FDR analyzes the 1924 presidential election and the future needs of his party.Franklin D. Roosevelt: Typed Letter Signed.
-November 6, 1924. New York City. One page. 8.5" x 11". Personal Hyde Park letterhead.
-To: Mr. J. A. Edgerton of Washington, D.C.
-Folds, light toning, else fine.
Just two days after Democratic presidential candidate John W. Davis lost in a landslide to incumbent Calvin Coolidge, FDR looks to the future of the Democratic Party. He writes, in full, "Dear Mr. Edgerton:/ Your letter of October 28th did not reach me until today as I was campaigning in upstate New York. Apparently all of our guesses on the La Follette strength were wrong. If he had obtained the vote which I confidently expected, the election would at least have been thrown into the house./ It all goes to prove two things - First, that our Party must start its organization work for the next election this month instead on waiting 4 years. Secondly, that if progressives the country over do not get together in the Democratic Party, their division will continue to lead to Republican victories./ Very sincerely yours..." Earlier in the year, Roosevelt had delivered his "Happy Warrior" speech at the New York Democratic National Convention, throwing Al Smith's name into nomination. This signaled his return as a force in progressive Democratic politics after his 1921 paralysis from poliomyelitis. An important letter.
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A typed letter Signed, 1 page 4to, Franklin D. Roosevelt/ Hyde Park, Dutchess County/ New York personal letterhead, November 6, 1924 to Mr. J. A. Edgerton of Washington, D.C. This letter is very historic due to its date and fantastic content. FDR writes: “at 120 Broadway, New York City/ November 6, 1924/ Dear Mr. Edgerton:/ Your letter of October 28th did not reach me until today as I was campaigning in upstate New York. Apparently all of our guesses on the La Follette strength were wrong. If he had obtained the vote which I confidently expected, the election would at least have been thrown into the house./ It all goes to prove two things – First, that our Party must start its organization work for the next election this month instead on waiting 4 years. Secondly, that if progressives the country over do not get together in the Democratic Party, their division will continue to lead to Republican victories./ Very sincerely yours,/ Franklin D. Roosevelt.” This letter written by FDR on his personal stationery mentions several very important issues, at a time when FDR was re-emerging as a force for progressive Democratic politics. Just a few months earlier FDR signaled to the Country that he was back in delivering his famous “Happy Warrior” phrase in his June, 1924 nomination speech for Al Smith for President at the Democratic National Convention in Madison Square Garden. FDR’s nominating speech at the convention marked his return to the political arena after his August, 1921 paralysis from poliomyelitis. This letter from FDR shows the lengths to which FDR was active in the 1924 Presidential campaign, his analysis of the Progressive Party campaign of Robert M. “Fighting Bob” LaFollette, and his strong advocacy for a strong and progressive Democratic Party that he would himself lead less than a decade later as the next Democratic President of the United States! The United States Presidential election of 1924 was won by incumbent President Calvin Coolidge in a landslide as he presided over a booming economy at home and no visible crises abroad. The Republican Convention was held in Cleveland from June 10 to June 12, with the easy choice of nominating sitting President Coolidge for a full term of his own. The 1924 Democratic National Convention was held in New York City from June 24 to July 9. The Convention was split over more than a hundred ballots between William G. McAdoo of California, former Secretary of the Treasury and son-in-law of former President Woodrow Wilson, supported by the “Drys” (pro-Prohibitionists) and Governor Al Smith of New York, supported by the “Wets,” as well as over a proposed platform plank denouncing the Ku Klux Klan (which was opposed by William Jennings Bryan). Senator Oscar W. Underwood of Alabama, the Democratic leader in the Senate, also had some support. Ultimately, the convention decided on John W. Davis, a former Congressman from West Virginia and Ambassador to the United Kingdom, as a compromise candidate. United States Progressive Party candidate Robert M. La Follette, Sr. received 4,822,856 popular votes for President (16.5 percent) and 13 electoral votes. Long a champion of farmers and industrial workers, and an ardent foe of big business, LaFollette was a prime mover in the recreation of the Progressive movement following World War I. Backed by the farm and labor vote, as well as by Socialists and remnants of Theodore Roosevelt’s Bull Moose Party, LaFollette ran on a platform of nationalizing railroads and the country’s natural resources. He also strongly supported increased taxation on the wealthy and the right of collective bargaining. Despite a strong showing in certain regions, he carried only his home state of Wisconsin, not New York as FDR discusses in this letter to Mr. Edgerton. Ultimately, Coolidge won the election in a landslide, with Davis only winning the 11 former Confederate states and Oklahoma, and losing the popular vote by 25 percentage points. A wonderful and historic letter by FDR from an important period in his re-emerging political life, showing first hand his commitment to the Democratic Party as the progressive party, a political party that FDR wanted to stay active in the years between elections, a goal that would be accomplished fully when he himself became the Democratic candidate for President in 1932.
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