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1941 Lehman Brother Cadillac on View at Wright Museum

1941 Cadillac(Published September 2008)

New York Governor and longtime Lehman Brothers partner Herbert Lehman was a staunch New Deal Democrat who considered himself to be a champion of the common man in the same manner as his friend FDR.

But he had a thing for Cadillacs. Big ones.

The Wright Museum of WWII History in Wolfeboro will be exhibiting Governor Lehmnan’s fully-restored 1941 Fleetwood model Cadillac through the end of October. The vehicle is on short-term loan from a local private collection.

“It really is an impressive piece of automotive history,” said Wright Museum director Mark Foynes. “With its curvilinear forms, generous use of chrome, and its whitewall tires serving as a backdrop to those wonderful fender skirts, Governor Lehman’s Cadillac stands as quite the contrast to the 1942 bare bones jeep adjacent to it.”

Cadillac only manufactured 405 of its series 75 Fleetwoods. Only 98 were manufactured with an electric privacy divider between the spacious back seat and the chauffeur. The standard touring sedan retailed at $3,100. Governor Lehman’s top-of-the line model was Cadillac’s most expensive and sold for considerably more.

“The 1941 [Cadillac] was in rough shape when I found it in a barn,” recalled the vehicle’s owner, who preferred that his generous loan to the Wright Museum remain anonymous. “The chrome on the hood was so rough, if you were to pass your hand over it, it’d take your skin off. But we breathed some life into that proud Caddy. It was really a labor of love. The car’s a real gem, and the fact that its original owner was so prominent makes it just that much more special.”

New Deal Democrat Herbert LehmanHerbert Lehman was the son of a German Jewish immigrant who co-founded Lehman Brothers Holdings. Lehman became active in politics in 1920, and became chairman of the finance committee of the Democratic Party in 1928. He resigned from Lehman Brothers upon becoming FDR’s lieutenant governor in 1929 and later served four terms as the Governor of New York from 1933 to 1942. Until the 2007 inauguration of Eliot Spitzer, Lehman had the distinction of being the only Jewish governor in the history of New York. His policies were marked by his strong support for President Franklin Roosevelt's “New Deal,” which he used as a model for programs at the state level.

In December, 1942, Lehman resigned the governorship when he was appointed as the State Department’s Director of Foreign Relief and Rehabilitation Operations, which prepared him to later become Director-General of the UN Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. Lehman went on to represent New York in the Senate from 1949 to 1957 where he became a prominent opponent of Joseph McCarthy’s far-reaching anti-Communist efforts.

The Wright Museum of WWII History is a non-profit educational institution whose vast collection of fully-operational military vehicles and extensive exhibits relating to the American home front bring the past to life. The museum is a member-supported national treasure located right here in New Hampshire. In the words of filmmaker Ken Burns, “The Wright Museum’s work to preserve and share the stories of the WWII generation is vitally important. I am proud to support its efforts to educate present and future generations about the triumphs and sacrifices of America’s Greatest Generation.”

Wright Museum

The Wright Museum is a non-profit institution devoted to educating learners of all ages. With its nationally-significant collection of fully-operational military vehicles and vast collections relating to the American Home Front, the Wright Museum is a member-supported national treasure located right here in New Hampshire.

To learn more, call the museum at 603-569-1212 or send an e-mail to