President Franklin D. Roosevelt: Little-known Facts and Trivia

Some little-known facts and trivia about the President of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt.



--At her wedding, the orphaned Eleanor Roosevelt was given away by her uncle, President Theodore Roosevelt. After the ceremonies, reporters asked the President what he thought of his niece's marriage to her young 4th cousin, Franklin. "It is a good thing to keep the name in the family," TR observed.

--Model shipbuilding and stamp collecting were FDR's favorite hobbies. At his death, the sale of his personal stamp collection brought in more than $200,000.

--Mark Twain was Roosevelt's favorite writer, and FDR is reputed to have taken the term "New Deal" from a chapter in A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur's Court. Roosevelt once wrote: "If people like my choice of words and my oratorical style, it is largely due to my constant study of Twain's works."

--While recovering from polio, FDR worked at various projects. He spent some time writing a movie script based on the history of the ship Old Ironsides, but he never succeeded in selling this product to Hollywood. He also invested money in several novel schemes, including a proposed intercity dirigible freight line.

--Eleanor was often idiosyncratic in her supervision of the White House menus. Particularly fond of sweetbreads, she once ordered that they be served 6 times in a single week. This was too much for FDR, who sent his wife a note reading: "I am getting to the point where my stomach rebels, and this does not help my relations with foreign powers. I bit 2 of them today."

--The Roosevelts hosted the 1st visit of a reigning British monarch to the U.S. George VI and his wife Elizabeth spent a day and a night at the White House, and were introduced to that great American food, hot dogs, for the 1st time.

--Roosevelt not only appointed the 1st woman Cabinet member (Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins) but the 1st woman to represent the U.S. as Ambassador to a foreign country. Shortly after taking the oath of office for the 1st time, he named Ruth Bryan Owens, daughter of the late Democratic war-horse, William Jennings Bryan, as Minister to Denmark.

--During the war years, FDR's travel plans were kept secret for security reasons. It was during this period that the President's dog, Fala, won the nickname "the informer." That famous Scottish terrier insisted on being taken for a walk at every stop on a train trip, and the sight of him, accompanied by weary Secret Service agents, was a tip-off to reporters that the President was on board.

--Informal Sunday night dinners became a White House tradition during the Roosevelt Administrations. Invitations went out only to personal friends and special guests, and Eleanor would preside over the gatherings, standing at the end of the table and scrambling eggs personally in a silver chafing dish. On other occasions, Eleanor would use the dinner table as a forum for her political ideas, often arguing with her husband. "Mother, can't you see you are giving Father indigestion?" asked daughter Anna after one exhausting diatribe.

--Speaking in Cleveland during his campaign for a 3rd term, FDR assured his audience that "when the next 4 years are over, there will be another President." There were loud shouts of "No!" from the crowd, but FDR thrust his mouth close to the microphone and went right on talking so that the shouts which suggested that he be elected permanently would not be heard over the radio.

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