Welcome to Brent G. Stewart’s website. I am a twentieth-century U.S. political historian with a focus on the presidency and life of Franklin D. Roosevelt. I am currently working on a project exploring the relationship of F.D.R. and Alfred E. Smith (Roosevelt’s predecessor as governor of New York and 1928 Democratic presidential candidate). My research frequently has me at various libraries including the Library of Congress and the Franklin D. Roosevelt in Hyde Park, NY. My forthcoming book is expected to be completed in fall, 2014.
On the warm afternoon of April 12, 1945, Franklin D. Roosevelt was to have his picture painted at his country estate in Warm Springs, GA before attending a barbecue at a neighboring cottage. In his company was his former mistress, and now friend, Lucy Mercer Rutherford. Madame Shoumatoff had her watercolors spread about her color palette to paint the president and give a depiction of vitality to his ailing body. At about one in the afternoon, Lucy noticed a puzzled look on Roosevelt’s face. When she inquired if he had perhaps dropped his cigarette, he brought his hand up to his head and explained, “I have a terrific pain in the back of my head.” With that the thirty-second president of the United States slumped in to a coma. The president’s aids quickly rushed the president into his bedroom, and his breathing labored for two more hours before becoming too shallow to sustain life. At 3:30pm, the president was gone.
The train that carried the president back to Washington, D.C. and then on to his home at Hyde Park, NY was met by millions of grieving Americans. It was a real testament to the affection they had for the thirty-second president of the United States. He had been president of over 12 years, and for many Americans, he was the only president they knew. He had taken a down-trodden nation during the depths of the Great Depression and restored hope, which doubtless, helped Americans get through their financial instability. When war broke out in Europe, F.D.R. continued his public service and led the United States through WWII.
Roosevelt changed the ways in which Americans understand the role of government and built the framework for the current political system we now enjoy today. He demonstrated that America could achieve anything it set its mind to, and to that end, America emerged from WWII as the most powerful nation in the world.