Predicting Natural Weather Disasters Before They Happen 10/14

Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency was defined by his reactions to crises in the United States and abroad such as the Dust Bowl which devastated the American West. Through projects such as the Civilian Conservation Corps, FDR displayed dedication to the environmental well-being of America and the world.

Come hear Charles Lin discuss current environmental efforts and hear about his experience with the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, the air quality monitoring over the Alberta oil sands region, Canada’s participation in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the implications of climate change on disaster modeling and subsequent disaster response.

About the Speaker: Charles Lin is an environmental scientist who served as the director general of the atmospheric science and technology directorate within Environment & Climate Change Canada, a Canadian federal government department researching and monitoring weather, climate, and air quality. Mr. Lin also spent 20 years at McGill University in teaching and research positions, including heading McGill’s Environmental and Climate Change Centre.

Monday, 10/14 7 PM FDR Suite SIGN UP required


Information and Influence in Sweden

Sweden is overhauling their approach to national defense, greatly expanding military budgets, restoring conscription, and hardening defenses.

Part of the increasing pressure on Sweden comes in the form of insidious information campaigns, some originating within the country, some coming from right-wing political groups beyond Sweden’s borders, and some sponsored by antagonistic states.

Since 2016, the FDR Foundation has been honored to periodically work with the Swedish government on countering disinformation campaigns. Now we’re taking the work from Harvard to Stockholm, where four professors will work directly with Swedish decision makers and practitioners in November, 2019. We look forward to both being of assistance and to bringing our findings back to Harvard for further research

Roosevelt, Churchill And The Creation Of The United Nations

By: David Carlin

US President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882 – 1945, left) with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965) at the White House, Washington DC, December 1941. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images) GETTY IMAGES

Today opens the 74th UN General Assembly. For many New Yorkers, mentioning the General Assembly evokes images of a Manhattan traffic apocalypse. Traffic notwithstanding, the United Nations reflects the remarkable vision of two great leaders: Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.  

It was December 1941. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, America had entered WWII and immediately experienced a series of setbacks in the Pacific. The war in Europe and Africa was going nearly poorly too. Nazi troops were on the outskirts of Moscow and British forces faced losses in Libya. Amid this gloom, Churchill arrived at the White House. He and Roosevelt met extensivelyon the military situation and Anglo-American cooperation. Several months prior, the two had issued the Atlantic Charter. When the war’s outcome remained uncertain, this landmark document dared to imagine a free and peaceful future. The charter asserted the rights of self-government as well as economic and social freedom for all. It also laid the groundwork for international collaboration on a variety of topics from trade to defense.

Now, Churchill and Roosevelt sought to formalize their war aims and clarify the relationship between the numerous allied nations. Yet, they struggled to find a suitable name for their coalition. The name came to the president in a flash of inspiration. He raced to Churchill’s bedroom and announced: “the United Nations!” Roosevelt quickly realized that his guest was stark naked and begged his pardon. Churchill allegedly replied: “the prime minister of Great Britain has nothing to hide from the president of the United States!”

Tall tale or not, both men were unswervingly committed to building a better world from the ashes of WWII. On New Year’s Day 1942, Roosevelt and Churchill…

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Jean Edward Smith, biographer who reassessed presidential reputations, dies at 86

September 14, 2019 at 8:55 p.m. EDT

Jean Edward Smith. (Christine Smith)

Jean Edward Smith, a scholar who was one of the most admired biographers of his time, the author of smoothly written accounts of several presidents, including Ulysses S. Grant, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower, that became prizewinning bestsellers, died Sept. 1 at his home in Huntington, W.Va. He was 86.

He had complications from Parkinson’s disease, said his wife, Christine Smith.

Dr. Smith, a Washington-born political scientist who spent seven years as an Army officer, was a faculty member at the University of Toronto for many years and later taught at Marshall University in West Virginia. His first books were on German politics, but beginning in the 1990s, he became a prolific chronicler of the lives of major figures in U.S. history, and was praised by historians and everyday readers alike.

In 2012, Columbia University historian Henry F. Graff called Dr. Smith “indubitably America’s most distinguished biographer.”

His 2001 study of Grant, the Civil War general who later served two terms as president, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and helped raise scholars’ estimation of Grant’s effectiveness as president.

Grant was a failure in business — “He was too…

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War Comes to Warsaw: September 1939


Staff members drape a large American flag over the roof of the embassy in Warsaw in anticipation of German air attacks. U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum / Julien Bryan Archive

U.S. Consulate General Warsaw on Sept. 1, 1939. U.S. Library of Congress

Warsaw, Sept. 1, 1939, 5:30 a.m. The shriek of air raid sirens awakens Ambassador Anthony “Tony” J. Drexel Biddle Jr. Troubled by heightened German-Polish tensions, Adolf Hitler’s demands for territorial rectifications and the recent mobilization of the Polish Army, Biddle calls the duty officer at the Polish Foreign Ministry.

Is this an attack? The answer: Yes, there are numerous reports of German incursions onto Polish soil. Electing to telephone rather than cable flash news, Biddle manages to reach Ambassador William C. Bullitt in Paris. Bullitt, in turn, places a trans-Atlantic call.

2:55 a.m., Washington time. A sleeping President Franklin Roosevelt awakens to Bullitt’s call. After weeks of tension, a war of nerves is now a shooting war. The president alerts Secretary of State Cordell Hull and other senior officials. In the pre-dawn hours, lights suddenly begin to burn at the State Department. Twenty years after the peace settlement of Versailles, Europe again plunges into general war.

The German attack does not catch Ambassador Biddle or the department entirely by surprise. In March 1939 the department had…

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How Franklin Roosevelt learned of the start of the Second World War

In the early morning hours of September 1, 1939, President Roosevelt was awakened in his bedroom at the White House by a telephone call from his Ambassador in Paris, William C. Bullitt, who advised the President that Germany had invaded Poland and that several Polish cities were being bombed. Roosevelt understood immediately that this meant a larger war, for Great Britain and France had pledged to come to Poland’s defense if Germany attacked. World War II had begun. The President wrote this unique “bedside note” documenting for posterity how and when he had received the news of the outbreak of World War II.


“The President received word at 2:50 am, by telephone by Ambass. Biddle through Ambass. Bullitt that Germany has invaded Poland and that several cities are being bombed. The President directed that all Navy ships and Army commands be notified by radio at once. In bed 3:05 am, September 1, 1939. FDR”

On September 3, FDR went on national radio to speak to the American people about the crisis in Europe. “This nation will remain a neutral nation,” he declared, “but I cannot ask that every American remain neutral in thought as well. . . . Even a neutral cannot be asked to close his mind or his conscience.”

In the crucial months that followed, the President would demonstrate that his sympathies lay with the victims of Axis aggression. Yet America’s isolationist mood limited FDR’s freedom to act. In particular, the country’s Neutrality Acts prohibited the sale of American weapons to warring nations.

Complied by Cynthia M. Koch, August 29, 2019

Source: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, “Found in the Archives, FDR’s Bedside Note, and the special exhibition, “Freedom From Fear: FDR, Commander in Chief,” September 2, 2005- November 5, 2006 (compiler’s files).

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