• U.S.

CAMPAIGN: Mr. Boyd’s Idea

2 minute read
TIME

John Ritchie Boyd manages investments, has an office in Wall Street, spends his summers in Buckhill Falls, Pa. As his friends well know, he is a man of probity, propriety and sound ideas. Year ago he had an idea which was not so much sound as brilliant. He thereupon sat down and wrote a letter to President Roosevelt.

“The suggestion I am about to make,” wrote Mr. Boyd, “may at first glance seem inexpedient, but I believe it has real merit and I urge you to give it very serious consideration. The suggestion is that the Democratic National Ticket in 1940 should be: For President—Cordell Hull; for Vice President—Franklin D. Roosevelt.”

The merits Mr. Boyd saw in his plan: it capitalized on both men’s personal popularity, it maintained the present foreign affairs “team,” it kept Mr. Roosevelt’s influence in the Administration, it gave people the chance to vote for him without raising the issue of the third term. Mr. Boyd posted his letter and waited.

But Mr. Boyd never got a reply. Months went by. Mr. Boyd, still convinced he had a good idea, wrote to Ambassador Joseph Kennedy, who had arrived from London on a furlough, again outlined his plan. It is also customary for ambassadors to answer their mail. But again there was no reply. Once more Mr. Boyd tried. This time he wrote to Stephen Early, White House secretary, who gets plenty of mail, distributes it to various departments and secretaries. But Mr. Early seemed to have joined a conspiracy of silence.

Great was Mr. Boyd’s surprise, therefore, to pick up a New York Journal and American one day, and read the reprint of a copyrighted dispatch which had been sent from Washington to the Boston American. The dispatch quoted “a White House intimate whose identity must remain secret” as saying exactly the same thing Mr. Boyd had been writing letters about.

Early this week, as Mr. Roosevelt went on an outing down the Potomac, and perplexed party leaders gathered in Chicago, wondering why they were there, Mr. Boyd waited, full of suspense. If what he hoped was going to happen happened, he was certainly the Idea-Man of the Year.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com