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Franklin D. Roosevelt

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The President-Elect, “keen . . . to have a good long talk” with famed social work leader John Adams Kingsbury,

complains that “every minute of my time is taken until I leave for the South”

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1882–1945.  32nd President of the United States, 1933–1945.  Typed Letter Signed, F.D.R., with autograph emendation, one page, 7¼” x 10½”, on Roosevelt’s imprinted personal stationery, Hyde Park, New York, January 7, 1933.

This letter shows just how busy Roosevelt was before he assumed the presidency in the dark days of the Great Depression.  Although two months had passed since the 1928 election, and there were almost two months left before Roosevelt would take the oath of office, the President-Elect complains that while he was anxious to see famed New York social work leader John Adams Kingsbury, time simply would not permit it.  He writes, in full:  “I got your telephone message this morning, and I need not tell you how keen I am to have a good long talk with you.  However, every minute of my time is taken until I leave for the South, and it would be no satisfaction at all to have you come in between appointments.  /  I am wondering if you would talk with Professor Raymond Moley, of Columbia University, who is in constant touch with me and who is acting as a clearing house for me with people whose ideas I really want to have.  This would be a great help to me, and I feel that I can say all this to you frankly and know that you will understand.  /  After I get to Washington I want to talk with you myself.  My best wishes to you.  /  Always sincerely, . . . .”

FDR’s reference to “the South” is to his trip to Warm Springs, Georgia, in early February 1933.  He often vacationed at the rehabilitation facility at Warm Springs, which he helped to establish in the 1920s.  It was his final trip before assuming the presidency.  After leaving Warm Springs, he took an extended Caribbean fishing trip later in the month before returning to Washington, D.C., for the inauguration.  He took the oath of office as President of the United States on March 4, 1933.

Kingsbury (1876–1956) was “one of the foremost social work leaders in the United States from 1911 until 1935.”  Arnold S. Rosenberg, The Rise of John Adams Kingsbury, 63 Pac. N.W.Q. 55, 55  (1972).  He served as the director of the prestigious New York City Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor, after which he became the city’s Commissioner of Public Charities, which was the most important public welfare position in the country.  Kingsbury later served as a member of the executive committee of the New York State Charities Aid Association and as the secretary and a director of the Milbank Foundation, a health research agency.  After World War I, served as assistant director of general relief for the American Red Cross in France, and he organized American relief efforts in Serbia, touring Serbia on behalf of the Serbian Child Welfare Association of America, of which he was the director.  He knew several members of Roosevelt’s administration, including FDR insider Harry Hopkins, whom Kingsbury encouraged in his early social work career; Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins; and Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau.

Roosevelt has signed this letter with his famous initials, “F.D.R.,” and has scratched out Kingsbury’s typed name and written “John” in jet black fountain pen.  The pen skipped a bit on the “R” in Roosevelt’s signature.  The letter has two normal horizontal mailing folds, neither of which touches Roosevelt’s handwriting or signature.  The recipient’s receipt stamp is in the blank upper right margin, and there are a paper clip impression and a few stains in the upper left corner, affecting nothing.  Overall the letter is in fine condition.

Unframed.    Please ask us about custom framing this piece.


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