International News Photos, Inc., 10 June 1936. Photograph. This is an original press photograph of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on 8 June 1936 at the White House preparing speeches for his Dust Bowl trip of 1936 during his first term as president. This press photo once belonged to The Cleveland News’ working archive. The image, measuring 6.5 x 8.5 in (16.5 x 21.6 cm) is a gelatin silver print on matte photo paper. Condition is very good. The paper is crisp, clean, and free of scuffing; there is some light bruising visible only under raking light. The verso bears the copyright stamp of “International News Photos, Inc.”, a stamp of The Cleveland News, a date stamp reading Jun 10 1936, and a typed caption reading, “Photo made at the White House, showing President Roosevelt preparing his speaches [sic] for his Southern trip starting tonight. The President is scheduled to speak at Little Rock, Ark. June 10th at Dallas, Tex. on the 12th and at Vincennes, Ind. on the morning of the 14th.”
The nation that Franklin Roosevelt was elected to serve when he first became President in 1933 was suffering the effects of the Great Depression. Nearly a quarter of the work force was unemployed, price and productivity had dropped to one-third of their 1929 levels, and farms across the country were suffering the consequences of decades of intensive farming and drought conditions that turned the Great Plains into the Dust Bowl. Among FDR’s New Deal projects were those dedicated to American farms. The Farm Security Administration was established to provide emergency relief. The Shelterbelt Project, which saw the planting of over 200 million trees over eight years to provide windbreak for the devastating plains winds, remains one of the greatest environmental successes in American history.
During the 1936 election year FDR travelled across the region devastated by the Dust Bowl. At his speech in Little Rock he succinctly communicated the importance of the economic projects undertaken by his administration, “the enjoyment by all men of their constitutional guaranties of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – these questions, so delicate in their economic balance that any change in their status is reflected with the speed of light from Maine to California – we are commencing to solve.” After this Dust Bowl tour, FDR reflected on the devastation he witnessed in a fireside chat of 6 September 1936, “I saw drought devastation in nine states. I talked with families who had lost their wheat crop, lost their corn crop, lost their livestock, lost the water in their well, lost their garden and come through to the end of the summer without one dollar of cash resources, facing a winter without feed or food.”
Though New Deal relief efforts were of immeasurable assistance to those devastated, the Dust Bowl persisted until 1939 when rainfall finally ended the drought. WWII and its transformation of America into an “Arsenal of Democracy” brought a final end to the Great Depression as unemployment rates fell and agricultural prices rose. Such was the singular nature of both the man and his presidency that no mere biographical sketch of Franklin Delano Roosevelt seems to suffice. “Even those critical of his achievements recognize their magnitude” (ANB). America’s only crippled president and the only president ever elected to four terms in office was the indispensable leader of his country during its greatest economic crisis and its greatest foreign war. By any reasonable assessment, Roosevelt fundamentally reshaped social, political, and geopolitical expectations and realities not just of his nation, but of large parts of the world. FDR, as he became widely known, served as thirty-second president of the United States for twelve years, from 1933-1945, dying in office on 12 April 1945, only months after the beginning of his fourth term and less than a month before VE Day. Item #005499