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    Description

    FDR writes to Missy LeHand's aunt about their upcoming trip to Warm Springs.

    Franklin D. Roosevelt: Autograph Letter Signed as Governor-Elect of New York.
    -December 29 [1928?]. New York City. Four pages (two leaves recto and verso). 6" x 7". Hyde Park/ Telegraph Poughkeepsie personal stationery- Roosevelt crossed that out on page one and wrote "49 East 65 St. N. Y. City".
    -To: Miss Graffin ("Missy" LeHand's Aunt Nelly).
    -One horizontal mailing fold, toned at fold on page four, else fine.

    Not dated as to year, but content and research points to the date likely being 1928. Roosevelt was three days away from his inauguration as governor of New York. His personal secretary and dear friend Marguerite A. "Missy" LeHand had been ill and Roosevelt was sending her down to his cottage in Warm Springs to recuperate. He writes, in full, " My dear Miss Graffin:/ It is very good of you to telegraph, and a great relief to my mind that you can go to Warm Springs on the 16th with Marguerite--The child has been much more seriously ill last summer than she realizes, and though she is so much better now, it is most important for her to keep very quiet and avoid colds and excitement during this winter. That is why it will be good for her to get away from the Boston climate as soon as possible./ I know how fond she is of you, and how much she will love having you with her in the little cottage at Warm Springs and I think that you will like it there too--I myself hope to get down for a short visit with you two the end of January, but have to come back to New York and will return to Warm Springs as soon as I can./ I hope you can leave Potsdam the evening of the 15th arriving N.Y. the next morning, and you must come straight to our house where we shall all be awaiting you. The train for Warm Springs leaves that afternoon at 3:40./ I have heard to much about "Aunt Nellie" for many years that it is certainly time for us to meet./ Happy New Year from all of us./ Very sincerely yours..." Miss LeHand was Roosevelt's personal secretary from 1920; she lived in the Roosevelt household, the New York Executive Mansion, and then the White House, a trusted advisor and essentially a member of the family, until her debilitating stroke in 1941. FDR paid all her medical bills and, though she predeceased him, made a stipulation in his will for her future medical expenses to be covered by the estate. There were always rumors about the nature of their relationship. This is a very important and warm letter that shows his concern and affection for his valued friend.


    More Information:

    The extended description below was supplied by the consignor. We are making it available to our web bidders who are interested in more in-depth research and broader historical perspective. Please note that presentation (i.e. framing), lot divisions, and interpretations of condition and content may occasionally differ from our descriptions. Assertions of fact and subjective observations contained in this description represent the opinion of the consignor. These remarks have not been checked for accuracy by Heritage Auctions, and we assume no responsibility for their accuracy; they are offered purely to allow the bidder insight into the way the consignor has viewed the item(s) in question. No right of return or claim of lack of authenticity or provenance based upon this extended description will be granted.

     

    In FDR's own hand in its entirety, an autograph letter signed on Hyde Park, New York/ Telegraph Poughkeepsie letterhead. FDR crosses out the Hyde Park letterhead notation and to the right of the letterhead writes "49 East 65th Street/ N.Y. City/Dec. 29." FDR writes on the front and back of two pages, 8vo. The handwritten letter, composed by FDR while he was preparing to be sworn in as Governor of New York, has very special personal content related to one of his closest and most intimate associates, his personal secretary and dear friend Marguerite A. "Missy" LeHand (1898-1944). The hand-written letter also mentions Warm Springs, Georgia, the site of his work dedicated to the cure of infantile paralysis, as well as the site of his own death some sixteen and a half years later. FDR writes in his own hand: "My dear Miss Graffin:/ It is very good of you to telegraph, and a great relief to my mind that you can go to Warm Springs on the 16th with Marguerite--The child has been much more seriously ill last summer than she realizes, and though she is so much better now, it is most important for her to keep very quiet and avoid colds and excitement during this winter. That is why it will be good for her to get away from the Boston climate as soon as possible./ I know how fond she is of you, and how much she will love having you with her in the little cottage at Warm Springs and I think that you will like it there too--I myself hope to get down for a short visit with you two the end of January, but have to come back to New York and will return to Warm Springs as soon as I can./ I hope you can leave Potsdam the evening of the 15th arriving N.Y. the next morning, and you must come straight to our house where we shall all be awaiting you. The train for Warm Springs leaves that afternoon at 3:40./ I have heard to much about "Aunt Nellie" for many years that it is certainly time for us to meet./ Happy New Year from all of us./ Very sincerely yours,/ Franklin D. Roosevelt." Missy was born in Potsdam, New York (a location mentioned by FDR in this letter to his aunt), though raised in Somerville, Massachusetts. In 1920 Missy went to work for the Democratic National Headquarters, when FDR was running as the Vice Presidential candidate with James M. Cox of Ohio. After his defeat in 1920, FDR hired Missy as his secretary and brought her into the Roosevelt household. Missy was working for FDR when he suffered his polio attack in the summer of 1921. Missy accompanied FDR on many of his travels in the 1920s, including his cruises on his boat the Larooco. When FDR discovered Warm Springs, Georgia Missy became the housekeeper-hostess-secretary there. As Governor of New York, Missy lived in the executive mansion, and much gossip surfaced about the relationship between FDR and LeHand, the speculation continuing into FDR's Presidency. Like Louis McHenry Howe, Missy LeHand lived in The White House where, among her many duties, she met her boss with or without the company of his male secretaries as he had breakfast in bed, read the morning papers, and prepared for the day's schedule. Missy also continued to serve as hostess when Eleanor Roosevelt was absent. Missy held power of attorney and managed FDR's accounts, actually paying his bills by check. Her opinion on numerous matters of state was sought and valued, and she was essentially a member of the Roosevelt family. In 1941 Missy suffered a debilitating stroke, and after she was released from the hospital continued her convalescence in Warm Springs, and then at home in Massachusetts. She never fully recovered her speech or her ability to work unaided, and Missy died in July, 1944. FDR paid all her hospital bills, and though she predeceased him, his will stipulated that her medical expenses be covered from income from the estate. Missy LeHand always had a frail physical constitution, and her devoted, around the clock service to FDR certainly could not have helped improve her physical condition. Interestingly, documents at the FDR Library and Museum validate that Missy had a serious illness in November and December, 1928 during the Governorship campaign, and records show that Missy remained in Warm Springs after FDR's inauguration as Governor in order to recuperate. It was at this point that Grace Tully joined the staff as a "second" to Missy. The text of FDR's hand-written letter, referring to his New York City address rather than to the Executive Mansion in Albany, as well as his references to having to get back to New York, and then returning to Warm Springs as soon as possible, further suggests that this letter was written before FDR became Governor of New York, and while he was still working fairly regularly at Fidelity and Deposit Company in New York City. This hand-written letter to Missy's aunt, with evident personal concern over her health and FDR's relief that she will be coming to Warm Springs as he prepared to be sworn in as Governor of New York, is a fantastic piece of Franklin D. Roosevelt personal history.



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    Auction Dates
    June, 2008
    7th Saturday
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