Scouring through the National Archives digital collection you might come across a few choice items from time to time. Take, for example, this letter from Fidel Castro, dated November 6, 1940.

A fourteen year old (not twelve as indicated in his letter) Fidel Castro wrote to President Franklin D. Roosevelt asking for a $10 bill. The letter predated Castro’s Cuban revolution by fourteen years.

The boarding school student, living on less than a dollar a month at the time, thought he could coax the American president into some extra funds. He even offered to show FDR the best “iron mines” in Cuba for his shipbuilding endeavors.

What was the response to the letter? An official U.S. embassy response, not from the President himself, thanking Castro for his support. No money was included, irking the young revolutionary-to-be.

Interestingly, a declassified CIA personality report released years later includes information on Castro’s constant need for attention, power, and narcissistic personality traits.

Letter from Fidel Castro to FDR, 1940, pg100968_2003_001
Letter from Fidel Castro to FDR – National Archives

Transcript of the letter:

Santiago de Cuba, November 6th 1940
Mr. Franklin Roosevelt
President of the United States:

My good friend Roosevelt:

I don’t know very English, but I know as much as write to you.
I like to hear the radio, and I am very happy, because I heard in it, that you will be President for a new (periodo).
I am twelve years old. I am a boy but I think very much, but I do not think that I am writing to the President of the United States.
If you like, give me a ten dollars bill green american in the letter, because never, I have not seen a ten dollars bill green american and I would like to have one of them.

My address is:

Sr. Fidel Castro
Colegio de Dolores
Santiago de Cuba
Oriente Cuba

I don’t know very English but I know very much Spanish and I suppose you don’t know very Spanish but you know very English because you are American but I am not American.

Thank you very much
Good by. Your friend,

F. Castro (signed)
Fidel Castro

If you want iron to make your ships I will show to you the bigest (minas) of iron in the land. They are in Mayorí, Oriente, Cuba.