tv Springwood President Franklin Roosevelt CSPAN December 27, 2017 4:00pm-4:28pm EST
>> hi, i am ashley hill. this year we visited 24 cities, exploring their rich history and literary communities. right now we are going to take you to several stops in hyde park, new york, the home of henklin d roosevelt where lived at the springwood estate and built the first presidential library. this was homebin: , this is where his heart always was. he once said to his friends and neighbors that this is where his heart was, and it always will be. and it was. this is where he drew his strength and happiness through his life. franklin delano roosevelt, the 32nd president of the united states, was born and raised in this house. and he was very great here on the estate as well. the roosevelts originally had a
different estate a little bit down the road from this property. and the house burned to the ground in 1865. and then fdr's father, mr. james roosevelt, purchased this property to be their new home in the hudson valley. fdr's paris were james and sarah delano roosevelt. and mr. james roosevelt had a wife before sarah named rebecca howland. and she passed away in 1876. and four years later in 1880, mr. james married sarah delano. mr. james roosevelt when he married sarah was about 52 years old, and she was only 26 years was half his age. and james and sarah only had the one child, franklin delano roosevelt.
when mr. james roosevelt, fdr's father bought this property in , 1867, it was a 17 room farmhouse with about 110 acres of land, several outbuildings, for which he paid the sum of $40,000 which was today the price of an expensive car these days, but back then it would have been a rather nice amount of money. the house was enlarged by fdr in a 1915 because he had a growing family, and he decided as early -- 1907, 20 years before he had achieved it, that he was going to be president of the united statesone day. quite often, events would be held here like when he announced his intention to run for vice president of the united states. it was -- that big announcement was held right here. bring, oncehe would he was president, visiting foreign dignitaries to his
house. especially during the war years, was a place they could get away from the pressures of wartime in europe. many times, his political associates would come here, and they would talk about medical -- political strategy and so forth. so it was many times the center of his political life. i would like to show you the beautiful library living room which i have called the heart of the house which fdr added when the house was enlarged. was a glass lore here, so people -- this was set up so that there was a glass floor here, so people could see the actual ramp that fdr himself used to go down the few steps into the library living room. this was the original ramp he would use every time he was here to be able to get into one of his favorite rooms in the house. the library living room was one that fdr dreamed about adding on
to this home when he enlarged it in 1915. at the end he had gone on a trip to europe and been in a house like this in europe, and he had seen a room like this which he admired greatly. and he decided that, one day if he did change the house here, that he would have a room like the one he admired so much. well this room was used for , entertaining. so when the king and queen of great britain came here in june of 1939, fdr wanted to serve before dinner drinks in this room. and his mother said that was ok but she did not think before dinner cocktails were the appropriate drink to serve to the king and queen. drink.he british but fdr said to the king, the proper british drink to serve you would bt, but we also have -- be tea, and the king
replied, my mother would have had the same thing, but he had a cocktail. he also had a couple of governors chairs. fdr was governor of new york state from 1930 to 1932. back then it was a two-year term . as he left the governorship, these two chairs were given to him as gifts. according to his wife eleanor, when he visited here, he would always sit in the chair on the left, she sat on the right. this was as i mentioned sarah roosevelt's home 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. but he was also a member of the provincial congress which ratified the constitution of the united states. so very early on in this nation's history, there was a
roosevelt in public service, and of course it was very inspiring to fdr growing up. you will notice fdr's wheelchair here as well. the wheelchair was something he designed himself. off,chen chair, legs cut we'll put on. he loved this wheelchair, because when he sat in it and put a blanket over his legs, you could barely tell it was a wheelchair. he never used to sit in that wheelchair for any long periods of time. it was basically only used to get from room to room. when he would come into this room for example he would get , off of that chair and onto the chair right next to the desk, and that is where he would spend his time. so fdr contracted polio in the year the age of 39 in the it is believed he picked up the 1921. polio virus at a boy scout cap he was -- boy scout camp he was speaking at over the summer. it is believed to be south of us here. because boys who came to that
camp also came down with polio. he was speaking with the boys there, he went around the camp, and then he went to the island summer home of the roosevelts off the coast of maine. and a few days after arriving at camp lou bello 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 he would ever walk unaided again. when the next woke up, he could barely stand at all. 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 if it was a permanent condition. for the first time in his life, fdr knew what despair and loss was. he had lost the use of his legs. and up until that time, he had the charmed life. he had a wonderful home, a wonderful family, he had a
comfortable lifestyle. but after that, he would understand what people during 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 eleanor was once asked if polio affected her husband mentally, and she said, "yes, it did. because only someone who has gone through the type of suffering that my husband has that they can understand and 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 at the city, hoping that if you did in us physical therapy here, perhaps he could get back the use of his legs. one of the ways he tried to exercise his legs if he possibly could was to walk using the braces on his legs which weighed about seven pounds each and
crutches from here down to the entrance road right down to which is- route 9, 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 14 pounds of steel on him 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. so, he tried that treatment. for a number of years, he used to go regularly to warm springs. would spend quite a bit of time there, and the always hoped that that perhaps would 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. -- as president
of the united states at the time, that the march of dimes started where money was raised to try and get research going for polio. and that is actually why today you have the -- fdr's 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, leading into the north wing of the house just off that hallway is the study that fdr used in this house. and this is a really interesting room. there is a lot of history here. because this is where fdr would meet with heads of state. that came to visit here. and it is really i would say, , the most historic room in the house because this is where fdr and prime minister winston churchill initialed the document
called "the hyde park aid memoir." and this is the memoir talked -- that talked about the atomic bomb, future uses of the atomic bomb, possible use against the japanese, and also keeping the development of the atomic bomb secret from the russians. but it was also a fun room, because this is where fdr love d to have cocktails normally before dinner. he loved to call the cocktail hour the children's hour based on the henry wadsworth longfellow poem, called it the children's hour where he could bring people together to relax and have fun and have talks about his different little stories he enjoyed telling, fairytales. where he would mix because sales himself -- the cocktails himself. another thing he live -- he
could do independently. it was a time he could relax and be fdr the person and not necessarily the president of the united states. so after the polio certainly this house posed a bit of a challenge for franklin roosevelt because there were a lot of steps here. we talked about the ramp going down into the library living room, but there is a big set of stairs here. up the stairs would have been difficult unless he was crawling up the steps on a regular basis, but there was actually a list here. and it had been put into him prior contracting polio. a steamer trunk of trunk because people in their social class would go off on trips to europe, and they had these huge steamer trunks filled with clothes. it was difficult to move them up and out, so that his wife they installed -- why they installed this list.
it was a hand operated lift -- similar to a dumbwaiter. when fdr contracted polio, it would have been a great way for him to get from floor to floor. now 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 fear itself had a real fear of fire. if there was ever a motorized lift put in here and there was a fire in the house, he could die trying to escape. so 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 early on in his life because when he was a little boy, he was about 2.5 years old, he and his mother had gone to the delano family a
state, is mother's family estate, for a party. hiswhile they were there, aunt laura was getting ready for the party. and she was using a curling iron that was heated over and alcohol lamp. she knocked it over, the flames ont -- caught her clothes fire, she ran screaming out of the house and died as a result of the fire on her clothes, and he remembered that growing up. also as a little boy at one point, there was a small fire in the south which he and his dad around the dining room area, so it was something that remained throughout his life that there was going to be awful fire in here. he was very close to his mother and actually his dad 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. i mean, when she and fdr were first married, eleanor looked at sarah as the mother she never really had. so they were, i would say pretty close in the beginning. and sarah helped eleanor with running of the household, because eleanor had no idea how to run the household or even raise children, and sarah was very good at that. so she kind of took over. and then when eleanor roosevelt became more independent, she kind of wanted to take over the running of her own household, so there were two, strong women trying to take control of the -- which led to some glitches in their relationship. you have to remember eleanor roosevelt was pretty much living
in her mother-in-law'shome. -- mother-in-law's home. it was not her home. eleanor roosevelt had a very loving relationship with her father elliott, but she did not have such with her mother. a good relationship with her mother. her mother was a very beautiful woman and felt that eleanor was not pretty enough as a little girl. she made fun of her, so eleanor roosevelt was very much alienated from her mother. both of her parents died by the time eleanor roosevelt was 10 years old, so she really did not have a good example of being a good mom. so that is why when she had her own children, it was a little bit difficult for her to adjust to motherhood. they had actually six children although many times it is only mentioned because -- mentioned they had five, because one child died very little at only eight months of age. all the rest grew into adults. eleanor loved the child, and it
was devastating for her. we are on the second floor of the roosevelt home. and on the right-hand side are pretty much guest rooms, and on the left are the family rooms. enlargedthis house was , they had to put in an extra long hallway here because they added this wing which is over the library living room of the house, and this wing we will be looking at momentarily was meant to be a suite of rooms for eleanor and franklin roosevelt to use. but at one point his mother sarah moved into that section with them. we are in the bedroom of eleanor and franklin roosevelt. once fdr contracted polio, according to eleanor roosevelt, she moved into the room next door, which was originally a kind of dressing room, sitting room for this section of the
house for her. and she did this because once he had polio, he really needed a manservant to help get him out of bed, dressed, and so for her for privacy reasons, she said 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 lucy mercer, and she felt that she did not want to be in the same room with him so she moved into 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 an important phone 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 luis h
ackmeister for hacky -- or hacky 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 little spot in this big room. it was a room where in the morning fdr would often meetwith -- often meet with his staff. he would spend some time in bed looking at the papers first, and that he would have a quick meeting with any members of his cabinet or staff that he needed to. so it was very convenient for him. that is why there are some chairs in here so that they can sit and talk to 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 up boat as as a little boy. shipsme spent on boats or was wonderful to 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 woodrow wilson, because it gave him a lot of opportunity to spend time on ships. and in fact even in this room, , he had something that was naval related, because up above the doorway here is the commission that make him the assistant secretary of the navy signed by president woodrow wilson. so below the commission making fdr assistant secretary of the navy is the doorway that led into eleanor roosevelt's bedroom. so we look into eleanor roosevelt's room, and it is very small, and there is not much in here, because eleanor roosevelt eventually had her own little waseat at val-kill, which
on the eastern -- and it was a roosevelt estate. it was a place that fdr built for her on land that he owned. and after that point in her life, which happened around 1926, she began to use that 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 there, nights might be spent back here. but to her, that was finally her own home at hyde park. she never felt at home in this house. this was her mother-in-law's house, and she used to say she was just a visitor here for 40 years. so she loved that little cottage at val-kill which she shared with her political mentors, nancy cook, and later on she had a building that she originally
had built as a furniture factory converted into a retreat for herself. so that was really the place that she loved to be more than any other place in hyde park. so 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. and his mother loved his long hair on him. they say that she cried when they cut his hair short. but it is just the cutest little thing that a lot of visitors see and they are wondering who that little girl is. well, it was not a little girl. it is fdr as a little boy. in this wing of this house, you have fdr's bedroom, eleanor roosevelt's bedroom, and sarah roosevelt's bedroom. and they are all connected by doors, so they can walk into any of the rooms whenever they wanted just by opening a door. when sarah roosevelt built a
townhouse for franklin and eleanor roosevelt as a christmas gift she had built in 1906 in new york city, that place had connecting doors from one apartment into the next, because sarah roosevelt built that building as a duplex. she would live in half of it, and eleanor and franklin roosevelt lived in the other half. and there was connecting doors on various levels, so that sarah could pop into their section whenever she wanted to unannounced, which made eleanor roosevelt not happy. she wrote about this townhouse, and you could kind of read between the lines where she just mentioned that it was not a great thing where sarah was living right next to them, and she decorated their part of the townhouse and so forth.
and 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 delano roosevelt was born into this room. and then the birth room as we called it was then a guest room. so this then became in essence, became the master bedroom to the house. and then after sarah died, she had left a note that she wanted to have 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 have it up to the public. and 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 that point. sarah roosevelt passed away in september of 1941. and they say that, right after she died, a giant oak tree fell over on the property. it is almost a symbolism of she is gone and boom, that is kind of the end of a very important part of the estate and sarah's life here. after sarah died, it was hard for fdr to come back here, because his mom would always be at the front door or front porch greeting him when he came up the steps. i mean, it was devastating for him. he was so close to his mother. reallyr him, something important without 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 very strong presence in it. franklin roosevelt died in april
of 1945, and she died in 1941, so she was really around for most of his life. it was a terrific loss when she passed away. fdr loved this home 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 influenced and what him when he was growing up and how it perhaps translated into some of the things he did as president of the united states. he gave the 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.
announcer 1: val-kill is the first home that lady roosevelt ever owned by herself. we learn about her political contributions. ms. macsali-urbin: certainly this became the very first national historic site to be dedicated to a first lady and the only historic site dedicated to one first lady. two majorncompasses buildings. the first building, the stone cottage, was built in 1925 two initially serve as a retreat for eleanor roosevelt and her two political mentors, nancy cook and marion dickerman. it was built on the eastern end of the roosevelt property at the time. it was land that fdr had