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Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 14th Visit to Georgia

Fourteenth Visit

September 19-October 5, 1928

As the presidential campaign entered its final stretch, Roosevelt returned to Warm Springs fully intending to rest and continue the exercising in the pools which was helping him considerably. On September 21 he wrote his mother:

“… I got here safely Wednesday evening and the weather is heavenly. The pool is lovely and I’m getting a real rest… . The new winter pool comes along well and will be ready in a month. I am borrowing the money for the Foundation to put in new water supply. It simply has to be done… .” Source: Elliott Roosevelt (ed.), F.D.R.: His Personal Letters 1928-1945, (Duell, Sloan and Pearce, New York, 1950), p. 643-3.

But the Democrats of New York were insistent that he run for governor, asserting that his candidacy was the only way Al Smith could win New York and thus the national election. They tried repeatedly over the next nine days to change his mind, with Smith himself leading the charge. Still Roosevelt respectfully declined, as he again wrote his mother on September 30:

“…I have had a difficult time turning down the Governorship, letters and telegrams by the dozen begging me to save the situation by running, but I have been perfectly firm. I only hope they don’t try to stampede the Convention tomorrow and nominate me and then adjourn!…” Source: Elliott Roosevelt (ed.), F.D.R.: His Personal Letters 1928-1945, (Duell, Sloan and Pearce, New York, 1950), p. 645.

The convention did not nominate him and adjourn, but they did do something equally surprising. They kept delaying the nomination while further attempts were made to change Roosevelt’s mind. Even his wife and mother were recruited to try and convince him. In mock exasperation his daughter wired him to “go ahead and take it” while he responded “you ought to be spanked.” [Source: Elliott Roosevelt (ed.), F.D.R.: His Personal Letters 1928-1945, (Duell, Sloan and Pearce, New York, 1950), p. 645.] On October 1st, Smith made what he thought would be his final attempt to persuade Roosevelt, when he again declined Smith went to the nominating committee to tell them to find another candidate. But the committee said there was no alternative, so Smith again tried to contact Roosevelt. Roosevelt foresaw there would be a late push, so he spent most of the afternoon on a picnic with the other companions, then spoke in Manchester, Ga. that evening. When he finally returned to Warm Springs, Smith once more pled with him to accept the nomination. When Roosevelt did not firmly state he would refuse the nomination, Smith hung up the phone. The next day Roosevelt was nominated by acclamation, and he accepted. While he was sincere in his reluctance to accept the nomination, once he agreed to run he fully intended to win. Rejoicing in his return to active politics and his improved health, Roosevelt criss-crossed the state for the next month, speaking from the back of his car.

November 6, 1928 - Ex-New York Gov. Al Smith lost the presidential election to Herbert Hoover in the Democrats’ worse showing since the Civil War. Hoover won forty states, including Smith’s native New York. That evening election results seemed to indicate Roosevelt would lose his race for governor as well. As late as midnight, his Republican opponent held a considerable lead. Roosevelt went to bed shortly afterwards, thinking he had lost the race. But his mother stayed up to watch the complete results. This was before the days of scientific polling and electronic balloting, so many votes remained uncounted. As more votes came in, the race narrowed quickly. Finally, around four o’clock a.m., the official announcement was made – Franklin D. Roosevelt had been elected governor of New York.