32nd President. Typed letter signed (TLS) “FDR” AS PRESIDENT, one page, 7×9, The White House Washington letterhead, September 14, 1936, to his old friend George Sweet in Waterloo, NY, in full:
It is certainly good to get your letter but I am terribly sorry to hear about the barns —- a most unfortunate piece of tough luck. Knowing you though I know that you will come through all right —- and you are not the first one to bump into an insurance adjuster. I used to be in the Surety business myself and that is a first cousin!
Keep up the good work and when the show is over, whichever way it goes, I do hope you will run down and then we can have a good talk.
Accompanied by original mailing envelope.
In very good condition, mailing fold.
Franklin D. Roosevelt spent most of the 1920s working in the insurance industry and became vice president of Fidelity and Deposit Company of Maryland, a surety bonding company, in 1921. At Fidelity, he was in charge of the New York office of one of the most important companies handling bonds for public officials and the position allowed him to mine the political and financial contacts he would need when he next ran for office.
Commander George C. Sweet was a U.S. Navy officer significant in promoting the early use of aircraft by the Navy. In September 1908, then-Lieutenant Sweet, serving as a Naval observer, reported favorably on the Wright Brothers airplane demonstration at Fort Meyer, near Washington, D.C. In 1909 Sweet was taken up with the Wright Brothers first Army flyer, becoming the first Navy officer to travel in an airplane. Sweet was then assigned to the Navy’s school for airplane instruction, and was thereafter a Navy engineer in Washington, specializing in steam engines. In early 1919 Sweet was named assistant to the Naval Attache at the American embassy in Paris, a particularly plum posting as the peace conference to end World War I was being carried on in Versailles.
Franklin D. Roosevelt followed in his cousin’s footsteps to fame by serving as Assistant Secretary of the Navy from 1913-1920. He was a prime advocate of naval aviation, and against strong opposition is credited with preserving the Navy’s air arm from demobilization after World War I. He surely met Sweet in his capacity of promoting naval aviation. Roosevelt was called to Paris to join President Wilson at the Versailles Conference in January 1919. According to the Sweet descendants, FDR and Commander Sweet forged a friendship onboard ship, clearly indicating that the two men were passengers on the USS George Washington together in 1919, though whether on the sailing in January or return in July (or both) is not known.
Roosevelt was a careful man, aware that his statements must be made guardedly to avoid giving aid and opportunity to his political enemies. His public correspondence was generally drafted by aides, and was measured, serious, deliberate and discreet. However, the private FDR was outgoing, humorous and frank, the life of the party, and when he corresponded with those he could trust, this side could show through. Sweet was such a man.
Recalling his years in the insurance industry, FDR writes his friend, George Sweet with words of encouragement dealing with insurance adjusters.