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tv   Springwood President Franklin Roosevelts Home  CSPAN  December 3, 2017 9:59pm-10:28pm EST

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time,meone said at the well the option -- it was summertime and pbs had no original programs to run it night anyhow -- he said, all that would run if they did not run the hearings would be talking,peaking people animals mating, and occasionally english-speaking people mating and animals talking. [laughter] drag so why not replace it with watergate hearings -- >> so why not replace it with watergate hearings? we would do live all day, but we only had about maybe half the stations watching it. atwere broadcasting but
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night, in that first, you know, it would be the story. not taketations would it. but then they started because the word got out and then suddenly it became a big deal. the big deal was that it proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is a role for news and public affairs in public broadcast. and out of that came everything else. announcer: you can watch this and other american history programs on our website, where all our video is archived. that's springwood estate in hyde park, new york is the birthplace and final resting place of franklin delano roosevelt. wet on "american artifacts," hear stories about his time in the home from a national park service ranger who leads us on the tour of the national historic site.
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franceska: this is home. this is where his heart was. he always told his friends and neighbors that this is where his heart was, and it always will be. this is where he found his strength and happiness through his life. franklin delano roosevelt, the 32nd president of the united states, was born and raised in this house. the roosevelts originally had a different estate down the road on this property. the house burned to the ground in 1865. fdr's father, james roosevelt, purchased this property in the hudson valley. his parents were james and 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 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
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be an expensive car these days, but back then it would have been a rather nice amount of money. he had a growing family, and he decided as early as 1907 that he was going to become president of the united states one day. quite often, events would be held here such as when he ahis intention to run for vice president of the united states. the big announcement was held right here. 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 europe. he loved doing that. it was very proud of this house once he enlarged it, and many times his political associates would come here, and they would talk about political strategy and so forth. it was at many times the center of his political life. i would like to show you the beautiful library living room which i call the heart of the .ouse that fdr added
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this was set up so that there is a 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 he dreamed about adding onto this home when he enlarged it in 1915. as a young man he had gone on a trip to europe and been in a like this in england, and had seen a room like this which he had admired greatly. he decided that one day, 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
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1939, fdr wanted to serve dinner -- served before dinner drinks in this room. they said it was ok, but they did not necessarily think that before dinner drinks would not be proper before dinner. his mother felt drinking tea would have been more proper. 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 in the chair on the right. this was sarah roosevelt's home, too. very much so.
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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
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provisional congress which ratified the constitution of the united states. verily -- very early on in this nation's history, there was a roosevelt involved in american history. 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. 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. it is believed that is the case, because several boys at that camp also came down with polio. he spoke 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
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last time he would ever walk unaided again. the next morning, he could barely stand. you can imagine how devastating that was for him. he did not know what he had or is it -- or if 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. he had a wonderful homecoming come a wonderful family, 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 life 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. only someone who has gone through the type of suffering that my husband has that they
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can relate to the problems of mankind." and after the polio, fdr could certainly understand that. he came back here to his home after spending a lot of time in the hospital in the city, hoping that if he did enough physical therapy he perhaps 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 which each weighed about seven pounds. he also used crutches, and he would walk down to the entrance road quite a walk. , which was he never made it all the way down. 3/4 ofld collapse about the way down because it was quite an effort. he was dragging 14 pounds of steel as he was trying to go down the roadway. in later years he found a place in warm springs, georgia. someone told him about the mineral waters there that could perhaps help him with his legs.
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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 cure for polio. fdr was president of the united states at the time that the march of dimes started. 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 to the north wing of the house
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is the study that fdr used in this house. this is a really interesting room. there is a lot of history here. this is where fdr would meet with heads of state. 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 park aid memoir. this memoir talked about the atomic bomb, future uses of the atomic bomb, possible 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 cocktails before dinner. he would love to call the
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cocktail hour the children's hour based on the henry wadsworth longfellow poem. the hour when he could bring people together to have fun and talk about the little stories he enjoyed telling. he would mix the cocktails himself, another thing he could do independently, which he loved. it was a time he could relax and be fdr the person and not necessarily the president of the united states. after the polio, this house posed a bit of a challenge for franklin roosevelt because there are a lot of steps here. we spoke about the rent going -- the ramp going into the library living room, but there is a big set of stairs here. to get up these stairs would have been difficult unless you was crawling up the steps on a regular basis, but there was
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actually a lift here that was put in prior to him contracting polio. elevator used for steamer trunks because the roosevelts and people and their social class normally would go off on trips to europe and they had these huge steamer trunks filled with clothes that were very difficult to move up and down, so that is why they installed this lift. it was actually a hand operated lift kind of like a dumbwaiter. when fdr contracted polio, it would have been 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 "there is nothing to fear but fear itself" had a real fear
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of fire. if it was motorized, and there was a fire in the house, he could die trying to escape. he felt that this would be a much safer way to operate, and he loved it because it gave him a real feeling of independence. fdr's fear of fire came from an early on in his life. when he was about two and half years old, he and his mother had gone to the family estate, his mother's family estate, for a party. while he was there, his on to aunt laura was getting ready for the party. she was using a curling iron over and alcohol lamp. it caught on fire. the flames caught her clothes on fire, she ran screaming out of the house, and died as a result
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of the fire on her clothes. he remembered that growing up. also as a little boy there is a small fire here in this house which he and his dad put out in the dining room area. it was something that remained fearghout his life, this that there was going to be an awful fire here. he and his mother were very close. he was close to his father as well, but his father died when franklin was only 18 years old. so his mother became the main 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 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
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children, and sarah was very good at that. so, she kind of took over. when eleanor roosevelt became more independent, she wanted to take over the running of her own household, so you have two strong women trying to take control, so it led to some glitches in their relationship. you have to remember eleanor roosevelt was pretty much living in her mother-in-law's home. it was not her home. eleanor roosevelt had a very loving religion chip with her , whor, elliott roosevelt was theodore roosevelt's younger brother. 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
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she really did not have a good example of being a good mom. that is why, when she had her own children, it was a little bit difficult for her to adjust to motherhood. they actually had six children. it is often mentioned they only had five, because one child died -- as an infant at only eight months of age. the rest of them grew into adults. eleanor lost the child, and it was devastating to her. we are on the second floor of the roosevelt home. on the right-hand side are the much guest rooms, and on the left are the family rooms. when this house was enlarged they had to put in an extra long hallway here because they added this wing over the library living room of the house. this wing we will be looking at
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was meant to be a suite of rooms for franklin and eleanor to use, but i his mother, sarah, moved one point into that section with 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 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
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her social secretary lucy mercer 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 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
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he would then have a quick meeting with any members of his cabinet or staff that he needed to. it was very convenient for him, and 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. it was one of the best things about the hudson valley for him. this beautiful river that ran behind his house where he learned to sail a boat as a little boy. any time spent on boats or ships was wonderful for him. 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 president 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
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doorway is the commission that made him assistant secretary of the navy signed by president woodrow wilson. commission is the doorway which led into eleanor roosevelt's bedroom. it is very small, and there is not much in here, because eleanor roosevelt eventually had her own little retreat which was on the eastern end of the roosevelt estate. it was a place that fdr built for her on land that he owned. after that in her life which point 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 she came to hyde park with fdr, she would spend the days
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there and the nights 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 for 40 years she was just a visitor here. so she loved that little stoned cottage, andone later on she had a building 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.
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it is 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 are all caps in by doors so they can walk into any room they wanted by just opening the doors. 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 franklin and eleanor the other half. there were connecting doors on various levels, so that sarah
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could pop into this section whenever she wanted to unannounced. it made eleanor roosevelt not happy. 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. 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 into this section of the house she moved all of , the furniture from the room where franklin roosevelt was born into this room.
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itthe birth room as we call was then 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 then became more of a guest 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
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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 went out of his life. as much as he loved this house, when he came back here, he felt that loss, the emptiness of this house without sarah's strong presence in it. franklin roosevelt died in april 1945, and she died in september of 1941, so she was really around for most of his life. it was a terrific loss when 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 throughout the world to come here and understand what it meant for him to be born and
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raised here and what influenced him as he grew up and how it perhaps translated into some of the things he did as president of the united states. he gave this house to the american public. he made arrangements while he was president to have this 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. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] announcer: interested in american history tv? visit our website, schedule,ew our preview upcoming programs, and watch college lectures, museum tours, archrival -- archival films, and more at announcer:


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