Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 30th Visit to Georgia
April 9, 1936
Roosevelt and the New Deal were far and away the major issues in the presidential campaign of 1936. The Supreme Court had blocked some of his New Deal legislation, and Roosevelt was looking for a way to get around this obstacle. Groups like the American Liberty League on the right and the Communist Party on the left bitterly attacked Roosevelt, but had little effect. Voters overwhelmingly endorsed FDR and his New Deal. In the electoral vote, Roosevelt won 46 of the 48 states over Republican candidate Alf Landon.
While domestic issues still dominated American politics, the situation abroad (especially in Europe) was worsening. Italy had invaded and conquered Ethiopia, civil war had broken out in Spain, and most ominously Germany had re-militarized the Rhineland on the French border – in brazen defiance of the treaty which had ended World War I. Despite the fierce isolationist mood of the American people, Roosevelt was very concerned.
All this kept him away from Warm Springs almost the entire year. In all of 1936, Roosevelt was only able to spend one day in his “second home.” Returning from a two-week fishing cruise, he boarded a train in Miami which passed through Warm Springs on April 9 enroute back to Washington. It was not a pleasant visit – Roosevelt arrived in a driving rainstorm. In fact, heavy rains had plagued much of the South for several days. Three days earlier, on April 6, destructive storms had raged in Mississippi and Georgia. Tornadoes had struck Cordele and Gainesville, with the one hitting Gainesville especially deadly – killing 187 people and leaving over 2000 homeless.
Roosevelt had breakfast on the train, then took a couple of hours to drive to the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation to visit his friends and “companions.” He then had lunch at the Little White House with the Foundation’s chief physician and leaders of his re-election campaign in Georgia. Reboarding the train he passed through central Georgia – having to slow down several times as swelled creeks had partially flooded the railroad tracks. He made an unscheduled stop in Gainesville, where representatives of the Red Cross, Civilian Conservation Corps, Works Progress Administration, and War Department met with him for half an hour to discuss relief efforts from the storm. Before leaving Roosevelt delivered a few inspirational remarks before resuming his trip to Washington.
November 3, 1936 - Roosevelt was re-elected president over Republican Alf Landon in a victory even more overwhelming than the one four years previously. Roosevelt won all but two states, and won 523 of 531 electoral votes. In Warm Springs the tally was 210 votes for Roosevelt to only 14 for Landon.