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FDR’s Last Official Act, April 12, 1945

Each year around the anniversary of FDR’s death on April 12, 1945, we are often asked if we know the last official action taken by Roosevelt as president. Thanks to presidential secretary William D. Hassett, who often traveled with FDR and was in Warm Springs on that fateful trip, we know the answer to this question.

Because of President Roosevelt’s love of stamps and stamp collecting, he was always very involved in the design and issuance of new and commemorative postage stamps. With the first United Nations Conference scheduled to begin on April 25 in San Francisco, Postmaster General Frank Walker sent a memo to FDR on April 9th asking him to select his preferred design for the UN Conference commemorative stamp. A typed notation made at the top of this memo shows that on April 11, the day before the President died, he selected Design No. 1 to be issued as a five cent stamp and printed in blue.

But this was not the last official act. As William Hassett wrote in a memorandum to Postmaster General Walker on April 16th, FDR’s last official directive–given just a half hour before he was stricken–was to agree to the Postmaster’s request that the President purchase the first issue of the UN Conference commemorative. FDR also instructed that gift albums of the new stamps should be presented to all of the Conference delegates by the Secretary of State.

As we look back on the life of Franklin Roosevelt, it is fitting that his last official act involved the intertwining of two things he loved so deeply: stamp collecting and the United Nations.

Block of U.S. United Nations stamps, part of the United Nations Conference Issue. Four "Toward United Nations, April 25, 1945" ultramarine 5¢ stamps (Scott 928), number printed at the left "23267," first day of issue April 25, 1945.