ROOSEVELT, ELEANOR

Eleanor Roosevelt Helps Defeat a Tammany Hall Democrat

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ROOSEVELT, ELEANOR - Eleanor Roosevelt Helps Defeat a Tammany Hall Democrat
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ROOSEVELT, ELEANOR - Eleanor Roosevelt Helps Defeat a Tammany Hall Democrat

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ROOSEVELT, ELEANOR.(1884-1962). First lady, author and humanitarian. TLS. (“Eleanor Roosevelt”). 1p. 8vo. New York, February 7, 1962. On her New York stationery to columnist and politician’s wife Harriet Ryan (1892-1984).

 

Thank you for your kind note and the enclosures. I think it is a great pity that Bill has to fight Zelenko who seems to be so ruthless in gaining his ends. I will try to find out who is behind the whole situation and let you know, and of course I will not let Bill know that you were in touch with me…”

 

During Eleanor’s 12 years as first lady (1933-1945), the unprecedented range of her political activities and her advocacy for liberal causes made her nearly as controversial as her husband. “Seeking to define her own role in relation to Franklin’s, she called him the politician, herself the agitator,” (DAB). This activist spirit prompted Eleanor’s support of controversial issues such as women’s rights, temperance and civil rights. She continued to be engaged with these causes long after FDR’s death in 1945, being appointed a delegate to the United Nations by President Truman and serving as chairwoman of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights.

 

Harriet was the wife of Bernard Ryan (1891-1976), chairman of the Orleans County Democratic Party and a New York delegate to the 1928 Democratic National Convention. In 1930, Roosevelt appointed Ryan to the State Court of Claims where he was a judge for more than 30 years, retiring in 1961. In 1962, their son, William Fitts Ryan (1922-1972), New York County’s assistant district attorney, sought to unseat Democratic incumbent Congressman Herbert Zelenko (1906-1979).

“The primary fight against Zelenko offered the Reform movement their most severe challenge, and a most significant victory. Zelenko, a prosaic Congressman with a very spotty attendance record in Congress, had parlayed Tammany endorsement into an eight year stay in Washington. Thrown against another Democrat, Zelenko chose to test the limits of acceptable liberalism. He warned Catholics that Ryan opposed federal aid to parochial schools. He challenged Ryan's call for the admission of China to the U.N., and described him as pro-Castro (Ryan had warned against the Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961. Recently he supported the President's blockade decision). He decried Ryan’s opposition to the House Un-American Activities Committee, and described his vote against the Cunningham Amendment (which would cut off publication-exchanges with Communist countries) as a vote for ‘the importation of anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic and anti-religious literature.’ Ryan avoided none of these issues, though he of course straightened out the innuendo in his speeches and campaign literature… A victory of 26,000 to 18,000 in the primary was followed by a 93,000 to 32,000 spread in November [1962],” (“William F. Ryan,” The Harvard Crimson, Gardner, December 6, 1962). Ryan remained in Congress until his death.

Accompanied by the original envelope. Folded and in very good condition.

 


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