Franklin D. Roosevelt as Governor of New York

By Bernard Bellush | Go to book overview

I
A NEW GOVERNOR

The snowstorm in Albany had changed to gray rain and sleet by noon, that first day in January, 1929. A tall, handsome, composed but crippled forty-six-year-old New Yorker tediously plodded his way to the podium of the Assembly Chamber in the State Capitol Building. With his left hand on the Bible, which had been in his family for over 200 years, Franklin Delano Roosevelt took the oath of office as the forty-eighth Governor of the State of New York. Eight months later the allencompassing stock market crash thrust Roosevelt before the eyes of the nation and enabled him, by 1933, to pursue on the national scene the objectives he had sought as Governor of the Empire State.

While exercising his enervated legs in sun-baked Georgia four months before his inauguration as New York's Chief Executive, Roosevelt had not harbored the slightest thought that he would soon be succeeding the beloved Al Smith as Governor. Despite his vigorous devotion to the fascinating game of practical politics, infantile paralysis in 1921 had all but ended Roosevelt's ardent participation in elective contests. Eight years later some people still doubted this man's ability to carry on his shoulders the burden of the greatest state in the Union. The fact that Roosevelt was selected by the people of New York in 1928 to sit in the Governor's chair, and again in 1930, was in part a tribute to those who refuse to be overwhelmed by physical setbacks, and to those with everlasting faith in the handicapped. 1

By 1929, Franklin Roosevelt had garnered many lucrative years of political service. Behind him lay eighteen crowded years as

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