Monday, December 02, 2013

Back When Republicans Nominated a Liberal Democrat as Their Nominee

James A. Farley. Jim Farley’s Story: The Roosevelt Years. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co, Inc., 1949.

Farley was elected Democratic Town Chairman of Stony Point, N.Y. in 1909. He was elected to the first of four terms as Town Clerk in 1911. In 1918, he was elected Chairman of the Rockland County Democratic Party. He then encouraged New York City Alderman President Alfred Smith to run for Governor. Smith was elected. Farley was named a New York City Post Wardon, a position that didn’t enthuse him. In 1923, Farley was appointed to the New York State Athletic Commission and later became its Chairman, a position he labeled “honorary and stormy.”

Farley got to know Franklin Roosevelt (FDR) at the 1924 Democratic National Convention which deadlocked for 102 ballots Farley supported FDR  when he ran and was elected Governor of New York.

Farley managed FDR’s two successful campaigns for Governro and his first two successful campaigns for President. The campaign were marked by extensive letter writings and long distance telephoning. There was an extensive effort to reach out to others.

Joseph P. Kennedy was one of the earliest contributors to the Roosevelt campaign.

In 1931, Farley went out selling FDR’s candidacy for President for Democratic Party leaders across the nation. Farley was also active in the Elks and introduced FDR to fellow Elks.

The six delegates from the Alaska Terriroty were the first delegates to pledge to vote for FDR.

The Democratic Party platform came out for repealing Prohibition.

Al Smith was among those running against FDR for the Presidential nomination. This divided the New York delegation. Some believed that Smith was a stalking horse to be replaced by former War Secretary Newton Baker.

William Randolph Hearst, a newspaper publisher living in California, detested Baker. Joseph Kennedy met with Heast and Farley later called Heart to get him to help switch California delegates to FDR to block Baker. A while later, Baker switched to FDR.

Texas delegates, with Speaker Sam Rayburn and John Nance Garner, helped break the deadlock that nominated FDR. The Vice Presidency was not discussed as part of the switch. Garner did not want the Vice Presidency yet was told by Rayburn FDR had selected him.

FDR was elected. Farley was named Postmaster General and Democratic National Chairman.

FDR, as Presidenet-elect, declared his support for granting the Philippines their independence. Yet he wanted them to be protected against Japan, whom he predicted would be seeking expansionary trouble within the decade.

The first Cabinet meeting dealt with Japan invading China. It was determined not to make any move to involved the U.S. in war. It was believed Japan could be defeated by starvation but it could take three to five years to achieve that.

To protect the Philippines and U.S. Pacific islands, the Navy was based in Hawaii and air force bases created in the Aleutians in Alaska. These air force bases were to be the primary defense as naval efficiency decrease over distances as more ships would have to transfer into supplies and communications ships.

FDR urged the World Economic Conference to create “a more real and permanent financial stability and a greater prosperity to the masses of nations” rather than minor temporary stabilization actions. The Conference, though, collapsed. Some believe had there been proper economic changes that war could have been averted.

FDR formally recognized the Soviet Union. This allowed the U.S. to collect $150 million in debt.

In 1934, Farley ended domestic air mail contracts. The contracts had been awarded without competitive bids and were considered improper. The Army took over the flyig, which they had for 15 years prior. Sadly, ten pilots died carrying mail. Public opinion blamed the canceled contracts. Two months later private contracts took over the air mail flying.

Huey Long attacked Farley with “unrelated truth, half-truths, innuendos, insinuations, and downright lies”, Farley writes. A Senate committee mostly on a political party vote, declared Long failed to prove any wrongdoing. Three Republicans supported Farley over their party.

The 1936 Presidential campaign Farlye managed went mostly well FDR won easily over Alf Landon.

After the defeat of his “court packing” reform proposal, FDR began supporting only New Deal supporters and sought to purge Democratic incumbents who opposed him. Farley stayed out of the primary battles, except in Pennsylvania where he favored Gov. George Earle for Senator and Thomas Kennedy for Governor. Kennedy lost the primary to Charles AlvinJones while Earle defeated Samuel Wilson. They then lost the general elections.

FDR respected that Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau supported FDR’s policies. FDR stated he couldn’t have appointed Joseph Kennedy as Treasury Secretary because Kennedy would have operated how Kennedy wanted.

Japanese aircraft sunk the USS Panay in the Yangtze River. The Cabinet discussed war The U,S. asked for reparations.

FDR suspected Harold Ickes leaker details about Cabinet meetings to Drew Pearson, a reporter.

In New York, Governor Lehman ran for reelectio against Thomas Dewey. Wagner and Meade were nominated for U.S. Senate races. All three won their elections.

The purge effort mostly failed. U.S. Rep. John J. O’Connor was the only member pursed, losing to James Fay. Ironically, Rep. O’Connor had fought being ousted by Tammany Hall for being too supportive of FDR.

In the 1939 general elections, Republicans gained 8 Senate seats, 81 House seats, d 11 Governorships, although Democrats retained the majority.

Pennsylvania Governor Earle in 1937 suggested FDR run for a third term. FDR responded to that question in the negative. When Robert Post of the New York Times also asked if FDR would run for a third term that “Bob Post should put on a dunce cap and stand in the corner.”

Wendell Willkie met with Farley in December 1938 and stated he was a solid Democrat who was voting Democratic in 1938 who agreed with FDR on all but national power policy.

Dewey’s close loss for New York Governor led people to consider him for the Republican Presidential nomination in 1940.

Numerous Democratic Senators urged Farley to advise FDR not to run for a third term. They feared it would hurt the Democratic Party. Vice President Garner stated he would oppose a third term. Garner assured Farley he was not going to run for President.

FDR and Farley discussed the 1940 elections. FDR believed it was in the national interest that Democrats continue the economic recovery plan. FDR told Farley he was not going to run for a third term but would hold off announcing it to keep his Presidential role stronger.

FDR was not happy with most of the Democratic Presidential candidates. He feared each would lose the general election.

FDR was disappointed over Senate rejection of his support for repeal of the neutrality act. He feared this would encourage Germany and Italy in their aggressiveness.

Farley toured Europe. Polish Premier Beck pleaded for arms worried that Germany would invade them.

Germany invaded Poland in 1939. FDR became more concerned about foreign policy. He refused to recognize Italy’s capturing Ethiopia, similar to his not recognizing Japan taking over Manchuria.

Farley advised FDR that Mussolini appeared to be on the fence and would enter the war on which side he believed woud wi. FDR agreed with that assessment.

FDR was critical of his Ambassador to England Joe Kennedy who FDR admitted he never really liked. FDR criticized British policies for protecting their upper classes. FDR felt England cared only about England, FDR, though, did like Winston Churchill.

Rep. James Fay and William Kenneally ran against each other for Tammany district leadership. Gen. Edwin Watson, an aide to FDR, reported Fay was concerned because Assistant Treasury Secretary Steve Gibbons had pledged several thousand dollars in support of Fay yet had not carried through with his promise. Farley told Watson that FDR had told Farly to forget politics during wartime.

 Farley told FDR that Farley was going to file for President in the Massachusetts and New Hampshire primaries. FDR did not object. FDR stated he would vote for a Republican if Senator Burton Wheeler won the Democratic nomination.

FDR publicly stated he did not want Farley on the ticket He feared the problems of a Catholic on the ticket and in displeasing liberal voters.

Gallup Poll results in 1940 found Cordell Hull as he strongest Democratic candidate, even more so than FDR.

Farley was against FDR running for a third term. He believed the Republicans would use it effectively as an isue against FDR.

Gov, Edwin Watson, military aide and secretary to FDR, favored nonintervention He questioned providing England with planes and was concerned it would damage U,S. defenses. FDR asked for Watson’s resignation, which Watson did. 50 destroyers left New London, Ct. for England. In return, the U.S. leased bases in Newfoundland and New Guinea.

After Willkie was nominated by the Republicans for President, FDR told Farley he didn’t want to run for a third term. He planned on telling the Democratic Convention this. Farley agreed with the decision and believed there were Democrats who could be elected.

FDR ran for a third term. Joseph Kennedy, Jr was the sole Massachusetts delegatoe to oppose FDR by voting for Farley for President.

Barkely read FDR’s statement to the Democratic convention that FDR had no desire to be renominated. Delegates responded “We want Roosevelt” in response to loudspeakers chanting that. It was later determined that Chicago Superintendent of Sewers had taken over the loudspeaker at the bequest of Chicago Democratic boss Mayor Edmund Kelly.

The convention vote was FDR 946 1/2, Farley 72 1/2, Garner 61, Tydings 9 1/2. Farley and others moved to make the nomination unanimous.

Farley recommended Jesse Jones for Vice President. FDR worried about Jones’s health since he was hurt in an airplane crash. FDR thought Henry Wallace was honest and had integrity. Farley countered that Wallace wouldn’t help the ticket politically. FDR though Wallace would help in the Farm Belt. Farley thought he would hurt in the East.

Speaker William Bankhead vied for the nomination again tWallace. They were almost evenly divided on the first ballot which Wallace won.

Farley resigned as Democratic National Chairman. FDR asked him to stay on. Mrs. Roosevelt also asked him to stay on, at least nominally, as he knew all the party leaders.

Farley also resigned as Postmaster General.

Farley was New York Democratic State Committee Chairman at the 1942 when he supported Attorney General John Bennett for Governor. FDR, Governor Lehman, Senaotrs Wagner and Mead, Ed Flyn, the Democratic National Chairman, and Tammany Hall leader Michae Kennedy, among others, opposed Bennett. Bennett was nominated but lost to To Dewey in the general election.

Farley was a delegate to the 1944 Democratic National Convention. He went opposed to renominating Roosevelt and Wallace. He voted for Senator Alben Barkely for Vice President over Harry Truman.


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