Young Mr. Roosevelt: FDR's Introduction to War, Politics, and Life

Young Mr. Roosevelt: FDR's Introduction to War, Politics, and Life

Stanley Weintraub

Language: English

Pages: 288

ISBN: 0306821184

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In Young Mr. Roosevelt Stanley Weintraub evokes Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s political and wartime beginnings. An unpromising patrician playboy appointed assistant secretary of the Navy in 1913, Roosevelt learned quickly and rose to national visibility in World War I. Democratic vice-presidential nominee in 1920, he lost the election but not his ambitions. While his stature was rising, his testy marriage to his cousin Eleanor was fraying amid scandal quietly covered up. Ever indomitable, even polio a year later would not suppress his inevitable ascent.

Against the backdrop of a reluctant America’s entry into a world war and FDR’s hawkish build-up of a modern navy, Washington’s gossip-ridden society, and the nation’s surging economy, Weintraub summons up the early influences on the young and enterprising nephew of his predecessor, “Uncle Ted.”
















grove, and went from there to the 3:05 B&O train.” He was even guest speaker, in the Capital, at the 62nd anniversary ceremonies of the Daughters of Rebekah, a service offshoot for women of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He was learning how to disarm stiff matronly groups, once, later, addressing a Daughters of the American Revolution audience that he was aware disapproved of most newcomers to America. Like them, his ancestors had come, generations before, from abroad. “My fellow

secure a uniform. “Neither you nor I nor Franklin Roosevelt has the right to select the place of service . . .,” Wilson told Daniels. “Tell the young man . . . to stay where he is.” However Franklin’s brashness often grated upon the President and the Secretary, FDR had become an efficient executive with irreplaceable earned experience, while as a uniformed middling naval officer he would only be of symbolic value. No admirer of Wilson, General Leonard Wood, who would be kept from overseas

cronies. He warned FDR’s deputy that Wilson would hear of any further treachery. Knowing nothing of Howe’s machinations, Franklin remained zealously—although often insincerely—protective of the administration, and of Daniels. FDR worked with Secretary McAdoo on mail censorship to allay subtle communication with the enemy, authorizing the examination of letters ostensibly dealing with “Chess problems,” route instructions to masters of merchant ships, likely strikes or labor agitation and attempts

like it bully well,” said Franklin, employing a favorite adverb of Uncle Ted’s and not concealing his enthusiasm. “It would please me better than anything else in the world. All my life I have loved ships and been a student of the Navy, and the Assistant Secretary is the one place, above all others, I would love to hold.” Daniels sent the nomination to the White House. The Secretary’s newspaper in Raleigh captioned a portrait of Daniels’s youthful new deputy, “He’s following in Teddy’s

treadmill of appointive office, there was a beyond. “No man,” he would later confide, “ever willingly gives up public life—no man who has ever tasted it.” On August 8, 1920, Franklin, Eleanor and Anna, now tall, blonde and fourteen, were in Cox’s hometown, Dayton, Ohio, where formal notification of his nomination as Democratic presidential candidate was tendered. Warren Harding had already announced confidently that he would campaign in the comfortable manner of his fellow Ohioan, William

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