Choose another Topic

Return to History Introduction

Return to Progressive Era-World War II 1901-1945: Individual Items

“200,000 View Colorful Parade for Nominee,” October 25, 1932


(The following article is from the Oct. 25, 1932 issue of the Atlanta Constitution.)

200,000 View Colorful Parade for Nominee

by Herman D. Hancock


Atlanta, famous for the unbounded enthusiasm with which it welcomes the great, surpassed itself Monday when more than a quarter of a million people, the greatest multitude ever assembled below the Mason and Dixon line, thundered a vocal tribute to the next president of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Paralyzing the largest detail of police ever mustered here, the crowd which viewed Monday’s parade broke through the lines at half a dozen points, surging about the nominee’s open car, made it impossible to maintain an announced schedule and forced calling off brief ceremonies planned along the line of march. Almost 200,000 Georgians and visitors from the neighboring states lined the route of the great parade, believed to be a record for crowds in the south.

Previously the city’s 50,000 school children massed in front of their respective schools and paid a tribute to Governor Roosevelt which he termed one of the most impressive he had ever witnessed in his many years in public life.

“This is a day I shall never forget,” the nominee said late Monday afternoon when he got his first rest since early morning. “I will see the eager faces and the lighted eyes of my fellow Georgians as long as I live. There are no words that can describe how I feel. I can just only imagine. I am deeply and everlastingly grateful to the people of this great state. I am proud to call it home.”

Long before the parade got underway at Peachtree and Baker streets every available inch of space along the line of march was massed with humanity that stretched further than the eye could see. So great were the crowds that the police had to call into service national guard officers who were supposed to be among the marchers but who had to give up their places in order that order might be maintained during the progress of the procession.

A ceremony planned to take place at the Henry W. Grady monument was canceled because the crowd was so dense at Henry Grady square it would have taken Governor Roosevelt’s daughter, Mrs. Anna Roosevelt Dall, too long to get through the gathering. Likewise, brief ceremonies which were to have taken place at the city hall and the state capitol also were called off when massed humanity stretched across the grounds of both buildings.

Downtown Atlanta has never seen such a crowd. Records established at the Bobby Jones reception in 1930, the Lindbergh welcome in 1927 and the homecoming of Georgia Tech’s national championship football team in 1928 went by the boards.

Chief of Police T.O. Sturdivant estimated the number of witnesses to the parade at about 200,000 while Captain Jack Malcolm of the traffic squad said it was too great even to guess.

“I saw more people today than I ever saw before,” said Captain Malcolm, who has been in charge of handling crowds on many notable occasions here. “I saw more than I ever want to see again under such circumstances. It was a great crowd and, generally speaking, an orderly one. Governor Roosevelt appreciated the manner in which those on the streets stayed in line.”

However, at several places along the line of march it was with great difficulty that the governor’s car was driven through. One time it was forced to stop and all along the way it barely moved. After the parade, Governor Roosevelt paid tribute to A.L. Belle Isle, who drove him to Warm Springs and back Sunday and who piloted him over the city and in the parade Monday.

“Mr. Belle Isle is a great driver,” the nominee said. “I have never seen a more enthusiastic crowd and believe me he sure got through it well. My hat’s off to him. If the White House needs a drive and Mr. Belle Isle needs a job I know he won’t feel the heel of depression.”

Mr. Belle Isle is head of the Black and White Cab Company.

The parade itself was one of the most brilliant ever witnessed here, comprising not only the flower of Atlanta and Georgia’s most notable aggregations but containing a large number of distinguished visitors, here to greet Governor Roosevelt and escort him on his way northward.

Due to the experiences of Adjutant General Charles H. Cox and his aides it moved away from the starting point, Peachtree and Baker streets, with utmost precision. Not once was it necessary to call a halt and the only time Governor Roosevelt’s car stopped for a second was on Peachtree in front of Davison-Paxson’s, where the crowd was so dense it was hazardous both to the crowd and the nominee to drive through until the police motorcycle escort had cleared the way. After that one stop the parade moved on to its destination, but always slowly because there wasn’t a chance to get the nominee’s car out of low gear.

The governor and the tens of thousands who wished to see him were favored with perfect weather. The sky was cloudless and with the exception of a slightly warm temperature the day otherwise was perfect. This brought out not only a majority of Atlanta citizens but tens of thousands from all over Georgia. It was “Greater Atlanta Day” as well as “Roosevelt Day” and railroads reported the heaviest travel in and out of the city that they have experienced in many years. Likewise from over the state there came thousands in motor cars. Traffic was heavy on all highways leading into the city from dawn until noon. There were at least 25,000 visitors from Warm Springs, Greenville, Newnan and other places close to the governor’s down-state home.

Governor Roosevelt rode in the parade with Governor Richard B. Russell Jr., Hugh Howell, chairman of the state democratic executive committee and chairman of the Roosevelt reception committee; Mayor James L. Key and the nominee’s son, James Roosevelt.

Immediately behind the nominee’s car was a car filled with Atlanta detectives who have acted as Governor Roosevelt’s bodyguards since his arrival Sunday morning.

This car was followed immediately by a car bearing the governor’s daughter, Mrs. Dall, and his daughter-in-law, Mrs. James Roosevelt, and others of the Roosevelt party.

The distinguished visitors followed in a special section which was led by Governor-designate Eugene Talmadge.

The honored guest was preceded by a long line of marchers, dressed in resplendent uniforms and comprising one of the smartest-looking groups Atlanta has ever seen.

General Cox and his aides accomplished their task with precision and speed. Every unit was in line on time and the balance was so perfect that the cheers of the crowd started the moment the parade drove into sight and did not die down until after the distinguished visitors were lost to view.

General Cox had as his “aide” six-year old Winfred (Toby) Cook, of Chula, Ga., who rode the pony on which he rode the 200 miles from Chula to greet Governor Roosevelt.

Later the boy, dressed in a cowboy suit, met Governor Roosevelt at the Atlanta Biltmore and both he and the nominee has the time of their lives.

Troops comprised the first division with Colonel G.P. O’Keeffe leading his 122d infantry of the Georgia National Guard right behind General Cox. In this division also were the 122d infantry band, the machine gun troop of the 108th cavalry and the naval reserve unit from Georgia Tech.

The second division was composed of R.O.T.C. units, with Major O.H. Longine acting as chief. In this group were the Georgia Tech R.O.T.C., the cadets of Marist College, the Georgia Military Academy from College Park and the Riverside Military Academy from Gainesville and the R.O.T.C. units from Tech High, Boys’ High, Fulton High of Atlanta and Russell High of East Point.

In the next, the third division, was seen the American Legion, the reserve officers, the Old Guard, the Disabled American Veterans and the Shrine Legion of Honor. The division was commanded by Mayor Scott Candler of Decatur, the state commander of the Legion. At Five Points a special section was laid off for the “40 and 8” where the numbers of that group paid tribute to the nominee.

The fourth and final division was composed of the police band, the firemen’s band, representatives of the Atlanta Clearing House Association, the Chamber of Commerce, the Junior Chamber of Commerce, the Atlanta Automobile Dealers’ Association, the Atlanta Retail Merchants’ Association, the Georgia Bankers’ Association and the Fulton County Women’s Democratic Club.

Chairman Howell said he was extremely pleased with the large crowd and the manner in which it was handled by the police and national guard officers who assisted Chief Sturdivant’s men.

“This has been the greatest day I have ever seen or ever can hope to see,” Mr. Howell said. “However, without such a wonderful turnout of our people it would not have been such a great success. Likewise with such a crowd out if our policemen and those who assisted them did not know their jobs we would have been in a bad fix. As it was everything came off fine. The committee is chiefly indebted to Chief Sturdivant, Captain Malcolm and the men serving under them. We are thankful for the work they did today.”

Atlanta Constitution, Oct. 25, 1932