Six hours and thirty-six minutes of secret White House recordings made by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940, archived on CD-ROM.
In January of 1939, President Roosevelt became upset after statements attributed to him, were published in the New York Times. Roosevelt asked his official stenographer, Henry Kannee, to find a way to make certain there were accurate records of his meetings. In June 1940, the Secret Service installed a taping system in the White House.
This primitive recording set-up was used from August 23, 1940, to November 8, 1940. These recordings consist mainly of fourteen press conferences and several accidentally recorded conversations held in the Oval Office.
Although hampered by the inherit lack of technology available for the recording system. This set of recordings captures Franklin Roosevelt's personality in a way unique from his public speeches or even his fireside chats. The recordings show that the emphasis on domestic concerns that dominated most of his first two terms as president, had considerably receded. The recordings reflect Roosevelt as directly confronting the gathering storm of war in Europe.
President Roosevelt can be heard speaking about:
Reinstating the military draft. FDR discussing former New York City mayor Jimmy Walker's mistress Betty Compton and Walker's relationship with Walker's wife. Followed by comments about his Republican presidential campaign challenger Wendell Willkie's relationship with Wilkie's wife. Conflict with Congress on military appropriations. Naval defenses in the Pacific. The military resources gap with Germany. The Three-Power Pact between Germany, Italy, and Japan. The politics of building military plants. Speculation on whether Germany is working against President Roosevelt's reelection campaign. FDR's alarm concerning Japan wanting the United States to give up its naval base at Pearl Harbor. Sale of military equipment to England.
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