The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > Audio Materials
Eleanor Roosevelt Speeches
Speech on FDR Home
April 12, 1946
ER remarks at presentation of turning Roosevelt estate at Hyde Park over to the US Government
I have the honor to present Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, who will deliver the presentation address.
President, Secretary Krug, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, this is the house in which my husband was born and brought up. It has undergone some changes since the days when he first saw the light of day, but they were changes made to meet the needs of the growing family and his own tastes. He always felt that this was his home and he loved the house, and the view, the woods, special trees, the particular spots where he played as a child or where he had ridden his horse as a boy and a man, or where he later drove his car when he was no longer able to ride. Life here had always a healing quality for him. Here he spent the summer, nine months after he had infantile paralysis, and laboriously worked to regain some measure of strength which would enable him to get about. As he gained physically, the healing of the spirit went forward at the same time.
All but the last four years of his life, this was his mother's home, but he came here with a sense of complete ownership and partnership with her since his father died when he was still in college. In spite of his father's age and delicate health during the last few years of his life, he gave to my husband a great enjoyment in country life and a great understanding of what was owed to the land. I have often thought it must have been a great regret that he had only the time to direct the forestry work on the place and was obliged, after his mother died because of the pressure of work in Washington during the war, to let the farm run down, for he had always wanted to see it run on a business-like basis and become an asset to the community.
His years in the White House taught him that the homes of presidents, particularly their birthplaces, usually become of such great public interest that the families find them hard to live in. During my husband's term of office, he was asked to take over various birthplaces of former presidents. Loving history as he did, I think my husband always rather enjoyed trying to project what the future might bring. And so, he could see his own home as one day being owned by the people of the United States and being one of the points where they would come to increase their understanding of history through a greater knowledge of the men who had made it.
Our children became equally familiar with their father's trend of thought and so it surprised none of us to find a memorandum after my husband's death telling us that, while under his will we had a right to live here if we wished during our lives, he thought we would be happier if we did not try to live in the big house. He knew the times were changing and that it would be difficult to run a big establishment and that my tastes were not for the type of formal living which this big house would entail. He warned us that the people might want to come here often and that we would not feel justified in keeping them out, so he pictured us as looking for privacy in the attic or in the woods.
I have many associations with this house, both as it was when I was married and as it is today, but it is with no regret that I turn it over to the Government of the United States. It will be well cared for and preserved, and our children and grandchildren will have the privilege of learning about my husband and his mother in a way which perhaps would not be possible if any of us had gone on living in this house and left the stamp of our own personalities by creating new associations and a different atmosphere. I am glad that I shall live nearby and I hope that some of our children and grandchildren will continue to live in this vicinity for many years to come. It is the place where we have roots and I am a great believer in putting roots down deep and preserving family traditions even if you change the house in which you live. My husband had built one cottage up on the top of a hill on some land which he had bought himself and I am particularly happy to have it occupied now by my son, Elliott, since that was a place where my husband was particularly happy. This house of his own creation, he liked to think that someday it would be occupied by one of his children. Since this is the first anniversary of my husband's death, I am happy to have it connected with something which will always be as alive as the dedication of this house to the people of the United States.
My husband's spirit will live in this house, in the library and in the quiet garden, inside the hedge where he wished his body to lie. It is his life and his character and his personality which will live with us and which will endure and be imported to those who come to see the surroundings in which he grew to maturity. It is with pleasure that our children and I see this house dedicated to the people and opened to them. It was the people, all of the people of this country and of the world, who my husband loved and kept constantly in his mind and heart. He would want them to enjoy themselves in these surroundings and to draw from them rest and peace and strength as he did all the days of his life.
Mr. President, I am happy that you could be with us on this occasion. And to you Mr. Secretary, I now turn over the full possession of the land, the house with its contents, the other buildings, which my husband willed to the people of the United States.
I have the honor to introduce the Secretary of the Interior, Julius A. Krug, who will deliver the acceptance address-
- Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962 :
About this document
Speech on FDR Home
April 12, 1946
- National Endowment for the Humanities
Eleanor Roosevelt Speeches is a project and publication of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, The George Washington University, Academic Building, Post Hall, Room 312, 2100 Foxhall Road, NW, Washington, DC 20007
Transcribed and published by the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, 2019-11-27
Transcription created from holdings at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library