Off the Record with F. D. R., 1942-1945

Off the Record with F. D. R., 1942-1945

Off the Record with F. D. R., 1942-1945

Off the Record with F. D. R., 1942-1945

Excerpt

At eleven o'clock on a windy, bitter cold night just a month after Pearl Harbor, Franklin Roosevelt moved out Sixteenth Street in strict secrecy to a deserted railroad siding in Silver Spring, Maryland. There, on his way to the first of many such blackout visits to Hyde Park, he took himself out of contemporary news and appargently out of any record for history. In wartime, while air-raid fears still existed and saboteurs and assassins were not lightly dismissed, there was general agreement that security measures should surround the President's movements. If the press that night had known of his departure, "volunteer censorship" would have prevented any report of that fact. That was true of other trips of the President, of when he went and where, who accompanied him and what they did. Throughout the war, the press adhered to the code, though with increasing restiveness.

Men who had been accustomed to stand staring at presidential windows grumbled when the shades were pulled down. One of them, Merriman Smith of the United Press, wrote later that "as the war continued, Mr. Roosevelt did virtually what he pleased, in public and in private, and in the secure knowledge it would not be on the radio or in the newspapers. . . . That was all very fine, but the President began to put on and take off security like winter underwear. When he wanted it--as in the 1944 election campaign-- off came all the wraps. . . . True the pressure of the Presidency is heavy and seclusion a welcome antidote, but Mr. Roosevelt made a fetish of his privacy during the war."

Perhaps that expressed the pique of a man whose job it was to cover the President and who found himself baffled by a blackout curtain. It was corroborated to a considerable extent by F. D. R. himself when he agreed to run for a fourth term in 1944: "All that . . .

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