1941. sarah was really around for most of franklin's life, so it really was a terrible loss once she passed away. fdr loved this home up from the time he was born here until the time he died. he loved it so much that he wanted the american people and people from around the world to come here and understand what it meant for him to be born and raised here along with what influenced him as he grew up and how it played a part in the things he did as president of the united states. he gave the house to the american public. he made arrangements as president to have this be given to the national park service eventually. it was his hope and dream that people would come here and learn about him as a person and as president of the united states.
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>> interested in american history tv? visit our website. you can view our tv schedule, preview upcoming programs and watch college lectures, museum tours and more. american history tv at afterwards,n jeanette conan on her book, man of the hour about her grandfather, james conan, director of the manhattan project. she is interviewed by bruce darling of the national academy of sciences. >> i think, because of his wartime experience, he became convinced the only way for democracy to survive, the best andto be around in these be a strong country, was to have a great school system, where we
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showed democracy was better than dictatorship and that we would have sufficiently brilliant people, talented people in government and science. and the way to do that was to have the sat, which he helped invent and implement in schools across the country to produce the kind of leaders, technically advanced people we would need in positions of power, if we were going to be a great nation and the high-tech world that he foresaw. he had an extra ordinary impact on american life. >> watch afterwards tonight at --0 eastern on c-span's to c-span2's book tv. >> american history tv is on c-span3 every weekend featuring museum tour's, and programs on the presidency. the civil war and more.
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here is a clip from a recent program. so, by politics, i mean how the religious adjust the state. love -- this was taken place in harlem. here lies jim crow. that took place. apartheid, jiml crow, sexual apartheid. voting economic disparities. black ministers and how they are different in their white counterparts and how they had to encounter not just the religious lives of their own people but the very laws that constricted the lives of the people. watch and this and other american history programs on our website, where all of our
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video is archived. next on american history tv, historians j sexton and for keen discuss event leading up to u.s. entry into world war i. the historians, and on audio clips from enter the peace broker, a five-part dramatized world war i podcast series by british playwright, martin wade. discussion and a highlight president woodrow wilson's attempt to negotiate peace amongst the belligerents before america entered world war i in april of 1917. the national world war i museum in kansas city, missouri hosted this event. good evening and welcome to the national world war i museum and memorial, here in kansas, missouri.


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