Franklin D. Roosevelt

Letter Urging Governor Herbert H. Lehman, of New York, to Run for Reelection.

June 29, 1936

Dear Herbert:

For some weeks, and particularly since the close of the New York State legislative session, I have been giving careful thought to some matters of grave importance to the country, and especially their relationship to the State of New York. May I repeat to you what I have already told you—that I was deeply disappointed when you stated that you would not again be a candidate for Governor; though at the same time, as you know, I fully appreciate the valid personal reasons which impelled you to make the statement and sympathized with you in those reasons.

Nevertheless I am writing frankly and with deepest sincerity to tell you what I conceive to be the other side of the picture.

For many years you and I have worked for many kinds of social legislation; much legislation of this type has been enacted, but at the same time much remains unfulfilled.

Our State was and still is among the pioneers, and today the Federal Government is making it possible for all the States to join in this great work.

The next two years, I think, will be very critical ones, and what takes place in New York will have an outstanding effect all over the Nation.

If the next State administration should be in the hands of any individual whose heart is not in the right place in respect to these great ideals or is even in part controlled by those who are unsympathetic to objectives which you and I have, we would fail. More than that, I fear that many of the excellent laws put on the statute books during your four years as Governor would be repealed, weakened, or enforced by people who had their tongues in their cheeks.

The State of New York would be hurt thereby; even more important to the Nation, the Nation would be hurt thereby, for that kind of example is imitated and spreads.

I have referred to social legislation, such as fair wage laws, unemployment insurance, old-age pensions, care of the destitute, but I should include the equally wide range of legislation affecting public utilities and conservation and, in general, the lives of the average citizen.

I am convinced that your return to Albany for another two years would have a splendid effect on all the rest of the country. That magnificent and richly deserved tribute which was given to you in Philadelphia last week shows what the other States think of your fine and successful leadership.

I hope, therefore, that not only for the State but for the national good, you will be willing to reconsider your statement that you would not run again. Such reconsideration would make me very happy. More than that, it would make millions of people all over the United States very happy.

With my affectionate regards,

Very sincerely yours,

Governor Herbert H. Lehman,

Albany, New York.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Letter Urging Governor Herbert H. Lehman, of New York, to Run for Reelection. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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