Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice

    Description

    FDR writes to a former First Lady about her Marine son at the end of WWI.

    Franklin D. Roosevelt: Typed Letter Signed as Assistant Secretary of the Navy.
    -March 13, 1919. Washington, D.C. One page. 8" x 10.5". Navy Department Assistant Secretary's Office letterhead.
    -To: Mrs. Thomas J. Preston, Jr. (the remarried Frances Folsom Cleveland, wife of the deceased former Democratic President Grover Cleveland).
    -Flattened mailing folds, two tiny discolorations, else near fine.

    In response to her earlier letter, FDR writes to Mrs. Preston about her son Richard (fourth child of President Cleveland). In full, "My dear Mrs. Preston:/ I am very sorry that your letter of February 21st has remained unanswered so long. I did not get back until ten days ago from Europe, and your letter was at the bottom of various piles of correspondence awaiting me./ I find that the Army Transport Thomas arrived safely in Honolulu on February 13, at Nagasaki on March 3, and at Vladivostock on March 6. She is due to arrive at Manila on March 14. They tell me that your boy would then go by the first transport to Shanghai and thence to Pekin. Evidently all is well and I will let you know as soon as the report of the arrival of the Thomas at Manila comes to the War Department./ May I tell you how very glad I am that Richard is in the Marine Corps, for it is the finest service in the world. Also his tour of duty in Pekin will be of the greatest interest./ Believe me./ Very sincerely yours..."

    Grover Cleveland married Frances during his first term as president in the first and only wedding to ever take place in the executive mansion. She was a very popular and beloved first lady. Grover Cleveland died in 1908 and five years later Frances remarried, to Thomas J. Preston, Jr., a Princeton professor of archeology.


    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.

     

    A wonderful and historic letter by FDR as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, dated four months after the ending of the Great War, March 13, 1919, on Navy Department Assistant Secretary's Office letterhead to the former First Lady of the United States, the remarried Frances Folsom Cleveland, wife of the deceased former Democratic President Grover Cleveland, now named Mrs. Thomas J. Preston, Jr., with most interesting content about her husband and son, the fourth child of Grover and Frances Cleveland. FDR writes: "My dear Mrs. Preston:/ I am very sorry that your letter of February 21st has remained unanswered so long. I did not get back until ten days ago from Europe, and your letter was at the bottom of various piles of correspondence awaiting me./ I find that the Army Transport Thomas arrived safely in Honolulu on February 13, at Nagasaki on March 3, and at Vladivostock on March 6. She is due to arrive at Manila on March 14. They tell me that your boy would then go by the first transport to Shanghai and thence to Pekin. Evidently all is well and I will let you know as soon as the report of the arrival of the Thomas at Maila comes to the War Department./ May I tell you how very glad I am that Richard is in the Marine Corps, for it is the finest service in the world. Also his tour of duty in Pekin will be of the greatest interest./ Believe me./ Very sincerely yours,/ Franklin D. Roosevelt." A most interesting response by Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt to the wife of one of a former President of the United States, giving her needed information about the whereabouts of her present husband and the son born to her and the former President, who was at the time serving in the United States Marine Corps. "I detest him so much that I don't even think his wife is beautiful." So spoke one of President Grover Cleveland's political foes – the only person, it seems, to deny the loveliness of this notable First Lady, first bride of a President to be married in The White House. Mrs. Thomas J. Preston, Jr. was born in Buffalo, New York, the only child of Emma C. Harmon and Oscar Folsom, who became a law partner of Grover Cleveland. As a devoted family friend Cleveland bought "Frank" her first baby carriage. As administrator of the Folsom estate after his partner's death, though never her legal guardian, he guided her education with sound advice. When she entered Wells College, he asked Mrs. Folsom's permission to correspond with her, and he kept her room bright with flowers. Though Frank and her mother missed his inauguration in 1885, they visited him at The White House that spring. There affection turned into romance – despite 27 years' difference in age – and there the wedding took place on June 2, 1886. Cleveland's scholarly sister Rose Elizabeth Cleveland, her bachelor brother's hostess in 15 months of his first term as President, gladly gave up the duties of hostess for her own career in education; and with a bride as First Lady, state entertainments took on a new interest. Mrs. Cleveland's unaffected charm won her immediate popularity. She held two receptions a week--one on Saturday afternoons, when women with jobs were free to come. After the President's defeat in 1888, the Clevelands lived in New York City, where baby Ruth was born. With his unprecedented re-election, the First Lady returned to The White House as if she had been gone but a day. Through the political storms of this term she always kept her place in public favor. People took keen interest in the birth of Esther at the mansion in 1893, and of Marion in 1895. When the family left The White House, Mrs. Cleveland had become one of the most popular women ever to serve as hostess for the nation. She bore two sons while the Clevelands lived in Princeton, New Jersey, and was at her husband's side when he died at their home, Westland, in 1908. In 1913 she married Thomas J. Preston, Jr., a professor of archeology, and remained a figure of note in the Princeton community until she died. She had reached her 84th year-nearly the age at which the venerable Mrs. Polk had welcomed her and her husband on a Presidential visit to the South, and chatted of changes in White House life from bygone days.



    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2008
    7th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 389

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    VIEW BENEFITS
    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
      winnings 
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2020 May 22 Space Exploration Signature Auction - Dallas.

    Learn about consigning with us

    Heritage has gone above and beyond my expectations in handling all of my transactions in a thoroughly professional manner. I would not hesitate to recommend them to anyone worldwide for the exemplary auction and valuation services they provide.
    Richard H.,
    Corsicana, TX
    View More Testimonials

    HA.com receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source: Similarweb.com)

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2019 November 14-16 Space Exploration Auction Featuring The Armstrong Family Collection Part IV - Dallas
    2019 November 14-16 Space Exploration Auction Featuring The Armstrong Family Collection Part IV - Dallas
    REALIZED SO FAR $2,566,976