Monday, September 23, 2013


September 23, 2013


                            FDR Memorial
                        Washington, D.C.
                    Photo by John White
                           July 14, 2003

Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Under increasing attacks from Republican opponents, President Franklin D. Roosevelt reacted 69 years ago today, September 23, 1944, in a speech to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters here in the Nation's Capital.

FDR said...

"These Republican leaders have not been content with attacks on me, or my wife, or my sons. No, not content with that, they now include my little dog Fala*. 

Well, of course, I don't resent attacks, and my family don't resent attacks, but Fala does resent them." 

The President continued...

"I am accustomed to hearing malicious falsehoods about myself, but I think I have a right to object to libelous statements about my dog."

FDR went on to say that his Republican opponents were just trying to distract voters from the real issues facing the country in 1944.

Republicans in 1944 circulated a story that FDR had unintentionally left Fala in the Aleutian Islands while on a visit there and sent a Navy destroyer, to retrieve him at a cost to taxpayers of several million dollars.

FDR said...

"You know, Fala is Scotch**, and being a Scottie, as soon as he learned that Republican fiction writers in Congress...had concocted (this) story...his Scottish soul was furious."

With their presidential candidates having been defeated in landslides by FDR in 1932, 1936 and 1940, perhaps the only hope the Republicans had for the Election of 1944*** was to go after Fala.   If that was their plan, it didn't work.

                        FDR Memorial
                      Washington, D.C.
                   Photo by John White

*Fala (1940-1952), the only presidential pet to be honored by statues, one in Washington, D.C. and the other in San Juan, Puerto Rico, was a gift to FDR from his cousin, Daisy Suckley, who taught the Scottish Terrier how to sit, roll over and jump.

Originally named Big Boy, FDR renamed him after "Murray the Outlaw of Falahill," a famous Scottish ancestor.

FDR issued an "executive order" that only he would feed Fala after he discovered the dog's intestinal problems were caused from being overfed in the White House kitchen. 

After FDR's death in 1945, Eleanor took over custody of Fala who survived until a few days before his 12th birthday.  But as Eleanor wrote in her "My Day Column," Fala was never the same dog after his master died.

            "Fala's Leather Collar"
      National Park Service Photo

**Scottish Terrier is one of 5 breeds which originated in Scotland.  The dog is described as a rugged breed with a wily outer coat and a soft, dense undercoat.  They make good watchdogs and are loyal.  President George W. Bush also owned a ST.

             Ladies and Gentlemen, 
     The 1st Dog of the United States
                     Barney Bush
       Photo by Alex Cooney (2004)

***Election of 1944, FDR won an unprecedented 4th term by defeating Gov. Thomas E. Dewey 432-99 in the Electoral College and winning 36 of 48 states.
FDR won 53.4% of the popular vote.  Despite losing, Dewey fared better than the previous 3 Republican nominees had against FDR.