Lot 123

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FDR About Boyhood Visit to Grover Cleveland Who Said "I hope you will never have to be President..." Penned to His Widow. One of The Best Letters Extant!

1p, measuring 7.25" x 9.25", Warm Springs, Georgia, dated November 28, 1928. Signed "Franklin D Roosevelt" and addressed to Frances Cleveland Preston, the widow of President Grover Cleveland. Roosevelt writes of an encounter he had with Cleveland as a young boy, in which the former president advised him never to seek the office for himself. The letter is accompanied by two images and a descriptive plaque from previous framing. The letter has flattened mail folds, with uneven toning, light soiling, and foxing throughout. There is a small tear at the bottom center edge as well as at the top left corner, which has been repaired. Boldly signed by Roosevelt.

Reading in part:

…Do you know that one of my most vivid early recollections is that of being taken to the White House by my father when I was a very small boy to be introduced to the President. Mr. Cleveland leaned over and took me by the hand and I remember his saying to me 'my boy, a great many people will probably tell you that they hope that someday you will be the President of the United States, and I want to tell you that for your own sake I hope you will never have to be President.' I cannot help feeling what he said he spoke from his heart and I think he was absolutely right…"

Roosevelt likely visited the White House during Cleveland's first term as president, when he would have been between three to seven years old. At the time this was written, Roosevelt was serving as Governor of New York, but despite the older man's advice, FDR would in fact become president in 1933, and the longest-serving one at that. Both men would face great trials during their presidencies - Cleveland had to endure the Panic of 1893 when the country was plunged into a national depression, and Roosevelt brought the nation out of the Great Depression as well as through the grueling Second World War. His third and fourth terms were dominated by the war, and he would die in office shortly before the conflict's end.

Frances Clara Cleveland Preston (1864-1947) was a notable figure in her own right. She became the youngest First Lady at the age of 21, serving from 1886 to 1889 and again from 1893 to 1897. As a bright and attractive young woman, she immediately gained the attention of the press and the public, and advertisers frequently used her image to help sell their products. When the Clevelands left the White House, Frances was considered one of the most popular women to serve as First Lady until Jacqueline Kennedy. After Grover's death in 1908, Frances marries Thomas J. Preston, Jr., a professor of archaeology.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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August 17, 2022 10:30 AM EDT
Wilton, CT, US

University Archives

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$50,000 + $5,000