Description

    FDR seeks to mend bridges and unite the Democratic Party for the 1932 presidential race.

    Franklin D. Roosevelt: Autograph Letter Signed as New York Governor.
    -"Sunday" [July, 1932]. Hyde Park, New York. Three pages. State of New York letterhead.
    -To: Jouett Shouse.
    -Original folds, minor soiling, else fine.

    Alfred E. Smith, FDR's predecessor as Governor of New York, announced that he would be available for the 1932 Presidential nomination, and was assisted in his bid by two principal figures, John J. Raskob and Jouett Shouse, who urged local Democratic organizations not to instruct their convention delegates which candidate to vote for. FDR's team, especially James A. Farley and Louis Howe, worked vigorously to combat the Stop-Roosevelt coalition headed by Shouse, and FDR emerged triumphant.

    FDR writes (in part): "Two weeks and more ago, when I got your fine telegram-I dictated a letter to you, but in the rush of putting off on the boat trip it was not sent-anyway I would much rather write you long hand and more personally. I really do appreciate your good sportsmanship and also your real and fundamental devotion to the Democratic Party through all these years. I hope you thoroughly know that I have at all times, privately and publicly praised you for all that you did to lay the necessary groundwork for the victories in 1930 and the coming victories this year-Without that work our party position would be less clear and the Republican propaganda would have been far more damaging. I am not one to hold any rancor towards the give and take of battle during the pre-nomination campaign-and as you know I was wholly ready to support and work for the nominees and the party if someone other than myself had been chosen-It is good to know that your attitude is the same-I know too that you can and will be of great help in many ways during the coming 3 ½ months of activity-and I hope much that you will come up to Albany some day soon at your convenience to see me-I expect to make no extended trip for over a month anyway-Let me know when you can come."

    This rare and important FDR letter, referring to the upcoming 1932 Presidential election, is boldly handwritten on two pages of State of New York letterhead.


    More Information:

    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, three pages (two facing pages), 4to, on two State of New York Executive Chamber, Albany, New York letterhead pages, a very interesting and historically significant letter signed by the newly nominated Democratic candidate for President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, as Governor of New York, to Jouett Shouse, written at Hyde Park, New York, July, 1932. This letter is absolutely amazing, and all in FDR's own hand, indicating the important personal nature of the communication FDR sought to make to Jouett Shouse. FDR writes: "Hyde Park/ Sunday/ Dear Jouett–/ Two weeks and more ago, when I got your fine telegram–I dictated a letter to you, but in the rush of putting off on the boat trip it was not sent–anyway I would much rather write you long hand and more personally./ I really do [underlined] appreciate your good sportsmanship and also your real and fundamental devotion to the Democratic Party through all these years. I hope you thoroughly know that I have at all times, privately and publicly praised you for all that you did to lay the necessary groundwork for the victories in 1930 and the coming victories this year –Without that work our party position would be less clear and the Republican propaganda would have been far more damaging./ I am not one to hold any rancor towards the give and take of battle during the pre-nomination campaign – and as you know I was wholly ready to support and work for the nominees and the party if someone other than myself had been chosen – It is good to know that your attitude is the same – I know too that you can and will be of great help in many ways during the coming 3 ½ months of activity – and I hope much that you will come up to Albany some day soon at your convenience to see me – I expect to make no extended trip for over a month anyway –/ Let me know when you can come./ Always sincerely,/ Franklin D. Roosevelt." Immediately after winning the Democratic nomination for President, one of FDR's first tasks was to unite the Democrats for the upcoming electoral battle against President Herbert Hoover and the Republicans. FDR's bid for the presidential nomination in 1932 was not without opposition, and some members of his own party worked to impede his political rise. On January 23, 1932, FDR authorized the Democratic Central Committee of North Dakota to enter his name in the preferential party primaries, thus formally announcing his candidacy for President. During the Spring primaries, a Democratic coalition aimed at blocking FDR's nomination coalesced. Alfred E. Smith, Roosevelt's predecessor as Governor of New York, announced that he would be available for the nomination, and was assisted in his bid by two principal figures: John J. Raskob and Jouett Shouse, who urged local Democratic organizations not to instruct their delegates to the convention which candidate to vote for. FDR's team, especially James A. Farley and Colonel Louis McHenry Howe, worked vigorously to combat the Stop-Roosevelt coalition headed by Shouse, and FDR emerged triumphant. It was in FDR's acceptance speech after his nomination that he pledged himself and the American People to a New Deal. What an historically important letter, showing the efforts that FDR was making to mend fences as he secured his power base within the Democratic Party. In the wake of his Convention victory, FDR writes to Shouse trying to unify the party for the coming campaign. His careful, measured tone reveals the fragile nature of many of the relationships within the Democratic Party as the election of 1932 drew near, and FDR's need to have as much support from Shouse as he could possibly gain, which turned out to be very little help indeed. After all, it had been sixteen years since the Democrats last won a Presidential election.  Despite FDR's efforts, Shouse continued to confront him. As president of the American Liberty League, Shouse opposed and attacked nearly every New Deal measure. By early 1934, a vice president at DuPont, R. M. Carpenter, was writing Raskob and Shouse about FDR "seeking to set labor against capital, buying votes from the poor, attacking corporate wealth and other transgressions." Funded by the corporate executives at General Motors, Dupont and other companies, the group secured Democrats Al Smith, and 1924 Presidential nominee, John W. Davis, on their Board of Directors, with Shouse as its leader. Meetings were often held at Smith's Empire State Building Office. Heavily funded by DuPont and other corporations and dominated politically by Republicans, the group became the anti-New Deal voice of business. Jouett Shouse (1879-1968) was born in Midway, Kentucky, on December 10, 1879, the son of the Reverend John Samuel Shouse, a Christian minister, and Anna Armstrong Shouse. He received his education in the public schools of Missouri and the University of Missouri. Returning to Kentucky, Shouse served on the staff of the Lexington Herald from 1898 to 1904. He also served as secretary of the Lexington Chamber of Commerce and the Blue Grass Fair Association and edited the Kentucky Farmer and Breeder. Shouse went to Kansas in 1911, where he married. He was elected to the United States Congress from the Seventh Kansas district in 1915 and served two terms. He was named Assistant Secretary of the Treasury by Woodrow Wilson, serving from 1919 to 1920.  A protegé and close personal friend of du Pont lawyer John J. Raskob, Shouse had gained the reputation of a political insider. In 1928, Raskob, a former director of General Motors, was moved into the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee, running Al Smith's ill-fated Presidential campaign. Not wishing to give up control of the Democratic Party to the political machines or to progressive forces such as FDR, Raskob brought in Shouse as the executive director of the national committee, a position he kept from 1929 to 1932, as well as President of the Association Against the Prohibition Amendment from 1932 to 1933, and President of the anti-FDR and anti-New Deal American Liberty League from 1934 to 1938. Shouse died in 1968. This hand-written letter from FDR to Jouett Shouse is of great historic value, and shows FDR's personal attempts at mending fences with one of the main power brokers in the Democratic Party of the time before it became the Franklin D. Roosevelt Democratic Party. As noted in FDR: His Personal Letters 1928-1945, edited by Elliott Roosevelt in 1950, in a footnote on page 288 referencing this historic handwritten letter by FDR, then in the possession of a member of the Roosevelt family: "Shouse had announced his support of FDR on July 5th, [1932] but there was still considerable question whether Al Smith would give active support to the Roosevelt candidacy. The boat trip referred to by FDR was a one-week cruise on the Myth II, a forty-foot yawl, with three of his sons, James, Franklin, and John. The Democratic nominee embarked from Port Jefferson, Long Island, to sail up along the New England coast. The Myth II was followed by a boat loaded with newspapermen, as well as by the yacht Ambassadress, on which there was constant conferring about campaign finances among such party notables as Ed Flynn, Bob Jackson, Joe Kennedy, Forbes Morgan, and Jesse Strauss." This historic document was obtained from the Christie's auction of the Malcolm Forbes document collection, March 27, 2002.



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    7th Saturday
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