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    Franklin D. Roosevelt: Signed Souvenir Naval Booklet as President.
    -April 1941. Washington D.C. Twenty pages. 8.5"x 11".
    -Lightly toned front cover, else very fine.

    "The Log of the President's Inspection Trip and Cruise on Board U.S.S. Potomac 19 March - 1 April 1941".Signed "For George Durno / from Franklin D. Roosevelt" on the title page, this booklet chronicles a nearly two-week trip that was a mixture of business and pleasure. Durno was a reporter for the International News Service who went along on the trip. A particular favorite of Press Secretary Stephen Early, Durno would often allow himself to be used for "planted" questions in news conferences. The Log Narrative gives daily accounts of the activity of the President, the day's catch (FDR did fancy himself an accomplished fisherman), communications between the President and his Staff in Washington, D.C., and many amusing anecdotes. The trip did serve as a getaway for a beleaguered FDR, but he did have to attend to official business as well.

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    The extended description below was supplied by the consignor. We are making it available to our web bidders who are interested in more in-depth research and broader historical perspective. Please note that presentation (i.e. framing), lot divisions, and interpretations of condition and content may occasionally differ from our descriptions. Assertions of fact and subjective observations contained in this description represent the opinion of the consignor. These remarks have not been checked for accuracy by Heritage Auctions, and we assume no responsibility for their accuracy; they are offered purely to allow the bidder insight into the way the consignor has viewed the item(s) in question. No right of return or claim of lack of authenticity or provenance based upon this extended description will be granted.


    A rare and fabulous historic item, the Log book of the Presidential Flagship U.S.S. Potomac, signed by FDR to a member of the media who traveled with FDR and company on the voyage, George Durno of the International News Service. This voyage was a most important Presidential cruise in early 1941, as FDR prepared the United States militarily and psychologically for the inevitable American involvement in World War II. This unusual and wonderful item is the official Log of the March 19 to April 1, 1941 voyage of FDR on board the U.S.S. Potomac. The Log measures 8 ½ x 11," with a blue heavy stock cover printed with crossed fishing rods. The Log of the U.S.S. Potomac for this special Presidential voyage contains 32 pages, including 20 pages of Log text. Also included is a black and white photograph of the U.S.S. Potomac scale model that was given to the President. The second page of the Log is a black and white photograph of the President at Port Everglades, Florida, Sunday, March 30, 1941. Shown with FDR in the photograph are fellow Presidential voyage companions Harry L. Hopkins, FDR's closest personal advisor during this time, Attorney General Robert H. Jackson, Major General Edwin M. "Pa" Watson, Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes, and Rear Admiral Ross T. McIntire, FDR's personal physician. Others who accompanied FDR on this historic voyage were FDR's press secretary Stephen T. Early, and Secret Service and military personnel, all of whom are listed in the Potomac's Log, as is a detailed Itinerary of the voyage. The President autographed the third page of the Log, above the title "LOG/ of the/ PRESIDENT'S INSPECTION TRIP AND CRUISE/ ON BOARD U.S.S. POTOMAC/ 19 March-1 April, 1941," with the inscription:  "for George Durno/ from Franklin D. Roosevelt." FDR's signature is 5 ½ x 2 ¼," in black ink, signed very boldly, and rates a 10. Later pages of the Log list the Presidential Detachment, the President's Party, and the Itinerary. The Log Narrative gives daily accounts of the activity of the President, the day's catch as FDR did fancy himself an accomplished fisherman, communications between the President and his Staff in Washington, D.C., and many amusing anecdotes. The trip did serve as a getaway for a beleaguered FDR, but he did have to attend to official business as well. On March 22, the President had the best luck of all the on-board fisherman, and throughout the trip radio despatches from the State Department kept the President continuously informed of the situation in Yugoslavia. On March 30, FDR was off the ship and traveling by train. He and his very faithful Scottish terrier, Fala, finally stepped onto dry land again on March 31 where Fala had a surprise greeting for one of the army officers at the train station. The 8 x 10" black and white photograph of the U.S.S. Potomac is stamped on the verso of the photograph with "Naiman's Studio, 521-9th Street, N.W., Washington, D. C." In one corner "Captain" is written in pencil. The historic value of the U.S.S. Potomac Log on the Presidential voyage from March 19 to April 1, 1941 cannot be overstated. Among the many varied personal and Presidential activities FDR engaged in while on board this cruise include the following: the President signed Executive Order 8716 establishing the National Defense Mediation Board on March 19, 1941. Here is an excerpt from FDR's speech on the occasion of signing this Executive Order: "Whereas it is essential in the present emergency that employers and employees engaged in production or transportation of materials necessary to national defense shall exert every possible effort to assure that all work necessary for national defense shall proceed without interruption and with all possible speed:/ Now, therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the statutes, and in order to define further certain functions and duties of the Office for Emergency Management of the Executive Office of the President with respect to the national emergency as declared by the President to exist on September 8, 1939, it is hereby ordered as follows:/ 1. (a) There is hereby created in the Office for Emergency Management, a board to be known as the National Defense Mediation Board (hereinafter referred to as the Board). The Board shall be composed of eleven members to be appointed by the President, of whom three shall be disinterested persons representing the public, four shall be representatives of employees and four shall be representatives of employers. The President shall designate as chairman of the Board one of the members representing the public." Further, on this Presidential voyage aboard the U.S.S. Potomac FDR transmitted to Congress the Anglo-American Base Transfer Agreement on March 27, 1941: "To the Congress:/ On September 3, 1940, I transmitted for the information of the Congress notes exchanged between the British Ambassador at Washington and the Secretary of State on the preceding day, under which this Government acquired the right to lease naval and air bases in Newfoundland and in the islands of Bermuda, the Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Trinidad, and Antigua, and in British Guiana. I now transmit for the information of the Congress a copy of an agreement for the use and operation of these bases, which was signed in London on March 27, 1941, together with the notes exchanged in connection therewith. These bases are for American defense against attack and their construction is consistent with such defense. International developments since my message to the Congress of September third last have emphasized the value to the Western Hemisphere of these outposts of security." FDR also gave a well noted and received radio address from the U.S.S. Potomac for the Jackson Day Dinners on March 29, 1941: "I am sitting in the little cabin of the little ship Potomac, in the harbor of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after a day of sunshine out in the Gulf Stream. That I cannot in person attend one of the many Jackson Day dinners I regret; but it is good that you are again celebrating the memory of a great American leader who believed, fanatically almost, in the principles of a democracy based on the freedom of the ballot box./ I try to get away a couple of times a year on these short trips on salt water. In Washington, as you know, the working day of the Presidency in these days averages about fifteen hours. Even when I go to Hyde Park or to Warm Springs, The White House office, the callers, and the telephones all follow me. But at sea the radio messages and the occasional pouch of mail reduce official work to not more than two or three hours a day./ So there is a chance for a bit of sunshine or a wetted line, or a biography or a detective story or a nap after lunch. Above all there is the opportunity for thinking things through–for differentiating between principles and methods, between the really big things of life and those other things of the moment which may seem all-important today and are forgotten by the world in a month. That means that if today the fellow next to you catches a bigger fish than you do, or vice versa, as sometimes happens, you don't lie awake at night thinking about it./ Yes, you recapture your philosophy, but in so doing you do not sit down mentally and become a fatalist. You still seek peace of mind and of spirit—but you come to realize that today you have to work overtime, and work harder than ever before in your life to make that kind of peace possible later on. It is a fact that I think we all recognize that if we sit down now we may get run over later. And if our kind of civilization gets run over, the kind of peace we seek will become a mere unattainable dream./ That is why, in the comparative quiet of this week, I have become more than ever clear that the time calls for courage and more courage–action and more action./ That is why it is appropriate today to honor the name of Andrew Jackson–because he was first and foremost a great American, who placed his devotion to country above adherence to party, and provided an ever living symbol of the rugged, courageous spirit of our people. Responsibility lay heavily upon the shoulders of Andrew Jackson./ In his day the threat to the Federal Union came from within. It was a sectional threat. More than that, it was a threat which came from Jackson's own people–indeed, from some members of his own party. It was inspired by refusal to recognize the sovereign authority of the United States. And by his actions Jackson placed himself far above both section and party./ In our own day the threat to our Union and to our democracy is not a sectional one. It comes from a great part of the world which surrounds us, and which draws more tightly around us, day by day./ Again, to do this job, we Americans- nearly all of us–have risen above any considerations of party politics./ Long before Jackson became President, the two-party system of government had become firmly entrenched as a basic principle of American political life. It had shown its value as a method of obtaining free and open discussion of public issues, formulating new policies to meet new conditions, and fixing responsibility in affairs of government as an indispensable part of our conception of free elections./ The dictators cannot seem to realize that here in America our people can maintain two parties, and at the same time maintain an inviolate and indivisible Nation. The totalitarian mentality is too narrow to comprehend the greatness of a people who can be divided in party allegiance at election time, but remain united in devotion to their country and to the ideals of democracy at all times./ In dictatorships there can be no party divisions. For all men must think as they are told, speak as they are told, write as they are told, live–and die–as they are told. In those countries the Nation is not above the party, as with us; the party is above the Nation; the party is the Nation./ Every common man and woman is forced to walk the straight and narrow path of the party line, not strictly speaking a party line, but rather a line drawn by the dictator himself, who own the party./ In our country, disagreements among us are expressed in the polling place. In the dictatorships, disagreements are suppressed in the concentration camp./ Last year we held an American election, in which the people–Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and others–by secret ballot, and without prodding by the bayonets of storm troopers, voted for their public officers–local, State and national./ And we are determined so to act that Americans will go on year after year, holding free elections./ All of the great freedoms which form the basis of our American democracy are part and parcel of that concept of free elections, with free expression of political choice between candidates of political parties. For such elections guarantee that there can be no possibility of stifling freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the air, freedom of worship./ These are the eternal principles which are now being threatened by the alliance of dictator Nations./ Ours is the responsibility of defending these principles which have come to us as our national heritage. Ours is the responsibility of passing them on- not only intact, but stronger than ever, to all the generations yet to come./ We Americans realize how tenuous would be the existence of our party system, our freedom of elections, our freedom of living, if the doctrines of dictatorship were to prevail. For if they were to prevail, it would not be in Europe alone./ The history of Nations betrayed during the past year, the history of Nations conquered during the past year, should show us and the rest of the world what it means to live in a world organized and ruled by the Gestapo./ Let us ask ourselves, frankly and fearlessly: How long could we maintain our ancient liberties under these terrible conditions? How soon would we have to accept the doctrine that one must fight fire with fire?/ How long would it be possible to maintain a semblance of our two-party system, with free elections, in a Nazi-dominated world?/ How soon would we decide to imitate Nazism and abandon our two-party system, and regiment our people into one party—which would certainly be neither Democratic nor Republican?/ Should that evil time come, we would no longer hold these friendly gatherings, either on Jackson Day or on Lincoln Day./ We Americans have already weighed these questions carefully and thoughtfully. We Americans have announced our determination that, with all our resources and all our power, we shall help those who block the dictators in their march toward domination of the world./ The decision we have reached is not a partisan decision. The leader of the Republican party himself–Mr. Wendell Willkie in word and in action, is showing what patriotic Americans mean by rising above partisanship and rallying to the common cause. And now that the plain people of America have spoken their determination, Republicans and Democrats in the Congress and out of the Congress are patriotically cooperating to make that determination take positive form./ The enemies of democracy are now trying, by every means, to destroy our unity. The chief weapon they now use against us is propaganda, propaganda that appeals to selfishness, that comes in ever increasing quantities, with ever increasing violence, from across the seas. And it is disseminated within our own borders by agents or innocent dupes of foreign powers./ It is directed against all Americans–Republican and Democratic–farmers and bankers–employers and employees./ Propagandists, defeatists, and dupes, protected as they are by our fundamental civil liberties, have been preaching, and are still preaching, the ungodly gospel of fear. They use insinuation and falsehood. They have tried to shatter the confidence of Americans in their Government and in one another./ We have seen what has happened to the great industrialists of Germany who supported the Nazi movement, and then received their reward in Nazi concentration camps or in death./ We have seen how the workers of France were betrayed by their so-called champions, the Communists. For no matter what Communist lips have said, their actions have proved that in their hearts they care nothing for the real rights of free labor./ The agents of Nazism and those who unwittingly help them are still trying to play both ends against the middle. They have attempted to exploit the natural love of our people for peace. They have represented themselves as pacifists, when actually they are serving the most brutal warmongers of all time. They have preached ‘Peace–Peace!' in the same way the devil can quote Scripture./ Of course, the purpose of all this has been to spread terror among us. The effect of it has been only to fortify our determination./ When Abraham Lincoln became President, he had to face the awful reality of a war between the States. On July 4, 1861, in his first message to the Congress, he presented this vital question:/ ‘Must a government, of necessity, be too strong for the liberties of its own people, or too weak to maintain its own existence?'/ Lincoln answered that question as Jackson had answered it not by words, but by deeds. And America still marches on./ We of today have been presented with that same question. We too are answering it by deeds. Our well-considered philosophy for the attainment of peace comes not from weakness but–everlastingly–from the courage of America." The U.S.S. Potomac was built in 1934 as the Coast Guard cutter Electra. The 165-foot vessel, weighing 376 gross tons and cruising at speeds of 10 to 13 knots, was commissioned as a United States Navy vessel in 1936, renamed the U.S.S. Potomac, and served as Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Presidential yacht until his death in 1945. As former Assistant Secretary of the Navy, FDR had a deep love of the sea and the Navy tradition. He disliked to fly and preferred to travel by train or ship throughout his long and important Presidency./ During the sultry summers days in Washington, D.C., FDR preferred to cruise on the U.S.S. Potomac rather than stay in The White House. The Potomac gave the nation's 32nd President much-needed respite from the cares of governing the United States throughout the Great Depression and World War II. He loved holding informal strategy sessions with close advisors and Congressional leaders in the privacy and seclusion of the yacht. Recreation aboard the vessel included fishing, poker games and family gatherings, and he spent endless hours on board with his beloved stamp collection. Having limited mobility since he was stricken in 1921 with polio at the age of 39, FDR's greatest fear was being caught in a fire and being unable to escape. He therefore preferred the U.S.S. Potomac, an all steel vessel, to the all-wood Sequoia after his inauguration. A hand-operated elevator was installed inside a false stack, and the President–who had developed an extremely strong upper body–was able to use ropes and pulleys to move the elevator up and down between the saloon and upper boat deck. There are a few records of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt coming aboard her husband's "Floating White House." In 1941, she celebrated her 57th birthday with family members aboard the U.S.S. Potomac. ER also came aboard during the June, 1939 visit by the United Kingdom's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth when the two couples cruised to George Washington's home at Mount Vernon. Other royalty to board the Presidential yacht included Crown Princess Martha of Norway, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, and Crown Prince Gustav of Sweden. On Monday, August 4, 1941, four months before Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, FDR boarded the U.S.S. Potomac ostensibly for a fishing trip and a visit to Martha's Vineyard. The President, however, was secretly transferred to the heavy cruiser U.S.S. Augusta on Tuesday morning the 5th to travel to Newfoundland where he would meet with British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill, their first meeting as President and Prime Minister. During this top-secret rendezvous, the two world leaders forged the principles of the Atlantic Charter, which formed the Allied partnership during World War II and what Roosevelt called the "United Nations," to plan the post-war peace. With the United States' direct involvement in the War at the end of 1941, the President's recreational use of the U.S.S. Potomac came to an end. After FDR's death on April 12, 1945, the Potomac began a long and ignominious decline from her former role in world affairs. After many adventures and many owners–including rock and roll singer Elvis Presley at one point–she was seized in 1980 in San Francisco by United States Customs for her role as a front for drug smugglers. Towed to Treasure Island, the proud vessel's hull was pierced one night and she sank. Refloated by the United States Navy two weeks later, she was sold to the Port of Oakland for just $15,000. The Port of Oakland spearheaded a cooperative effort with organized labor, maritime corporations and dedicated volunteers to complete a $5 million restoration. Opened to the public in 1995, the Association for the Preservation of the Presidential Yacht Potomac now operates this National Historic Landmark as an active memorial to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the momentous times through which he led our nation. This significant and  historic signed and dedicated U.S.S. Potomac Log from the Presidential cruise in the spring of 1941, while FDR and his advisors prepared America for war, is truly a rare and wonderful item, of immense significance.

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    Auction Dates
    June, 2008
    7th Saturday
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