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    Description

    Franklin Roosevelt and New York Mayor Jimmy Walker Signed Menu, original program and menu page from a special dinner theater production of "Treasure Island" at the Hotel Astor on March 12, 1932. The pages are 8" x 10.5" and attractively matted and framed (32.5" x 22.5" overall) with a black and white photograph of FDR. Roosevelt signed the menu in pencil. Beyond FDR's signature as Governor of New York at the time, four others also sign the program and menu in pencil on all sides of FDR's signature, including Lieutenant Governor Herbert H. Lehman, United States Senator from New York Robert F. Wagner, noted New York Times reporter James A. Hagerty, whose son James C. Hagerty would later serve as Press Secretary to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and most notoriously the bold signature at the top of New York Mayor James J. "Jimmy" Walker, who would resign from office less than six months to avoid the wrath of FDR who was then on the precipice of being elected President of the United States.

    Herbert H. Lehman and Robert F. Wagner would go on to serve FDR and the Nation with distinction. Roosevelt's relationship with Jimmy Walker would very soon turn ugly. The "Walker Affair" was the headline news in the New York and national press. Jimmy Walker, known as Beau James was the nightclubbing Night Mayor of New York. New York City was America's liveliest town known for flappers and speakeasies; gangsters and gun molls; organized crime and political corruption, and almost everybody and everything had a price.

    Franklin Roosevelt had a reputation as a reformer, and nothing would help his national political ambitions more than cracking down on the corruption that permeated New York City government. FDR picked Judge Samuel Seabury, an incorruptible outsider, to head the largest investigation of municipal corruption in American history.

    Seabury called an endless parade of officials to testify. Each exposed official drew Seabury inexorably closer to City Hall and the popular rogue, Mayor Jimmy Walker. Taking advantage of the rarely exercised Gubernatorial right to sit as judge for the investigation of major officials, FDR brought things to a head when he personally prosecuted Walker in the summer of 1932, on the heels of the Democratic Convention, with the entire nation watching. FDR turned what many in New York and nationally perceived as his greatest political vulnerability during his Presidential election campaign into an undisputed personal and political triumph. Unable to explain the large sums of money that had been paid into his bank account, Walker was forced by FDR to resign from office in September, 1932. Facing fifteen charges of corruption, Walker fled to Europe and did not return until he was convinced he would not be prosecuted for his financial offenses.
    A fascinating assemblage of signatures.


    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 very rare FDR presentation piece, with a unique and historic assemblage of signatures. This incredible FDR presentation piece's central signed item is an original program and menu from a special dinner theater production of "Treasure Island" at the Hotel Astor on March 12, 1932. FDR signs the program and menu in pencil. Beyond FDR's signature as Governor of New York at the time, four others also sign the program and menu in pencil on all sides of FDR's signature, including Lieutenant Governor Herbert H. Lehman, United States Senator from New York Robert F. Wagner, noted New York Times reporter James A. Hagerty, whose son James C. Hagerty would later serve as Press Secretary to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and most notoriously the bold signature at the top of New York Mayor James J. "Jimmy" Walker,  who would resign from office less than six months to avoid the wrath of FDR who was then on the precipice of being elected President of the United States. This wondrous and rare presentation piece is framed and matted, featuring a 6 ½ x 8" black and white photograph of FDR, the matted Great Seal of the United States of America and matted stars, and reproduction of the Great Seal of the United States of America and the Seal of the President of the United States, to an overall presentation size of 22 x 32." Although Herbert H. Lehman and Robert F. Wagner would go on to serve FDR and the Nation with distinction after this program and menu was signed on March 12, 1932, the story of Jimmy Walker would very soon turn ugly. The "Walker Affair" was the headlining event of the legendary era of the Jazz Age in New York City, America's liveliest town. Flappers and speakeasies; gangsters and gun molls; organized crime and its handmaiden: political corruption, and almost everybody and everything had a price. It was a great time to be a politician in power – if you knew how to play the game. It was also a time of larger-than-life personalities. Two men, once friends, were locked in a political death-match that would affect New York and indeed the fate of the Nation. Jimmy Walker was the nightclubbing Night Mayor of New York. The elegant Beau James had more mob ties than suits, and he had lots of them, too. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a patrician from Hyde Park on the Hudson Highlands, was Governor of New York. He was a crusader with a distinguished lineage, but he still had to prove that his talents could match his Presidential ambitions. The bellringer between the Mayor and the Governor began with a very real murder. Arnold (Big Arnie) Rothstein, a world-class gambler who reputedly fixed the 1919 World Series, was found shot in the gut near one of his Broadway haunts. He survived for a few days but would not reveal the killer's identity. With his death came a crackdown against the underworld and its crooked officials. Judge Samuel Seabury, an incorruptible outsider, was picked by FDR to head what was – and still is – the largest investigation of municipal corruption in American history, as this budget for the investigation approved by FDR, at the currency rate of the times in 1932, shows full well. In the witness box before Seabury sat an endless parade of officials, all of whom seemed to be unusually adept at saving money – the press called them the "tin box brigade" for the tin boxes in which their private fortunes mysteriously blossomed. Each exposed official drew Seabury inexorably closer to City Hall and the popular rogue, Mayor Jimmy Walker. Taking advantage of the rarely exercised Gubernatorial right to sit as judge for the investigation of major officials, FDR brought things to a head when he personally prosecuted Walker in the summer of 1932, on the heels of the Democratic Convention, with the entire nation watching what many political operatives, both Democrats and Republicans, thought would undo FDR's chances at the Presidency, despite the deepening Great Depression engulfing the United States under Herbert Hoover. Roosevelt indeed had much to lose. Behind Walker lurked Tammany Hall, the powerful Democratic political machine that ruled New York City. Prosecuting Walker was the final showdown in a war for control of the greatest city in the country's most populous state. FDR once again proved his mettle, and turned what many in New York and nationally perceived as his greatest political vulnerability during his Presidential election campaign into an undisputed personal and political triumph. Unable to explain the large sums of money that had been paid into his bank account, Walker was forced by FDR to resign from office in September, 1932. Facing fifteen charges of corruption, Walker fled to Europe and did not return until he was convinced he would not be prosecuted for his financial offenses. In 1940 Fiorello La Guardia, the Mayor of New York City, appointed him as arbiter in garment industry disputes. Jimmy Walker was also president of the Majestic Records Company until his death on November 18, 1946. Jimmy Walker was indeed the epitome of the flamboyant Mayor of New York City (1925–1932), a frequenter of Broadway theater and the upper-class speakeasies, such as the Central Park Casino. The son of Irish Catholic immigrants who lived in New York's Greenwich Village, Walker attended Saint Francis Xavier College and graduated from New York Law School in 1904. After graduation, however, he began frequenting Broadway's theaters and vaudeville, writing popular songs and eventually marrying (in 1912) a musical comedy singer. In that same year he was admitted to the New York State bar. Already gravitating toward politics, he became a district captain and a member of the Assembly (1909) and, under the tutelage of Alfred E. Smith, was elected to the State Senate (1914). With the backing of the Tammany organization and Governor Smith, Walker was nominated in 1925 as the Democratic mayoralty candidate in the primary elections. He served as Mayor of New York City for two terms. During his first term he created the Department of Sanitation, brought about unification of the city's public hospitals, and made considerable improvements in the playgrounds and park systems; and, under his guidance, the Board of Transportation approved contracts for the construction of an elaborate subway system.  Reelected to office in 1929, he came under critical fire from several sources. In the first two years of his Administration, Walker indulged himself with several vacations overseas, spending 143 days out of office, and was fond of saying, "I refuse to live by the clock." Despite rumors of widespread corruption, New Yorkers largely overlooked Walker's transgressions, electing him handily to a second term over Fiorello LaGuardia. But with the outbreak of the Great Depression, Walker's neglect of essential city services became more readily apparent. In 1931 the New York legislature formed a committee to investigate the affairs of New York City, which was ultimately paid for by this signed document by FDR. As detailed above, as a result of this investigation presided over by FDR, extensive corruption was revealed and fifteen charges were leveled against Walker. Accused, among other things, of being actuated by improper and illegal considerations and of being unable to explain satisfactorily the large sums of money deposited in his bank account, he resigned on September 1, 1932. He then went to Europe with his showgirl-mistress and did not return to the United States until 1935. He was named Chairman of the National Cloak and Suit Industry in 1940, and Walker later became the president of the Majestic Records Company. This epic political battle between FDR and Walker is a real-life fable, the story of two towering men in an irrepressible time. It is at once the story of FDR's first great test; the turning point of machine control in New York; and the battle that marked the end of the Jazz Age way of political life. It is an unforgettable portrait of FDR's courage, with a cast of gamblers and gun molls, murderers and mistresses. More outrageous than today's headlines and as lively as the era it describes, the Walker Affair showed the world that FDR had come of age politically, and was ready for the awesome responsibilities and challenges of assuming the Presidency of the United States of America. A truly historic and unique assemblage of signatures on a program and menu from March 12, 1932, as FDR was actively beginning to seek the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, his path to the White House being threatened by the shenanigans of New York City Mayor Jimmy Walker.



    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2008
    7th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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