Two Presidents & a First Lady at Silver Bay


In August of 1931, New York Governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) visited Silver Bay and addressed a conference of the Silver Bay Industrial Institute, speaking in the auditorium. Two years later, of course, FDR became the 32nd President of the United States (1933–1945) and a central figure in world events.


(Before delivering his speech, Roosevelt had lunch with Stephen H.P. Pell and Sarah Gibbs Thompson Pell (shown above) at their estate, The Pavilion, on the grounds of nearby Fort Ticonderoga. The Pell family led the effort to restore the historic fort, and Sarah also commissioned Marian Cruger Coffin to redesign the King’s Garden on the estate. It is said that Sarah’s ghost can occasionally be seen on the porch of her home and also looking out a window of the second floor, gazing at her garden.)


Eleanor Roosevelt spoke at the same conference. Remarkable on her own merits, Mrs. Roosevelt was the longest-serving First Lady of the United States (1933 to 1945). She was the first presidential spouse to hold press conferences; she championed expanded roles for women in the workplace, the civil rights of African Americans and Asian Americans, and the rights of World War II refugees. She pressed the U.S. to support the United Nations, became one of its first delegates, chaired the UN Commission on Human Rights, and oversaw the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


In July of 1970, U.S. House of Representatives minority leader Gerald R. Ford of Michigan spoke at Silver Bay, addressing attendees of the Conference on Human Relations in Management. In his speech, Rep. Ford predicted that the 1970s would see American rebuild its cities, clean up its water and air, retrain the unskilled, build vast mass transit systems, make airways safe, end hunger and eliminate poverty. Four years later, Ford became the 38th President of the United States (1974-1977) with the resignation of President Nixon.

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