O Ship of State: Franklin Roosevelt & Robert Menzies
In May 1941, Prime Minister Robert Menzies stopped in Washington to meet with President Franklin D Roosevelt. The president was bed-ridden with gastritis. Menzies, in his diary, reflected the president looked ‘older and more tired’. Nevertheless, the two met for an hour, discussing the war and American public opinion on intervention. Menzies’ diary reveals Roosevelt told him he was jealous of all the world’s media attention on Churchill, and Menzies advised him to meet with his British counterpart.
Three months later, Churchill and Roosevelt met in Newfoundland and signed the Atlantic Charter, a document which all but ensured American entry into the war.
Earlier, in London, Churchill had presented Menzies with a gift – a printed copy of a verse by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Roosevelt had scribbled a copy of that verse and sent it to Churchill earlier that year as a sign of support. Menzies had Roosevelt sign it at his meeting with the President. Now in the Museum’s collection, it was one of Menzies’ most treasured possessions and is now one of ours.