Category Archives: Frederick Lewis Allen

A CHANGE OF GOVERNMENT

Excerpted from
“SINCE YESTERDAY: THE 1930s IN AMERICA September 3, 1929–September 3,1939″
by Frederick Lewis Allen

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CHAPTER 4

It began to look as if the job of saving the United States would fall into the willing hands of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Early in June, 1932, the Republicans held a dull convention with their Old Guard in full control, wrote a dull and verbose platform, and nominated Herbert Hoover for re-election because they had to. Considering what was going on in the world, the general aspect of the Republican deliberations was ichthyosaurian.

When the Democrats went to Chicago for their convention–to a Chicago still reeling from a local panic in which nearly forty banks had gone under and the Dawes bank had been hard hit–Roosevelt had a long lead for the Democratic nomination. For his aides had been doing hard and effective work. Jim Farley–large, amiable, energetic, shrewd in the politics of friendships and favors–had been rushing about the country with glad hand outstretched and had been using to the utmost his incredible capacity for mass production of personal correspondence. He sometimes called in six stenographers at a time, spent eight consecutive hours signing letters in green ink; at night, when safe from interruption, he could sign at the rate of nearly two thousand letters an hour. While Farley commanded the Roosevelt forces in the field, the Roosevelt chief-of-staff was Louis McHenry Howe, a little wizened invalid with protruding eyes and unkempt clothes who worshipped Roosevelt and lived to further his career. Remaining in a shabby office in Madison Avenue, New York, sitting at a desk littered with newspapers and pamphlets, or lying on an old day bed when his chronic asthma exhausted him, Howe studied the political map and gave Farley sage advice. “Louis would sit in front of me in his favorite pose,” writes Farley, “his elbows resting on his knees, and his face cupped in his hands so that practically nothing was visible of his features except his eyes.” A masterly strategist of politics, Howe thought out the plan of campaign.

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