If we were to do an episode on the entire life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, it would have to be at least a 12 hour series. Instead, we will focus on a short period of his life that is one of the most fascinating—the end of it. This isn’t the FDR of the famous 100 days—the one who captivated the nation by the sheer power of his strength and charisma. Instead, this is the FDR who, after years of leading the nation through depression and war, found himself physically exhausted, racing against his own mortality to build his vision for a new world.

The final photograph of President Franklin D. Roosevelt – taken at Warm Springs, Georgia on April 11, 1945 – the day before his death.

By then he believed he was working to save the world from future catastrophe. What we will find is a man who appeared to remain the master politician, mentally still at the top of his game, orchestrating events from behind-the-scenes. But those abilities were put to their greatest test when he faced an agonizing dilemma in the realm of world politics—whether to pursue that vision of a new world at the expense of our deepest values and in cooperation with one of the greatest mass murderers in all of history. And all the while, he was physically at his weakest point and was hiding a secret from the American people—a secret that exposed his country to great risk at a critical time. This is the FDR—whose actions were both inspiring and unsettling—who we will explore in this episode of This American President.

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This week on This American President we interview author, public speaker, and former executive assistant to President Ronald Reagan, Peggy Grande. Peggy recently wrote a book titled The President Will See You Now: My Stories and Lessons from Ronald Reagan’s Final Years. It’s a wonderful book about her time serving President and Mrs. Reagan and how she and her family became very close with them. To find out more, please visit peggygrande.com and order her book.

Peggy Grande and President Ronald Reagan

Historians have often noted that our Founding Fathers didn’t like democracy. Our second president, John Adams, once said, “Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” Our fourth president, James Madison, wrote, “Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”

The election of 1876 would prove to be one of the greatest tests of American democracy. Learn about this pivotal moment in American history in this episode of This American President.

A truce – not a compromise, but a chance for high-toned gentlemen to retire gracefully from their very civil declarations of war Thomas Nast. Illus. in: Harper’s Weekly, Feb. 17, 1877, p. 132.

He came from humble beginnings. He was born in a log cabin and had virtually no education. Through hard work, he rose to become a successful businessman. He fell in love and was married for almost 50 years. His life was the epitome of the American dream.
He found his calling in politics. He was known as a man of the people, especially the poor and downtrodden. He identified with them and he consistently fought for their interests. They returned him to office again and again. He was their fighter and their champion. He was also one of the most experienced men to ever become president of the United States.
And yet, Andrew Johnson is universally regarded as one of the worst and most hated presidents in American history. How is this possible? You’ll find out in this episode of This American President.

President Andrew Johnson

We all know that George Washington was our first president, that he “could not tell a lie,” and that he supposedly had wooden teeth (he didn’t). However, to us, he seems to be a distant figure; more monument than man. He is as familiar as the one dollar bill, but even there he looks old and grumpy. Is this the real George Washington?
You might be surprised to find out that his contemporaries saw him very differently… They knew him as a warrior of the highest order. This episode takes a closer look at the real George Washington; you may be surprised to find that he consistently plunged himself headlong into battle, making him the first American action hero.

General George Washington

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