"TO FRANKLIN JR. & ETHEL WITH LOVE FROM PA. CHRISTMASTIDE 1944. 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, WARMLY INSCRIBED TO HIS SON, CONGRESSMAN AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION CHAIRMAN FRANKLIN JR., AND HIS DAUGHTER-IN-LAW, HEIRESS ETHEL DU PONT
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. $27,000.
Limited edition, number 44 of only 100 copies, President Roosevelt's final Christmas Book, inscribed by FDR for presentation to close friends and family (as in this copy to his son and daughter-in-law): "For Franklin Jr. & Ethel with love from Pa. Christmastide 1944. Franklin D. Roosevelt" with his penned "44" 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 is inscribed to Roosevelt's son, Franklin Jr., and his daughter-in-law, Ethel du Pont. Franklin Roosevelt, Jr. was FDR's third son. Having come of age at the outbreak of World War II, Franklin Jr. became a decorated naval officer earning the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, and Purple Heart. After the war, Franklin Jr. went on to work in private legal practice, before eventually turning to politics. After a brief stint on Truman's Committee on Civil Rights, Franklin Jr. ran for the House, serving for six years as a member of the Liberal Party. Franklin Jr. lost two gubernatorial races, before finding a home back in DC as Kennedy's Under Secretary of the United States Department of Commerce and Johnson's Chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Ethel du Pont was a prominent socialite as well as an heiress to the Du Pont Corporation. Franklin Jr. and Ethel had a rocky, decade-long marriage that produced two children. Ethel committed suicide at age 49 after a lengthy mental health struggle. Franklin Jr. went on to marry four more times and died of lung cancer at age 74.
A very nearly fine presentation copy with exceptional provenance.