ROOSEVELT, Franklin D. Two typed letters signed ("Franklin D. Roosevelt") as President, to Major General Frank R. McCoy, Washington, D.C., 21 October 1941 and 2 October 1942. Together 2 pages, 4to (10½ x 7¾ in.), White House stationery, laid down on thick card, some glue residue along left margin of the second, some light browning.
"WHEN MIGHTY FORCES OF AGGRESSION ARE AT LARGE... WHEN WE KNOW THAT THEY SEEK ULTIMATELY TO DESTROY... EVERYTHING FOR WHICH OUR GOVERNMENT STANDS... OUR FOREIGN POLICY CANNOT REMAIN PASSIVE"
Two highly revealing letters, probably intended as annual foreign policy statements for the Association. Major General Frank R. McCoy (1874-1954), President of the Foreign Policy Association in New York, was a former junior aide to President Theodore Roosevelt. The first letter, written just six weeks prior to Pearl Harbor, defines his conception of American foreign policy against the background of the European War and forthrightly states his opinion of those who still believed the U.S. could remain uncommitted in that conflict: "[Our foreign policy] is to defend honor, the freedom, the rights, the interests and the well-being of American people. We seek no gain at the expense of others... When mighty forces of aggression are at large, when they have ruthlessly overrun a continent, when we know that they seek ultimately to destroy our freedom, our rights, our well-being, everything for which this Government stands, our foreign policy cannot remain passive. There are a few persons in this country who seek to lull us into a false sense of security, to tell us that we are not threatened, that all we need do to avoid the storm is to sit idly by--and to submit supinely if necessary. The same deadly virus has been spread by Hitler's agents and his Quislings and dupes in every country which he has overrun. It has helped him immeasureably. The American people are not easily fooled; they are hard-headed realists and they fear no one. A free people with a free press makes up its own mind... Our people have decided, and they are constantly becoming more determined, that Hitler's threat to everything for which we stand must be struck down... The real end, the inescapable end, is the destruction of the Hitler menace."
As President of the Foreign Policy Association, McCoy was frequently called upon by the government for special assignments in inter-American affairs, civil aviation, and most importantly perhaps, in the investigation of the Pearl Harbor disaster. In the second letter, Roosevelt's resolve the following October has been brought into sharper focus as a result of the Japanse attack: "Last year... I said that, although we were not then actively at war, ours was as great a responsibility for destroying the totalitarian menace to everything for which we stand as that of the peoples who were fighting against it... The crucial test came only a few weeks later when the foes of human freedom struck at us and plunged our country into war. During the months that have elapsed, my faith in my countrymen and their faith in themselves have been more than vindicated." He writes of the sacrificial spirit of devotion "that will never abate until victory is ours -- final, unmistakable, and complete. In war as in peace, our foreign policy is the instrument through which we establish our relationships with the world of which we are part... With victory secured, our foreign policy must be focused upon finding the most effective means of enriching our lives as free men... We know, better than we ever knew before, that free men can survive as free men only when they make their public decisions on the basis of free discussion..." These two lengthy letters, single-spaced and filling the sheet, are exceptionally rich in content, revealing, FDR's continuity of thought with regards to the United States' foreign policy before and after its entrance into World War II.
Provenance: Anonymous owner (sold Christie's, 7 December 1990, lot 254 [part]). (2)