DescriptionFranklin D. Roosevelt: Autograph Letter Signed as New York Senator.
-January 1, 1913. Albany, New York. One page. 8" x 10". The Senate of the State of New York letterhead.
-To: Governor William Sulzer, Governor of New York.
-Toned, mounting remnants on the verso, with the usual fold creases, else very good.
Written the first day of his second term as a New York State Senator, FDR writes to ill-fated New York Governor William Sulzer: "My dear Governor Sulzer:/ You will discover as time goes on that I do not give promiscuous endorsements to office-seekers./ If, however, you want to find a man to be State Health Commissioner I want to suggest Dr. John C. Otis of Poughkeepsie./ He does not seek the office-But every man woman and child in Dutchess County knows his character, ability, and splendid record in the posts he has filled-/ This is short and meant to be emphatic./ Very sincerely yours,/ Franklin D. Roosevelt." Governor Sulzer was impeached latter that year and removed from office as a result of his quarrel with the Tammany Hall Democratic political machine. A rare letter, the more so as it is written entirely in FDR's hand on the first day of his new term.
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, a very historic and extremely rare letter dated January 1, 1913, the first day of FDR's second term as a New York State Senator on The Senate of the State of New York, Albany/ Franklin D. Roosevelt, 26th District/ Chairman/ Committee on Forest, Fish and Game letterhead. FDR writes in his own hand to ill-fated New York Governor William Sulzer on the Governor's first day in the Executive Mansion: "My dear Governor Sulzer:/ You will discover as time goes on that I do not give promiscuous endorsements to office-seekers./ If, however, you want to find a man to be State Health Commissioner I want to suggest Dr. John C. Otis of Poughkeepsie./ He does not seek the office–But every man woman and child in Dutchess County knows his character, ability, and splendid record in the posts he has filled–/ This is short and meant to be emphatic./ Very sincerely yours,/ Franklin D. Roosevelt." FDR employs an interesting writing style in this letter to the newly inaugurated Governor. Governor William ("Plain Bill") Sulzer was born on March 18, 1863, in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and died November 6, 1941, in New York City (when FDR was President, a month before Pearl Harbor). As the Democratic governor of New York whose first day in office is the date of FDR's letter to him on January 1, 1913, he was later impeached that year and removed from office as a result of his quarrel with the Tammany Hall Democratic political machine. Admitted to the bar in New York (1884), Sulzer entered politics as a Democrat affiliated with Tammany Hall. He served in the New York Assembly (1889–1894) and in the United States House of Representatives (1895–1912), and in 1912 he was elected Governor of New York with the support of the Tammany organization. Soon after he took office, however, Governor Sulzer broke with Tammany and endorsed a reform-oriented agenda. An intraparty fight between Sulzer and Tammany boss Charles F. Murphy led to Sulzer's impeachment on charges that were ambiguous and referred to conduct prior to his election as governor. The state senate convicted him and removed him from office (October 18, 1913), after FDR had departed the state senate to serve as Assistant Secretary of the Navy in the Woodrow Wilson Administration. Sulzer's impeachment and removal from office as Governor has been described as a political lynching and is widely regarded as a blatant example of the misuse of the impeachment process for political or partisan purposes. He was elected to the state Assembly in a special election (November 4, 1913), but did not thereafter hold public office and engaged in the practice of law until his death. Sulzer was replaced as Governor by Martin H. Glynn (several correspondences, including a handwritten letter by FDR, between Governor Glynn and FDR are also part of this collection). As Assistant Secretary of the Navy, FDR watched his home state Democratic feud with concern. After all, FDR had made a name for himself in New York politics as a progressive, and come to the attention of national political figures, in his early battles with Boss Murphy and Tammany as a New York State Senator from 1911 to 1913. The impeachment charges against Sulzer fabricated by Boss Murphy and Tammany included dishonest reporting of campaign funds and a misuse of them for personal speculations in Wall Street. FDR found "a certain grim, ironic humor in the spectacle of Tammany seeking to remove a Governor...[for] violating the election laws." Louis McHenry Howe, FDR's closest personal and political advisor, cautioned FDR to stay clear of the battle between Sulzer and Tammany, especially when Sulzer made repeated appeals to FDR in Washington to intercede on behalf of the Wilson Administration in his fight against Tammany. There is evidence that FDR did meet with President Wilson regarding this matter, although the end came swiftly for Governor Sulzer, without Presidential intercession. In the aftermath of Sulzer's impeachment and removal from office, there was a significant backlash in New York against Tammany, and President Wilson himself suggested the name for a new organization, entitled the New Democracy, to be formed in New York for the purpose of capturing control of the state's party machinery, freeing it of Tammany bossism and making it into a trustworthy instrument of Wilson Administration power, although given the power of Tammany at the time, not much came of this effort. FDR, however, did get favorable press as a result of this political infighting, and became mentioned in New York newspapers (in "dope" stories) as a possible progressive candidate for either New York Governor or United States Senator. In 1940, when FDR was President, Preston Sturges wrote and directed The Great McGinty, the first movie in Hollywood history written and directed by the same person. The movie was based on the true story of Governor Sulzer. A truly magnificent letter, in FDR's own hand, written to the new (and short-lived) Governor of New York as a State Senator on the first day of the new year 1913, FDR's first day in his second term as a Senator, and Governor Sulzer's first day as chief executive of New York. A couple months after he wrote this letter to the Governor, FDR would resign his New York Senate seat to assume the duties of Assistant Secretary of the Navy in the Woodrow Wilson Administration. This letter is a true rarity, especially given the time in which it was composed and the person to whom it was addressed, all in FDR's own hand.
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