Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum

Transcripts of White House Office Conversations, 08/22/1940 - 10/10/1940

3. FDR Defends His Son. (With Conversations and Exhortations Beforehand). Side 1, 1375-1637. September , 1940.

FDR: Now, do you got anything about what Willkie said?

Aide: Things he has said? ( FDR: Yes) I've been cutting things out, I never looked through the crowd this morning, back from him.

Aide 2: I think it would be better if you begin.

FDR: I know you're in a hurry, but I'd like to have it. If he gets through with it, you see. I'd love to have it by Monday.


Aide: Yeah, yeah, I'll see if I can get up into it.

FDR: You see, that's one of the, that's one of the things that can misrepresent people and fact.

Aide: At the end of this week, the end of this week he says, see, that's, that's the difference between democratic system and autocratic king. ( FDR: Yeah) Have it by the end of the week, huh, by the end of the week.

FDR: Now, now wait a minute, now wait a minute. How have these things gone? Ah, democratic you conscript man. But autocratic - ( Aide: Well, I didn't say - ) I know, but this is not for me, but as you said this in effect - conscripts endlessly.

Aide: Yeah, as soon as I get packed, I'll take my----- out, it'll look nice.

FDR: (chatter) ...You don't mind doing it. He wants to do it... It can be arranged. I want Charlie to tell Steve that Charlie will do it...anything that Steve says, yeah, and you've go to...(chatter)

Look, now here's a thing Lowell. Here's the thing that the Republicans brought up and the only way to bring it out is by way of attack, and you've got to attack. Somebody saying, "I am talking to fathers and mothers in this country, fathers and other of sons." What would you say in the following speech? Now, these are the facts. Now you've got a boy. You've got a boy who's thirty years old. He tried to get into the Naval Academy twelve years ago. They took one look at his eyes and said, "Why, heavens above, he could no more qualify than fly!" Thereupon, without going to college - mind you, a lot of editorials say he he went to college - Harvard - he went into the airplane business, and he obtained a very great familiarity with the construction of planes. (Interuption) He went into the radio business at the same time, and he knows the very definite relationship between air and radio communications to the ground. He's specialized in it - those two things - for the last ten years.

Alright, this is your boy. He got in, and served. He has his eyes checked. One eye can see two twentieths - two twentieths. The left eye can see three twentieths. He is told that going into the Army or the Navy, either one, he would be put into the home guard. They wouldn't possibly, they couldn't, put him in any active service in the Army or Navy, and they wouldn't do it.

He feels terribly bad. He still wants to serve. "When the war comes, I want to get in." He says, "I want to get in somewhere, take me in anywhere."

"What do you know?"

"Radio and planes."

"I'll say, well you're just the fellow - you're thirty years old - we're looking for as part of a special arm of the government on the airplane program and we're taking in fourteen hundred men - we're looking for them all over the country - right now - to take into this great program." He says, "Alright. Love to do it. Put me to work. What can you put me in as? A private?"


"Well, I'm not asking to be an officer."

"Well," I say, "we're awfully sorry, but the only way we can take you in is as an officer." He says, "Alright, put me in as the lowest kind of office." They say, "We can't do it. We have to put you in as a captain." He said, "I don't rate as a captain." "Well if you were thirty five, we'd put you in as a major. And the other men that are coming in, as specialists, would be, would - (tape cuts off)