Roosevelt, Franklin Delano (1882-1945)

The American President briefly put Queen's at the centre of international attention in 1938, when he received an honorary degree from the university and used the occasion to make an important foreign policy speech. War was looming in Europe and Roosevelt was under intense pressure to declare what action the United States would take, if any, in the event of hostilities.

He was reluctant to alienate American isolationists but also wished to make his own sympathies for the European democracies clear. In his speech at Richardson Stadium on August 18, 1938 he declared: "The Dominion of Canada is part of the British Empire. I give to you assurance that the people of the United States will not stand idly by if domination of Canadian soil is threatened by any other empire."

As bland as this assurance sounds today, it was widely reported in the press across Western Europe and North America as heralding a dramatic departure from American isolationism.

An audio recording of Roosevelt's speech ("Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Address at Queen's University - August 18, 1938") can be found in the Queen's University Archives and on Queen's iTunesU.