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Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt: The War Years, 1939-1945

Roger Daniels
Copyright Date: 2016
Pages: 712
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  • Book Info
    Franklin D. Roosevelt
    Book Description:

    Having guided the nation through the worst economic crisis in its history, Franklin Delano Roosevelt by 1939 was turning his attention to a world on the brink of war. The second part of Roger Daniels's biography focuses on FDR's growing mastery in foreign affairs. Relying on FDR's own words to the American people and eyewitness accounts of the man and his accomplishments, Daniels reveals a chief executive orchestrating an immense wartime effort. Roosevelt had effective command of military and diplomatic information and unprecedented power over strategic military and diplomatic affairs. He simultaneously created an arsenal of democracy that armed the Allies while inventing the United Nations intended to ensure a lasting postwar peace. FDR achieved these aims while expanding general prosperity, limiting inflation, and continuing liberal reform despite an increasingly conservative and often hostile Congress. Although fate robbed him of the chance to see the victory he had never doubted, events in 1944 assured him that the victory he had done so much to bring about would not be long delayed. A compelling reconsideration of Roosevelt the president and campaigner, The War Years, 1939-1945 provides new views and vivid insights about a towering figure--and six years that changed the world.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09764-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. 1 Reform, Neutrality, and War 1939
    (pp. 1-32)

    Roosevelt’s annual message in early 1939, and the congressional response to it, prefigured his relations with Congress for the remainder of his presidency. As long as his chief concern was national defense and eventually the prosecution of the war, he could usually count on majority support drawn from both sides of the aisle for most of his proposals. But when he endeavored to expand the New Deal, he would often encounter serious difficulties.

    The president began by speaking of the endangered peace, asserting that although war had been “averted … storms from abroad” threatened America. He went on to warn...

  7. 2 Beginning an Undeclared War 1939–40
    (pp. 33-56)

    In a brief midmorning September 1 press conference, Roosevelt called for calm and answered the inevitable question “Can we stay out?” on the record:

    The president: Only this, that I not only sincerely hope so, but I believe we can and that every effort will be made by the Administration to do so.

    Asked whether he would call Congress into special session to amend the Neutrality Act, he teasingly answered that Congress would meet sometime between “September 1 and January 2.” That afternoon the White House announced that the president would address the nation on Sunday evening, September 3, between...

  8. 3 Breaking Precedents in War and Politics 1940
    (pp. 57-90)

    The news of the german incursions into Scandinavia reached the State Department about one in the morning on April 9. Roosevelt was at Hyde Park, and Secretary Hull was vacationing in Atlantic City; each hurried to Washington by train and conferred at the White House with Sumner Welles and Assistant Secretary of War Louis A. Johnson. At immediate issue were the details of a neutrality proclamation and an executive order to reflect the spread of the war and beyond that to decide what actions were called for to prevent Greenland and Iceland from falling into German hands. Greenland, a huge,...

  9. 4 Winning an Election, Addressing the World 1940
    (pp. 91-148)

    Roosevelt’s reaction to his renomination was low key. He slept very late the next morning, took an extralong weekend cruise on the White House yacht, and, soon after he returned, went up to Hyde Park. A message to Congress, timed to coincide with Secretary Hull’s speech at an inter-American conference in Havana, asked for expanding the lending authority of the Export-Import Bank by five hundred million dollars to help the sister republics deal with the loss of European markets because of the war. The loans were essentially an inducement to get hemispheric approval for the reassertion of the “no transfer”...

  10. 5 Sailing toward War 1941
    (pp. 149-190)

    Roosevelt was quick off the mark. In his first 1941 press conference, three days before Congress met, he announced that so many ships were being sunk that “we have begun taking the first steps toward” building two hundred merchant ships, which would cost between $300 and $350 million. To get the program started, he would use $36 million of his $200 million contingent fund. He mentioned that he expected to announce his new ambassador to Britain in the next week and added, “but in the meantime I am asking Harry Hopkins to go over as my personal representative for a...

  11. 6 The Last Days of Peace 1941
    (pp. 191-226)

    While expecting further escalation in the North Atlantic, what Wilson had called watchful waiting, Roosevelt continued his preparations for a global war. The most monumental of those projects was the construction of the army headquarters building that became the Pentagon, the largest single building project of his administration. In mid-July, sure that war and previously undreamed-of military expansion were bound to occur, War Secretary Stimson and his aides tasked the Corps of Engineers to design a very large building as soon as possible. A brilliant, arrogant, and often unpleasant engineer officer, Brehon B. Somervell (1892–1955), ramrodded the project through...

  12. 7 A War Presidency, Pearl Harbor to Midway 1941–42
    (pp. 227-270)

    Roosevelt took no special actions in the sixteen hours between reading the Magic intercept Saturday night and learning of the Pearl Harbor attack at lunch Sunday afternoon. Among his first reactions Saturday night was to phone Admiral Stark. But when the White House operator told him that Stark was attending the theater, the president told the operator to place the call after he had left the theater, not wanting to cause any public alarm by having the admiral summoned from his box.¹ He eventually spoke to Stark, but no new action resulted from their conversation or was meant to. At...

  13. 8 Taking the Offensive 1942
    (pp. 271-304)

    The great question to be decided in June 1942 was whether the United States and Britain would create a second front in the West against Germany in 1942, and, if so, where it would be. At the end of May, Vyacheslav M. Molotov (1890–1986), Soviet commissar of foreign relations and the second most powerful person in the USSR, came to Washington to lobby for a second front, after having failed to get such a commitment in London. Molotov stayed in the White House for three nights, moving to nearby Blair House on June 1 for the rest of his...

    (pp. None)
  15. 9 Advancing on All Fronts 1943
    (pp. 305-348)

    Roosevelt’s tenth state of the union message has been little appreciated. His two collaborators, Rosenman and Sherwood, had wanted a fighting speech to confront the increased Republican minority and were less than enthusiastic about the result. It was, however, an effective effort, well characterized by the banner in theNew York Times:“roosevelt sees allies on the road to victory; urges a post-war america free from want.” It fell into three parts, reviewing first the global military situation, then surveying domestic production and its direction, and finally looking forward to what the postwar world might look like.

    The president told...

  16. 10 Waiting for D-Day 1943–44
    (pp. 349-398)

    In mid-august 1943, with allied troops still fighting in Sicily and the Quebec Conference, code-named Quadrant, about to begin, Roosevelt, after joshing about his fishing, had some real news.

    The president: I’ve have just had a telephone message from Mr. Mackenzie King [that Churchill and his staff were in Canada and] I think you can assume that I will probably see him. … I can’t tell you the time, date or anything else.

    Q: Will there be any Russian participation in these talks in Canada?

    The president: I don’t think so. That doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t be awfully glad...

  17. 11 The Last Campaign 1944
    (pp. 399-460)

    Veteran correspondent charles hurd (1903–68), who had covered the president as early as the 1932 convention and recently begun an encore stint as theTimes’ White House correspondent, wrote in an early June feature that for a time, it seemed “Mr. Roosevelt was losing the facility of making the conferences sprightly, pre-eminent as news developers; that possibly he was bored with them. … Now [after his month at Hobcaw] Mr. Roosevelt reflects his new energy in the vigor with which he conducts the conferences.”

    An examination of the transcripts of six consecutive scheduled press conferences plus a special one...

  18. 12 The Final Triumph 1945
    (pp. 461-504)

    On new year’s day, france was admitted to the United Nations in a ceremony at the State Department. The years of American opposition to de Gaulle’s regime were ignored but surely not forgotten. Stettinius read Roosevelt’s statement: “France was the first ally of our country in our own war of liberation. For 150 years her traditions of liberty have been an inspiration to freemen everywhere. In this war all the brutalities of four years of Nazi occupation could not quench the flame of her unconquerable spirit or suppress the resistance of her people to the enemy. And now France stands...

  19. Notes
    (pp. 505-578)
  20. Works Consulted
    (pp. 579-610)
  21. Index
    (pp. 611-636)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 637-644)
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