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    Description

    Franklin D. Roosevelt: Typed Letter Signed as President.
    -December 13, 1938. Washington, D.C. One page. 7" x 9". On white House letterhead.
    -To: Honorable Herbert Bayard Swope, New York City.
    -Fold, light soiling, else very good.

    FDR writes, "Thank you very much for that grand message you sent me on December sixth about my speech at Chapel Hill. I am awfully glad you approved so highly and appreciate much your thoughtfulness in wiring me. With all good wishes," Roosevelt refers to the famous "grilled millionaire" speech delivered at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on December 5, 1938.


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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 significant letter signed December 13, 1938 on The White House Washington stationery, one page (conjoining leaves), to Herbert Bayard Swope. FDR writes: "Dear Herbert Bayard:/ Thank you very much for that grand message you sent me on December sixth about my speech at Chapel Hill. I am awfully glad you approved so highly and appreciate much your thoughtfulness in wiring me./ With all good wishes,/ Very sincerely yours,/ Franklin D. Roosevelt." The speech to which FDR refers in his letter to Herbert Bayard Swope was the famous "grilled millionaire" speech delivered at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on December 5, 1938. President Roosevelt had several advantages over his critics. While opponents could only point blame, FDR could and did propose action. The confidence and optimism that he projected despite his handicap encouraged Americans to keep their economic problems in perspective. The effects of polio prevented FDR from using standard body language for emphasis. Instead, he developed exaggerated head motions, which later became the norm for politicians interviewed on film. FDR demonstrated his various techniques, from frowning and sticking out his chin, to grinning ear-to-ear, in this humorous exchange in 1938 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Franklin Roosevelt declares his preferred breakfast menu, Chapel Hill, NC, December 5, 1938. FDR stated in this famous speech: "You may have heard, for six years, that I was about to plunge the nation into war; that you and your little brothers would be sent to the bloody fields of battle in Europe; that I was driving the nation into bankruptcy; and that I breakfasted every morning on a dish of grilled millionaire!  [Laughter from the Audience]. Actually, I am an exceedingly mild-mannered person, a practitioner of peace, both domestic and foreign, a believer in the capitalistic system, and for my breakfast, a devotee of scrambled eggs!"  [Laughter and applause from the Audience]. Unlike many politicians of his generation, FDR abandoned platform-oratory techniques when talking on the radio. Instead of shouting, he spoke calmly.  His tone was conversational.  Many speeches began with the words "my friends." His words generated warmth and believability. FDR practiced delivery.  He developed what was described as "the best modulated radio voice in public life." The radio director of University of Chicago described FDR's voice as "honey syrup oozing through the steel filter that jackets the microphone." FDR's patrician accent, which would be a liability to most politicians, was a strength, leading many to believe that they had a friend in high places. Compared to Huey Long, Father Coughlin and Alfred E. Smith, FDR's speaking rate was slow. He averaged fewer than 100 words per minute, while broadcast standards averaged 175. His measured pace communicated authority and trust. Herbert Bayard Swope (1882-1958) was a  journalist who became famous as a war correspondent and editor of the New York World. After graduation from high school, Swope spent a year in Europe before going to work as a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He later went to the Chicago Tribune, then the New York Herald and the New York Morning Telegraph, with short periods of employment at the New York World, which he finally joined full-time in 1909. He remained with the paper  until 1929, with an interruption for service in World War I. After serving as a crime reporter for the World, Swope became a war correspondent, reporting from Germany early in World War I. He came to be recognized as an authority on Germany. His articles, collected in the book Inside the German Empire (1917), won him a Pulitzer Price in 1917. Swope came back from Germany in 1915 to become city editor of the World, but he returned to the front in 1916. When the United States entered the war in 1917, he was commissioned in the U.S. Navy and made assistant to Bernard Baruch on the U.S. War Industries Board. He returned to the World in 1920 as executive editor and, in that role, concentrated on building up a page devoted to columnists opposite the editorial page. In that period, ending with his retirement in 1929, the paper won three Pulitzer Prizes. In retirement Swope served the U.S. government in various advisory roles and was chairman of the New York State Racing Board for 11 years, starting in 1934. During and shortly after World War II, from 1942 to 1946, he served as a consultant to U.S. Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson. Swope had a critical role in causing FDR to use the famous "Happy Warrior" phrase in his June, 1924 nomination speech for Al Smith 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. Widely regarded as the most memorable speech of the 1924 convention for the Democrats, FDR originally didn't want to use the phrase "Happy Warrior" in nominating Al Smith for President. As recounted by one of Smith's closest advisors, Judge Joseph M. Proskauer, who originally placed the phrase in the nominating speech, "So I took Herbert Bayard Swope, the editor [of the New York World] with me to Roosevelt's place up the Hudson so that we could work it out. Swope made the mistake of the century. He picked up Roosevelt's speech, turned to me and said, ‘Joe, this is awful. It's dull. It won't do.' And he flung it on the floor. Then he picked up my ‘Happy Warrior' speech. ‘This is great, Frank,' he said to Roosevelt. ‘You've done it just the way it ought to be.' Well, Roosevelt damn near went through the roof. We fought and fought. Finally I told him, ‘Frank, I have this message from the Governor [Smith]: Either you give this speech or you don't nominate him." FDR gave the speech, with his own editing, and FDR's stirring effort, his first major appearance using his leg braces and crutches, marked his return in full force to the Democratic Party and national politics. As noted by FDR biographer Nathan Miller in FDR: An Intimate History (page 205), after FDR finished his nominating speech, "The lid blew off the Garden and the cheering lasted for an hour and thirteen minutes. Connoisseurs of political oratory universally agreed that it was by far the best speech of the convention. Following this display of courage and eloquence, Roosevelt was probably more popular than any of the candidates, and most observers believed the image of the ‘Happy Warrior' better suited him than Smith." A wonderful and personal letter from FDR to Herbert Bayard Swope in which the President thanks Swope for the enthusiasm in which he received FDR's speech at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a very important and historic reference.



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    Auction Dates
    June, 2008
    7th Saturday
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