In early September, Peggy and I had the privilege of hanging out with Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt; or at least we posed for a photo with their bronze likenesses.
This year, our annual vacation took us to the Northeastern region of the United States. Along the way, we stopped at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park, New York. Peggy and I spent a total of seven awestruck hours touring the library and the FDR home. We agreed it is a “must see” for everyone.
Arguably, FDR had one of the most difficult and interesting presidential tenures. There was the Great Depression, Repeal of Prohibition, Social Security Act, Pearl Harbor, and WWII to list a few. Included among these amazing presidential accomplishments, I find FDR’s commitment to conservation most fascinating. Roosevelt’s conservation vision emphasized soil conservation, along with many other natural resource priorities. Prior to Roosevelt’s New Deal, poor agricultural practices had contributed to soil depletion on millions of acres, leading to decreased crop yields. FDR set up effective programs to address this national menace head on. Some of the most notable events during FDR’s presidency include:
- March 4th, 1933: Franklin D. Roosevelt Takes Office
- September 19th, 1933: Soil Erosion Service Created
- June 18, 1933: The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) opens the first soil erosion control camp
- September 1933: More than 160 CCC soil erosion camps are established
- March 11th, 1934: Dust storm hit Washington D.C.
- April 14th, 1935: Black Sunday – the largest dust storm hit the Midwest
- April 27th, 1935: The Soil Conservation Act is signed establishing the Soil Conservation Service
- February 26th, 1936: Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act is signed
- August 4th, 1937: First Soil Conservation District created
“A lover of nature and rural life, FDR had a keen interest in conservation. He made it a major focus of his presidency.” FDR Presidential Library
Eighty years! Yes eighty years. I wonder what FDR would think of our inability to control soil erosion after 80 years. I have to think this might be one of the most disappointing shortcomings in his legacy.
I found these facts most interesting about FDR and his presidency:
- Was nameless for the first seven weeks after his birth
- Was advised by his fifth cousin, Theodore Roosevelt, “Don’t ever grow up to be President.”
- Only president to serve four terms, dying in office before completing his 4th term (1933 to 1945)
- Paralyzed due to polio but concealed his handicap from the public
- First president to speak on television
- First president to fly on an airplane while in office
- First president whose mother could vote for him (Woman suffrage amendment ratified in 1920)
- Appointed the first woman cabinet member
- One of only eight presidents to die in office
Nice post, Tom. Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt are two of the historical figures that I most admire, and find most inspiring. The Presidential Library is a wonderful place to visit!
Stephanie, I agree that the FDR library is a wonderful place to visit. The library makes it abundantly clear what a critical role Eleanor Roosevelt played. She just have been an incredible person to know.
Enjoyed this post. Good to look back at our history. A reminder that worty changes too often take a long time. What seems so sad is that there is plenty of evidence that putting sustainability first, and then following with production, will yield plenty. A good place. Thank you for keeping at it Tom.
Thanks Joan, it is good to hear from you. Thanks for your encouragement.
The photo struck me as funny. Peggy is the latest of many women to come between Franklin and Eleanor.
An FDR quote I use often: “A nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself.”
“Black Sunday” was the fiercest in western Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle, eastern Colorado and western Kansas. The Dust Bowl was multiple years, extreme hardship that is unimaginable today.
Will Rogers and FDR became good friends. Will agreed with him on all his soil conservation efforts.
Randall, the hardships dust bowl are unimaginable. Hopefully none of have to experience those. However, the destruction of soil health continues with water erosion and aggressive tillage. And by the way, Peggy remarked that FDR was a complete gentleman.
I think the comment about his mother being able to vote for him was the one thing not aware of. Nice trip – David
Thanks, Dave, FDR was an amazing guy in an difficult time. We owe a lot to him, and his administration, for the leadership they provided with soil conservation.