FDR in Danbury

FDR 1920 Campaigning.jpg

Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1920, campaigning as the Democratic Vice-president candidate, a year before he would contract polio.  

On September 18, 1920, Democratic nominee for Vice-president Franklin D. Roosevelt was met with celebratory fanfare as he arrived at the Danbury train station.  Crowds of people were cheering as he was escorted from the train station to city hall.  As he entered city hall, the enthusiastic greeting continued from many Danburians who came to hear the candidate speak.  This was the first time that a Vice-presidential candidate rallied in Danbury.  It was reported that the auditorium at city hall was the largest available space for that evening and the “Cox and Roosevelt Club” used every available space to accommodate the expected crowd.  Seating provided for nearly 700 people, a standing room only crowd and people who gathered outside city hall, it was difficult to determine how many people attended this rally. 

Speaking from the balcony at the tower entrance of the auditorium, the Danbury News reported that Mr. Roosevelt’s “easy, though direct manner of speaking, quickly won favor with his hearers.”  According to the Danbury News, his speech addressed the achievements of the previous “Democratic administration, pointing out legislation that the party has enacted for the benefit of the working men and women since 1912 and explained the covenant of the League of Nations.”


Click on the image above to hear the 1920 recording by FDR.

The Nation’s Forum recordings were originated by Guy Golterman in 1918, to preserve the voices of prominent Americans. For the 1920 presidential election, the Nation’s Forum recorded speeches from that campaign.  Because the technology was not available to record at the original time the speech was given, speakers were asked to read these speeches again.  Because there were no microphones or other electronic equipment available during this time, it was necessary for the speaker to shout into a recording horn in order to record.   The recordings were released at a rate of two per month, one Republican and one Democrat, with patriotic music on the B-Side and sold for 2 dollars apiece.

In his speech on Americanism, Franklin D. Roosevelt addresses political issues, division, and public frustration that are familiar with us today.  “Littleness, meanness, falsehood, extreme partisanship: these are not in accord with the American spirit.”  Roosevelt uses World War I as an example of how cooperation and unity, including Republicans and Democrats, brought about victory and an end to that war.  The future President that would lead a nation out of a depression and into another world war, ends his speech with these words:  “…we must write the binding finish – it shall not occur again – for American demands that the crime of war shall cease.”

FDR in Danbury