Tananbaum, Duane, Drawn to public service

(New York, NY :  Columbia University Libraries,  c2009.)



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Lehman and Roosevelt devoted the next two years to helping New
Yorkers cope with the worsening effects of the Depression. Roosevelt asked
Lehman to "speed up as far as possible all of the public works of the State"
so they could "employ several thousand additional men during the winter
months," and Lehman took the lead in 1931 in persuading the state legisla¬
ture to establish a Temporary Emergency Relief Administration, making
New York the first state to enact a comprehensive unemployment relief pro¬
gram to help its citizens during the Depression. ^°

In 1932, Democrats nominated Franklin Roosevelt for the presidency,
and Herbert Lehman hoped to succeed him as Governor of New York.
FDR and Al Smith enthusiastically supported Lehman's candidacy, know¬
ing that he would continue the progressive policies they had instituted in
Albany over the previous decade, but Tammany Hall and a few upstate
political bosses opposed Lehman, fearing that he would be too independent
to suit their needs. Tammany leaders sought to sidetrack Lehman's selec¬
tion for Governor by proposing that Senator Robert Wagner be nominated
for Governor and Lehman for Senator, but Lehman rejected their scheme.
He confronted the bosses in a hotel room in Albany, insisting that he would
decline any nomination for Senator and seek the governorship with or with¬
out their blessing, at which point the bosses backed down and agreed to
nominate him for Governor. In November, Roosevelt easily defeated
Herbert Hoover for the presidency and Herbert Lehman was elected
Governor of New York by a then-record plurality of 840,000 votes. (See car¬
toon 1) As the New York Times, noted, Lehman's victory was "both a tribute
to him and a sign that the people know how to appreciate and reward a
faithful and able public servant." Two years later, Lehman won re-election,
again by a margin of more than 800,000 votes."

Herbert Lehman believed that "government is for the people," that it
needed to "concern itself with the solution of human as well as material

'" Roosevelt to Lehman,
November 17, 1930,
Lehman Papers, Special
File, Franklin Roosevelt.


'"Governor Lehman,"
Editorial, New York
Times, November 9,
1932, p. 18.

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