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Project Preface

There is a great deal of subjectivity within this project. Many decisions based in inference had to be made on my end as the creator due to time and resource constraints.

Wartime presidency observed through meetings

The role of the president comes with the guarantee of consistent meetings regarding the state of the country and the decisions to be made on its behalf. We as members of the American public have a large stake in the decisions that are made. The use of the president’s time is often a topic of national conversation. For this project, I was inspired to see how a president’s time is utilized during a time of war. With the Second World War being the bloodiest one ever fought in the world, my curiosity was peaked as to how President Franklin Delano Roosevelt spent his time between issues facing the nation.

 

What’s being observed

In order to get a general sense of the reasons for his meetings, I break them down into two binary categories that create four possible outcomes. According to this system, FDR could have met with domestic officials about a non-war related topic, domestic officials in regards to a war related topic, foreign officials about a non-war related topic, or foreign officials about a war related topic. Meetings conducted with foreign officials are defined as any assembly of officials that involves at least one foreign official. This disregards the presence of domestic officials to any degree if an international figure is present. Non-war meetings are categorized as any meeting that is not in direct relation to the war either directly or once removed. This data set observes assemblies with FDR from the outbreak of the war in Europe in September 1939 to the month before his death, March 1945. The first weeks of September, December, March, and June throughout this period are noted.

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Takeaway

As the war progressed, the president spent more time with foreign officials as well as having more meetings focused on the United States’ involvement in the war. However, the majority of the meetings remained geared around war related topics and were also only held with domestic officials. It is important to remember that this data comes from the first week of every four months and is only a slight sample of the total amount. Additionally, there is great liberty taken in the designation of war and non-war meetings. Overall, this result is still quite informative to the American public. It helps to raise questions of what a president prioritizes. In this case, the public sees a president spending a majority of his time focusing on the war the nation is fighting. This project is not coming to conclusions as to whether or not this a proper use of time. Simply, if there was no war being fought, where else would that time be placed? How is the prioritization of a president’s time set?