Tuesday, March 6, 2018

A Long Time Coming

Franklin D. Roosevelt's inscription to the Dartmouth College LibraryWe just acquired something that was presented to us 78 years ago. It took a while to get here. It is a mimeograph, typescript copy of Franklin D. Roosevelt's January 3, 1940, State of the Union address--the version handed out prior to the actual speech. This copy is inscribed by Roosevelt: "For the Dartmouth College Library." But, it appears FDR did not send it directly to Dartmouth. Instead he gave it to his former law partner, and active Dartmouth alumnus, Basil O'Connor '12, presumably to pass on to Dartmouth at his next opportunity. I guess O'Connor forgot.

First page of State of the Union Address, 3 January 1940
O'Connor had an impressive career. Beyond being law partner with FDR, he was president of the March of Dimes and the American Red Cross. He was also an avid collector of Dartmouth ephemera. After he died, his estate sold off most of his papers, but donated his Dartmouth-related collection to us. We are not really sure of the life that this document led for the past 78 years, but it just surfaced and was offered to us by a manuscript dealer. It is now happily at the Dartmouth College Library awaiting cataloging

Here are Roosevelt's concluding thoughts:
In the spirit, therefore, of a greater unselfishness, recognizing that the world--including the United States of America--passes through perilous times, I am very hopeful that the closing session of the Seventy-Sixth Congress will consider the needs of the nation and of humanity with calmness, tolerance and cooperative wisdom.

May the year 1940 be pointed to by our children as another period when democracy justified its existence as the best instrument of government yet devised by mankind.
We wonder what our children will say about 2018 and democracy.

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