DescriptionFranklin D. Roosevelt: Typed Letter Signed as New York Senator.
-April 12, 1911. Albany, New York. One page. 8" x 10.5". The Senate of the State of New York letterhead.
-To: Professor Francis Marion Burdick of Columbia University.
-Paper slightly toned, with the usual fold creases, else fine.
FDR writes to Professor Burdick about his efforts to take on Tammany Hall. Engaged in his first major political battle, he was attempting to impress reformers by opposing the Tammany Democratic political machine supporting William F. ("Blue Eyed Billy") Sheehan for nomination as U.S. Senator. FDR and about 20 other Democrats held their votes until Tammany replaced Sheehan with Judge James O'Gorman, who won the election.
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.
A very interesting and historic, not to mention and very rare typed letter signed "Franklin D. Roosevelt," April 12, 1911, on The Senate of the State of New York, Albany/ Franklin D. Roosevelt, 26th District letterhead. FDR writes to Professor Francis Marion Burdick concerning his first major political efforts at taking on Tammany Hall as a leader of the "insurgents." FDR writes: "My dear Professor Burdick:/ I want to thank you for your very kind letter of April 3rd. It is a great satisfaction to me to know that you approve of our course in the senatorial contest. I think the Democratic Party as a whole has by no means been injured by it and we have secured a man of great ability and one who promises to be uncontrolled by any interests narrower than those of the State as a whole./ I hope to have the pleasure of seeing you again very soon./ Very sincerely yours,/ Franklin D. Roosevelt." FDR's proofreading of this letter is also evident because he made corrections to Burdick's name in his own hand, from "F.M. Burdick" to "M.F. Burdick." In his first few months as New York State Senator, elected to his very first political office less than six months before this letter was written, FDR was actively attempting to endear himself to reformers by daring to oppose the Tammany Democratic political machine. The first major political fight of his nascent career involved the Democratic nomination for United States Senator from New York. The Tammany boss, Charles Francis Murphy (1858-1924), who ruled Tammany from 1901 until his death in 1924, supported William F. ("Blue Eyed Billy") Sheehan. However, FDR and about twenty other Democrats–dubbed the "insurgents" –refused to give Sheehan their votes. The rebels held out until March 31, when Tammany bowed, withdrawing Sheehan and substituting Judge James A. O'Gorman, who quickly won the election. FDR later allied himself firmly with reform elements in the Democratic Party by his vigorous campaign for Woodrow Wilson in the election of 1912, which led to his later appointment as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, providing for FDR his first national political forum. It was also during this early political battle in 1911 that FDR first met Louis McHenry Howe, barely a month before this letter was written. Howe interviewed Roosevelt about the Sheehan uprising for the New York Herald. The newspaperman left the interview with a story, and with a sense of FDR's political potential. Howe, it seemed, impressed Roosevelt as well. The men became friends, and the rest, as they say, is history. There is an interesting element of political naivete in this early letter from FDR, especially when he references his forthcoming political speech by saying that he "will probably not know until the last minute what I am going to say, but if I write out anything I will let you have it when I get there." Obviously, the political imbroglio in which FDR was at the center, having been identified as the leader of the Democratic "insurgents," was causing the young politician to become noticed in the media, even outside of New York, in neighboring Massachusetts. This is an extremely early and rare FDR letter of immense significance given that it was written within a few months of FDR first becoming a New York State Senator, and at the end of his first major political battle, a contest that would have lasting impact on his name, his emerging political reputation, and the course of his future political activities. The genealogy of the Burdick family, of which Francis Marion Burdick was a descendant, dates back to George Washington, they were first cousins. The Burdicks were also very politically connected, being involved with highly influential political people. For example, Francis Marion Burdick had correspondence with Woodrow Wilson, Booker T. Washington and FDR while Professor Burdick was Dwight Professor of Law Emeritus at Columbia University, where FDR himself studied law prior to passing the New York State bar. Professor Burdick was also a very influential lawyer who was instrumental while a member of the United States Assay Commission.
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