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In Their Own Words

September 27, 1928

Political Rally Reported

On the previous evening, Franklin D. Roosevelt had given his first speech in Atlanta. He and other speakers had used the occasion to attack fellow Democrats who were opposing their party’s presidential nominee - New York Gov. Al Smith (who also was Roman Catholic and an opponent of prohibition) - in that year’s race against Republican Herbert Hoover. According to Atlanta Constitution reporter Paul Stevenson, the event was an old-fashioned political rally not seen in some time:

“Amid a bedlam of enthusiasm not witnessed in Atlanta since the stormy days of free silver and gold standard fights, Franklin D. Roosevelt, distinguished democratic leader of New York and Georgia, fired the opening gun in the statewide fight in support of Governor Al Smith for president at the auditorium Wednesday night before a monster crowd that packed the vast building to its very eaves and overflowed into the lobbies, and which frequently burst into storms of cheers that rocked the walls of the building and lasted several minutes… .

“Led by Mr. Roosevelt, the speakers flayed without mercy the forces within the party who are opposing the nominee… . [A]nd each thrust apparently pleased the vast crowd as the cheers came in spontaneous roars of approval.

“It was like the old-time days in Georgia when political campaigns inflamed the enthusiasm of virtually the entire population. The colorful crowd was boisterous and militant. The band played East Side, West Side and the crowds shouted in mighty symphonies of applause. The band played Dixie and the crowd almost tore the off off the house. Old Confederate veterans tottered to their feet and gave the ‘Rebel Yell.’ …

“Backing Mr. Roosevelt on the stage sat a crowd of representative democrats whose names would form practically a roster of the officials of the democratic party in Georgia; of the state officialdom; of the appellate courts, of the Fulton County officers and of the city administration. It was the most representative democratic gathering that has assembled in Atlanta in a decade or more… .”

Source: Franklin M. Garrett, Atlanta and Environs: A Chronicle of Its People and Events (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1969 reprint of 1954 original volume), Part II, p. 838.