Description

    Franklin D. Roosevelt: Typed Letter Signed as President.
    -November 25, 1940. Washington, D.C. One page. 7" x 9". White House letterhead with original transmittal envelope.
    -To: Reverend Maurice S. Sheehy, D.D., Catholic University, Washington, D.C.
    -Central fold, else very good.

    FDR writes, "I have your letter and I agree with you fully as to the fine qualities of Mr. Adolph Berle. I am sure you will continue to find him always ready to respond when his engagements and responsibilities permit." Berle was a key member of FDR's "Brain Trust," a group of advisers to Franklin D. Roosevelt during his first campaign for the Presidency in 1932.


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    Franklin D. Roosevelt. Typed Letter Signed. One page (quarto), The White House, Washington, November 25, 1940, to Monsignor and Reverend Doctor Maurice S. Sheehy, of the Catholic University of America. This interesting letter serves as a personal letter of reference for none other than Adolph Augustus Berle, Jr.(1895-1971), one of FDR's key early advisors and original member of the Brains Trust. FDR writes: "Dear Doctor Sheehy:/ I have your letter and I agree with you fully as to the fine qualities of Mr. Adolph Berle. I am sure you will continue to find him always ready to respond when his engagements and responsibilities permit./ With all good wishes to you,/  Very sincerely yours,/ Franklin D. Roosevelt," with original transmittal envelope. FDR maintained a close relationship with Monsignor Maurice S. Sheehy during his Presidency. Berle was a key member of FDR's Brains Trust, a group of advisers to Franklin D. Roosevelt during his first campaign for the Presidency in 1932. The term was coined by journalist John F. Kieran and gained national currency at once. Raymond Moley, Rexford G. Tugwell, and Adolph A. Berle, Jr., all professors at Columbia University, were the three principal members, although others served with them from time to time. Under the chairmanship of Moley, the Brain Trust presented Roosevelt with its thinking on economic and social problems facing the nation and helped him weigh the alternatives of public policy that would be open to the new president. It contributed suggestions and drafts for campaign speeches, all of which underwent considerable revision by FDR. Additionally, Berle served as an informal advisor to FDR during his first term, assistant secretary of state, and ambassador to Brazil. Born in Boston in 1895, Berle graduated from Harvard College at eighteen and Harvard Law School at twenty one. Following a brief stint in Louis Brandeis' law firm, Berle served in army intelligence during World War I in the Dominican Republic. He achieved minor fame when he became one of the American delegation members to the Paris Peace Conference to denounce the terms of the treaty publicly as a betrayal of Wilsonian ideals. In 1924, after advocating for many liberal causes, Berle established his own firm specializing in corporation law, and in 1927 joined the faculty of Columbia Law School. He published The Modern Corporation and Private Property in 1932 with economist Gardiner Means. This important book argued that wealth and power in American was concentrated in two hundred corporations through a host of financial devices that divorced corporations from public or stockholder control, and emphasized the need for federal regulation of corporations. Berle became the most the most durable of the Brains Trusters, advising FDR long after Moley and Tugwell had moved on. As a specialist in corporation law and finance, Berle helped shape much of the banking and securities legislation of the New Deal. Berle remained a freewheeling "unofficial" advisor to FDR through frequent letters that began with the jocular salutation "Dear Caesar," from which Roosevelt in 1937 ordered him to desist! Also, Berle wrote speeches for FDR and served in brief foreign policy roles at Latin American conferences, until in 1938 he accepted a post as assistant secretary of state. During World War II Berle was an asset to the emerging American intelligence policies. He was a staunch advocate for democracy in Europe, suffered fools badly, and made many enemies during his tenure with FDR, including his former law professor Felix Frankfurter. Berle also found himself wrongly accused by fellow liberals during the war of impeding collaboration with the Soviet Union, and even Secretary of State Cordell Hull resented Berle's close, personal relationship with FDR. Nevertheless, in 1944 Berle assumed a vital task in negotiating with the British and other Allies an agreement covering postwar commercial aviation. During a major international conference dedicated to aviation in November, 1944, FDR asked Berle to become ambassador to Brazil, where Berle was residing when FDR died on April 12, 1945. Berle spent the rest of his life in a variety of endeavors as a member of America's foreign policy establishment and an anticommunist liberal intellectual. Later he also served President John F. Kennedy as chairman of the President's task force on Latin America, and Berle was also the architect for the Alliance for Progress. Berle even had a hand in the planning of the Bay of Pigs fiasco. President Lyndon B. Johnson also utilized Berle's services in the Dominican Republic in 1965, and Berle generally supported LBJ's Vietnam policies. Adolph A. Berle, Jr. died in 1971. A very interesting letter, a personal recommendation from FDR himself.



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