Visited Down Town dist
paid my dues for 1925.
Still noisy with the pre-
On way home I saw
Teddy Roosevelt, rep. nominee
for Governor of n.y. marching
down Houston St., does not
impress me at all.
The Teddy Roosevelt mentioned in this entry is Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., the eldest son of former President Teddy Roosevelt and, as Papa notes, the challenger to incumbent Democratic Al Smith in the 1924 New York gubernatorial race. Papa must have spotted him just before or after Teddy (as he liked to be called) wrapped up a long day of campaigning with a dinner at the Little Hungary Restaurant at 257 East Houston Street. The Little Hungary was, according to the New York Times, "a place always associated with his father," but his visit to the Lower East Side was more than just a sentimental gesture; it was a high-profile foray into the most solid Smith territory imaginable, for Smith had grown up on the Lower East Side and drew much of his popular appeal from his humble neighborhood roots.
Papa's lack of enthusiasm for Roosevelt isn't surprising. Papa was a Democrat through and through and had rooted for Smith during Smith's unsuccessful run for the Democratic Presidential nomination earlier in the year ("He is a good boy, I hope he will be nominated," wrote Papa at the time.) Teddy was also under harsh assault at the time by the Democratic establishment and in particular his cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a Smith supporter. Teddy was, until recently, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (a position Franklin had previous occupied) and Franklin did his best to link him to the brewing Teapot Dome scandal, an easy task since the scandal centered on illicit land purchases facilitated by Secretary of the Navy Edwin C. Denby. (Denby had resigned earlier in the year.)
Smith would go on to win the election and Teddy Roosevelt, Jr. would later become famous for his World War II exploits. When Teddy died in 1944, would Papa read about it and remember the moment he saw him "marching down Houston St."?
References for this post:
- SMITH AND ROOSEVELT DEFINE THE ISSUES; Governor Replies to Attack on His Administration by His Opponent -- Two Pointed Interviews
- ROOSEVELT REPLIES TO SMITH AND HYLAN; Rebukes Adversaries, Who "See They Are Licked and Descend to Personalities. (The New York Times, October 31, 1924)
- F.D. ROOSEVELT HITS THEODORE'S RECORD; Says His Relative Was a Good Soldier, but a "Wretched" Public Official. (The New York Times, October 30, 1924)
- Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. biography at Wikipedia
"Now step right to the front" by Clifford Kennedy Berryman. Library of Congress # LC-USZ62-10783. This cartoon relates to Smith's run for the Democratic Presidential nomination, not his re-election campaign for Governor of New York, but it does demonstrate how important the Teapot Dome scandal was in 1924.