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The Roosevelt Legacy in Transatlantic Relations

The research agenda is inspired by the domestic and foreign political legacies of the Roosevelts: Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor. Each contributed in their own way to inspire allies, provoke opponents, shape ideas, and build institutions in the transatlantic world during the 20th century and beyond.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) was a seasoned politician, a progressive reformer, and a determined diplomat who positioned the United States as arbitrator among the great powers of Europe. He reversed a century-long American reluctance to engage in foreign affairs, and his diplomatic efforts on the Russo-Japanese War earned him a Nobel Peace Prize in 1906.

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945), the four-time president, expanded governmental responsibilities during the depression-hit 1930s and the challenges of World War II. He framed a global vision for U.S. foreign policy with the ‘Four Freedoms’ speech of 6 January 1941.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) is the model active first lady, with her commitment to both domestic and international campaigns for civil liberties and justice spanning the 1930s to the 1960s. She played a pivotal role in the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations in 1948.

The Roosevelts had their own specific visions on how to change the world for the better. At the center of these visions was a close U.S.-European relationship, and it is this that the RSC’s research projects concentrate on. Three levels of investigation are explored:

People: The diplomats, immigrants, visitors, businessmen, academics, and missionaries who have been a part of transatlantic exchange, and who have contributed to shaping transatlantic relations

Ideas: The plans, ambitions, and opinions that were shared or contested in Europe and North America, and how they led to reforms, democratic pursuits, conceptions of adversaries, and divergence or convergence.

Institutions: The official and unofficial organizations and networks that were built, adapted, expanded or abandoned to anchor transatlantic relations more firmly in the social, political, and economic realms.

Current research projects of RSC staff include the following:

  1. The UN at 70: Lasting Legacies
  2. Modernization of the U.S. South
  3. Transatlantic Religious Interactions
  4. Transnational Migration: Landmarks from Theodore Roosevelt to Lyndon Johnson
  5. Transnational Networks in the 20th Century: The U.S. and Transnational Peace Campaigns
  6. Transnational Networks in the 20th Century: Private Organizations and the Atlantic Community
  7. Transnational Networks in the 20th Century: Anti-Communism and the Cold War
  8. U.S. Public Diplomacy and Global Influence: Embassies and Diplomacy
  9. U.S. Public Diplomacy and Global Influence: The Fulbright Program