Election 1944: ‘1000 Club’

The Pittsburgh Press (October 26, 1944)


‘1000 Club’ organized to raise extra million for Roosevelt

President credited with originating plan
By Peter Edson

Washington –
Details of a plan to raise an extra million dollars to support the reelection of President Roosevelt through the formation of “The 1000 Club of the USA,” made up of 1,000 members, each contributing $1,000, have been announced by Frank J. Lewis of Chicago, national president of the club.

Organization of this club, which now has a paid-up membership of “over 100.55” is partially Mr. Roosevelt’s own idea, and the President is a paid-up member, having given his check for $1,000 to National Treasurer George K. Bowden of Chicago and received in return his red-enamel or engraved copper-plate lifetime membership card.

NOTE: This story was written and received prior to Governor Dewey’s address of last night in which he read a letter soliciting membership for the club, stating the idea originated in the White House and promising special favors for the contributors.

To buy radio time

The million-dollar club fund will be used to buy radio time and for other campaign activities which the 1000 Club will sponsor, independently from the activities of the Democratic National Committee which is limited by law to $3 million expenditures in a presidential campaign.

The fact that the 1000 Club was Mr. Roosevelt’s own idea was stated by Democratic Committee Chairman Robert E. Hannegan at a meeting of businessmen in Chicago on Sept. 11, when the club was formed. Minutes of this meeting have just been made public.

Roosevelt quoted

Quoting the President, Mr. Hannegan told the Chicago dinner meeting that the President had said to him:

I think it would be a good idea to have a list of 1,000 persons, banded together all over the United States, to act as a liaison to see that facts relating to the public interest are presented factually to the President and members of the Legislature.

Mr. Hannegan arranged for the Chicago meeting, but having tossed the assembled businessmen this flaming torch, they picked it up and went on from there.

Edwin W. Pauley, treasurer of the Democratic National Committee, who was also present, said the President’s idea could develop into a powerful interest for good.

Made up of admirers

The club, it was stated, would be made up of admirers of the President and would be an organization of business and professional men he could call on for advice and counsel, not only during the campaign but also after the election.

Irwin Walker was named temporary chairman of the Chicago meeting, and a committee consisting of George K. Bowden, Marshal Field, Richard S. Reynolds of the Reynolds Metals Company, James Shepard of Los Angeles, Hunt Walter and C. V. Bay of Chicago was named to draw up a constitution.

Oklahoma Governor Robet S. Kerr spoke briefly in support of the objectives and William G. Johnstone, Oklahoma City oil and cattleman, proposed a club motto of “1000 members for the 1000 Club in 1000 hours,” which was received with such acclaim that Charles Bidwell of Chicago made out his check for $1000 on the spot, thus becoming really the first member of the club, although the President officially holds membership No. 1.

National head elected

The Chicago chapter was the first to be organized, with the election of Mr. Lewis as national president and George D. Crowley heading up the local chapter.

Organization has been directed mainly from Chicago. Plans call for setting up a chapter in every state.

Oklahoma was the first state to fill its quota of 25 members, through the efforts of Mr. Johnstone. The California organization is headed by Sam Goldwyn.

The Washington chapter is headed by Joseph E. Davies of Mission to Moscow fame.

Party chiefs invited

The Washington chapter of the 1000 Club is expected to be one of its strongest. Alfons B. Landa, one of the Davies law firm partners, has been doing most of the active organizing work among Cabinet officers – excepting Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson and Under Secretary of War Robert B. Patterson, who are Republicans.

Other high party chieftains and government administrators will be invited to join.

Assisting in the national organization work as executive directors in Washington are six Congressmen who have no contests for election in their districts:

Estes Kefauver of Chattanooga, Tennessee; Robert L. F. Sikes of Crestview, Florida; F. Edward Herbert of New Orleans; Oren Harris of Dorado, Arkansas; Eugene Worley of Shamrock, Texas; and John J. Sparkman of Huntsville, Alabama.

Trustees named

The Board of Trustees of the 1000 Club, who are empowered by the club constitution to administer its affairs, are, in addition to President Lewis and Treasurer Bowden, Charles Ulrick Bay of the Bay Petroleum Company of New York; Marshall Field, New York and Chicago heir and publisher, Richard S. Reynolds of Virginia and Mrs. Jean Tuerk of Chicago.

The 1000 Club has no connection with the Business Men for Roosevelt, Inc., whose honorary president is Andrew J. Higgins of New Orleans. Mr. Higgins is, however, a member of the 1000 Club.

The Pittsburgh Press (October 27, 1944)


Chance to be White House guest is inducement to join ‘1000 Club’

‘Every member will know our President,’ those willing to give $1,000 are promised
By Peter Edson

Washington –
Examination of the charter of the newly-found Democratic “1000 Club,” each of whose 1,000 members are to pay $1,000 apiece to build up a million-dollar fund to aid in the reelection of President Roosevelt, reveals that this organization has the makings of one of the most powerful pressure groups ever created to influence White House opinion.

Every member who kicks in his $1,000 gets a copper-engraved, red enamel inlay lifetime membership card and a copy of the constitution, a noble and inspiring document of lofty aims. He also gets other things for his money.

‘Will know President’

The prospectus for membership makes this bald statement:

Every member should and will know our President, to more intimately realize the zeal with which he so successfully guided our country’s ship of state through the most troubled waters of our history.

In other words, join up and you get to know the President personally.

Some of the franker approaches to prospective members have been along the line of, “You want to get in that White House, don’t you?”

When the prospect indicates that he does, that greases the skids for the $1,000 touch.

The constitution of the 1000 Club states that this “voluntary contribution of $1,000 shall be one of the qualifying requisites to membership.”

There are no other dues to this exclusive club, but it is provided that “any member may contribute additional sums.”

Payment of the $1,000 initiation fee is not, however, the only way a prospect may become a member. If a party wheelhorse gives the equivalent of $1,000 in services, that would make him eligible, or if he had given $1,000 to other party organizations – the Democratic National Committee, or Democratic State or County or Township or City Committees, he could still get in by proving his good deeds of the past.

The constitution says:

The Board of Trustees may elect to membership any eligible person who has in its opinion contributed outstanding services to the objectives of this club.

Quite a few members are expected to be admitted under this provision, getting their copper membership cards without direct payment of the $1,000 poll tax.

Some of the prospects approached for membership are reported to have been able to bargain their way into membership by citing their own good party deeds and offering to get a few more members for the club if they themselves are admitted without payment of another $1,000.

‘To support Constitution’

Borrowing a line original with Gerald L. K. Smith, Dr. Edward A. Rumely, Pappy O’Daniel and others, the first objective of the 1,000 Club is stated as “To support and defend the Constitution.”

In politics, you can apparently do anything you want to just so long as you say it’s to support and defend the Constitution.

The second and third objectives of the 1000 Club are: “To promote the general welfare o, the United States” and “To support the war–”

The club’s constitution provides members should prepare… “To participate actively in political campaigns in supporting the men best qualified to hold public office.”

‘To accept contributions’

But the payoff comes in the final precept: “To accept contributions and make expenditures for the purpose of influencing the election of candidates for the Presidency and Vice Presidency.”

Well, it costs money to elect a President, and the Democratic National Committee is limited by law to $3 million. Radio time costs $90,000 an hour if you go in for a nationwide broadcast, and half a dozen such chain hookups would cost over half a million.

The 1000 Club expects to do considerable sponsoring and advertising and in other ways relieve the National Committee as a purely independent service.

In office for life

Work of the 1000 Club will not end, however, when this campaign is over, for the constitution provides that members of the Board of Trustees shall hold office until their death or removal or inability to act.

The chief duties of the trustees, besides taking in the million dollars in initiation fees, seems to be in passing on the membership, but that’s wide open, as any democratic club should be.

The constitution says: “Any American citizen may become a member by applying for membership and by being elected by the board of trustees.”

If the 1000 Club doesn’t accept your application for membership, it promises to refund your money.

The Pittsburgh Press (November 1, 1944)


Roosevelt joins the ‘$1000 Club;’ to check benefits

Washington (UP) –
President Roosevelt is a member of the so-called “$1000 Club” but he’s not quite sure what it entitles him to.

He told his news conference yesterday that last summer he jocularly suggested a club to be composed of $1000 contributors to the Democratic campaign fund. Then he forgot about it until the other day when he was handed a membership certificate, he said.

“What does a certificate entitle you to?” he was asked.

He said he would have to find out.

The President reported that he was talking to some people last summer and asked why they did not start a “$100,000 Club.” They laughed, he said, and told him that no one would contribute that much. Then he suggested a $10,000 Club and again they laughed. Finally, he said, he suggested a $1000 Club and they thought that might be feasible.