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    Franklin D. Roosevelt: Autograph Letter Signed.
    -December 20, 1920. Hyde Park, New York. One page. 7" x 9".
    -To: Henry W. Chadeayne.
    -Toned with folds; fine.

    Handwritten on FDR's personal stationery to an acquaintance and New York Democratic operative. Chadeayne served as an alternate delegate from New York to the 1920 Democratic National Convention that nominated FDR as James Cox's vice president. This letter was written just a month after they lost the election to Republicans Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge and days before FDR assumed his new position as the vice-president of the Fidelity and Deposit Company of Maryland. In part: "I go to N.Y. Jan. 2. Come in and see me when you come down - I will be at the Fidelity and Deposit Co. Of Maryland in the Equitable Building in the mornings and practicing law at 52 Wall Street in the afternoons."

    After a decade in public office at meager salaries and with five children to educate in expensive schools, FDR needed to increase his income. In January, 1921, he would assume his regular duties as partner in the New York City law firm of Emmet, Marvin & Roosevelt. He looked forward to this with scant enthusiasm; his liking for the law as a profession had not increased in the years since he had last engaged in active practice, and it seemed evident that the new firm's business would consist mostly of wills, estates, private trusts, "all of which," as he later confessed to his partners, "bore me to death." He was much more interested in the position he had accepted as vice-president in charge of the New York City office of the Fidelity and Deposit Company of Maryland - a position he would also enter upon in January, 1921. This letter may be FDR's first mention in his own hand of his new position at the Fidelity and Deposit Company. This company, one of the largest surety bonding concerns in the nation, was headed by Van Lear Black, a millionaire Baltimore financier. Like FDR, Black was a fervent Democrat, an enthusiastic yachtsman, and a devotee of the strenuous life in general. He was persuaded the Roosevelt name and personality would constitute a valuable asset for their firm. As for FDR, he was more than satisfied with the vice-presidential salary of $25,000 per annum, which, though smaller than some that had been offered him, was by several times the largest he had ever received. Indeed, it was understood, if not formally agreed between FDR and Black, that his company duties would not be so demanding as to prevent his active participation in party politics and in the kind of civic affairs that would add prestige and authority to his name. An importantly dated personal letter from when FDR became a private citizen and before he became a New York state senator. This letter was also written several months before FDR contracted poliomyelitis, which would profoundly affect the rest of his life.

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    December, 2008
    2nd Tuesday
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