Fred Trump begins inserting himself into political circles and making powerful friends

The Trump Timeline

Sources linked at end of page.


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Beginning in the late 1930s and continuing throughout the ’40s, Fred Trump introduces himself to political movers and shakers.

One of his first influential connections is a man named Thomas Grace. Grace is an attorney and Democratic Party operative. At the time of their meeting, he’s also the New York state director of the Federal Housing Administration.

Impressed by the young man and his plans—and by Trump’s expanding network of political friends—Grace authorized $750,000 in mortgage insurance for the circus-ground venture, enabling Trump to take out the huge construction loans necessary to erect the 450 homes.

Over the next three years, the FHA helps Trump purchase and build on empty land previously used by the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

In the 1940s, Fred Trump joins exclusive beach clubs, country clubs, and other elite social venues to rub elbows with more leaders of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, the New York political machine, and the federal government. His efforts earn him influence in New York politics and open the door to even more FHA funding.

But as you’ll read in future posts, a lot of the funding doesn’t make it into real estate; it lands in Trump’s own pockets.

By the time the clubhouse hack [Mayor Abraham] Beame arrived in City Hall in 1974 after the reform mayoralty of John Lindsay, Fred Trump had known him for 30 years. The new mayor immediately gave both Trumps a license to steal by declaring that “whatever Donald and Fred want, they have my complete backing.”

New York Magazine

External Sources

Too Much and Never Enough by Mary L. Trump, PH.D. (p.34) (Archived)

New York Magazine (Archived)

Photograph: Jack Smith/NY Daily News Archive, via Getty Images

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