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Lot 267

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Franklin D. Roosevelt ALS Re: Georgia Warm Springs Foundation Donors

2pp autograph letter signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945) as "Franklin D Roosevelt" on the top of the second page. Undated, but probably ca. 1927-1933. Written on both sides of a single leaf of paper with "Sustaining Fund Appeal / Georgia Warm Springs Foundation / Hydrotherapeutic Center / Warm Springs, Georgia" letterhead. Expected light paper folds, a few stray pencil marks, and double hole-punched along the left edge. Else near fine. 7.125" x 11." Accompanied by a holiday card reading "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from The Governor and Mrs. Roosevelt," ca. 1929-1932. Overall toning. Two small abrasions along the right edge. Else near fine. 6.875" x 5."

After Roosevelt contracted polio in 1921, he sought out the hot (88° F) and mineral-rich waters of Warm Springs in western central Georgia to soothe and revitalize his partially paralyzed legs almost every year between 1924-1945. Roosevelt was dismayed to find out that the hydrotherapy that worked so well for him was too expensive for some patients. In 1926, FDR purchased the springs, land, and buildings at Warm Springs and collaborated with friends to establish the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation (now the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation) the following year. The mission of the Foundation was to provide low-cost treatment to polio patients. The donors on this list were on board.

In this letter to Benjamin F. Crowley, an associate in Roosevelt's law firm, FDR lists the names and monetary amounts of eleven donors whose total contributions to the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation came to $610. Henry Pope of Chicago, mentioned at the end of the letter, became involved in the Foundation through his daughter, who had polio. He became one of the Foundation's first trustees and eventually donated $20,000.

Roosevelt wrote in part: "Dear Mr. Crowley - Here is another batch of checks to be credited to the foundation…Mr. Pope is here + has a new plan for the bond issues - Hold this till I write further…"

Two names taken from Roosevelt's list provide us with insights into the donor demographics. These two donors, for example, were affluent New Yorkers with whom Roosevelt himself might have socialized. These are:

- (first on the list) "Annie M.D. Gay / (Mrs Wm. Gay / Southampton N.Y.)" who donated $50 to the Foundation.

Annie Margaretta Dumaresq Gay (1874-1949) was the wife of William Otis Gay (1866-1946) and had ties to Southampton, New York.

- (fifth on the list) "Ella R. Dewitt" who contributed $100 to the Foundation.

Ella R. DeWitt (1852-1933) was the widow of George Gosman DeWitt (1845-1912), a New York City lawyer and philanthropist. DeWitt Family charities--in addition to the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation--included several city hospitals as well as the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and the Saint Nicholas Society of the City of New York.

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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