FDR in Rochester three days before he won a third term

FDR in Rochester three days before he won a third term
Sun, Nov 3, 1940 – Page 1

Sun, Nov 3, 1940 – Page 1, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

In keeping with our Presidential Visits to Rochester (BELOW), on November 2nd, 1940 Franklin Roosevelt delivered an extemporaneous speech at the downtown railroad station.

Democrat and Chronicle, 03 Nov 1940, Sun, Page 9

Democrat and Chronicle, 03 Nov 1940, Sun, Page 9

During the campaign, the primary issue was the war in Europe as France had fallen to Nazi Germany in May.  Both Roosevelt and Wilkie knew America had little appetite to become deeply involved in another foreign war. Three days before Roosevelt spoke in Rochester, in Boston he made a famous campaign promise:

I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.

Democrat and Chronicle, 03 Nov 1940, Sun, Page 8

Democrat and Chronicle, 03 Nov 1940, Sun, Page 8

When Roosevelt spoke at the train station platform, he addressed a crowd that was more isolationist than not.  When America joined the First World War about twenty years earlier, Rochester did not beat the war drums loudly.  See One hundred years ago when America entered the War to End All Wars. And Rochester.

In his address at the train station, Roosevelt did not quite echo his rhetorical flourish three days earlier in Boston. He did say, hoping to reassure Rochestarians who did not want their boys sent overseas:

Your national government … is equally a government of peace — a government that intends to retain peace for the American people.

On October 15th, Roosevelt’s opponent Wendel Willkie and his wife Edith campaigned in Rochester, drawing a crowd of about 15,000.  Willkie spoke at Convention Hall and toured an automobile factory.

Democrat and Chronicle, 16 Oct 1940, Wed, Page 1

Democrat and Chronicle, 16 Oct 1940, Wed, Page 1

Democrat and Chronicle, 16 Oct 1940, Wed, Page 9

Democrat and Chronicle, 16 Oct 1940, Wed, Page 9

Roosevelt won the 1940 election fairly handily, but not as decisively as in 1932 and 1936. Many felt he should not run for an unprecedented third term — a point made by Willkie in Rochester — keeping Roosevelt’s vote totals down.


1940 election results. Blue = Roosevelt; Red = Wilkie. Maybe Roosevelt’s speech at the train station reassured voters.

Sun, Nov 3, 1940 – Page 69

Sun, Nov 3, 1940 – Page 69. The day after FDR’s visit, Rochestarians could listen to “The Roosevelt Road to Peace” on WHAM. Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Today, November 1940 almost feels like a calm period in which there were hopes the European war could become a stalemate leading to some armistice.  But then Germany invade the Soviet Union in June 1941 and Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

Historians have argued how deeply Roosevelt felt about his campaign promise in Boston and Rochester. Was he an anti-war, semi-pacifist or really yearning for America to project its power on the international stage?  Nonetheless, in retrospect, those boys did have to be sent — sadly — to die in a foreign war.


First, ROYALTY ON THE RIVER: A KING (and maybe a second king, and even an emperor) COME TO ROCHESTER

Then, when a Frenchman was in Rochester and a plaque for Lafayette.

In When President John Quincy Adams visited Rochester on July 27th and 28th, 1843 and toured Mt. Hope Cemetery, the grave of Nathaniel lincolnRochester.

In On Abraham Lincoln in Rochester from Michael Nighan, a plaque and a train station.

occupyIn Memorial Day, 1892, when President Benjamin Harrison dedicated the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Monument in Washington Square Park with Frederick Douglass. And Occupy Rochester, Benjamin Harrison, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass in the same park Occupy would occupy.

November 1st, 1892 when McKinley campaigned for Benjamin Harrison, more support for Harrison.

In October, 26th, 1898: the Rough Rider on his way to the Governor’s mansion. TR Comes to Town, again…and again…and again… by Michael Nighan., a statue of Teddy in School 29.

When Taft spoke at Convention Hall on August 23rd, 1911, the Grand Army of the Republic.

When Wilson spoke at Convention Hall and the Shubert Theatre four days before elected President, it was a three way race.

In BIG BILL, BIG BELL AND SCHOOL BELLS: An ex-president, the Liberty Bell, and several thousand school teachers come to town. it was William Howard Taft.


In FDR’s first visit to Rochester as a national candidate, September 23rd, 1920. And the League of Nations., Rachel in Washington Square Park.

In October 21st, 1920 in Rochester and Governor Harding’s return to normalcy. And the school named after him., a school in North Gates.harding-school-newest

In Governor Roosevelt’s triumphant return to the Convention Hall, October 18th, 1932, a luncheon with Eleanor Roosevelt.

In FDR in Rochester en route to a New Deal landslide, October 17th, 1936, an unfinished portrait.

In When President Truman campaigned in Rochester en route to his upset win over NY Governor Thomas Dewey, a thruway sign.outside-school

In October 23rd and 24th, 1952 when Ike and Adlai were in town back to back. And School 29., the Adlai E. Stevenson School.

In 56 years ago when JFK spoke at the War Memorial. Two days after his debate with Nixon. Nine days after RFK was here., the War Memorial.

In Nixon at the War Memorial one week before he lost a razor thin election to JFK , the War Memorial.

In LBJ and RFK in Rochester, October 15th,1964, LBJ and RFK at the airport.

In November 3rd, 1964: When Rochester’s Senator Keating lost to RFK in the wake of LBJ’s landslide. a Federal building.

In 45 years ago when President Nixon visited Rochester. And 3 days later when East High School erupted in racial violence a media briefing at the Landmark Hotel in Pittsford.running-for-prz

In When Carter stumped Rochester in ’76. And Howard the Duck. it was Howard for Prez.

In October 31st, 1976: Gerald Ford two days before the unelected president’s comeback falls just short., a Playboy

In October 29th, 1980: Carter at a rally six days before the Reagan revolution. And when Bernie Sanders campaigned for Barry Commoner, the Citizen’s Party.

In November 1st, 1984: Ronald Reagan five days before his 49 state landslide. And Jesse Jackson at MCC. And a liberal enclave. it was two rallies.

with BrIAN cropped

In 27 years ago today when President George H. W. Bush visited Wilson Magnet High School, a signed chalkboard.

In May 24th, 2005 when President Bush spent political capital in Greece. it is Dr. Bruce Kay

In 11 years ago when President Bush met J-Mac. And the judgment of history., J-Mac.

In 5 Meliora Weekends ago when President Clinton spoke., Great Books with President Seligman.

In On October 19th, 2012 when Bill Clinton campaigned for Louise Slaughter. And a Socialist at the public market, Peta Lyndsay.

with-billIn , A seat at the President’s table four years later soup and a grilled cheese sandwich at Magnolia’s and an eyewitness account.

In Next stop Albany. On the road with the Trumprenuers, the Trumprenuers at the airport.

In Memories of presidential visits on Election Day in Brighton, a vote for Talker.

About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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