Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jr.

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Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jr.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Jr.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 20th district
In office
May 17, 1949 – January 3, 1955
Preceded by Sol Bloom
Succeeded by Irwin D. Davidson
Personal details
Born (1914-08-17)August 17, 1914
Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada
Died August 17, 1988(1988-08-17) (aged 74)
Poughkeepsie, New York, U.S.
Political party Liberal Party
Democratic Party
  • Ethel du Pont
    (m. 1937–1949; divorced)
  • Suzanne Perrin
    (m. 1949–1970; divorced)
  • Felicia Schiff Warburg Sarnoff
    (m. 1970–1976; divorced)
  • Patricia Luisa Oakes
    (m. 1977–1981; divorced)
  • Linda McKay Stevenson Weicker
    (m. 1984–1988; his death)
Relations See Roosevelt family
Parents Franklin D. Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt
Alma mater Harvard College
University of Virginia School of Law
Profession lawyer, politician, businessman

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jr. (August 17, 1914 – August 17, 1988) was an American lawyer, politician, and businessman. He was a son of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. During World War II, Roosevelt also served as an officer in the United States Navy.

Personal life[edit]

Roosevelt was born at his parents' summer home at Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada—now a historic site. This made Roosevelt entitled to Canadian citizenship, in addition to being an American citizen, although it is unknown if he ever exercised any of the prerogatives of Canadian citizenship. A brother of the same name had died in infancy in November 1909, having lived only several months.

As a young man in 1936, he contracted a streptococcal throat infection and developed life-threatening complications. His successful treatment with Prontosil, the first commercially available sulfonamide drug, avoided a risky surgical procedure which the White House medical staff had considered, and the subsequent headlines in The New York Times and other prominent newspapers heralded the start of the era of antibacterial chemotherapy in the United States.[1]

While not nearly as scandal-prone as his elder brothers James and Elliott, Franklin Jr. was in frequent and highly publicized legal trouble, mostly for traffic violations, and once in 1934 the president had to pay a $4,500 judgment for him after an injury-accident.[2]

He was married five times, including to Ethel du Pont (1916–1965) of the du Pont family. The couple married on June 30, 1937, and had two sons:

The couple separated and formally divorced in 1949. Ethel du Pont later committed suicide at the age of 49, on May 25, 1965.

On August 31, 1949, he married Suzanne Perrin (born May 2, 1921), he had two daughters before they divorced in 1970:

  • Nancy Suzanne Roosevelt (born January 11, 1952)
  • Laura Delano Roosevelt (born October 26, 1959)

He married Felicia Schiff Warburg Sarnoff on July 1, 1970. The marriage was childless and ended in divorce in 1976.

He married Patricia Luisa Oakes on May 6, 1977. They had one son before divorcing in 1981:

  • John Alexander Roosevelt (born October 18, 1977)[3]

On March 3, 1984, he married his fifth and final wife Linda McKay Stevenson Weicker. They remained married until his death. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jr. died in Poughkeepsie, New York after a battle with lung cancer, on his 74th birthday, August 17, 1988.


He graduated from Groton School in 1933, Harvard University in 1937, and from the University of Virginia School of Law in June 1940.[4]

The family thought that FDR Jr. was the one most like his father in appearance and behavior. James said, "Franklin is the one who came closest to being another FDR. He had father's looks, his speaking voice, his smile, his charm, his charisma."[5]

U.S. Navy service[edit]

World War II[edit]

Roosevelt was commissioned an ensign in the U.S. Navy Reserve on June 11, 1940. He was a junior naval officer in World War II and was decorated for bravery in the battle of Casablanca.

At the request of his father, along with brother Elliott Roosevelt, he attended both the Argentia (Atlantic Charter) summit with Prime Minister Winston Churchill in August 1941, and the Casablanca Conference in January 1943. Franklin also met FDR in Africa prior to the Teheran Conference. Returning from Argentia, he sailed with Churchill and stood with him at parades in newly American-occupied Reykjavik, Iceland, to symbolize American solidarity with England, Scotland, and Wales.[6]

Brother James Roosevelt summarized "Brud's" naval service: "Franklin served on a destroyer that dodged torpedoes from Iceland to Minsk [sic!]. He became executive officer of the destroyer USS Mayrant (DD-402), which was bombed at Palermo in the Sicilian invasion. The famed war correspondent Quentin Reynolds went out of his way to write mother how bravely Franklin performed in that bloody ordeal, in which he was awarded the Silver Star Medal for exposing himself under fire to carry a critically wounded sailor to safety." [7]

Later, as a lieutenant commander, to which he was promoted to on March 1, 1944, Franklin became the commanding officer of his own destroyer escort, USS Ulvert M. Moore (DE-442) on July 18, 1944. The Moore served in the Pacific and shot down two Japanese aircraft and sank a Japanese submarine. The ship was in Tokyo Bay when Japan formally surrendered on September 2, 1945. James Roosevelt remembered that his brother was known as "Big Moose" to the men who served under him, he did "a tremendous job".

In addition to the Silver Star Medal, Roosevelt also received the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, and twelve battle stars for service in both the European and Pacific theaters.

Post-war career[edit]

Roosevelt served in several New York law offices after the war. He was senior partner in the New York law firm of Roosevelt and Freiden before and after his service in the Congress. He triggered controversy for representing Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo in the U.S., and dropped the account before Trujillo's assassination in 1961.

Roosevelt was also involved in political affairs. He served on the President's Committee on Civil Rights in 1946 for President Harry Truman. Along with his brothers, he declared for Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1948, alienating much of the Democratic party. Unlike Elliott, however, he took an anti-communist stance, and, according to columnist Stewart Alsop, leaked damaging information on Elliott to the press during the row over the latter's pro-Soviet activities.[8]

He joined the Empire State Society of the Sons of the American Revolution in 1946.[9]

Roosevelt Jr. was elected as a member of the United States House of Representatives in a special election in 1949, in which he ran as a candidate of the Liberal Party of New York. He was re-elected in 1950 and 1952 as a Democrat. He represented the 20th District of New York from May 17, 1949 until January 3, 1955.

Despite his name and connections, he became unpopular with the Democratic leadership. When brother James Roosevelt was elected to the House, Speaker Sam Rayburn told him to "not waste our time like your brother did." James wrote that Franklin "had a dreadful record in Congress. He was smart, but not smart enough. He had good ideas and the power of persuasion, but he did not put them to good use. He coasted instead of working at his job, considering it beneath him, while he aimed for higher positions. He may have had the worst attendance record of any member of those days, and it cost him those higher positions."[10]

Roosevelt sought the Democratic nomination for Governor in 1954, but, after persuasion by powerful Tammany Hall boss Carmine DeSapio,[11] abandoned his bid for Governor and was nominated by the Democratic State Convention to run for New York State Attorney General.[11] Roosevelt was defeated in the general election by Republican Jacob K. Javits, although all other Democratic nominees were elected. Following his loss, Eleanor Roosevelt began building a campaign against the Tammany Hall leader that eventually forced DeSapio to step down from power in 1961.[11]

FDR Jr. with his mother and his son, FDR III, 1962.

At the instigation of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., he campaigned for John F. Kennedy in the crucial 1960 West Virginia primary, falsely accusing Kennedy's opponent, Hubert Humphrey of having dodged the draft in World War II.[12]

Kennedy later named him Under-Secretary of Commerce and chairman of the President's Appalachian Regional Commission. This post (Under-Secretary of Commerce) was given to him when Defense Secretary Robert McNamara vetoed his appointment as Secretary of the Navy. "JFK and Franklin were friends and their families were close. Socially, Franklin spent a lot of time in the White House during JFK's reign. But when Kennedy was killed, Franklin fell from power."[13]

He ran for Governor of New York on the Liberal Party ticket in 1966, but was defeated by the incumbent Republican Nelson A. Rockefeller.

He served as chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from May 26, 1965 to May 11, 1966.

When brother Elliott published his tell-all book An Untold Story about his parents in 1973, Franklin Jr. led the family's denunciation of him.[14]

He also ran a small cattle farm and imported FIAT automobiles. (He was a personal friend of Fiat chairman Gianni Agnelli.)

Military awards[edit]

Roosevelt's military decorations and awards include:

Source - Sons of the American Revolution Membership Application


  1. ^ Medicine: Prontosil, TIME Magazine, December 28, 1936
  2. ^ Hansen, 106
  3. ^ (FDR Presidential Library)
  4. ^ "Roosevelt, Franklin Delano, Jr., (1914–1988)". Biographical Directory of Congress. Office of Art and Archives, Office of the Historian, United States House of Representatives. Retrieved June 19, 2011. 
  5. ^ Roosevelt, 313
  6. ^ Hansen, 211–12, 262
  7. ^ Roosevelt, 269.
  8. ^ Hansen, 525
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ Roosevelt, 314
  11. ^ a b c Kandell, Jonathan (July 28, 2004). "Carmine De Sapio, Political Kingmaker and Last Tammany Hall Boss, Dies at 95". The New York Times. 
  12. ^ Caro, Robert (2012), The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, pp. 85–86 
  13. ^ Roosevelt, 315
  14. ^ Hansen, 654

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Sol Bloom
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 20th congressional district

Succeeded by
Irwin D. Davidson
Government offices
New title Chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Succeeded by
Stephen N. Shulman
Party political offices
Preceded by
Francis D'Amanda
Democratic Nominee for New York State Attorney General
Succeeded by
Peter Crotty
Preceded by
Robert Morgenthau
Liberal Nominee for Governor of New York
Succeeded by
Arthur Goldberg