“Well, if we’ve caught a Roosevelt, we’d better take him
down and drop him off the dock.”
—Big Tim Sullivan, Political Boss in the Bowery
After gaining admission to the Bar of New York State, Roosevelt left Columbia University without completing a degree there and joined a well-established law firm. His three-year practice of law was “more or less casual,” and in 1910 he opted for active politics. Departing from the Republican fold of his cousin Theodore, Franklin ran a colorful and successful campaign for the New York Senate.
Not all Tammany leaders were pleased to welcome the handsome, young aristocrat into their ranks. Among incoming members of the Assembly at Albany, “Big Tim” Sullivan, political boss of the party in the Bowery, when first spotting Franklin speaking in cultured language, cigarette holder held firmly in his mouth, and gold pince-nez glasses across his nose, is supposed to have said, “Well, if we’ve caught a Roosevelt, we’d better take him down and drop him off the dock.”1
Franklin Roosevelt served in the New York Senate from 1911 until 1913, and in the latter year President Woodrow Wilson appointed him Assistant Secretary of the Navy, a post he held for the next seven years. Roosevelt’s unwavering support of the Democratic national leadership won him the vice-presidential nomination on the James M. Cox ticket in 1920.