Franklin D. Roosevelt as Governor of New York

By Bernard Bellush | Go to book overview

IV
PARITY FOR THE FARMER

Al Smith loved the "sidewalks of New York." But for the few wheat-colored blades of grass between the cobblestones under Brooklyn Bridge, he had, at first, known little of the rural life that provided so much interest and stimulus for his successor. Franklin D. Roosevelt was reared on a large country estate in the heart of the Hudson Valley. With an open receptiveness and interest in people, implemented by developing years in a rural environment, Roosevelt was familiar with many phases of farming long before the 1928 contest. Replying to a Republican newspaper in South Dakota, Roosevelt made certain that if he did not have a log cabin to fall back upon, for future political use, he at least had an earthy origin with plenty of grass roots, when he wrote: "By the way I am not, as you say, an 'Urban leader' for I was born and brought up and have always made my home on a farm in Dutchess County." 1

As he traveled through the hinterlands of New York in 1928, he talked with hundreds of farmers and agrarian spokesmen. As Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt described it two decades later, Franklin D. Roosevelt had an "extraordinary acute power of observation and could judge conditions in any section from the looks of the countryside as he travelled through." 2 From her husband, Eleanor Roosevelt learned to observe from train windows and from a car, for he would "watch the crops, notice how people dressed, how many cars there were and in what condition, and even look at the wash on the clothes lines." 3

It was during his 1928 swing around the State that Roosevelt's

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