National Geographic : 1966 Jan
Christening a gallant ship: Mrs. Roosevelt helps launch the carrier Yorktown in 1943. With her stands Rear Adm. Elliott Buckmaster, captain of the vessel's namesake and predecessor when the Japanese sank her in the Battle of Midway the previous year. The storied "Big E," the carrier Enterprise(below), goes down the ways at Newport News, Virginia, in 1936. A Navy booster since his days as Assistant Sec retary of the Department, Roosevelt pushed a naval expansion program that built up America's defenses and provided work for thousands of unemployed. WIDE WORLD repaired and equipped, and received 99-year leases on eight bases in the Western Hemis phere. It was, Winston Churchill later wrote, "a decidedly unneutral act." In the winter of 1940-41, when British abil ity to buy arms was nearly exhausted, Roose velt devised "lend-lease." If a neighbor's house were afire, he explained, certainly one would lend him a fire hose to extinguish the blaze. Roosevelt also brought economic pres sure on the Japanese to try to prevent their taking over Southeast Asia. Aid to Allies precipitated a bitter debate be tween U. S. isolationists and interventionists. In the campaign of 1940, however, Roose velt's opponent, Wendell Willkie, also fa vored aiding the Allies. F. D. R. won, becom ing the first President to serve a third term. In January, 1941, though the Nation was not yet directly involved, Roosevelt proclaimed as war aims the Four Freedoms: of speech and worship and from want and fear. He met Churchill off Argentia, Newfoundland, in August, 1941, and they drew up the Atlantic Charter, which incorporated these aims. Sunday Attack Brings War to U. S. Before the year was out, the Nation was precipitated into the war. Japanese airplanes broke the Sunday calm of December 7, 1941, striking Pearl Harbor with devastating effect (opposite). Congress declared war the next day. Three days later, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States. As wartime Commander in Chief, Roose velt delegated much of his responsibility for home-front war production and concentrated on world-wide strategy and diplomacy. The ultimate decisions were his: the invasion of North Africa in 1942, the appointment of Dwight D. Eisenhower rather than George C. Marshall to lead the Normandy D-Day as sault. He told Marshall, "I could not sleep at night with you out of the country." But even as he fought the war, he planned for peace, giving much thought to a United Nations. In 1944, defeating New York's Governor Thomas E. Dewey, Roosevelt won a fourth term. But, as the Allies poised on the brink of victory over the Nazis, his health deteriorated. On April 12, 1945, while posing for a portrait in the Little White House at Warm Springs, Georgia, he collapsed and died of a cerebral hemorrhage. The Nation was plunged into mourning. As a sailor in Times Square la mented, "You know it's tough when one of your buddies has to go, and President Roose velt was our buddy."