article written by Stephen Hess in "America's Political Dynasties", Doubleday & Company, Inc., NY, 1966
Since the President of the United States had to be in New York City
in order to march in the annual St Patrick's Day parade, he agreed to give
away the bride in a wedding that was to be held at a brownstone house just
off Fifth Avenue. Even without the presence of a President the wedding
was considered of some social importance: the guest list included Astors,
Livingstons, Vanderbilts, and other pillars of society. Yet on this one
day each year fashionable Fifth Avenue is reserved for the sons of Erin
and those who feel emotional or political kinship. The close proximity
of society was bound to create confusion. The avenue was a sea of marchers.
The side streets were blocked off. Add a President of the United States
to this combustible equation and the result is chaos. Some of die guests,
thwarted on all sides, failed to arrive until after the Reverend Endicott
Peabody had performed the ceremony. But this was only the beginning of
the young couuple's trials on their wedding day. From the street the lusty
strains of "Wearin' o' the Green" drowned out the traditional "Oh, Promise
Me." And the newly united pair discovered, when they turned to receive
the congratulations of the assembled, that they were standing alone. The
President, playing a piper's tune of amus- ing stories, had led the guests
to the library, where he was holding court.
Claes Martenszen van Rosenvelt, a Dutchman, was thee first of the line
to reach the New World.* (Theodore Roosevelt called him his "very common
aneestor.") It is recorded that Claes bought a farm in 1649 on Manhattan
Island, south of Murray Hill, and just north of property owned by Governor
*F.D.R.'s daughter reports that her father, in all his study of family genealogy, had never been able to find out what Claes did for a livelihood before coming to America. ,,As a consequence, he said, he had come to the conclusion that our ancestor must have been a horse thief, or sorne other kind of a thief and, therefore, a fugitive from justice." F.D.R.'s conclusion, however, was only designed to tease his aristocratic mother. See Anna Roosevelt, "My Life with F.D.R.: The Road to the White House," The Woman, August 1949, p. 50.
The background of the humble man who was to become one of the most distinguished of American ancestors-to-be received front-page attention in 1935 when his great gggg grandson was President of die United States. It was then widely rumored that F.D.R.'s forebears were Jewish. As one anti-Roosevelt tract stated, "Strangely enongh, there is no record whateer of Martenszen's marriage to Jannetje Samuels, or of either of them having been members of the Reformed Dutch Church, although their children were baptized there. This has led some people to suppose that they were of the Jewish religion, for baptism in the Reformed Dutch Church was the only practical way of registering births and the names of some of the people who had their children baptized there would seem to indicate that they were Jewish. (More probably no marriage was recorded in America because they were married in Holland.) F.D.R. recognized this sudden interest in his ancestry in a letter to the Detroit Jewish Chronicle. "All I kow about the origin of die Roosevelt family in this country is that all branches bearing the name are apparently descended from Claes Martenssen van Roosevelt (sic)." Continued the presidential descendant, "Where he came from in Holland I do not know, nor do I know who his parents were. . . . In the dim distant past they rnay have been Jews or Catholics or Protestants -what I am more interested in is whether they were good citizens and believers in God; I hope they were both. It was Claes's son Nicholas, a fur trader and shopkeeper, who adopted the present spelling of the family name. He also had a lively wife who was brought to trial for exposing her ancles "in unseemly fashion, to the scandal of the community." More important he was the first Roosevelt to hold public office, serving as a New York alderman in 1700. From his sons Johannes and Jacobus are descended the Oyster Bay and Hyde Park Roosevelts respectively. The brothers, unlike their heirs, worked in harmony, being partners in a very shady real estate venture which was exposed by William Livingston in bis Independent Reflector.
The fortune of die Hyde Park Roosevelts, amounting to approximately
one million dollars on the death of F.D.R., was founded by Jacobus' son
Isaac. Although the Bayards had introduced sugar refining to New York,
and the Livingstons were in the business before hirn, Isaac Roosevelt became
one of the first large-scale sugar refiners. His heirs invested their inheritance
wisely, prirnarily in coal and railroads, and augrnented it through judicious
marriages, but thereafter tbey were content to live as country gentlemen,
and never again was there another real money-maker in this braneh of the
It took another two generations for the Oyster Bay Roosevelts to establish their fortune, but when they did so it far eclipsed the wealth of their Hudson River cousins. The acquisitive Roosevelt was T.R.'s grandfather, known in the farnily as C.V.S., for Cornelius Van Schaaick. A little man with a large head, a high brow, and a thick nose, C.V.S. knew from the start that making money would be his ruling passion. In 1821 he wrote his fiancee, "Economy is my doctrine at all times -at all events till I become, it it is to be so, a man of fortune." (The italics are his.) He waited until the Panic of 1837; then, as property values toppled, he plunged into Manhattan real estate. By 1842 the New York Sun listed his worth at $250,000, by 1845, $500,000; by 1868, $1,346,000 in taxable property alone; at his death in 1871 he was known to be one of the five richest men in New York.
Grandson Theodore, whose knowledge of economics was meager, was to turn bis back on mere wealth-gathering, but the main thrust of the Oyster Bay clan would always be toward Wall Street rather than Washington. In 1797 C.V.S.'s father had started a Maiden Lane hardware shop which specialized in imported plate glass; C.V.S.'s son switched from plate glass to banking; and C.V.S.'s great-grandson switched from banking to trust fund management after distant cousin Franklin signed the Federal Banking Act of 1934.
The firm of Roosevelt & Son, 48 Wall Street, celebrated its hundred and fiftieth anniversary in 1947. The senior partner was tben Georg Emlen Roosevelt, fifth member of his family in direct succession to head the firm, which was believed to manage funds in excess of a hundred million dollars. While T.R.'s immediate family had political reasons to feud with tbe F.D.R. clan, the enmity of the Wall Street Roosevel's was primarily economic. In 1934 an apocryphal tale made tbe rounds on "The Street." George Emlen Roosevelt, it was said, had "written the White House about the disposition of some funds held for the President's mother. "Dear Cousin Franklin: In view of the Administration's atitude toward the utlity industry, what do you suggest that we do with Mrs. Roosevelt's utility investment?" The reply supposedly ran: "Dear Cousin George: I have nothing to suggest. Investments are your business, not mine." Whereupon, the legend concluded, came the retort."Dear Cousin Franklin: We have liquidated the utility holdings in question and have invested the proceeds in Government bonds. Now it's your business."
While most of the Hyde Park Roosevelts led pleasant, unimportant lives on their Hudson River estates, and most of the Oyster Bay Roosevelts concentrated on making money, an occasional Roosevelt took off in unexpected directions, thus adding some diversity to the family's otherwise bland diet. From the Hyde Park branch came two distinguished religious figures and a philanthropist. The sister of Isaac "the Patriot" had a granddaughter, known as Mother Seton, who founded the Sisters of Charity" in 1809 and will probably becmne the first American-born saint of the Roman Catholic Church (F.D.R. told an aide that his great-grandfather had been in love with her); her nephew, John Roosevelt Bayley, was Cardinal Gibbons' predecessor as Archbishop of Baltimore; and James H. Roosevelt, an invalid bachelor, left his estate of one million dollars to found Roosevelt Hospital in New York. But there were no politicians in this braneh of the dynasty between Isaac the Patriot and Franklin the President.
The Oyster Bay Roosevelts were more daring, more political, and, on
rare occasions, even naughty!
-Nicholas Roosevelt claimed that Chancellor Livingston and Robert Fulton pirated his side-wheel principle when they built the Clermont. His wife (the daughter of the great architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe) had the first child to be born on a steamboat in the Mississippi. He was the first creative Roosevelt and died a poor man. (See Livingston Dynasty, pp. 113-116.)
-Hilborne Roosevelt, T.R.'s first cousin, was an Organ maker, much to the dismay of the family. He patented the first electric organ in the United States and escaped disgracing the dynasty by becoming rich.
-Clinton Roosevelt, a radical member of the New York Assembly in 1835. advocated a form of national socialism and branded bankers as oppressors of the people.
-James I. ("it stands for I-me!" ) Roosevelt served as a Tammany congressman and judge, of whom Philip Hone wrote: Roosevelt the leader of die blackguards, in whose person, as its representative, our poor city is disgraced, takes the lead in Opposition to the law and resorts to every species of vile, disgraceful conduct and language. . . ." He got his comeuppance when he married the daughter of Governor Van Ness of Vermont, a buxom beauty, who had an arrangement with a departrnent store by which her requests for petty cash were added to her unsuspecting husband's bills. In this way she supposedly acquired $30,000 for her private needs.
-And T.R.'s uncle, Robert Barnwell Roosevelt, a luxuriantly whiskered gentleman, was a pioneer conservationist and long-time fish commissioner of New York State. As a municipal reformer he helped replace the Tweed Ring with respectable and ineffectual Mayor William Havemeyer. He was also a one-term congressman, U.S. minister to the Netherlands, and treasurer of the Democratic National Comrnittee during Grover Cleveland's successful race against Benjarnin Harrison. Uncle Bob was as close as the Oyster Bay Roosevelts came to producing a national figure until his nephew rode up San Juan Hill.
The two Roosevelt presidents were the same number of generations removed from their "very cornrnon ancestor." Their fathers were contemporaries. But T.R. was a child of his father's youth, and F.D.R. of his father's fifty-fifth year. The courteous, fastidious country squire who was F.D.R.'s father was established enough in wealth to look down on the Vanderbilts, whose dinner invitations he refused ("...if we accept," he told bis wife,weshall have to have them to our house." James Roosevelt's manorial existence in Dutchess County irritated some relatives, one of whom later said, "He tried to pattern himself on Lord Landsdowne, sideburns and all, but what he really looked like was Landowne's coachman. Yet behind this dignified exterior must have burned some flame of the romantic. For awhile on a post-college tour of Europe he enlisted in Garibaldi's red-shirted legion. However, after a month of waiting around to battle for Italian independence, he returned to the greater excitement of being an American tourist. (Politically, the time was not ill spent -at least from one descendant's point of view. Said Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., when dedicating a plague in Verrazano Park, New York City: "I feel a rather close affinity to all Italians here and in Italy because my grandfather, James Roosevelt, fought as a member of Garibaldi's army in his fight for the unification and independence of Italy." See New York Times, April 11, 1965, p. 77.
While he considered the Vanderbilts' money too new or ill gotten, James Roosevelt was not above dabbling in the world of commerce. At various times he was president of the Louisville, New Albany and Chicago Railroad; a holder of large real estate interests in West Superior, Wisconsin; and president of the Champlain Transportation Company, which ran paddle-wheelers on Lake Champlain and Lake George. Several times he tried and failed to make large financial killings, once in a Nicaraguan canal venture. Politics, however, he felt was definitely not a respectable vocation. For some inexplicable reason this very patrician gentleman was a Democrat, but when President Cleveland offered him a diplomatic post, probably as minister to Holland, it never entered his mind to accept.
By his first wife, Rebecca Howland, of the ancient Pilgrim family, he had a son, James Roosevelt Roosevelt, called "Rosy." Mrs. Roosevelt died in1873, and seven years later James rnarried again. The bride was tall, gracious Sara Delano; half her husband's age, the age of her stepson. In 1882 she bore an only child Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
The Delanos liked to trace their ancestry to William the Conqueror. With even more authority they could find in their lineage three signers of the Mayflower Compact, including Isaac Allerton, a scoundrel who was ordered to leave Massachusetts in 1635 when it was discovered that while acting as the business agent for the Plymouth Colony some of the Pilgrim's money had stuck to his fngers. (See Lee Dynasty, pp. 49-81.) But the Delano of whom F.D.R. liked most to boast was one Thomas who married the daughter of Priscilla Alden of "speak for yourself, John" fame. The historian of the Delano clan calls this mateh "the first shot-gun wedding in American history." His evidence is the court record of Plymouth Colony for October 30, 1667, which shows that Thomas was fined ten pounds "for having carnal copulation with his now wife before marriage." (John Alden was one of the tribunal who sat in judgment of his son-in-law.)
The lovely Sara's family had been long associated with the sea. Her father was a retired China trader, having made two fortunes (and lost one) as a merchant in opium and other oriental commodities. He shared the Delanos' staunch Republicanism and enjoyed saying that, while all Democrats weren't horse thieves, all horse thieves were Democrats. (He was overlooking his Republican relation, Columbus Delano, who as Grant's Internal Revenue Commissioner and Secretary of the Interior left for posterity a record of unusual corruption in his agencies. A contemporary called him a "dry, baldish, clerical-looking man with a sly, contriving air.. His appointment marked a sad step in the deliquescence of the (Grant) Adminis- tration." See Daniel W. Delano, Jr., Franklin Roosevelt and the Delano Influence (Pittsburgh: James W. Nudi, 1946), pp. 115-16.
In her ghost-written account of F.D.R., Sara Delano Roosevelt inadvertently allows a picture to be painted of a lonely, "sequestered" boyhood. He was breastfed for a year and dressed in frilly outfits until he was five. In the company of his elderly father he had made eight trips to the health spas of Europe by the time he was fourteen. Then he was sent to Groton, and frorn there to Harvard. James Roosevelt died when his son was a college freshman, leaving a will that appointed "my wife sole guardian of my son Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and I wish him to be under the influence of his mother. Sara promptly moved to Boston to carry out her late husband's wish.
The childhood of T.R. was a very different matter. His father, the elder Theodore Roosevelt, of the firm of Roosevelt & Son, had married a beautiful Southern belle, Martha Bulloch. Her youngest daughter recalled her black hair, "fine of texture and with a glow that sometimes seemed to have a slightly russet shade . . . her skin was the purest and most delicate white, more moonlight-white than cream-white, and in the cheeks there was a coral, rather than a rose, tint. This lovely young lady grew up on a Georgia plantation, tile great-granddaughter of the state's first governor, and the child of a confusing marriage that rather shocked polite Savannah society.*
Martha Bulloch Roosevelt was an adored wife but an ineffectual mother and housekeeper. She was incapable of either keeping an appointment on time or managing routine money matters; so, after giving birth to four children, the transplanted Southern flower began a decorative decline. She discovered that headaches were an ideal excuse to retire from the perpetual motion of the Roosevelt household, and her eldest daugbter Anna, fourteen years of age, assumed efficient management of the family. Known as Bamie or Bye, Anna Roosevelt was not exactly a hunchback. She suffered from a spinal ailment that badly crippled her but which with amazing courage she refused to let interfere with a whirlwind of activities. To sister Corinne and brothers Theodore and Elliott she was more mother than peer. Elliott was the leader of the younger children, Theodore was the sickly one, suffering, as he said, from "asmer." (Never being much of a speller, T.R. later tried to make the English language conform to his own orthography.) Under the supervision of his father, whom be considered "his best and most intimate friend," Teddy adopted a rigorous routine to build his frail body.
The one dark cloud over this closely Irish family was the Civil War. The childrens maternal uncles were deeply involved in the cause of the South: James Dunwody Bulloch ("Uncle Jimmy") was the Confederate agent who played such a skillful cat-and-mouse game with Charles Francis Adams over the building of war vessels in England; bis brother, Irvine Bulloch, as a rnidshipman on the Alabama, fired the last guns in the fight with the Kearsarge.** To save his wife's feelings, the elder Theodore Roosevelt, although only twenty-nine, stayed out of the Union Army. Instead he became an allotment commissioner, making the rounds of military camps to induce troops to send part of tbeir pay home to their farnilies. (At least one Roosevelt, sister Corinne, felt that T.R.'s later passion for military heroics could be traced to his unspoken disappointrnent over his father's failure to fight on the Northern side.
* As a young man her father had courted, and been rejected by Martha Stewart of Savannah. He then married Hester Elliott daughter of United States Senator John Elliott and subsequently Martha Stewart married the Senator. After Senator Elliott and Hester Elliott Bulloch died, the widow and widower were wed, Bulloch thus marrying his former stepmother-in-law! President Theodore Reosevelt's mother was the child of this second round of matrimony. See Carleton Putnam, Theodore Roosevelt, the Formative Years (New York: Scribner's, 1958), p. 1 n.
** Theodore Roosevelt was to turn this into a political asset. While traveling through the South in 1905, a Washington Star reporter wrote, "One would suppose that the President himself fired the last two shots from the Alabama instead of his uncle. Mr. Roosevelt's relationship "with a Confederate officer is accepted as practically equal with having fought for the cause himself." See Henry F. Pringle, Theodore Roosevelt (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1931), p. 371.
The senior Theodore Roosevelt was an important member of the community. Besides being a successful businessman, he helped found the New York Orthopaedic Hospital (motivated by Bamie's illness), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Natural History, as well as being a major force in the administration of the Children's Aid Society and the Newsboys' Lodging House. In the opinion of a close friend, "He literally 'went about doing good. Yet though to a lesser degree than F.D.R.'s father, he found politics to be distasteful. Only once was he involved in political life, and then more as a symbol than an active participant. President Hayes appointed him as collector of customs for the part of New York, a patronage-rich office then held by Chester A. Arthur of Senator Conkling's organization. In this fight be tween the reformers and the machine, Roosevelt's role was to represent civic virtue. But the machine had the votes, and the nomination was rejected by the Senate. The nominee had made an effort on his own behalf. In two months he was dead. Each of the Roosevelt children inherited $125,000 - they would each get another $62,500 when their mother died six years later. Teddy continued at Harvard, where he was a sophomore; Elliott dug into bis inheritance to go around the world hunting big game.
Elliott Roosevelt was handsome and charming; not at all like bis brother Teddy, wbo had a queer voice, enormous teeth, and wore thick glasses. There was an impulsive, appealing quality about Elliott. As a child of seven he gave his new overcoat to a raggel urchin who looked cold. "He never could learn to control his heart by bis head," said bis daughter Eleanor, the future First Lady. "With him the heart always dominated. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born his parents asked Elliott to be a godparent. He replied that while unworthy of the distinction, "My dear little mother has persuadel me that I should accept the high honor you offer me." Elliott was amusing. Not long after returning frorn his world safari he married Anna Hall, granddaughter of a Livingston and great-great.granddaughter of the powerful Chancellor. With her blue eyes and sunny hair, all agreed that Anna was a singularly beautiful and gracious woman, a queen of the world in which she moved. The young couple, wrote their daughter, joined the ,,funloving younger set an Long Island in summer, with hunting and polo and gay evening parties. Elliott also took up serious drinking.
Although Theodore Roosevelt made Phi Beta Kappa and Porcellian, bis heart was not on studies or clubs. He was in love. He met the young lady when he spent a weekend at the Chiestnut Hill home of Harvard friend Richard Saltonstall (father of US. Senator Leverett Saltonstall). Next door was Saltonstall's first cousin Alice Lee, whose ancient family tree bore a profusion of Cabots, Jacksons, Higginsons, and other distinguished Massachusetts names. She was tall, yet exceedingly feminine, with light brown hair, a slightly tilted nose, and blue eyes. Friends called her "Sunshine." They were rnarried in 1880; three years later she gave birth to a daughter. It was St. Valentine's Day and the new father joyfully rushed home from Albany, where he was serving in the state Assembly. He was met in the doorway by Elliott. "There is a curse on this house." Wife and mother lay dying. Martha Bulloch Roosevelt and Alice Lee Roosevelt were buried the next day. The infant, named Alice, was taken in by Bamie; Theodore returned to Albany, and later to the Bad Lands of Dakota. Like Henry Adams, he couldn't bring himself to mention his first wife's name in his autobiography.
Almost exactly eight months after Theodore Roosevelt's daughter Alice was born, bis brother Elliott's wife also gave birth to a girl, christened Anna Eleanor, but always known as plain Eleanor. While little Aliceseemcd to have inherited her morther's grace and looks, little Eleanor had not. She was the shy, akward daughter of a beautiful mother; turned inward, she lived in a dream world populated exclusively by herself and her idealized father. She was eightt when her mother died. By then Elliott was a confirmed alcoholic, living in Virginia, where he had been given a job by brother-in-law Douglas Robinson, Corinne's hus- band. His daughter lived only for his enchanting letters, which she always carried with her. He died in 1893 -thirty-three years of age. Eleanor continued to stay with Grandmother Hall, eventually moving to Tivoli, part of the original Livingston estate on the river Hudson. But the large house was more a prison for an alcoholic uncle. Watching her uncle lose his power of self-control, Eleanor wrote that "it began to develop in me an almost exaggerated idea of the necessity of keeping all of one's desires under complete subjugation. (Eleanor also had an alcoholic brother, G. Hall Roosevelt (1891-1941).Like their father, he was generous, handsome, and talented, but, as his sister wrote, "You could never convince him that it is very hard to shake a habit you have once let get hold of you." By the time he realized he had a serious drinking problem "he no longer wanted to stop." He was at one time City Controller and chairman of the Detroit Unemployment Bureau. His second wife, Dorothy Kemp, was a concert pianist and unsuccessful candidate for Congress in 1942.)
When she was two, Alice Roosevelt got a stepmother. After taking a devastating drubbing in a race for mayor of New York City, T.R. went off to London to marry Edith Carow, a childhood sweetheart. The Carows had los their money and were now living in Europe where it was cheaper to keep up appearances. The family, however, had not always known hard times. (Her maternal grandfather was Union General Daniel Tyler, whose leadership bears some of the blame for the disaster at Bull Run, but who later became a successful iron manufacturer and railroad president. Bamie's offer to keep little Alice was politely rejected by the new Mrs. Roosevelt. Edith, having watched the marriage ceremony of T.R. and Alice Lee, felt she had waited long enough to take full possession of her husband's life. In an unassuming, efficient, sometimes ruthless way she demanded complete control of the household. Corinne warned Bamie to cease and desist or they might lose Theodore altogether.
But Bamie did not have to wait long to display again her maternal instincts. The call came from *Rosy* Roosevelt, F.D.R.'s half brother. He had married Helen Astor, whose mother was *the* Mrs. Aston of Ward McAllister's glittering Four Hundred. Backed by his wife's money, Rosy dabbled in Democratic politics, and a $10,000 contribution to Cleveland's war chest in 1892 landed him the post of first secretary of the American Embassy in London. When Rosy's wife died, leaving her two small children an estate of $1,500,000, Bamie went over to take charge.* "You are an angel, as usual," wrote Mrs.Henry Cabot Lodge, *to go and take care of all the poor forlorn things of the world."
It was hardly a sacrifice. Ambassador Thomas Francis Bayard's wife was a rather shy hostess, and before long Bamie had taken over not only the Roosevelt household but the supervision of all social functions at the embassy as well. Soon it became evident that she had also taken over Commander William Sheffield Cowles, the naval attache, a somewhat portly gentleman of forty-nine with a great walrus mustache. They were married in 1895 and went off to the Continent on a wedding trip. Unfortunately, sister Corinne was in Paris, and deposited her children with the honeymooners! "There was something so funny about this that we could hardly bear it," wrote Bamie. When the newlyweds finally left Europe, The Times of London had nothing to say about the departure of the naval officer, remembered primarily as a pleasant clothes horse, but wrote with "dismay" of losing Bamie, who had become "almost indispensable."
*James Roosevelt Roosevelt's daughter Helen was to marry Theodore Douglas Robinson, son of Corinne Roosevelt, and an Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Rosy's son James made a less respectable match. He took as his bride one Sadie Meisinger, known as "Dutch Sadie" at the Haymarket Dance Hall, New York City's most notorious house of assignationn. The couple left for Florida under assumed names, but later the unhappy and chastened young man returned to New York and devoted his energies to the Salvation Army. See Allen Churchill, TheRoosevelts: American Aristocrats (New York: Harper & Row, 1965), page 230.
"(Theodore) Roosevelt, more than any other man living within the range of notoriety," wrote Henry Adams, "showed the singular primitive quality that belongs to ultimate matter -the quality that medieval theology assigned to God- he was pure act." The amazing political career of this "interesting combination of St. Vitus and St. Paul" (as Lord Morley called him) began when T.R. was elected to the New York legislature at the age of twenty-three. He reached Albany because an Irish Catholic named Joe Murray wanted to wrest control of the Twenty-first Assembly District from a German Jew named Jake Hess. While T.R. had neither experience nor accomplishment to recommend him, he did have a good name. An endorsing editorial in the New York Post said, "Mr. Roosevelt has hereditary claims to the confidence and hopefulness of the voters of this city, for his father was in his day one of the most useful and public-spirited men in the community... " Uncle Robert Barnwell Roosevelt, whom the newly elected legislator resempled in energy and interests, helped him get choice committee assignments. From then on Teddy was on his own, and for two years proved to be a zealous crusader who instinctively knew how to strike dramatic chords.
During Teddy's undergraduate years at Harvard, Henry Cabot Lodge had been an instructor there. But Lodge was known as a hard marker and a boring lecturer, and so T.R. avoided his courses. The deep friendship between these patrician politicians did not begin until the 1884 Republican Presidential Convention, when the two young delegates teamed up in a futile effort to block the nomination of James G. Blaine. Lodge, more than any other man, would mastermind T.R.'s rise to the presidency.
After the Blaine convention, Rossevelt left for his ranch in Dakota Territory; returning to New York would only have renewed memories of his pretty young wife, so resenctly dead. He sought therapy in riding the range. Life to Theodore Roosevelt was always a grand play to be performed in costume. Donning an outrageous outfit -silk neckerchief, fringed buckskin shirt, sealskin chaparajos, alligator-hide boots- he proceeded to have some outrageous adventures. (Once he shared a hotel bed with a gentleman who was arrested during the night for robbing a Northern Pacific train.) But when not playing cowboy, T.R. turned out a prodigious number of books -biography, American history, Western stories. He wrote as much for income as for enjoyment, since he had sunk a great deal of his inheritance into ranching ventures that were wiped out by the blixxards of 1886. In common with his friend Lodge, Roosevelt shared a capacity for sound scholarship -a capacity, however, which they rarely indulged after entering politics, although this never stilled their constantly moving pens. Coming back to New York in 1886, Teddy finished last in a three-week race for mayor and Puck composed his political obituary: "Be happy Mr. Roosevelt, be happy while you may. You are young -yourss is the time of roses -the time of illusions ... Bright visions float before your eyes of what the Party can and may do for you ... We fear the Party cannot do much for you. You are not the timber of which Presidents are made.
Thus dismissed, Roosevelt did not return to public life until 1889 when pressure from Lodge, now a senator, got him appointed to the U.S. Civil Service Commission, a job whose importance was measured by its salary - $3,500 per year. Working under Benjamin Harrison was *horribly disheartening," Roosevelt discovered. "Oh Heaven, if the President had a little backbone," he wrote Lodge. On another occasion he reported to his mentor that he had told Harrison the parable of the backwoodsman and the bear: "Oh Lord help me kill that baer (prayed the backwoodsman) and if you don't help me, oh Lord, don't help the bear." The "backwoodsman" finally got some non-divine assistance in his crusade against the spoildmen when Grover Cleveland succeeded to the presidency. However, after siz years in Washington, Teddy began to get restless. A reform mayor had been elected in New York and offered to make him the sanitation commissioner, which he considered infra dig for a Roosevelt. But when the police commissionership was tendered, he promptly accepted. Being top cop of the nations's largest city was a glorious job for the ebullient Teddy. He pedaled to headquarters each morning on a bicycle, and wandered the streets late at night looking for crime or a patrolman who was indulging in a schooner of beer at the side door of a saloon. Later, an Irish policeman, tears streaming down his face, would ask T.R.'s sister, "Do you remember the fun of him, Mrs. Robinson?" Time may have lent enchantment. During his reign at Mulberry Street a reporter was able to frighten the constabulary badly by merely chattering a pair of gleaming false teeth. Vendors started to sell small whistles shaped like *Teddy's teeth.* It all made grand newspaper copy, even if the commissioner was less than a success as he rode off in all directions in the hot pursuit of vice. T.R.'s destiny was to capture the imagination of the American people; he first succeeded as head of the New York polie force. Henry Cabot Lodge even began to suggest that the presidency was a distinct possibility.
Wirepulling by Lodge, William Howard Taft, and other got T.R. the position of Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1897, a post from which he was able to observe with gusto the coming of war with Spain. Roosevelt had always wanted to lead his countrymen in battle. He now sent to Brooks Brothers for a soldier suit (blue *without yellow on the collar and with leggings*) and recruited his band of "Rough Riders." * The nation had never before, and would never again, see the likes of the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry. Lieutenant Colonel Roosevelt found his troopers in the Ivy League, the Somerset and Knickerbocker clubs, the New York police force, the Texas Rangers. There were polo players, Indians and Indian fighters, broncobusters and steeplechase riders. "It was the society page, financial column, and Wild West Show all wrapped up in one," wrote a reporter. The Spanish-American War, to those who were in it, was a "splendid little war." But it really was not much. The American people, however, would have settled for almost anything, as long as the outcome was victorious. Teddy's capture of San Juan Hill was hardly more than a skirmish. His cavalry had left its horses at home and scrambled up the slope on foot. Later, when Edith saw the site of her husband heroics, she was amused to find that it was hardly as steep as he had led her to believe. Still, for T.R. is was "the time of my life", as he confided to Lodge. Less than three months later Roosevelt was back at home, a national hero, and the Republican candidate for governor of New York. For Thomas Platt, the "Easy Boss" of New York politics, the thought of having to make Roosevelt his gubernatiorial candidate was not pleasing. Yet he liked less the prospects of losing an election, and the incumbent Republican Administration was in the midst of a scandal. The uncontrollable T.R. was the lesser of two evils. As the Roosevelt campaign train steamed through the state a bugler would appear at each stop to play the cavalry charge. Then the candidate emerged, surrounded by his faithful Rough Riders. "You have heard the trumpet that sounded to bring you here," he intoned. "I have heard it tear the propic dawn when it summoned us to fight at Santiago. Poor Mr. Van Wyck, the Democratic candidate, never had a chance.
It may be to machiavellian to suppose that Tom Platt spent the full two years of Theodore Roosevelt's governorship plotting ways to get rid of him, but the thought certainly entered his mind. By the 1900 Republican Convention he had devised a scheme: kick T.R. upstairs to the vice-presidency. The outmaneuvered national chairman, Mark Hanna, could only gasp, "Don't any of you realize that there is only one life between this madman and the White House?" On Inauguration Day Platt boasted that he had come to Washington "to see Theodore take the veil." Another spectator, Alice Roosevelt, now a grown-up secenteen, watched the parade from a window over Mme. Payne's Manicure Shop on Pennsylvania Avenue, and wondered to herself "what sort of a "risk" President McKinley was. Less than seven months later McKinley was assassinated and Theodor Roosevelt was President of the United States. "His Accidency", quipped Henry Adams.
*Roosevelt used the phrase casually in a conversation with Washington correspondent Richard V. Oulahan of the New York Evening Sun, whose story was published under the headline, "Roosevelt's Rough Riders." T.R. did not like the term and asked Oulahan to use "mountain riflemen" as better expressing the character of the regiment. Only the reporter's ear for alliteration saved "Rough Riders" for its ultimate place in American history. From an unpublished manuscript, "How the Rough Riders Were Named," shown to the author by the late Mrs. Richard V. Oulahan.
Every president introduces a new cast of characters on the American scene. The Roosevelt players resembled a three-ring-circus. Forty-two-year-old Teddy was the youngest chief executive in history, and he brought the White House a pride of children, six in number, ranging from the lovely Alice to four-yearl-old Quentin. In between there were Theodore, Jr., 14, Kermit, 12, Ethel, 10, and Archibald,7. And the children brought their pets. The stately White House was turned into a menagerie. Alice had a lizard, "Emily Spinach" (Spinach for its color, Emily for a very thin aunt); the boys had ponies, rabbits, guinea pigs, dogs, squirrels, raccoons, and badgers, called by such spritual and secular names as "Bishop Doane", "Admiral Dewey", "The Prodigal Son", "Dr. Johnson" (after their Durch Reformed pastor), "Caesar", "Father Grady," (in honor of an Oyster Bay priest), and "Fighting Bob Evans". Kermit was known to come to breakfast with a kangaroo rat in his pocket; Quentin once used the White House elevator to bring a pony to visit Archie, who was sick in bed upstairs; "Loretta", a parrot, was taught to say, "Hurrah for Roosevelt," and there was even a bear christened "Jonathan Edwards" (the great divine being distantly related to the President's wife.) I don't think that any family has ever enjoyed the White House more than we have", the President wrote to son Kermit. When Quentin started to go to school he brought "the gang" back to his house for baseball on the South Lawn or a pillow fight with Father. "Nothing was too sacred to be used for their amusement, and no place too good for a playroom," lamented the chief usher. In this they were encourages by the President. When he stopped to think about decorum, which was rarely, T.R. said, "...relly it seems, to put it mildly, rather odd for a stout, elderly President to be bouncing over hay-ricks in a wild efford to get to goal before an active midget of a competitor, aged nine years." But then he added, more in character, "However, it was really great fun." Ethel was a perfect little lady, even a Sunday school teacher, and Edith tried her best to maintain order. Yet she fought against overwhelming odds. As Sir Cecil Spring-Rice, the British ambassador put it, "You must always remember that the President is about six."
It was blue-eyes Alice, however, who most fascinated the American public. Songs were written in her honor and national fads emulated her izarre behaviour. "I can do one of two things," T.R. told novelist Owen Wister, "I can be President of the United States, or I can control Alice. I cannot do possibly both." The Journal des Debats of the French Chamber of Deputies tabulated that in a fifteen-month period Alice had attended 407 dinners, 350 balls, 300 parties, 685 teas, and made 1706 calls. Town Topics, a New York society journal, cattily commented, "...if the young woman knew some of the tales that are told at the clubs in Newport she would be more careful in the future about what she does and how she does it." Instead she was seen at the race track, smoked cigarettes in public, and fell in love with bald-headed Cngressman Nicholas Longworth, scion of a distinguished Cincinnati family. When Nick, the son of a federal judge, first arrived in Washington in 1903, wearing the brightest waistcoats the capital had ever seen, he was immediately recognized as a charming and entertaining fellow. He could play the violin well enough to draw fulsome praise from Zimbalist Reiner, and Stokowski; he could also perform with the fiddle behind his back and the bow between his knees. On February 17, 1906, the "national bridegroom", as Nick was dubbed by the Washington Times, drove up to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in his new red motorcar. In the Eastroom 500 guests were assembled for the most important marriage of the young century, the tenth wedding in the history of the White House. Alice waited, lovely in ancestral lace and a train five yards long. Cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt gallantly arranged the bride's veil for the photogrpahers. Later Alice would recall, "I remember looking up and seeing Nick and thinking how hopelessly Middle West he did seem." But she was the only one who saw anything provincial about the ceremony. Gifts poured in from all over the world -a necklace of aquamarines with 120 diamonds in the pendant, a dog with an Alice-blue blanket, a $25,000 Gobelin tapestry from the French Government, a dower chest from the Dowager Empress of China, antique jewelry from the King of Spain, a mosaic table from the King of Italy. The President finally announced that it would not be proper for official presents to be received from other nations. "So like him", said Cabot Lodge, "to come to that decision after the figts were on the way." Bamie replied, "At least Theodore didn't issue his awful ban before the string of (63 matched) pearl from Cuba arrived. (There was a report that the Cubans had first considered presenting Alice with San Juan Hill!) Finally Major McCawley handed the bride his sword to cut the cake, and the newlyweds boarded the Elysian, a private railroad car, for the honeymoon trip to Florida.
Lincoln Steffens said that T.R. "thought with his hips." Yet after the assassination of Mckinley the nation, and especially the business community, was relieved to find that no precipitous actions were forthcoming from the new presient. Roosevelt was content to wait for his own mandate. It came with his overwhelming victory in 1904. On March 4, 1905, while little Quentin was being boosted onto the platform by two black-robed justices of the Supreme Court so that he might have a better view, Theodore Roosevelt took the oath of office in his own right, and the real Rooseveltian era began.
Living under the reign of "Theodorus I. Czar Rooseveltoff" (a Henry Adams designation) was an exhausting yet exhilerating experience for a nation grown used to a long line of fossilized chief executives. Suddenly there was a President who believed that he was empowered to do anything that was not specifically prohibited in the Constitution. It was a shocking concept. Once in the New York Assembly a Tammany politician named Tim Campbell had asked Roosevelt to vote for a measure which T.R. told him was plainly unconstitutional. To this, Tim replied, "What the devil is the Constitution between friends?" As President, thought the conservatives, Roosevelt was a Tim Campbell constituiiionalist. He had the Interstate Commerce Act strengthened, got sweeping laws passed in the field of pure food and drugs, made memorable efforts to protect the national forest and land reserves, and took after the "malefactors of great wealth." He was the first President to control the thrusts (although he instituted only 20 indictments, compared to 46 under Taft). It was T.R.'s role to broach important questions rather than to solve them. What was wrong with our industrial society? What could be done about it? Because of Roosevelt the nation, rather than the fringe reformers, for the first time demanded answers.
Her was an American President who thought of his country as a world power, and morally entitled to be one. But if there was any doubt of America's moral sanctity, he meodernized the fleet and sent it around the world for all to see. The Monroe Doctrine, he felt, ranked with the Ten Commandments -maybe higher. He took over the financial management of the Dominican Republic, got Great Britain to settle the old Alaska boundary dispute on his terms, brought about settlement the old European intervention in Venezuela, and, for good measure, "took Panama" so that he could build the canal. As a crowning achievement, this most militant of all American chief executives was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
After 7 1/2 years of T.R. the nation was emotionally exhausted. "He is a dalin' man, but so distressin'," said an Irish policeman in Boston. So T.R. waited until his friend Taft was moved into the White House and then left for Africa with Hermit. "Wall Street", said some wag, "hopes every lion will do its duty." But the former president was never far from the thoughts of his countrymen. At the 1910 Gridiron Dinner most of the nation's dignitaries were totally ignored, while the reporters acted skit after skit devoted to the distant Roosevelt. To the tune of "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now," a bold hunter in an African jungle sang:
I wonder who's wielding the stick;
I wonder if Taft's learned the trick;
Malefactors of wealth who do business by stealth -
I wonder who's cussing them now!
The "Square Deal" was in a shamble by the time T.R. returned to the United States - or so he wanted to believe. And Theodore Roosevelt, who was too young to be an ex-president, once again threw his hat in the presidential ring. The 1912 Republican Convention, as the barkeep philisopher Mr. Dooley predicted, was a "combination of the Chicago fire, Saint Bartholomew's massacree, the battle of the Boyne, the life of Jessie James, and the night of the big wind." Taft, the incumbent President with the full weight of the organization behind him, won an expected renomination. In November, Wilson was elected president, yet Roosevelt, the man without a party, finished substantially ahead of Taft in the three-way-race. Thus ended the political career of Theodore Roosevelt. There had been considerable speculation that he would be the Republican presidential nominee in 1920, but he dies the year before at the age of sixty-one. "My last vision of fun and gaiety will vanish whem my Theodore goes," Henry Adams once said. "Never can we replace him" His faults, added the sardonic sage, "re but trifles like the warty growths on a magnificent oak tree."
One day in 1907 Franklin Delano Roosevelt told his fellow law clerks how he expected to spend the rest of his life: first the New York legislature, then Assistant Secretary of the Navy, followed by the governorship of New York, and finally - the presidency. This was a remarkable statement from a young man who had shown neither brilliance nor unseemly ambition at Groton, Harvard, and Columbia Law School. It was, of course, a perfectly accurate prediction. But equally interesting, it was the outline of a career that exactly paralleled his fifth cousin Theodore's. It can hardly be allowed that this was unintentional, for T.R. was a hero to his distant relation. F.D.R. had even crossed party lines to cast his first vote in 1904 for the Republican Roosevelt. When F.D.R. married Eleanor in 1905, the President told his new nephew-in-law, "Well, Franklin, there is nothing like keeping the name in the family." While the bridegroom's mother was fond of Teddy, it is unlikely that she shared this enthusiasm. On being informed of the engagement, Sara Delano Roosevelt wrote in her diary, " Franklin gave me quite a startling announcement." She then proceeded to take her son on a cruise of the West Indies. But the trip did not have the desired effect, and in her book, My Boy Franklin, she fails to mention this attempt to set the ship of love off course, preferring to have history record that "Franklin, unknown to any of us, had become engaged to his distant cousin, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, a delightful child of nineteen, whom I had known and loved since babyhood." It was not that the senior Mrs. Roosevelt objected to Eleanor, it was just that she would have liked to have Franklin to herself. Her daughter-in-law was to write that "she never accepted the fact of his independence and continued to the last to try to guide his life." And she held a potent weapon over the newlyweds -the purse strings. It was the mother-in-law who chose the location of Eleanor's home (near to her own), paid for it, and picked out the furnishings.
F.D.R. started his ascent up the predicted political ladder in 1910. Running as the Democratic candidate for the state Senate in strongly Republican Dutchess County, he won a narrow and surprising victory. His name had helped. The young candidate didn't bother to correct any mistaken impressions that he was a son or nephew of the Roosevelt President. He managed adroitly to work T.R. into his speeches. "A little shaver said to me the other day that he knew I wasn't Teddy," he told one meeting. "I asked him 'why' and he replied: 'Because you don't show your teeth.'". His election, however, was primarily the result of intensive campaigning and a nationwide backlash against the Taft Administration. As a legislator F.D.R. followed in the T.R. pattern of being a reformer who was better at dramatizing issues than getting meaningful results. His most notable achievement in Albany was to block the election of "Blue-eyed Billy" Sheehan to the U.S. Senate; yet the man chosen was no more savory. If F.D.R.'s failures could be charged off to inexperience, the same could not be said for his legislative contemporary, Theodore Douglas Robinson. Assemblyman Robinson was T.R.'s nephew, the son of Corinne Roosevelt and her wealthy realtor husband. He reached the legislature be defeating the regular Republican organization in Herkimer County, and later served three terms in the state Senate. The highlight of his achievements were proposals to license cats, train hunting dogs, make it a penal offense to use another person's laundry mark, and build a moveable sidewalk between the Senate and Assembly chambers.
By climbing on board the Woodrow Wilson bandwagon early enough, F.D.R. was able to assure presidential gratitude after the 1912 election. Wrote Cousin Theodore: "Dear Franklin: I was very much pleased to see that you were appointed as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. It is interesting to see that you are in another place which I myself once held ... When I see Eleanor I shall say to her that I do hope she will be particularly nice to the naval officer's wives ..." The young Assistant Secretary's record was again similar to his Roosevelt predecessor's. He too preached military preparedness to the point of insubordination. He also tried unsuccessfully to get an army command for T.R. after the nation entered Worl War I.
F.D.R.'s jump from secondechelon bureaucrat to presidential running mate in 1920 resulted mainly from this coattail connection with Theodore Roosevelt. For the former president had died in 1919, and the nation was again feeling sympatethic toward the name. When venerable Henry Cabot Lodge heard that young Roosevelt was to be the Democratic vice-presidential candidate he said: "He is a well-meaning, nice young fellow, but light." Added William Howard Taft: "He will not add any particular strength anywhere but he will give the ticket a good social flavor." As the Democratic Roosevelt toured the country, people shouted, "I voted for you father" and "Your are just like the Old Man." This was the moment, if one can be pinpointed, when the Oyster Bay Roosevelts fell out with the Hyde Park Roosevelts.
The main issue of 1920 was the League of Nations. F.D.R. was running as the heir of Wilson, father of the League; but the heirs of T.R, Alice Roosevelt Longworth in particular, were "irreconcilables." They resented the connection of their name with the hated League; they deeply resented a Democratic Roosevelt; and they most deeply resented what they felt was the exploitation of their name - for what were the Roosevelts before Teddy? Moreover, the Oyster Bay branch had its own political plans for the family -and they centered around Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. - not F.D.R. Young Teddy was sent out by the Republican National Committee to try to untangle the political orientation of the Roosevelts. He charged that Franklin was a "maverick" who "does not have the brand of our family!" Later Nick Longworth called F.D.R. a "denatured Roosevelt," and Alice, most viper-tongued of them all, is said to have called him 80% Eleanor and 20% mush." The Hyde Partk matriarch, Sara Delano Roosevelt, grew fiercly resentful of these intra-family snipings. When asked why the T.R. branch was so antagonistic to the F.D.R. branch, she repllied: "I can't imagine, unless it is because we are better looking than they are."
It is an oft-told story -recounted in book, play, and film - of how F.D.R. was stricken with polio in the summer of 1921; of how his mother wished him to retire to Hyde Park, but an Albany newspaperman, Louis McHenry Howe, kept his electrive hopes alive and trained Eleanor Roosevelt to carry part of the political burden, and of how F.D.R. fought back until he rose at the 1924 convention to place Al Smiths name in nomination for the presidency. James Roosevelt recalls that famous "Happy Warrior" speech. As the crowd at Madison Square Garden was swept with emotion his sister Anna whispered to him: "Jimmy, do you think Father may become President?" The son looked up at the speaker, his legs in steel braces, his hands tightly grasping the rostrum, and answered: "Unfortunately, it is out of the question." Yet four years later he was elected governor of New York, in eight years he was the Democratic nominee for President. Wrote Walter Lippmann: His mind is not very clear, his purpose is not simple. and his methods are not direct ... Mr. Roosevelt does not ring true ... He is no enemy of entrenched privilege. He is a pleasant man who, without any important qualification for the office, would very much like to be President. But any Democrat could have been elected in 1932.
Along with Walter Lippmann, the American people had little reason to suspect what was about to start on March 4, 1933. The nation was at the trough of its great depression, and it had just elected a man who had never known want. The vast crowd in front of the Ca[ital had come to be convinced, not to reaffirm its faith. The new Roosevelt President, his chin outthrust, announced: "First of all, oet me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." The people, he said, had sked for direct, vigorous action. He would give it to them. And then, like a chain of popping firecrackers, the New Deal closed the banks, an Agriculutural Adjustment Act became law, the Civilian Conservation Corps was authorized, federal grants were made for unemployment relief, the securities business was controlled, Tennessee Valley Authority was created, legislation was enacted to save small home mortgages from foreclosure, the railroads were regulated. As the exuberant voice took his "fireside chats" directly into the American home, the unemployed, the minority groups, those lowest on the economic scale, knew that this man, this Hudson River aristocrat with the trace of Boston in his speech, was talking about their problmens, that he was going to do something about them, that he cared. One writer called it the "West Bronx FDR Mystique."" Out in Kansas the old Progressive Republican, William Allen White, was fascinated. "The Constitution is straining and cracking. But, after all, the Constitution was made for people ... It is bewildering -this new deal- the new world. How much is false, how much is true ... only time will tell. In the meantime, the wizard in the White House works his weird spell upon a changing world.
What was this bewildering New Deal? Primarily it was a collection of governmental attempts to meet current problems. It was perpetual motion striking out in all directions. Its key was "Answers, not Philosophy.* It sought to give relief, not a grand design for the ages. For the New Deal President was no theorist but a pragmatic politician who was concerned with relieving suffering and getting elected. He surrounded himself with ideas and he left all the idea givers with the impression that he agreed with them. There were the social thinkers like Tugwell, the social workers like Hopkins, the conservative businessmen like Lewis Douglas. He played them like a majestic organ, harmoniously and discordantly. And from the sparks generated by rubbing two ideas together emerged policy. If the ideas didn't always work, if they were sometimes unconstitutional, if recovery turned into recession, at least the people knew that F.D.R. was trying.
Everyone, however, did not share the "West Bronx Mystique." The President had woven a Democratic coalition of labor, liberals, and minorities, powerful enough to keep him in office for four terms. But there were some who were not in the fabric. This was especially true around the economic fringes on top and bottom. The dispossessed, who for the first time had tasted government largess, wanted a headier brew. They turned to the Father Coughlins, the Francis Townsends, and the Huey Longs. The well-born, who considered F.D.R. a "traitor to his class," turned to the Liberty League. Perhaps not realizing the consequences, Roosevelt was hardening the political arteries of the country. Then world events cut across class lines. As war darkened the European continent, the American President confined himself to righteous protests against Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. He repeatedly paused to let his people catch up, but he never got too far out front. This dilemma was finally solved for him. The New Deal ended in an avalanche of Japanese bombs. On December 7, 1941, the New Deal president became the War President. Politics was suspended for the duration, and F.D.R. died shortly before V-J Day lifted the moratorium.
Looking bacxk over her life, Eleanor Roosevelt saw certain distinct patterns. The pattern of her early married years had been largely determined by her mother-inlaw; the pattern of her middle years by her children and husband; the pattern of her latter years was her own. She seemed to pick up momentum as more and more she became a public person, throwing her phenomnal energy and moral earnestness into issues, problems, policy. After her husband's death she could have been nominated for the Senate, but she turned her back on elective politics and applied herself to the Democratic reform movement in New York. She continued her daily column, appearing in 75 newspapers, and her monthly magazin articles. Then there were books to be written, lectures to deliver, people to see, mail to answer, charities to be supported. So many things to do, so little time, as she spread her deep sympathies over mankind. President Truman appointed her to the American delegation to the United Nations. The new world organization was a natural canvas for her broad-gauge humanitarianism. At the U.N. she displayed a toughness that had not been apparent before. Diplomats discovered that she was no figurehead; the Soviets that she was no pushover. These were her shining years, just as the UN Declaration of Human Rights is her lasting monument. Once long ago a young girl paid a visit to Sagamore Hill, and Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt -her aunt Edith- wrote Bamie: "Poor little soul, she is very plain. Her mouth and teeth have no future, but the ugly duckling may turn out to swan." As if recalling this prediction of another century, Adlai Stevenson rose to pay tribute to the memory of Eleanor Roosevelt at the 1964 Democratic Convention. "She thought of herself as an 'ugly duckling'", he told the delegates, "but she walked in beauty in the ghettos of the world, bringing with her the reminder of her beloved St. Francis, ... it is in the giving that we receive. And wherever she walked, beauty was forever there.
Honors, often undeserved, come to presidents' sons. But an immense burden often comes too. There is a merciless spotlight of publicity on all their activities; the most minor indiscretions are blown up to major proportions when committed by children of the famous. Life can be a series of pitfalls which are not in the paths of those with less recognizable names; the unscrupulous are there to exploit their inherited distinction; the well-meaning are there to hold temptations before them. There is always that fragile commodity, the reputation, to be lived up to or revolt against. On a battlefield, however, a man can lose his ancestors. War, the great equalizer, was to play an important role in the lives of the sons of the two Roosevelt presidents. Teddy's 4 boys fought first in WW I; Franklin's 4 in WW II. All eight had distinguished records. In other pursuits, in peaceful times, they were to know varying degress of failure; some aspired, all failed, to duplicate the political success of their fathers. But in wartime, when raw courage is a most highly prized human quality, all were successful. Quentin, having been praised for his fighting conduct, replied for all the Roosevelts. "Well you know", he said, "it's rather upt to us to practice what father preaches."
The Oyster Bay Roosevelts looked upon the WWI as a personal contest. Even before America entered the war, Kermit had enlisted in the British army and was fighting in Mesopotamia; Ethel and her husband, Dr. Richard Derby, were serving at the American Ambulance Hospital in Paris; Ted, Archie, and Quentin were training at Plattsburg. All of them saw action later in France, as did Ted's wife, Eleanor, who was the first woman sent to the war area by the Y.M.C.A. All, including the women, were to receive a bevy of decorations, including the Military Cross of Great Britain, the War cross of Montenegro, the French Legion of Honor, the Distinguised Service Medal, and the Distinguished Service Cross. Archie was wounded so badly that he was judged to be one hundred per cent disabled; Ted was both gassed and wounded; Quentin, the baby of the family, lost his life.
The "Peck's Bad oy" of the White House days had grown up to be an impish-looking young man with his father's gift for unlimited enthusiasms. He was engaged to Flora Payne Whitney, granddaughter of the traction magnate who had been Cleveland's Secretary of the Navy. They wanted to get married in France, but the War Department refused to waive its ban against fiancees going overseas. On July 11, 1918, flying in a Nieuport, Quentin shot down his first German plane. Three days later, on Bastille Day, he was shot down. The German communique read: "Lieutnant Roosevelt, who had shown conspicious bravery during the fight by attacking again and again without regard to danger, was shot in the head by his more expppierienced opponent and fell at Chamery." Wrote his father: "Only those are fit to live who do not fear to die; and none are fit to die who have shrunk from the joy of life. Both life and death are part of the same Great Adventure ..."
If Theodore Roosevelt failed to pass on to his sons the full bundle of traits that made him such a skillful politician, he did instill in them his devouring restlestness. The former President took Kermit with him to Africa in 1909, and wrote home with obvious pride that the boy's "keenness, cool nerve, horsemanship, hardihood, endurance, and good eyesight make hi a really good wilderness hunter. The adventurous father and son also explored the Brazilian jungles, where they discovered the "River of Doubt." In 1914 Kermit married Belle Willard, daughter of the American ambassador to Spain. The bride came from an interesting family. Her grandmother was Antonia Ford of Fairfax Court House, Virginia, whose dark hair, long eyelashes, slightly tilted nose, and full lips gave her a provocative prettiness which she was to emplooy to advantage as a Confederate spy. Jeb Stuart thought so highly of her daring that he commisioned her an "honorary aide-de-camp." And the leader of Mosby's rangers, probably acting on information supplied by Antonia, was able to capture Union General Edwin Stoughton from his peaceful bed in Yankee-held Fairfax. Antonia was finally trapped by a woman counterspy. The Union officer who then came to arrest her was Major Joseph C. Willard. The ingenious Miss Ford married him!" Kermit Roosevelt and his Willard wife lived in New York, where he entered the steamship business, eventually becoming a vice-president of the United States Line and an explorer of some note. But his lifetime interest in politics was nil.
The politician was to be his brother, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. A reporter for the St. Loouis Globe-Democrat wrote in 1898, "There is a popular impression at Oyster Bay that little Teddy was close to forty when he was born." In physical traits and mannerisms the serious youth closely resembled his father, who expected more from the eldest son that from the other children -an added burden which almost caused a nervous breakdown at one time. When he was 14 Ted solemnly told an old man at Oyster Bay, "I will always be honest and upright, and I do hope some day to be a great soldier, but I will always spoken of as Theodore Roosevelt's son." In the trenches of France Ted first proved himself to be a great soldier. As the former President lay dying, Ted' wife told him, "You know, Father, Ted has always worried for fear he would not be worthy of you." Worthy of me?" replied the old warrior. "Darling, I am so very proud of him. He has won high honor not only for his children, but, like the Chinese, he has ennobled his ancestors ... my war was a bow-and-arrow affair compared to Ted's, and no one knows this better than I do."
There was a possibility that the Republican dandidate for governor of New York in 1918 would be Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., and that his Democratic opponent would be Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The contest never materialized, but it marked the opening skirmish in the jockeying between these two men with but a single name to give to their country. Ted ran for the state Assembly from Nassau County in 1919. His opponent, a tailor's son, sarcastically recalling T.R.'s famous phrase, said, "My hat's in the ring too -and it is not my fathers. Roosevelt was overwhelmingly elected; his only election victory in a lifetime of politics. As a freshman legislator his most courageous act was to oppose the expulsion of five Socialist assemblymen. His speech was followed by Speaker Sweet, reading passages from the writings of the senior T.R. in order to contrast the Americanism of the fathers with the un-Americanism of the son.
President Harding appointed young Ted to the position of Assistant Secretary of the Navy, the family's proving ground. One admiral groaned, "I have had to stand 2 Roosevelts -I cannot stand another!" But the post was not a stepping-stone to greater glory for Ted as i had been for T.R. and F.D.R. During his tenure control over the Teapot Dome oil reserves was transferred from the Navy Department to the Department of the Interior. Roosevelt opposed the action but faithfully carried the executive order to the White House. A conservationist watchdog named Henry Slattery had warned him that the Interior Secretary Fall would turn over the oil to private interests. Roosevelt threw Slattery out of his office. Didn't he know that Fall had been one of his father's Rough Riders, hence sanctified? Fall gave Harry Sinclair the exclusive right to extract oil and gas from Teapot Dome. In the meantime Archie Roosevelt, for whom Ted had got a vice-presidency in one of the Sinclair companies, heard that the oilmain had paid Fall $68,000. Archie resigned his position and came to Washington to restify before a congressional committee. He was followed as a witness by Sinclair's secretary, who said that his boss had sent Fall "six or eight cows." Perhaps Archie had mistakenly heard "68 thou." (In 1929 Fall was imprisoned for having received a $100,000 payoff from oilmen Sinclair and Doheny). Assistant Secretary of the Navy Roosevelt's honesty was never in question, but, said the New York World, "he was too dull or too lazy to accept responsibility of high office. He went about the routine of his work asking no questions that were impolite, 'getting to people to bring the answers', and signing when and where they told him the document still needed ink."
Somewhat tarnished, young Ted continued to pold along his father's political path. He had now been assemblyman and Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Next step would be governor of New York. (He was succeeded in the Navy Department by his first cousin, Theodore Douglas Robinson.) But Ted's opponent in 1924 was popular incument Alfred E. Smith, and Eleanor Roosevelt, the "maverick's" wife, seconded the governor's renomination. "Of course he will win!" she told the cheering delegates. "How could he help it, when the Republican convention yesterday (by choosing T.R., Jr.) did all it could to help him?" With her husband now a cripple, Eleanor was fast learning to do the politicking for the family. She had a frame built to resemble a teapot mounted on her car -it spouted real steam- and with her daughter Anna at her side she set out to remind the voters of the recent scandal that had implicated her first cousin. "In the thick of political fights one always feels that all methods of campaigning that are honest are fair," she later wrote, "but I do think now that this was a rough stunt and I never blamed my cousin when he retaliated in later campaigns against my husband." Roosevelt lost by 108,000 running nearly one million votes behind his party's presidential candidate, Calvin Coolidge. The defeat marked the end of Ted's chances for an electrive career; it also laid the groundwork for the reappearance of Franklin D. Roosevelt four years later.
Ted, however, continued in politics by presidential appointment. Hoover named him governor of Puerto Rico and then governor general of the Philippine Islands. In both posts he proved himself an able administrator. He was in the Philippines when the news arrived that F.D.R. had been elected President. A reporter watned to know what relation he was to the new chief executive. Ted answered: "Fifth cousin about to be removed." (Another who bore the same relationship, Nicholas Roosevelt, submitted his resignation as U.S. minister to Hungary, it was promptly accepted by Cousin Franklin.
The Oyster Bay Roosevelts had been nearly unanimous in opposition to F.D.R. Alice even broke her lifelong rule against campaigning in order to alert the nation to the danger of electing her cousin. The one exception was Corinne Robinson, T.R.'s sister. She was a minor poet, the author of five volumes*, (
*Corinne Roosevelt Robinson's verse often attempted to defy her brother. In "Theodore Roosevelt, a Woman Speaks to His Sister," she wrote: I pressed amid the crowd To Touch his garment's hem, As one of old once touched The Man of Bethlehem." Also see "To my Brother," Service and Sacrifice (New York: Scribner's, 1919), pp. 24-27.) and something of a polition in her own right, having made a seconding speech for Leonard Wood at the 1920 Republican Convention. She alone refused to oppose Franklin. Since her niece Eleanor was so deeply involved in the outcome, she said she would have to remain silent. After F.D.R.'s election the Oyster Bay family became the "out-of-season" Roosevelts, as humorist Frank Sullivan put it. When he wasn't working for a publishing firm, Ted, often accompanied by Kermit, was off on big-game expeditions. Their most successful trip was to Asia where they shot the rare Ovis poli. You don't know what an Ovis poli is?" asked Will Rogers. "It is a political sheep. You hunt it between elections." But there were no more elections for Ted. In 1936 he announced that he would run again for governor "if the people wish it." Vox populi wasn't even a whisper.
"Princess Alice" also faded from the news after her husband Nick died in 1931. (Being a son-in-law of Theodore Roosevelt had not always been easy for Nicholas Longworth. In 1912 he refused to join T.R.'s bolt of the Republican Party and remained loyal to his fellow Cincinnatian, William Howard Taft.). Occasionally some isolated voice called for her election or appointment to office. A weekly paper in the Philippines suggested that she would make a good governor general of the islands; some North Dakotans boosted her as a GOP vice-presidential candidate in 1932; a group named Pioneer Association of Independent Voters, Inc., urged her to run for senator from Ohio in 1934. But the only post she ever accepted was a delegate pledged to Robert Taft at the 1936 convention. Alice was an excellent hater, but she had long ago forgiven William Howard Taft, and became rhapsodic over the ability of his eldest son. Being for Bob Taft she equated with being against Franklin D. Roosevelt. In a 1940 magazine article, she wrote, "I am for Bob Taft because I do not yearn any longer for the man who is always on his toes, waving his hat, raising his voice, 'raring to go here, there, anywhere." Her fame rested on her quick wit; correctly or not, she was credited with almost every great political bon mot of the 20th century. Calvin Coolidge: "He must have been weaned on a pickle" Wendell Wilkie: "He sprang from the grassroots of the country clubs of America." Thomas Dewey: " How can anyone vote for a man who looks like a bridegroom on a wedding cake?" After cousin Eleanor started "My Day", Alice also became a newspaper columnist. But somehow her sparkling sayings evaporated like cotton candy when set down in type; the venture died in a few months.
After years of being pace-setters, the Oyster Bay Roosevelts now seemed to have been left behind. In 1936, when F.D.R. was winning the greatest electoral victory in modern
The result was that he lost his seat in Congress. Later he told a Boston audience, "May I suggest to any of you who may have ambitions to go to Congress, to see to it that, in the same campaign your most eminent constituent is not contesting the Presidency with your father-in-law." See Reception and Dinner in Honro of the Fifty-Sixth Birthday of Augustus Peabody Gardner, a Pioneer for Preparedness, by the Roosevelt Club, Hotel Westminster, Boston, November 5, 1921 (Boston, 1921) pp. 23-24. Longworth was again elected to the House of Representatives in 1914 and served until his death. He was made Majority Leader in 1923 und Speaker in 1925. In 1928 Longworth told the Hamilton County Republican Committee that he was a candidate for the presidential nomination. The strategy he outlines was to kill off Herbert Hoover's chances with favorite son candidates. But Hoover's strength, even in Ohio, was too great, and he was easily nominated. See Charles P. Taft, City Management, the Cincinnati Experiment (New York: Farrar & Rinehart, 1933), p. 162. The Longworths' only child, Pauline (1926-1957), married Alexander McCormick Sturm in 1944. The bridegroom had written and illustrated two children's books by the time he entered colle -one, The Problem Fox (New York: Scribner's, 1941), tells a charming tale of an intellectual named August, who also happens to be a fox. Sturm died after a long illness at the age of twenty-eight; his widow committed suicide six years later. They had one child. See New York Times, August 27, 1944, p. 30 and January 28, 1957, p. 23.
American history, T.R.'s wife came out of retirement to announce that the New Deal was "incompatible with our American democracry and liberty." And Archie, in recent years, has added the family name to many ultra-rightist causes. As a trustee of the Veritas Foundation he is a leader among those seeking to roo out subversion at Havard. He also sent a letter to every U.S. senator, stating, "...modern technical civilization does not seem to be as well handled by the black man as by the white man in the United States." Present civil rights difficulties he blamed on "socialistic plotters." Only the apolitical Kermit remained on good terms with F.D.R., and they were often seen yachting together. His wife and daughter were the only members of the Oyster Bay clan ever to have given election endorsements to their Hyde Park cousin. (Kermit and Belle Roosevelt voted for F.D.R.in 1940 but were not active in the campaign. Four years later Mrs. Roosevelt joined the Women's Division of the Democratic National Committee, and her daughter Clochette, the wife of John G. Palfrey, became the head of Service Men's Wives to Re-elect Roosevelt. Interview with Mrs. John G. Palfrey, October 2, 1964). In 1964, as if in answer to her brother-in-law's activities, Mrs. Kermit Roosevelt signed a full page ad which appeared in leading newspapers. It was entitled, "Six Reasons Why You Should Worry About Extremism." But F.D.R. did not have to worry about jibes from T.R.'s children - he had enough problems with his own. In her autobiography Eleanor Roosevelt gives an almost embarassingly frank account of life within the Hyde Park dynasty. Above the five children in the family hierarchy there were three potential sources of authority - father, mother, and grandmother. F.D.R. thought his children should make their own decisions and their own mistakes; an attitude, his wife felt, which "came very largely from the fact that his mother had wanted to direct his every thought and deed and that he had had to fight for independence." He was also a preoccupied man. During his children's formative years it was a private preoccupation; he was fighting for his health and was away from the family for long periods. Later it was a public preoccupation. "As Franklin became busier in his public life," his wife records, "he found it impossible to take time for the boys' interests, which kept them from asking for advice they might have sought quite naturally had he been freer to give it." The Roosevelt boys depply resented having to make appointments to see their presidential father. Later, when they had political careers of their own, the sons went to great lenghts to paint a much closer, more filial picture of life with Father. Yet in an unguarded moment Franklin, Jr., told an interviewer: "It might strike you as strange, but I spent relatively little time with father. The longest period I spent with him was an unforgettable 5 weeks in July, 1934. It was on a cruise ... I think that was the only time in my life that I was ever with father for such a long period."
Eleanor Roosevelt shared her husband's problem of not being able to spend as much time with her children as she might have desired. For she too was a major public figure. Besides writing a daily newspaper column, a weekly radio program, and a monthly magazine column, the indefatigable Eleanor was serving as White House hostess, conducting a voluminous correspondence, making frequent lecture tours, partly running a furniture factory, and acting as the President's eyes and ears on fact-finding trips at home and abroad. Where the First Lady would turn up next became a question of some amusement to the American people. One of the most famous cartoons ever published by The New Yorker pictured the bottom of a coal mine: Says one grimy miner to another: "For gosh sakes, here comes Mrs. Roosevelt!" Eleanor had waged a valiant fight for this emancipation, not only against the domination of her mother-in-law, but also against the painfully shy defenses she had erected during an unhappy childhood. Her personal independence had a sanctity that comes only when it is earned in combat. She was determined that her children should have it by right, and she went to extremes to assure them that she was "not in any way trying to control or interfere with their lives ..." "I probably carried this theory too far", she later admitted. And then there was grandmother. Sara Delano Roosevelt was too much the lady to show her distaste for politics. All tyose disagreeable people that Franklin kept bringing to Hyde Park! However, when Huey Long came to lunch she could not resist saying in a stage whisper, "Who is that dreadful person sitting next to my son?" Political life had caused her son to grow apart from her, but it renewed her determination to keep her grandchildren under her influence. She spoiled them with gifts, expensive cars, and other lavish tokens of her affection. The boys, who had the Roosevelt charm and cunning, quickly realized that Grandmother was the exploitable avenue to anything that might otherwise be denied them. Only John, the youngest, a quieter and much conservative child, made few demands.
The Roosevelt boys seemed to drift through the White House Years on a steady stream of deplorable publicity. There were innummerable speeding tickets, traffic accidents, divorces, and smashed photographers' cameras. The mayor of Cannes, France, even claimed that a young Roosevelt had dumped contents of a champagne bottle on his head. After one night club ruckus the New York Times, with tongue in cheek, editorialized that what this really showed was that F.D.R. had no dictatorial ambitions. For if he had, "Instead of offering to punch his father's critic on the nose, Elliott Roosevelt would coldly bide his time and then have the offender interred or shot as soon as Elliot's father had made himself dictator in America." The young men complained bitterly to their mother of the unfairness of it all. She spent hours trying to explain that being sons of a President also had compensations. "Even as I talked", she was to recall, "I knew I might as well save my breath to cool my porridge ... "
The business careers of F.D.R.'s children during their father's years as President also showed a marked insensitivity to their position or the family reputation. They were offered lucrative jobs, far above normal expectations, and they accepted without question. Elliott and Anna went to work for William Randolph Hearst, the vitriolic critic of their father. Jimmy, a tyro insurance broker in Boston, was soon a specialist in life, fire, marine, air, and group insurance. "The insurance fraternity", wrote Alva Johnston in 1938 "is as startled ... as the medical fraternity would be if a youngster who had never attended a medical school suddenly turned out to be America's greatest specialist in the eye, near, nose and throat, in abdominal and pulmonary surgery, in obstetrics, pediatrics, and chiropody." Johnston also claimed that Jimmy's income was between $250,000 and $2,000,000 a year, and that the President's son had got Joseph P. Kennedy appointed as ambassador to Great Britain in return for help in soliciting insurance. (Kennedy told the press, "... it is a comlete, unadulterated lllie." Jimmy's answer was contained in an interview with Walter Davenport. He told how, right out of Harvard, he had been paid $15,000 a year by an insurance firm. "I was not being kidded," he admitted, "I knew perfectly well that they were paying me for the name and any value the name might have." Later he went into business for himself. "Sure I got into places I never would have if I was not the son of the President." But photostats of his tax returns for the five preceeding years showed that his total taxable income was only $170,000. The public was left with the impression that, while Johnston had grossly exaggerated, young Jimmy had still done exceedingly well during the depth of a national depression. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, in a four-line editorial, summed up: "Advice to Young Men: To make a sure-fire success in the insurance business, and thereby gain a competence on which to enter public life and serve your fellow men, get your father elected President of the United States."
The President was relatively scrupulous about giving public positions to relatives, although he could not resist appointing a Roosevelt as Assistant Secretary of the Navey - a "family tradition," he said. The fifth member of the dynasty to hold the post was Henry Latrobe Roosevelt, European representative for RCA and a great-grandson of the steamboat inventor. Other relatives who received apointments: David Gray, Eleanore's uncle by marriage, was named minister to Ireland; First Cousin Warren Delano Robbins, who had been Hoover's chief of protocol, was made minister to Canada; Cousin Preston Delano, comptroller of the currency; and former minister to Hungary Nicholas Roosevelt came back into government for a short time as deputy director of the Office of War Information. All were well qualified.
The only member of the President's immediate family to be put on the public payroll (at $10,000 a year) was son Jimmy, who was made a White House aide over strong protests from Eleanor. The maternal objections were stilled when F.D.R. asked her, "Why should I be deprived of my eldest son's help and of the pleasure of having him with me just because I am the President?" Jimmy was active in Massachusetts politics where he had formed an alliance with James Curley. The New York Times said "it was no secret that he wanted to enter the race for governor of Massachusetts in 1936," although at that time he would have been only 28 years old. Two years later 100,000 persons signed a petition urging him to run for lieutenant governor. Clearly, as the press proclaimed, Jimmy was the" Crown Prince." How well he performed as a presidential aide is open to question. Arthur Krock thought him a success; James MacGregor Burns thought him a failure who was undermining congressional relations. After less than a year his health broke. When the "insurance scandal" hit the headlines, Jimmy was at Mayo Clinic being operated on for a bleeding ulcer. He never returned to his White House post. Instead he went to Hollywood to become the producer of a film called Pot o' Gold; perhaps the worst movie ever made, he later claimed.
Elliotts political career was no less stormy. He dabbled in Texas politics after Hearst sent him to the Lone Star State as manager of his radio interests. He was made vice-chairman of the Young Democrats but resigned after protests that he had not earned the honor: he was appointed to the board of Texas A&M by a governor who then received a federal judgeship, causing some reporters to believe that Elliott was being groomed for lieutenant governor or governor. Before long he was in the thick of anti-New Deal plots. He told a radio audience that he hoped F.D.R. wouldn't run for a third term, and was promptly taken to task in an open letter by his brother-in law John Boettiger (Anna's second husband). As a member of the Texas delegation tothe 1940 convention, Elliott voted under the unit rule against his father's renomination. All of the Roosevelt children married young. This, thought their mother, was "largely because they were not really rooted in any particular home and were seeking to establish homes of their own. All except one were also divorced young. Among F.D.R.'s four sons and a daughter there have been fifteen marriages, ten divorces - four while their father was President - and twenty children.* All their first marriages were into equally upper-crust families. (They were not always as pedigree-conscious in their subsequent matches.) Anna first married Curtis Dall, a Philadelphia stockbroker; Jimmy's initial wife was Betsey Cushing, daughter of an internationally famous brain surgeon. Elliott started his many walks to the altar with Elizabeth Donner, whose industrialist father developed the National Tinplate Works and the Union Steel Company; John wed Anne Clark of Nahant, Massachusetts, whose father is considered the founder of the investment counceling business in America. But it was the wedding on June 30, 1937, that bore the hallmark of Montague and Capulet. For Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jr., third son of a President who thundered against the "economic royalists", was marrying Ethel Du Pont, "a slim princess in gossamer white," whose great industrial family had contributed at least $364,630 to defeat the President the year before.
At the door to the Du Ponts' quaint stone church at Christiana Hundred, their principal social secretary inspected the invitation cards of social reformers and robber barons. Inside, the household servants looked down from the choir stall. Posted around the church were units of Delaware police, secret service, and 350 regular army troopers. Army engineers set up a field kitchen; a tent was turned into press headquarters with forty telegraph circuits and fifty operators. The Du Ponts' publicity man, hire to "assure authenticity," briefed the 150 reporters and photographers. After the ceremony, the newsmen were told, a reception for 1300 was held at the Tudor residence of the bride's parents. Eleanor Roosevelt left the receiving line to deliver her weekly radio broadcast. "I don't know whether to be happy or said," the First Lady told her national audience. "I can only give my impression that it was a very lovely wedding. I, for one, always am torn between the realization of the adventure that two young things are starting on and its possibilitied for good and bad.
*A sociologist considers that high divorce rate among the Roosevelt children to be part due to the fact that *old stock* (upper-class) Democrats "are still sociologically marginal; and sociological marginality often has to be paid for in various amounts of personal pathology." See E. Digby Baltzell, The Protestant Establishement (New York: Random House, 1964), pp. 308-9 n. James Roosevelt believes that the high divorce rate has been a factor of their devotion to politics, which has centered their lives outside the home. Only in more recent years, he says, have F.D.R.'s children realized the importance of home values. Interview with James Roosevelt, May 12, 1965. (This explanation, however, implies a high divorce rate among politicians as an occupational class, which is not the case.)
WWII did not completely push the Roosevelt sons out of the limelight. In the case of Elliott, the reverse was often the case. Elliott's military career began with his usual dogged determination to lead with his chin. In 1940 he was given a captaincy in the Army Air Corps. Huge buttons immediately sprouted all over the country bearing the slogan, "Poppa, I want to be a captain." Wiliam Allen White expressed his indignation in the Emporia Gazette: "... watch carefully during the enlistment period and see if the son of any other citizen of the United States, without military training, goes in as a captain." In 1945 Elliott was again in the news when it was revealed that three GI's had been bumped off a military plane to make room for his English bull mastiff, names Blaze. "We would not go so far as to say that the story of Elliott Roosevelt's dog has blanketed the news of the great Russian offensive," wrote the New York Herald Tribune, "but we venture to guess that as a subject of discussion from coast to coast it is a strong rival." The Blaze incident caught fire at a most unfortunate time for Colonel Roosevelt; his promotion to the rank of brigadier general had just been submitted to the Senate. Republican Senator Bushfield reminded his colleagues that before becoming a brigadier general Robert E. Lee had been in the army for thiry-six years, George Marshall for thirty-five, and Dwight Eisenhower for thirty. Democratic Senator Thomas, who had also done some hoework, replied that General Forrest had risen from lieutenant to lieutenant general in two years and General Sheridan from second lieutenant to lieutenant general in three years. With historical precedent on both sides, and with the Senate on the side of the Democrats, 34 year old Elliott Roosevelt, with four years of military experience, was made a brigadier general by a vote of fifty-three to eleven, thirty-one members abstaining.
The young general was a brave officer. As a photographic pilot from the tropics to the arctic, his was often the dangerous mission of flying as low as one hundred feet over the enemy targets in order to bring back close-up pictures. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for *heroism and extraordinary achievement.* Jimmy, still suffering from gastric ulcers, became a marine lieutenant colonel, second in command of the proud Carlson's Raiders. For seperate assaults on Makin Island he was given the Silver Star and the navy's second highest decoration, the Navy Cross. Franklin, Jr., became a navy lieutenant commander, in command of a destroyer escort, and won a Purple Heart and the Silver Star for exposing himself under fire in order to carry a critically wounded sailor to safety. John also became a lieutenant commander and received a Bronze Star for service as logistics officer for a carrier task group in the Pacific. Their combined service was a remarkable record of courage.
The World War II record of the 3 living sons of Theodore Roosevelt, however, was something more than remarkable -it was amazing, for they were not wellinto their middle years. Just as WWI, Kermit could not wait for America to enter combat. In 1939 he went to England and again became a British officer. A year later he resigned his commission to organize an international brigade against the Russions in Finland. But the Finns capitulated before he could get his 5000 volunteers into the field. Rejooining the British, he was sent to Norway and later to Cairo. After the U.S. declaration of war he became an American army major, took part in the first action against the Japanese in the Aleutians, and died there of natural causes in 1943.
Declared totally disabled after his service in WWI, Archie Roosevelt was again back in the army as a lieutenant colonel. His men considered him to have been largely responsible for the capture of Salamaua. Techniciak (5th grade) John Bertor of Coal City, Illinois, told a newspaper reporter of Roosevelt's daring tactics: "On the previous Wednesday, Colonel Roosevelt, with two officers and three enlisted men, made a reconnaissance tour of Salamaua Harbor. Under his orders we went close to the isthmus until Jap guns started firing at us ... Colonel Roosevelt stood up with a map in his hand and every time a gun fired jotted down its position. They fired at us for a half hour, barely missing us several times. The colonel noticed I was scared and said: "You are safe with me. I was wounded three times in the last war and tat's a lucky charm.'... The next day our artillery landed squarely in those guns and the Japs never fired them again." The enlisted man added, "Roosevelt is a good officer, but he's got too damn much guts." A year later, during the fighting on Biak Island, Archie was wounded by shrapnel. He may be the only American to have been discharged from borth WWI and WWII as 100% disabled in each case.
Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., the unsuccessful politician, was also in uniform before the Pearl Harbor attack as a brigadier general with his old WWI oooutfit, the 1st Infantry Division. Drew Middleton, recounting the division's exploits, said of its assistant commander: "He was a little man whose bravery had to be seen to be believed. He had an antique disregard for his personal safety and a great gift for holding men together. He never said, 'Go!' He said, 'Come!'... he sometimes scared orthodox West Pointers who are supicious of anything not included in the Academic's curriculum, but he was a great field officer." Ted and his son, Captain Quentin Roosevelt, fought side by side in North Africa, where they were both given the Silver Star for gallantry in action and the Croix de Guerre. The father died of a heart attack on the Normandy battlefield without knowing that Eisenhower had just signed an order placing him in command of a division. He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor (for heroism on D-Day) and a Bronze Star (for heroic action in Algeria), making him the recipient of every U.S. combat medal. On his death the New York Times wrote: " When he went about his division in England, no sooner would a band catch sight of him than it would strike up an American song called 'Old soldiers never die'. That was his piece, he used to say ... He will live in that collective memory that is history, Quentin, Kermit, Theodore dead; Archibald wounded ... here is a tradition of honor that cannot die. (T.R.'s grandsons also served with distinction. Willard Roosevelt, Kermit's son, was in command of a destroyer in the Pacific; his brother Dick, 1925-1953, was an ambulance driver with the British Eight Army in Italy. Archibald's son and namesake was an army offiicer in Africa and the Middle East. Quentin Roosevelt, 1918-1948, who fought alongside his father in North Africa and on the Normandy beach, later became vice-president of the Chinese National Airline Corp. In this capacity he participated in hazardous air drops to beleaguered Nationalist troops and died in a plane crash then miles east of Hong Kong.
President Theodore Roosevelt had 17 grandchildren, 9 girls and 8 boys. Four are now dead. Four have been divorced. The girls all married professional people - lawyers, doctors, architects, artists, writers, professors, government officials. One granddaughter is a novelist, another writes a newspaper column. The grandsons became business executives, engineers, government officials, musicians. Their lives form no discernible pattern. Rather they have gone off in all the directions that might be exptected of any randomly selected seventeen well-educated Americans, although they have shown a greater than average interst in the arts. None, however, has ever sought election to public office, and only has displayed more than a casual interest in politics. The only one of T.R.'s grandchildren to hold political office has been Theodore Roosevelt III, the general's son. He is an investment executive who served for several years as Pennsylvania's secretary of commerce. But Ethel Roosevelt Derby's daughter Edith, the wife of a Seattle attorney, has been very active in Washington State politics. She ran unsuccessfully for Republican national committeewoman and was co-chairman of the state's Scranton for President organization in 1964. At the 1970 Republican Convention she gave a seconding speech for Richard Nixon (along with F.D.R.'s son John and Bob Taft, Jr.). Her sister is married to Robert T. Gannett, a member of the Vermont House of Representatives for four terms, who was defeated for the Republican congressional nomination in 1960..
Most adventorous of the presidential grandchildren is Kermit Roosevelt,
Jr., called *Kim.* A soft voice and mild manner belie his cloak-and-dagger
career. As a Central Intelligence Agency operative, he directed the spectacular
1953 coup that overthrew Premier Mossadegh of Iran. There is even a legend
that Roosevelt led the revolt with his gun at the head of an Iranian tank
commander. (Shades, perhaps, of his great-grandmother, the Confederate
spy!) In another respect he has followed in the footloose steps of the
old Rough Rider. Kim Roosevelt went to East Africa in 1960 to retrace the
hunting expedition that father and grandfather had taken 51 years before.
While the burning desire for political office has nearly been extinguished in the grandchildren of the Oyster Bay President, it still glows among the heirs of T.R.'s siter Corinne. Her son Theodore Douglas Robinson, the former New York State legislator and Assistant Secretary of the Navy, announced his candidacy for Congress shortly before his death in 1934. And Corinne's son-in-law, Joseph Wright Alsop, severed in both houses of the Connecticut legislature, chaired the 1912 Bull Moose campaign in his state (T.R. called him a "big, brave, strong, good man of cound common sense ..."), and was Connecticut public utilities commissioner for 26 years. Two of the Alsop boys, Joseph and Stewart, became leading commentators on public affairs, a third son is a major figure in Connecticut Republican circles.
John Alsop, president of the Mutual Insurance Company of Hartford, was chairman of the Connecticut Citizens for Eisenhower Committee in 1952. He was credited with pinning the amiable political ephitet *egghead* on Adlai Stevenson. 6 years later he was an unsuccessful candidate for the gubernatorial nomination. As leader of old-line New England Republicanism in the state - "Brahmin" yet liberal in outlook, with a greater concern for issues and programs than for party organization and expansion - he captured the nomination or governor in 1962 i n one of the narrowest contests in Connecticut Republican annals. Then the convention rose in rebellion and defeated John Davis Lodge's bid for a senatorial nomination. (Some delegates were already wearing "Lodge-Alsop" buttons.) In the general election Alsop was defeated by incument Governor Dempsey.
F.D.R.'s children seemed to settle down after WWII; they claimed it was a maturing experience. Jimmy was back in the insurance business, and as California Democratic chairman was trying to rebuild his political fortune. While at Mayo Clinic he had fallen in love with his nurse, Romelle Schneider, whom he wished to marry. The President sent Harry Hopkins to dissuade him from getting a divorce; the son resented the intrusion. Now he and his second wife were living in Los Angeles with their 3 children. Franklin, Jr., was a lawyer in New York and was making a political reputation through his activities in the American Veteran's Committee. John, who had begun his merchandising career as an $18.50-a-week stockboy at Filene's in Boston, was a top executive of a women's wear chain. Anna and her husband had moved to Phoenix to start a daily newspaper. Looking over the dynasty two years after F.D.R.'s death, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., observered: "The Roosevelt family is obviously not a spent force in American political life. In 10 years - maybe sooner - two of the most important states might have Roosevelts as governors. In a third state a Roosevelt-owned newspaper might become a big political factor." (The New York Daily News went one step further and began to worry that F.D.R., Jr., might someday become President. The New Yorker (April 27, 1946, p. 18), which was not particularly concerned, commented, "... it is as plain as the nose on Captain Patterson's face that young Roosevelt was named Franklin D., Jr., in order to give him the jump in the Electoral College.")
Only Elliott hadn't yet found himself. He was living at Hyde Park with his third wife, actress Faye Emerson, and was trying to "make Christians out of Christmas tree dealers," by underselling them in the Manhattan market. "Let him sell his shrunk spruce", snorted a competitor, "but the buyers will be getting stung - unless they like their needles on the floor instead of on the tree." He also published a book about F.D.R., As He Saw It. Although printed in 17 languages, and a bestseller in the United States and Europe, its revelations left the family amazed. It was full of imaginary quotations (for the sake of readability, he explained), and was so methodically pro-Russian and anti-British that some believed it had been rewritten by a Communist editor. Pravda singled Elliott out as a "sincere friend of the Soviet Union." But the London Daily Mirror contended, "The book proves nothing except that great men often have silly sons."
The first step toward the realization of Schlesinger's prediction took place in 1949 when Franklin, Jr., ran for Congress. New York's Twentieth District was in ideal launching pad for a son of F.D.R. It covered the upper West Side of Manhattan and was largely Jewish in population. The young candidate, however, had several liabilities; in the middle of the campaign his wife, the former Ethel DuPont, flew to Reno for a divorce; (The Roosevelts had two sons, Christopher and Franklin III. In 1950 Ethel DuPont Roosevelt married Benjamin S. Warren, Sr., a socially prominent Detroit lawyer. She committed suicide in 1965. See New York Times, May 26, 1965, pp. 1 and 26. Franklin, Jr.'s second wife is tall, blond Suzanne Perrin of an upper-crust New York family. They were married in 1949 and now have two daughters.) Tammany, feeling that the second F.D.R. had not earned the nomination, put up its own "Regular Democratic" candidate; and Roosevelt was a "carpetbeggar," living on an estate in fashionable Woodbury, Long Island. "Do you want a congressman," asked his opponents, "or a Master of the Foxhounds?" On the other hand, he had one considerable asset - a striking physical resemblance to his father. All the sons were inches above six feet, but Frank also had the famous toothy smile, with deep clefts in his rounded cheeks, and the blue-gray eyes. His features were somewhat heavier than his father's had been at the same age, and his jaw was not quite as determined, but there could be no doubt of his ancestry. He even smoked cigarettes with the same cheek-sucking grimace. Both Frank and Jimmy spoke like their father, to the degree that detractors claimed they had studied recording of F.D.R., inflection and mannerisms; Frank, however, was apt to spice his talk with New York City slang. On May 17, 1949, the assets far outweighed the liabilities. Frank received almost as many votes as his three opponents combined. When the results came into his headquarters at the Greystone Hotel, voices in the jubilant crowd were heard to shout: "Next stop, Albany!" The next governor of New York!" And even, "White House, there is a knock on your door." The first of F.D.R.'s sons to seek elective office was on his way.
But as the dynasty took one step forward it slipped two to the rear. First Anna's Arizona paper went bankrupt*, them Jimmy took on Earl Warren, California's all-time champiion vote-getter, for the governorship in 1950. Jimmy had sufficiency of his father's charm but little of his sense of political timing. In 1948, as Democratic National Committeeman, he had not only omitted Truman's name from a Jackson Day speech but had actually given a boost to Eisenhower for the presidency. With some fast running, however, he managed to get back on the Truman bandwagon. Jimmy was also discovering that there was a "Roosevelt backlash" in California. Some felt he was being propoelled too much by the steam of another generation. A comedian at a San Francisco night club gave an imitation of Jimmy making a speech that began: "My fr-r-iends - I mean my father's fr-r-iends ..." And Eleanor Roosevelt did not help matters by campaigning for her son. In one speech she said that Jimmy's fine education and White House experience fitted him admirably "to lead California in the ways of democracy." Not feeling that it needed civics instruction, California re-elected Warren by over a million votes. Despite his grueling campaign schedule, Jimmy had taken the worst drubbing ever given to a major nominee for governor in the state, and had had to borrow $100,000 from his mother to pay his electioneering obligations.
*Anna Rossevelt's first marriage to Curtis Dall ended in divorce in
1934. (He is now an ultra-light-rightist spokesman and president of the
Liberty Lobby, a self-styled "pressure group for patriotism," which opposes
foreign aid, wishes to abolish the income tax, and would like to get the
U.S. out of the UN. See Arnold Forster and Benjamin R. Epstein, Danger
on the Right (New York: Random House, 1964), p. 226). She then moved
into the White House with her two small children. For their entertainment
she wrote Scamper, the Bunny Who Went to the White House (New York:
Macmillan, 1934) and Scamper's Christmas, More About the White House
Bunny (New York: Macmillan, 1934.) In 1935 she married John Boettiger,
White House correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. They moved to
Seattle when he became publisher of the Post Intelligencer and she
was made editor of its woman's page. While he was in the army Anna again
lived in the White House. After the war they founded a newspaper in Phoenix,
the Arizona Times.
A Roosevelt who was not calculated in the dynasty's political equation unexpectedly entered the whirl in 1952 by campaigning across the country for Dwight Eisenhower. John Roosevelt was the youngest son, the talles son, the quietest son, and the Republican son. He and his first wife lieved in the social milieu that Rossevelts always known before Teddy dramatically changed the course of thefamily's history. They had a cottage on the Hyde Park estates, and appartements in Manhattan, "partly for business," on Park Avenue and Sutton Place. John and Anne Clark Roosevelt got a Mexican divorce in 1965 after 28 years of marriage. They had 4 children, one of whom, a 13 year-old daughter, died in 1960 als the rulst of a horseback-riding accident. He subsequently married Mrs. Irene Boyd McAlpin, daughter of the president of the Commercial Chemical Company of Memphis and a great-granddaughter of the founder of Chattanooga. Mr. Roosevelt is now a senior vice-president of Bache & Co. Over the years John had proved himself to be an entrepreneur of some scope. He was president of 4711, Ltd., distributor of colognes, soaps, and a hair lacquer; vice-president of Lee Pharmacal Co., producers of a home permanent called Shadow Wave; presidnet of McKay-Davis Chemical Corp., packager of pills and powders in cellophane; vice-president of a Pasadena construction Co.; and a partner in a company that packages automotive parts. In 1953 President Eisenhower put him on a commitee to fight discrimination in plants working on government contracts, and in 1957 there was some talk of him as Republican candidate for mayor of New York. But public service as a vocation never tempted him, and he preferred toremain the amateur in politics.
When Jimmy ran for governor, after Frank's election to Congress, some gagster observed that the brothers were harmonizing on the old ballad, "You take the high road and I'll take the low road, and I'll be in the White House before you." Although Jimmy met an impasse, by 1954 he was back again in high gear. A congressman was vacating a safe Democratic seat and Jimmy announced his candidacy. It was a lower-class district extending from central Los Angeles to the ocean and inhabited largely by minority groups. Jimmy lived in upper-class Pasadena, but this wwasn't a problem since neither of the two preceding representatives had resided among their constituents. The problem was that Romelle Roosevelt chose this time to seek a divorce. The proceedings, rather than involving an unsoild separation, were salacious enough to create national headlines. Then when the divorce was granted Roosevelt married his secretary. (James Roosevelt first married 1930 Betsey Cushing, divorced 1940, two daughters; married second 1941 Romelle Schneider, divorced 1955, three children; married third 1956 Gladys Irene Owens, no issue.) Despite the scandal, Jimmy won the primary and general election overwhelmingly.
Yet it was not fated for Representative James Roosevelt (D,Cal) to serve in the Congress with Representative Franklin Roosevelt, Jr. (D,NY). The new York congressman had other plans in 1954. He wished to be governor. During his 5 years in the House, F.D.R., Jr., compiled a deplorable absentee record and an almost perfect liberal-labor voting record. Still the liberals remained uneady about the strength of his convictions. To this, Roosevelt replied, "I've never been an egghead liberal. The trouble with the doctrinaire liberals is that hey mistake dogma for conviction." His congressional colleagues found him to be smart and charming, but slipshod on his homework and often not around when they needed him. Frank was determined to change his image as he set out to become the Democratic guernatorial candidate. He lost weight, gathered a team of skilled brain trusters, applied himself to mastering the issues, and put on a strenous campaign. By early September his Alsop cousins, Joseph and Stewart, reported, "... it is generally believed that Roosevelt is an odds-on bet for the nomination." But the convention turned instead to Averell Harriman and, as a consolation prize, gave Frank the nomination for state attorney general. Just as Jimmy had had the misfortune of being matched against Earl Warren, so had circumstances now put Frank in the same drawing with Jacob K. Javits. The combination of Tammany's enmity and Javits' popularity produced a sizable defeat for Roosevelt at the same time that Harriman was winning by a razor-thin-margin. "As of November 1954", Frank said later, "I considered my political career to have been terminated by the success of my friend, Senator Javits ..."
He was unduly pessimistic. For, as the Alsops wrote, "The fact is that
Roosevelt takes politics as easily as the offspring of the European families
of acrobats take to the high wires." Frank's year in political limbo were
spent as a Washington-based distributor for Fiat automobiles and as a representative
for Dictator Trujilo of the Dominican Republic. Then in 1960 he found that
the presidential candidacy of ohn F. Kennedy provided an opportunity to
re-enter politics. Nearly half a century before, when Franklin D. Roosevelt
was Assistant Secretary of the Navy and Joseph P. Kennedy was an assistant
general manager of Bethlehem Ship, an alliance had been struck between
the two dynasties. Though a sometimes stormy relationship, both families
had reaped profits. Now young Roosevelt came to the aid of young Kennedy
in the critical West Virginia primary. (The Kennedy forces had a letter
from F.D.R., Jr., to the voters of West Virginia shipped to Hyde Park for
posting, although young Roosevelt had not lived their in years. Presumably,
it was felt, the Hyde Park address would underline the Roosevelt endorsement.
The cost of the mailing was $12,880. See Stewart Alsop, "Kennedy's Magic
Formula," Saturday Evening Post, August 13, 1960, p. 60)
*Mrs. Roosevelt also opposed Kennedy's bid for the 1956 vice-presidential nomination. In 1958 she described Jack Kennedy as "someone who understands what courage is and admires it, but has not quite the independence to have it." Even after he became the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party, Mrs. Roosevelt's endorsement was halfhearted and patronizing. She suggested that he lean on Adlai Stevenson's "more judicial and reflective type of mind." See Richard J. Whalen, The Founding Father: The Story of Joseph P. Kennedy (New York: New American Library, 1964), p. 449; Victor Lasky, J.F.K., the Man and the Myth (New York: Macmillan, 1963), pp. 415-16.
It took 2 years for Kennedy to repay the campaign debt. There was talk that a proposed Roosevelt appointment as Secretary of the Navy had been vetoed by Secretary of Defense McNamara, and that Roosevelt had rejected the ambassadorship to Italy. Finally, in February 1963, he was named Under Secretary of Commerce amidst howls from the political left and right. "Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., is an amiable politician who happened to help President Kennedy win the Democratic nomination in 1960" wrote the Washington Post, "If he has other qualifications... they are indeed hard to discover." The next day the Post's cartoonist, Herblock, pictured Roosevelt sitting on a pile of Trujillo money. The caption had him saying, "I am broadminded - I am just as willing to work for a democracy." Before approving the nomination, Republicans on the Senate Commerce Committee put the appointee through three grueling days of cross-examination. His services for Trujillo came in for careful scrutiny, as did charges by his former partner in the automobile agency that Roosevelt had conspired to force him out of the business. He was also questioned about a recent suspension of his driving license. "... does it not suggest a pattern," asked Senator Prouty, "or perhaps a public-be-damned attitude with respect to your use of city streets and highways?"
The Roosevelts kept bobbing up in politics throughout 1964. In February, after losing the endosement of the California Democratic Council, Jimm announced that he would not be a candiate for the Senate; the New York Times reported in March that F.D.R., Jr., was weighing the possibility of a race for governor of New York in 1966; in May Elliott was elected Democratic National Committeeman from Florida; an Illinois congressman proposed in June that Franklin should be President Johnson's running mate ("Roosevelt," wrote United Press International, "agreed to agree with the suggestion"); also in June Jimmy's son-in-law was defeated in a New York congressional primary.* By the fall Jimmy could be found campaigning in central Alaska. Elliott was making speeches in Kentucky. Frank followed Barry Goldwater around the country as a one-man "truth squad." Even John, the Republican, had his hand in politics; an advertisement in the New York Times proclaimed, "I resent Robert Kennedy's using my mother's name for his selfish ends." - John Roosevelt. If the 1964 pace was brisk, 1965's was of whirlwind proportions.
Jimmy, bald and 57, ran for mayor of Los Angeles. His opponents charged that he was merely trying to position himself for another assault on the Governor's Mansion. Jimmy answered that this was not so and pledged to serve a full 4 year term. The issue became highly hypothetical when the voters soundly rejected Roosevelt in April. The mayoralty race, however, may have had something to do with his subsequent appointment as U.S. representative to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. Wrote columnist Joseph Kraft, "Congressman James Roosevelt ... seems to be in the (UN) delegation as the price exacted by a political rival, Mayor Samuel Yorty of Los Angeles, in return for accepting Federal mediation between the rebellious Negro community of Watts and the Los Angeles authorities." The official explanation was that Roosevelt's familiarity with Capitol Hill would be useful in winning congressional support for the UN. At any rate, in September Jimmy resigned his seat in Congress to take up duties that his mother had once performed so well.
Elliott had also a hat in the ring furing 1965. He announced his candidacy for the part-time, $3000-a-year post of mayor of Miami Beach, the sunny city o 70,000 permanent residents and 32,000 hotel rooms. The peripatetic Roosevelt had formerly been a resident of New York, Texas, Colorado, and Minnesota. In 1963 he moved to Florida and started an import-export business. Now at 54, tall and crew-cut, he aimed his mayoralty campaign at Miami Beach's large population of retired people, many of whom lived on the Social Security initiated by his father. Moreover, there was little chance that the voters could forget his antecedents. His slogan proclaimed him "a man with a name Miami Beach can be proud of." Opponent Melvin Richard, the incumbent, was also distressed by Elliott's use of Elenor Roosevelt commemorative stamps on his campaign mailings (plus a stricker which read, "In a great tradition, elect Elliott Roosevelt"). Commented Rolfe Neill of the Miami Beach Sun, "The Richard forces can bellyache all they want, but if I had a mother with a postage stamp issued in her honor I'd use it on all my mail too." Richard had some more things to say about Elliott's five marriages.* But after Roosevelt's election Drew Pearson wrote,, "Elliott Roosevelt has had bad luck with some of his marriages, but his recent victory in winning the tough race to be Mayor of Miami Beach was due in partoto the loyalty, devotion and hard work of the present Mrs. Roosevelt." 2 weeks after he took office in June, a Washington reporter found Mayor Elliott at an all-day meeting of the City Council, ruling with "a firm hand, a loud voce and a ready gavel."
*Elliott Roosevelt first married 1932 Elizabeth Donner, divorced 1933, one son; married second 1933 Ruth Googins, divorced 1944, three children; married third 1944 Faye Emerson, divorced 1950, no issue; married fourth 1951 Mrs. Minnewa Bell Ross, divorced 1960, no issue, married fifth 1960 Mrs. Patricia Peabody Whitehead, no issue. Roosevelt's fourth wife was the daughter of a Southern oil millionaire and real estate developer, after whom Bell, California is named. (Her brother, Alphonso Bell, is now a Republican congressman from Los Angeles County.) The fifth Mrs. Roosevelt is related to Mrs. Marietta Peabody Tree, formerly of the U.S. delegation to the U.N.
Although Frank was still Under ecretary of Commerce, he spent much of winter, 1965, making speeches in New York State. When asked if this activity had anything to do with a race for governor, he replied, "I'd be rather silly not to be interested." Meanwhile, President Hohnson named him chairman of the new Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, which was empowered to enforce the controversial fair employment practices section of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Later he weighed the possibilities of entering the contest for mayor of New York City. But the finally told a press conference that his "greater obligation" was to remain in his present job. He declined to predict, whether this would also prevent him from seeking the governorship in 1966. This prompted columnist Jack Wilson to write, "Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr. says he won't run for mayor of New York. He hasn't decided yet what else he won't run for."
The Roosevelt dynasty bears some hallmarks of a political variant of "shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations." (Though the shirt sleeves have always had French cuffs.) The early Roosevelts, as Gerald Johnson points out, were "inteligent without genius, decent without saintliness, educated without erudition, not slothful in business, but not titans of industry. "If they escaped mediocrity, neither were they especially inspiring. Then suddenly, unexpectedly, the dynasty produced the two most personally exciting figures in the history of American politics.
The next generation suffered from the Famous Father Complex. Marked for the limelight too early, they lived in the long shadows cast by their presidential sires. Except on the battlefield, they seemed to view life as an unfortunate paradox: if they succeeded, it was because of their parentage; if they failed, it was their own fault. Particularly in the case of F.D.R.'s sons, some of their problems may have been just plain bad luck. (John F. Kennedy thought that if Franklin Roosevelt, Jr., had only secured the support of ammany boss De Sapio in 1954, he would have become the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, he would have won, and he would have been the 1960 presidential nominee.) Some of their problems began back in the childhood of their parents, creating attitudes over which they had no control. And some of their problems came from being "poor little rich boys." For the Roosevelts, accustomed to the trappings of wealth, are not a notably affluent lot, and there always has been a desperation about the sons' search for income. (As late as 1962, Congressman James Roosevelt was innocently implicated in a Maryland savings and loan scandal because he accepted the honorary presidency of an organization - a post that paid a mere $6000 a year.) Yet if there have been problems not of their own making, they also have not been above exploiting the name that they considered an encumbrance; thus, through their own actions, adding to the ancestral load that weighed them down. Others in the same category, notably the Tafts, bided their times, slowly built their reputation, and managed, to a large degree, to emerge as political figures in their own right. But the Roosevelt sons, even after they reached the United States Congress and other high offices, never cleanly cut the umbilical cord.
The heirs of T.R. have solved this problem by leaving politics, though not public service. It is still too early to tell whether F.D.R.'s grandchildren will follow the same course. They now range in age from early teens through early thirties. The only one to have so far opted for public service is the son of Anna Rossevelt's first marriage to Curtis Dall. He is now chief of the non-governmental organizations liaison section of the United Nations Public Information Department. Buzzie, as he was called around the White House in the thirties, is now known as Curtis Roosevelt, having legally changed his name in 1950. According to a friend, Curtis "tries ro project the Roosevelt charm. He is conscious and conscientious about having a Roosevelt background." He has been married three times.
By any standard other than that set by their father and greast-uncle,
F.D.R.'s sons would be judged successful politicians. At present, one holds
ambassadorial rank, one heads an important federal commission, and one
is mayor of the seventh largest city in his state. Harold Ickes once accused
Jimmy of having "no political ideals" and not being a liberal." But time
has proved him wrong. The Democratic sons have tried to perpetuate their
father's philosophy as they interpret it. Aboce all, and despite repeated
setbacks, they have persevered. F.D.R.'s children, now in middle age, feel
they have grown up.