"TO JIM BARNES CHRISTMASTIDE 1944 FROM FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT": EXCEEDINGLY RARE LIMITED EDITION OF FDR'S MOVING JUNE 6, 1944 D-DAY PRAYER, ONE OF ONLY 100 COPIES, HIS LAST CHRISTMAS BOOK, INSCRIBED TO A CONGRESSMAN AND ASSISTANT
ROOSEVELT, Franklin D. D-Day Prayer by President Franklin D. Roosevelt from the White House. June 6, 1944. Washington, D.C.: (U.S. Government Printing Office, December, 1944). Slim quarto, original half ivory vellum, dark green morocco spine label, marbled boards, top edge gilt, uncut; pp. , original slipcase. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $26,000.
Limited edition, number 60 of only 100 copies, President Roosevelt's final Christmas Book, inscribed by FDR for presentation to close friends: "To Jim Barnes Christmastide 1944 from Franklin D. Roosevelt" with his penned "60" on the colophon page. Roosevelt died in office less than four months later. Especially "difficult to obtain today… FDR's Christmas Books are prime collector's items… nearly all of them were distributed exclusively to close friends of the family" (Halter, 194).
On the night of June 6, 1944, as American and Allied troops stormed the beaches at Normandy, President Roosevelt went on the radio "to address the nation for the first time about the Normandy invasion. His speech took the form of a prayer. The date and timing of the Normandy invasion had been top secret. During a national radio broadcast on June 5 about the Allied liberation of Rome, Roosevelt had made no mention of the Normandy operation, already underway at that time. When he spoke to the country on June 6, the President felt the need to explain his earlier silence. Shortly before he went on the air, he added several handwritten lines to the opening of his speech that addressed that point. They read: "Last night, when I spoke to you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far" (Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library). The June 6, 1944 edition of The Christian Science Monitor reported that President Roosevelt wrote this prayer "in his study during the night as the news of the invasion began to reach the White House." It is estimated, according to Andrew Malcolm, that as many as 100 million people listened to it. "The prayer does not invoke one faith, but the appeal to God is bold and unapologetic. The D-Day Prayer was an extraordinary event in U.S. religious history" (Malcolm). Limited edition, one of only 100 copies issued: "privately printed… and at his own expense." This was the President's final Christmas Book; "FDR Christmas Books are prime collector's items… nearly all of them were distributed exclusively to close friends of the family… difficult to obtain today" (Halter, 193-4). Precedes the 1945 printing of the D-Day Prayer in a monograph with the speech's original title, Let Our Hearts Be Stout. Unpaginated: title page and four pages of text printed in red and black. Without scarce acetate. See Halter T796. This copy in inscribed to FDR's friend and assistant James "Jim" Barnes, who served as a Congressman from Illinois from 1939 to 1943, after which he was appointed Administrative Assistant to President Roosevelt. He also was part of the Naval History Society with Roosevelt in 1917.
Book and slipcase about-fine. A desirable inscribed copy with excellent provenance.