New York: Reprinted from Foreign Affairs, 1928. Pamphlet. This humble pamphlet is a compelling artifact from the months just before Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) was propelled into the leadership roles that would limn his indelible historical presence and fundamentally reshape his country. This is a July 1928 pamphlet on Our Foreign Policy both authored by Roosevelt and inscribed and dated by him in three lines on the front cover “Miss Mahoney | from Franklin D. Roosevelt | June 1928”. When this pamphlet was inscribed, FDR was a failed vice-presidential candidate whose life and career had been literally and figuratively crippled by Polio. Months after he inscribed this pamphlet, FDR was Governor of America’s most populous state, four years away from his remarkable presidency.
The 16-page, wire-stitched, wraps-bound pamphlet measures 7 x 10 inches (17.8 x 25.4 cm). Condition is good plus, the pamphlet soiled but intact. The wraps remain firmly attached by both original binding staples, which are only lightly rusted. The wraps are moderately toned, soiled, and spotted with a small chip loss at the lower right rear cover, a few tiny holes at the upper right rear cover, and incidental wear to extremities. The contents are clean, age-toning minimal and a hint of spotting confined to the blank margins. Roosevelt’s inscription has been inevitably affected by the porosity of the paper and the passage of time; nonetheless, his inscription remains distinct.
As indicated by the printing information on the front cover, this pamphlet was apparently “Reprinted from Foreign Affairs” – the American magazine of international relations and U.S. foreign policy first published in 1922. Curiously, the publication date printed on the lower front cover is “July, 1928” even though the inscription appears to be dated by Roosevelt as “June” 1928. The month penned by Roosevelt is challenging to decipher and notionally subject to interpretation. The year however – “1928” – is clear, and proved a watershed.
Roosevelt certainly had his eye on the presidency in 1928 – why else would a decisively domestic figure be circulating and signing a document on “Our Foreign Policy”? But what seems today a providential arc to the White House was very far from certain in 1928. FDR was not even a sure bet for Governor of New York.
In 1921, FDR’s promising political career was abruptly derailed by an illness that resulted in lifelong paralysis of his legs. When New York Governor Al Smith became the Democratic Party nominee for president in June 1928, the Democrats had to choose a new candidate for governor of New York. It was not FDR. A leading candidate died. Another declined to run due to health concerns. Still others favorites failed to attract broad support. A month before the November 1928 election the Democrats still lacked a candidate – and that candidate was critical, since Smith would need a strong gubernatorial contender to help him win the state’s electoral votes in the presidential race.
Recruited by Smith, a hesitant FDR agreed to run only just before he was formally nominated. FDR narrowly won the election – with less than 50% of the votes cast and little over half a percent more than his opponent. Smith lost both New York and the country to Hoover. Four eventful years later, domestic economic crisis brought Roosevelt to the White House, which would be the consuming focus of his first terms as president. It was only the outbreak of the Second World War, thirteen and a half years after he inscribed this pamphlet, that made “Our Foreign Policy” the defining challenge of Roosevelt’s life and legacy.
Such was the singular nature of both the man and his presidency that no mere biographical sketch of Franklin Delano Roosevelt seems to suffice. “Even those critical of his achievements recognize their magnitude.” (ANB) America’s only crippled president and the only president elected to four terms in office proved the indispensable leader of his county during its greatest economic crisis and its greatest foreign war. Item #006714