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Lot 2: Franklin D. Roosevelt TLS: The only known communication between FDR and Truman as President and VP in private hands, written just weeks before FDR’s death

Antiquarian Archives

January 10, 2016
Lakewood, NJ, US

More About this Item


Description

Typed memorandum signed as president, White House letterhead, dated March 26, 1945. Memorandum sent to the Vice President [Truman], the Speaker [Rayburn], Senator Barkley [Majority Leader], Senator White [Minority Leader], Congressman McCormack [Majority Leader], and Congressman Martin [Minority Leader], blasting Congressional leaders for visiting war zones during WWII.

In full: "“On March 23, 1943, I addressed the attached memorandum to you [typescript present], urging the limitation of visits of Congressional Committees to the theaters of war. It was hoped that this policy would permit committees directly concerned with the prosecution of the war to view the front-line activities at first hand but that, at the same time, such Congressional visits would be limited sufficiently as to avoid placing undue burdens on the military commanders in the field.

"The Secretaries of War and the Navy have recently sent me a memorandum, a copy of which I am sending to each of you in confidence [photocopy present], calling my attention to problems with respect to visits overseas by individual Congressmen as contrasted to committee trips. It appears that in numerous recent instances, individual members of Congress have approached theater commanders in rear areas, such as the United Kingdom, with a request that they be permitted to enter areas of active operations for which they do not have the required Joint Chiefs of Staff Military Permit. The theater commanders concerned have, quite understandably, usually given the requested permission in spite of the fact that they know that such visits might interfere with military activities. You will readily appreciate that it is very difficult for the theater commanders or their staffs to avoid recognition of persons of national prominence and, as a consequence, their attention is diverted from the very pressing and difficult tasks at hand.

"I feel it highly desirable, in view of this situation, to keep such requests to theater commanders to a minimum, and I am sure you will agree with me as to the necessity for this. I hope, therefore, that you will find it possible to suggest to members of the Senate and of the House that they refrain from visits to areas of active operations unless they are in possession of a Military Permit issued by the Joint Chiefs of Staff prior to their departure from Washington.”"

Removably contained in Mylar. Accompanied by photocopies of related letters and documents noted to be “Reproduced from Holdings at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.

This memorandum dates to a critical time during World War II as Allied forces closed in on Germany and a conclusion to war in the European theater appeared imminent. Looking toward the future of postwar Europe, President Roosevelt met with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin at the Yalta Conference a month earlier. Even with victory on the horizon, Roosevelt recognized the importance of maintaining focus on the operations at hand and distractions would not be tolerated, thus this memorandum. Three days after sending this correspondence, on March 29, the president left Washington by train for Warm Springs, Georgia, where he would die 17 days later.

An extremely rare and historically important piece, this memorandum is the only recognized communication between Roosevelt and Truman as president and VP in private hands. In addition, there is only one other known White House letter written by President Roosevelt after this date.

Dimensions

8 by 10.5 inches

Date

March 26, 1945

Condition Report

Very good condition, with staining to corners from adhesive residue on reverse, block of toning over text and signature from previous display, and paperclip impressions to top edge.

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