Franklin Delano Roosevelt, throughout the stormy years of 1933-37, had one sure and steadfast indicator of political loyalty. During his first presidential term, whenever a visitor to the Oval Office expressed doubts about the political reliability of a congressman or a senator, Roosevelt's reaction was invariable. The muscular shoulders would twist in his chair, the handsome, oversized head would turn toward the visitor, and the president would display his famous smile and ask, "Was he with us B. C.?" B. C. —"Before Chicago"—was Roosevelt's personal abbreviation for any date prior to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago that nominated him for the presidency the week of June 27, 1932. By this test of political loyalty, Jimmy Byrnes was irreproachably "B. C."
Byrnes' friendship with Roosevelt antedated even the Wilson administrations. The two men and their wives had shared a rented house while attending the Democratic convention at Baltimore the summer of 1912; and eight years later, Congressman Byrnes campaigned loyally for the presidential ticket of Cox-Roosevelt. When after the November 1928 elections Franklin Roosevelt emerged as one of the few winners within his