ROOSEVELT, Theodore. Two autograph letters signed ("Theodore Roosevelt"), to William Potts, 24 April 1883 and to Joseph S. Lehmair, 8 November 1883. Together 2 pages, 8vo, slight browning on 1883 letter, two small file holes on left margin of 1882 letter.
T.R. LAUNCHES HIS POLITICL CAREER AND DENOUNCES THE "DILATORY TACTICS" OF OPPONENTS TO THE CIVIL SERVICE REFORM BILL in these two fine, early letters. T.R. penned the 1882 letter the day after winning re-election to the state senate by a two-to-one margin. Palpably excited, he writes: "Many thanks for your congratulations. I can not account for the size of my majority at all; except that it is due to the exertions of my various friends, including yourself. With many thanks...." In 1880 the young Roosevelt had become increasingly active in local Republican politics, following in the footsteps of his late father. His rise was meteoric. In 1881 he won the 21st district seat in the state assembly by almost a 2-to-1 margin and was re-elected on 7 November 1882 for a second term.
In 1883, he took up the cause of civil service reform, but had a rude awakening when the predominantly Democratic assembly found ways--some subtle, some blatant--to obstruct and delay passage of the popular reform legislation. Here, Roosevelt reports to a disappointed supporter: "Twice we have had the Civil Service Bills made special orders, by the solid Republican and a portion of the Democratic vote; and twice by dilatory tactics and motions to adjourn the majority prevented the bills being ordered to a third reading. They are still on general orders and, in view of the lukewarm or hostile attitude of the majority...and of the lateness of the session, I do not believe that there is any chance of their becoming laws...." But reform was very much in the air, and even the obstructionists in the legislature were eventually forced to allow passage of New York's Civil Service Reform act, later the same year. The young Roosevelt would continue to prove a tireless advocate for reform measures, even allying himself with Democratic Governor Grover Cleveland to enact reform legislation. His uncompromising crusade would result in his appointment as a commissioner of the U.S. Civil Service Commission (1889-1895). That, in turn, would become a stepping-stone to national elective office and, in time, to the White House. Together 2 items. (2)