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    Franklin D. Roosevelt: Typed Letter Signed as President.
    -August 2, 1940. Washington, D.C. One page. 7" x 9". White House letterhead with original transmittal envelope.
    -To: Senator Lister Hill, Washington, D.C.
    -Fold, light soiling, else very good.

    FDR writes, "I have your letter enclosing a copy of your speech putting me in nomination at Chicago. I of course was at my radio and heard every word that you said, and understand the depth and genuineness of your feeling. No matter what happens we will go along together, and your remarks will always be a precious souvenir of this occasion." This historic letter refers to Alabama Senator Hill's nomination of Roosevelt for an unprecedented third term.

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    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 fabulous, historic, and personal fine content and association FDR typed letter signed as President on The White House Washington letterhead, 1p. 4to, August 2, 1940, with original transmittal envelope, to five-term Alabama United States Senator J. Lister Hill, concerning Senator Hill's historic nomination of FDR for a third term as President of the United States on July 16, 1940. This letter to Senator Hill is FDR's thanks for the history making nomination of the President! FDR writes: "Dear Lister:/ I have your letter enclosing your speech putting me in nomination at Chicago. I of course was at my radio and heard every word you said, and understood the depth and genuineness of your feeling./ No matter what happens we will go along together, and your remarks will always be a precious souvenir of this occasion./ As ever,/ Franklin D. Roosevelt."  The two-term Presidential tradition had been an unwritten rule since George Washington declined to run for a third term in 1796, and both Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore Roosevelt were attacked for trying to obtain a third non-consecutive term. In 1940 FDR was unsure about whether to seek a third-term and make history. He was concerned about both domestic issues in the continuation of the New Deal, as well as international issues with the advent of a world war in Europe several months earlier, and was troubled by the prominent Democrats who who were angling for the nomination, including two Cabinet members, Secretary of State Cordell Hull and James A. Farley, FDR's campaign manager in 1932 and 1936, Postmaster General and Democratic Party Chairman – they were too conservative and unfit in FDR's eyes to succeed him as President of the United States. FDR moved the Democratic National Convention in 1940 to Chicago where he had strong support from the city machine (which controlled the auditorium sound system). At the convention the opposition was poorly organized but Farley had packed the galleries as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. FDR sent a message saying that he would not run, unless he was drafted, and that the delegates were free to vote for anyone. The delegates were stunned; then the loud speaker bellowed out "We Want Roosevelt...The World Wants Roosevelt!" The delegates went wild and FDR was nominated by 946 to 147. The new Vice President was Henry A. Wallace, the liberal intellectual who was Secretary of Agriculture in FDR's first two terms as President. It was Alabama Senator J. Lister Hill who took the formal steps to place FDR in nomination for President at that fateful convention on July 16, 1940. Joseph Lister Hill (December 29, 1894 – December 21, 1984) was a Democratic United States Senator from the state of Alabama. He was elected to fill the term left by the resignation of Dixie Bibb Graves and was reelected five times, serving in the Senate from January 11, 1938 until January 3, 1969. He did not run for a seventh term. Lister Hill was born in Montgomery, Alabama on December 29, 1894, the son of one of the South's most distinguished surgeons, Dr. Luther Leonidas Hill. He was named after Dr. Joseph Lister, the father of antiseptic surgery. Following his graduation from Starke University in Montgomery, he entered The University of Alabama at age 16, and graduated four years later with a law degree and a Phi Beta Kappa key. While a student at The University of Alabama, he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon. He also founded the Student Government Association (SGA) and was its first president, the Jasons Senior Men's Honorary (which the University ceased recognizing in 1976 for its all-male policy, but which still taps thirty-one men each spring on the Franklin Mound), and The Machine (the local chapter of Theta Nu Epsilon). He also studied law at the University of Michigan Law School at Ann Arbor and at Columbia Law School in New York City. He was admitted to the Alabama bar in 1916 and commenced practice in Montgomery, Alabama, and also served as the president of the Montgomery Board of Education from 1917-1922. Hill was elected August 14, 1923 as Congressman from the Second District of Alabama to fill the vacancy caused by the death of John R. Tyson. He served as Chairman of the House Committee on Military Affairs, and was appointed to the United States Senate in 1938 following Senator Hugo Black's appointment to the United States Supreme Court. Hill was subsequently elected to the Senate as a Democrat on April 26, 1938, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Sen. Bibb Graves for the term ending January 3, 1939; he was reelected in 1938, 1944, 1950, 1956, and again in 1962. He retired in January 1969. As a United States Senator, Hill was known as a moderate. He distinguished himself in a number of fields, but was best-known for his landmark legislation in the field of public health. Perhaps the best-known legislation which bears his name is the Hospital and Health Center Construction Act of 1946, better known as the Hill-Burton Act. He also sponsored the Hill-Harris Act of 1963, providing for assistance in constructing facilities for the mentally retarded and mentally ill. Additionally, he was recognized as the most instrumental man in Congress in gaining greatly increased support for medical research at the nation's medical schools and other research institution. Hill also sponsored other important legislation, including the TVA Act, the Rural Telephone Act, the Rural Housing Act, the Vocational Education Act, and the National Defense Education Act. Hill signed "The Southern Manifesto" condemning the Supreme Court's decision in Brown vs. Board of Education ordering school desegregation (although he remained a close friend of Supreme Court Justice and fellow Alabamian Hugo Black, who voted for Brown). However, Lister Hill was as much a national figure as a representative of Alabama and the South. During his long years in the Congress, he would, from time to time, break with his southern colleagues to follow his own conscience. For example, in opposition to most southerners in the Congress, he favored Federal control of offshore oil with revenue to be earmarked for education. Hill was the Senate Majority Whip from 1941-1947. He was Chairman of the Senate Labor and Public Welfare Committee, which handled important legislation on veterans education, health, hospitals, libraries, and labor-management relations. He was also a ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and a member of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. Hill received honorary degrees from 13 colleges and universities, including the University of Alabama and Auburn University. He was a Methodist, a Freemason, a United States Army veteran of World War I with the Seventeenth and Seventy-first United States Infantry Regiments, and a member of the American Legion. Hill died in Montgomery, Alabama on December 21, 1984, and is interred in Greenwood Cemetery. A wonderful, historic, and personal letter from FDR to the man who placed his name in nomination for President of the United States, thereby allowing Franklin D. Roosevelt to become the first and only third (and fourth)-term Presidents in the history of the United States.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2008
    7th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 7
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