The Man Who Rode the Tiger: The Life and Times of Judge Samuel Seabury

By Herbert Mitgang | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 17
La Guardia for Mayor, or Else--

" SAM," asked Mrs. William Marston Seabury, Seabury's sister-in- law, "how did you possibly come to pick La Guardia to run for mayor?"

"Because," replied Seabury, "he's absolutely honest, he's a man of great courage, and he can win."

The selection of Fiorello H. La Guardia, the flamboyant half-Italian, half-Jewish ex-congressman from East Harlem, by Samuel Seabury, the direct descendant and namesake of the first Episcopal Bishop of the United States, who lived in the fashionable East 60's and East Hampton, puzzled many people, including Seabury's brother's wife, who was a Park Avenue society matron. There were half a dozen men of standing available who, on the basis of professional or business experience, reliability, dignity, and social acceptability, seemed to fit the role better than La Guardia. Yet, once Seabury had given the word that it was to be La Guardia, from East Harlem to Park Avenue and into the corners of the five boroughs people united behind the green four-leaf-clover emblem of the City Fusion party.

It revealed something perhaps, about the nature of this unsmiling man behind the pince-nez that he chose "the little Italian" instead of one of "his own kind." About his single-mindedness to destroy Tammany, which had once knifed him . . . about his consistently youthful ideas of social reform . . . about his almost religious fervor

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