The Honorable William F. Hagarty on the Benefits of Exercise, December 1931

A judge waxes athletic.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013 - 07:00 AM


“May heaven speed the day when the length and breadth of our United States shall be peopled with men and women, and boys and girls, solely by those of this type: strong bodied, true hearted, big souled patriots, athletes all for the land they love and the God they worship.”

     The Honorable William F. Hagarty of the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division and President of the now-defunct Crescent Athletic Club in Brooklyn speaks about athletics and the importance of “vigorous, daily, muscular exercise.”

      In his wide-ranging and passionate speech, Hagarty praises the purported physical prowess of the New York Police Department and of  American presidents Washington, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. He presents them as role models for the “red-blooded boys of our land” and as a positive alternative to idolizing Prohibition-era gangsters such as Al Capone and “Legs” Diamond. (Side note: this speech aired less than a week before Diamond’s violent and unsolved murder in Albany, New York.)

       The 1932 Olympic Games, both Winter and Summer, are mentioned in Hagarty’s address and are used to compare amateur athletics in the United States with the tradition of athletic competition in ancient Greece.

       Hagarty (who would later become an important figure in the relocation of Japanese Americans to Brooklyn) apparently prided himself in his accomplishments on horseback, and was reportedly often seen on the bridle paths of Prospect Park, Brooklyn. For those who are inclined, a few of these bridle paths remain.

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Hon. William F. Hagarty


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