New FDR letters could be a "trove," says Goodwin

Historians in the News

The writer was Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd, who decades before had been FDR's mistress and who now was making arrangements for what would be their last meeting. Elegantly handwritten, the letter never mentions Roosevelt by name -- her love letters to him had been their undoing a quarter-century earlier when Eleanor Roosevelt found them in her husband's steamer trunk....

"Wow," said historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of "No Ordinary Time," a chronicle of the Roosevelts during the war. "This stuff sounds like it's going to be very exciting. You very rarely get a whole new trove of material."...

The documents come from FDR's inner circle: his chief secretaries, Marguerite (Missy) LeHand -- who historians suspect was secretly in love with FDR -- and her successor, Tully. Both were virtually part of his family, Goodwin said. And judging by the sample of nine of the newly unveiled documents, the material has a smoky, behind-the-scenes feel as if fresh from the president's desk. Much of his story is revealed in day-to-day interactions: his dictation for his famous Pearl Harbor speech; a memo urging the promotion of then-Army Col. George Marshall to general; a handwritten note in English from the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.
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