|Royal Samuel Copeland, Sr.|
|Former U.S. Senator from New York|
From: March 4, 1923 – June 17, 1938
|Predecessor||William M. Calder|
|Successor||James M. Mead|
|Mayor of Ann Arbor, Michigan|
|Party||Republican (until 1922)|
Democrat (since 1922)
|Spouse(s)||Mary Depriest Ryan (div.)|
Royal Samuel Copeland, Sr. (November 7, 1868 – June 17, 1938) was a physician and Democrat-turned-Republican from Michigan who was the mayor of Ann Arbor in the early 1900s, and later a U.S. senator for New York. Associated with Tammany Hall in his senatorial political career, Copeland is largely known for his breaks with the Roosevelt Administration.
Copeland's political influence in New York sparked the shift of the state's political leanings from Republican to Democrat. Although establishing a relatively conservative reputation, his successor was a liberal Democrat like senatorial colleague Robert F. Wagner.
Copeland was first elected to the Senate in the 1922 midterms, defeating incumbent Republican William M. Calder by twelve percentage points and polling over 10,000,000 votes. Chairing his campaign in the race was future president Franklin D. Roosevelt.
During his first two years, Copeland established a sharp liberal record like most Democrats, voting with the conservative side only 6% of the time. He quickly became a moderate Democrat, voting with the political right anywhere from 36 to 56 percent of the time in the following four congressional sessions. Among his notable accomplishments was successfully pushing for the installment of air conditioning in the U.S. Senate, which was established in 1929. Thirty-four senators had died during a dozen-year period due to what Copeland, a physician, attributed to a lack of an A/C.
Due to nationwide backlash of President Herbert Hoover's handling of the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected in a landslide and carried fellow Democrats to victory in numerous congressional races, giving the party firm control of Congress in both houses. Copeland was sympathetic towards some liberal New Deal legislation spearheaded by Roosevelt during the 73rd Congress (1933–34), evident in his voting record turning liberal in the congressional session.
After being re-elected in the 1934 midterms to a third Senate term, Copeland shifted rightward and began to vote against New Deal programs. He also established a reputation as a supporter of civil rights, introducing two anti-lynching rider amendments in 1937, both of which were tabled due to some of his Northern Democrat colleagues joining their Southern counterparts in voting to kill them. This was likely attributed to progressives fearing a passage of the measure would result in the entire legislation being blocked by Southern Democrats.
- Cooperman to Corby. The Political Graveyard. Retrieved October 6, 2021.
- Fascinating Politics (October 6, 2021). Royal Copeland: The Start of New York’s Democratic Shift. Mad Politics: The Bizarre, Fascinating, and Unknown of American Political History. Retrieved October 6, 2021.
- NY US Senate Race - Nov 07, 1922. Our Campaigns. Retrieved October 6, 2021.