FDR and Harry: Unparalleled Lives

FDR and Harry: Unparalleled Lives

FDR and Harry: Unparalleled Lives

FDR and Harry: Unparalleled Lives


Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman are two men whose backgrounds were very dissimilar but whose achievements proved to be roughly comparable--both became President of the United States. It is, for example, ironic that the wealthy Roosevelt is best known for his social programs and that Truman, who came from modest circumstances in the Middle West, achieved his greatest success in foreign affairs. This study demonstrates, with some flair, the variety and the breadth of the American experience and provides, in part, a credible basis for the existence of "an American Dream."


At first the infant, Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.

--William Shakespeare, As You Like It, II, vii, 143-44.

On the night of January 30, 1882, in Hyde Park, New York, a proud father wrote in his diary: "At quarter to nine my Sallie had a splendid large baby boy. He weighs 10 lbs., without clothes."

Two years later and 1,300 miles to the west in Lamar, Missouri, another equally proud father celebrated the birth of his first son by planting a tree in the front yard of the small white frame house he recently had purchased for $685. The entire house measured all of 20 feet by 28 feet, only slightly larger than the living room in the Hyde Park home.

Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman were born during a decade that introduced to the world other boys destined to play important roles in history. In West Branch, Iowa, a boyish Herbert Hoover went skinny-dipping under the willows down by the railroad bridge, used bent pins and butcher string to catch green sunfish, and picked potato bugs for a penny a hundred. In the year of Franklin Roosevelt's birth, Winston Churchill was an eight-year-old youth having trouble with schoolwork.

In that decade in Georgia--not the American state, but a province marking the southern boundary of the Soviet Union--Josef Dzhugashvili, son of a peasant cobbler, was a pockmarked boy living in a leaky adobe . . .

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