My father-in-law loved FDR. He was a “depression kid” he said. He talked about those years growing up in America. His family had barely survived (like so many). There were few jobs. People had lost whatever money they had. Times were very hard. He admitted he became a petty thief. He stole apples and other fruit from the market just to have something to eat. “Why then did you love FDR?” I asked. “Because he got us out of the depression!” Pragmatic and simple, I thought. FDR got the job done.
Afterward I started thinking about FDR and Lincoln. There were some similarities and connections. Roosevelt, like virtually all the presidents after Lincoln, utilized Lincoln for some of his presidential objectives.
Roosevelt looked to Lincoln to help prepare Americans for war. Yes, that was prior to Pearl Harbor. He mentioned Lincoln in speeches. He invoked the Lincoln that stood for keeping the Union together at all costs and doing whatever necessary to protect the nation. That’s partly why, like Lincoln, he was called a “dictator” by some. Again like Lincoln, he utilized emergency war powers. He did things under that condition that brought him a torrent of criticism. Both presidents had citizens locked up. It is said that Lincoln had approximately 13,000 people arrested during his time in office. FDR interned Japanese-Americans. While Lincoln strove to set the American slaves of the 19th century free, Roosevelt strove to help free the world of Nazi tyranny. Both participated in terrible wars-wars they didn’t ask for and wished to avoid. Both were presidents when the nation was attacked: Lincoln had his Fort Sumter and Roosevelt his Pearl Harbor. Both provided steady leadership while suffering defeat after defeat in the military realm. Both grew as Commanders-in Chief-until the tides had turned in their favor (and finally to win their wars). Sadly, both died while in office before the wars actually ended. There was a moment in Roosevelt’s term that he made an appearance to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on Lincoln Day. He laid a wreath there. He was crippled by then and severely limited. But there he was honoring the one he admired so much. He gave a formal salute. I like to think he was “thanking” Lincoln for “being there” and for being everything he was as man and as a president. Roosevelt won World War Two-and Lincoln was right there with him.Mail this post