F.D.R. TO HIS SON AT HARVARD
AN EXCEEDINGLY RARE AND HIGHLY UNUSUAL PRESIDENTIAL ITEM — INTIMATELY ILLUSTRATING A FATHER’S GUIDENCE THROUGH THE DIFFICULTIES OF HARVARD ACADEMICS AND SOCIAL LIFE
ROOSEVELT, FRANKLIN D. (1882-1945) 32nd U.S. President. Remarkable Autograph Letter Signed, “Father,” on his name-imprinted ‘Franklin D. Roosevelt / Vice President / Fidelity and Deposit Company of Maryland’ stationery. Two full pages, quarto. ‘Warm Springs’ [Georgia]. October 23, no year. [circa 1928] Accompanied by a name-imprinted envelope addressed by Roosevelt to “Mr. James Roosevelt, George Smith Hall [now Kirkland House], Harvard Univ. Cambridge, Massachusetts.” With red two cent stamp and circular [Atlanta?] postal cancellation. Roosevelt writes:
“Dear Jimmy – Ever so many thanks for your truly long letter – I’m too sorry about the knee & that it definitely keeps you out of you numerals this fall – However, one can’t have everything all at once – it will give you more time to work in preparation for the hour exams I hope there will be fewer “busts” in your exams than there were last year & the year before!
German must be rotten, but, I think Mother, or I will be able to help you put an idea of what its all about at Xmas.
I’m awfully glad you are on the Dormitories Committee & that it’s a ‘good class’ as a whole – Mine was a ‘poor class’ for it split up…at the start & hasn’t got over it yet. Let me know how rowing goes, I suppose the preliminary crews are made up & that you won’t have much longer to go out on the River as I think the work generally ends about that same time.
Much love – I go home about Nov. 8 — affectionately, Father.”
James Roosevelt II. (1907–1991) American businessman, Marine, activist, and Democratic Party politician; first born son of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.
The relationship between a Father and son is a special one, and the Roosevelt’s are no exception. It was Jimmy [James] as the oldest son of the Roosevelt’s that first acted as an official secretary to his father, and often sheltered him or disguised the fact that FDR was wearing braces due to his affliction with polio at public appearances. James was also a close protégé of Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. In the fall of 1933, the two men journeyed to England to obtain the market in post-prohibition liquor imports. Roosevelt was also instrumental in securing Kennedy’s appointment as Ambassador to the United Kingdom.
James role became more complex in April 1936. Presidential Secretary Louis Howe died. Roosevelt unofficially assumed Howe’s duties, and after the 1936 re-election of his father, Roosevelt was given a commission as a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps. On January 6, 1937, he was officially appointed “administrative assistant to the President”, and on July 1, 1937, he was appointed secretary to the president. Roosevelt was considered among his father’s most important counselors.
After Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Roosevelt was seated next to his father when the President delivered his ‘Day of Infamy’ speech. He requested assignment to combat duty and was transferred to the Marine Raiders in January 1942, where he received the Navy Cross for his meritorious actions and extraordinary heroism and distinguished service as second in command of the Second Marine Raider Battalion against enemy Japanese armed forces on Makin island. After WWII, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives representing California, serving 5 terms from 1955 to 1965. He was a friend of Richard Nixon’s until his death.
Any letter written between a President and a family member is certainly a thing of great rarity, when it appears in the market place. F.D.R.’s full holograph letters are also seldom encountered, when compared to the numerous typed letters one finds. This intimate and affectionate letter between this father and son pairing is of extraordinary merit and deserving of addition to the finest of Presidential collections. One of our “Best of the Best”.™