Samuel Irving Rosenman

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Samuel Irving Rosenman
1st White House Counsel
In office
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harry S. Truman
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Clark Clifford
Personal details
Born (1896-02-13)February 13, 1896
San Antonio, Texas
Died June 24, 1973(1973-06-24) (aged 77)
New York City, New York
Nationality United States
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Columbia Law School
Occupation Lawyer, Speechwriter for President Franklin Roosevelt

Samuel Irving Rosenman (1896–1973) was an American lawyer, judge, Democratic Party activist and presidential speechwriter. He helped articulate liberal policies during the heyday of the New Deal Coalition.

Personal life and political career

Rosenman was born in San Antonio, Texas, son of Solomon and Ethel (Paler) Rosenman. He served in the U.S. Army during World War I and graduated From Columbia Law School in 1919. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Delta Sigma Rho.[1][2]

He became active in Democratic politics, and was a member of the New York State Assembly (New York Co., 11th D.) in 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925 and 1926; and a Justice of the New York Supreme Court (1st D.) from 1936 to 1943.[3] By the mid-1930s, Rosenman had emerged as a leading spokesman for the New York Jewish community.[4]

Rosenman was a senior advisor to presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman. Under their administrations he was a leading figure in the war crimes issue. He was also the first official White House Counsel—then called Special Counsel—between 1943 and 1946.

He was a speechwriter under both presidents, helping Roosevelt with his speeches from his days as governor. While he was not heavily involved in speechwriting during FDR's first term, he started traveling to Washington to help out with important talks during the 1936 campaign and was a key speech aide for the remainder of FDR's life. He officially joined the White House after ill health forced him to have to choose between his judicial work and his presidential work.

He submitted his resignation as Special Counsel upon FDR's death but Truman asked him to stay on, initially through V-E Day, then through V-J Day, and finally into 1946. Even after leaving the White House he would periodically return to aid the president with major speeches, including his acceptance speech to the 1948 Democratic convention.


Rosenman edited The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt published in 13 volumes from 1938 to 1950. They have been immensely influential in the study of the New Deal and FDR's policies, and, given the enormous mass of data at the Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, the papers have been used by historians as a guide, a conceptual framework, and a source. While his selections have given rise to some accusations of partisan selectivity and of deviations from the content of delivered speeches, the work still holds up remarkably well as an important piece of scholarship, and Rosenman will long be remembered as the Thucydides of the Roosevelt era, according to Hand (1968).

Later career

From 1964 to 1966, Rosenman served as president of the New York City Bar Association.


  • Hand, Samuel B. "Rosenman, Thucydides, and the New Deal," Journal of American History, Sept 1968, Vol. 55 Issue 2, pp 334–348
  • Hand, Samuel B. Counsel and Advise: A Political Biography of Samuel I. Rosenman (1979). 362 pp. the standard scholarly biography
  • Ryan, Halford R. Franklin D. Roosevelt's Rhetorical Presidency (1988) online edition

Primary sources

  • Rosenman, Samuel I. Working with Roosevelt (1952).
  • The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt by Franklin D. Roosevelt; edited by Samuel Irving Rosenman; Random House, 1938 online edition of vol 5


  1. Who's Who in American Jewry, 1928
  2. New York Red Book, 1923
  3. New York Legislative Manual, 1922-43
  4. Henry L. Feingold, "Crisis and Response: American Jewish Leadership during the Roosevelt Years," Modern Judaism (1988) 8#2 pp 101-118 in JSTOR
Legal offices
Preceded by
White House Counsel
Succeeded by
Clark Clifford