The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001 Page: 150
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Public discontent with the Republican record was reflected in the con-
gressional elections of 1930. When the new Congress met in December
1931, the Democrats were able to organize the House; and in the
Senate, where six new Democrats were sworn in, the Republicans had a
nominal one-vote edge. This trend portended a Democratic victory in
1932. The leading contender for the party's presidential nomination
bore a famous name in American politics. Franklin D. Roosevelt, a dis-
tant cousin of Theodore, had been assistant secretary of the navy in the
Wilson administration and his party's vice-presidential candidate in
1920. A year later an attack of polio paralyzed him from the waist down.
With the dedicated assistance of his wife Eleanor and his aide and chief
political adviser, Louis McHenry Howe, Roosevelt recovered sufficiently
to place Governor Al Smith's name in nomination for president at the
Democratic national convention in 1924. In 1928, at Smith's urging, he
agreed to run for governor of New York and was elected by twenty-five
thousand votes, although Smith failed to carry the state in his presiden-
tial bid. This result in a Republican year greatly enhanced Roosevelt's
prestige, and many people thought it marked the beginning of Smith's
coolness toward him. In 1930, Roosevelt was re-elected by a plurality of
725,000 votes, more than double Smith's highest margin of 339,000 in
1922. In one short anecdote, Professor Richard Hofstadter summed up
FDR's public personality and political skill. "Roosevelt could say 'my old
friend' in eleven languages."2
For Roosevelt the task of winning nationwide support for the presi-
dency meant finding a consensus position on Prohibition and putting
some distance between himself and Tammany Hall. Roosevelt was per-
sonally Wet, but drank moderately-one or two cocktails. His great con-
cern over Prohibition was that it must not again wreck his party's
chances. As governor, he handled the question in a gingerly fashion.
Then, on September 9, 1930, he broke his official silence. In a letter to
Senator Robert Wagner, he declared that the Eighteenth Amendment
should be repealed and replaced with a new amendment which would
restore to the states real control over intoxicants. In states where the
people desired it, the sale of liquor through state agencies should be
legal; in states where the people were opposed to liquor, they should
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958), 264; Donald W. Whisenhunt, "The Search for a
Villain," in Whisenhunt (ed.), The Depression in the Southwest (Port Washington: Kennikat Press,
198o), 77. See also David M. Kennedy, Freedom from Fear: The Amencan People an Depresszon and
War, 1929-1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 43-103. The Hoover "trademark"
quotes are from McKay and Faulk, Texas after Spndletop, 119, and Leuchtenburg, The Perils of
2 Roy V. Peel and Thomas C. Donnelly, The 1932 Campaign: An Analysis (New York: Farrar &
Rinehart, 1935), 28-32; Richard Hofstadter, The American Political Tradition and the Men Who
Made It (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1949), 312.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001, periodical, 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/m1/202/: accessed May 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.