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Sara Ann Delano Roosevelt with son Franklin, 1887
|Born||Sara Ann Delano
September 21, 1854
Newburgh, New York
|Died||September 7, 1941
Hyde Park, New York
|Spouse(s)||James Roosevelt I
(m. 1880–1900; his death)
|Children||Franklin Delano Roosevelt|
|Parent(s)||Warren Delano, Jr.
Catherine Robbins Lyman
Sara Ann Delano Roosevelt (September 21, 1854 – September 7, 1941) was the second wife of James Roosevelt I (from 1880), the mother of President of the United States Franklin Delano Roosevelt, her only child, and subsequently the mother-in-law of Eleanor Roosevelt.
Delano grew up in Newburgh, New York, and spent three years in Hong Kong. She gave birth to Franklin in 1882, and was a devoted mother to him for the remainder of her life, including home schooling and living close by in adulthood. She had a complex relationship with her daughter-in-law Eleanor, which has led to media portrayals of her as a domineering and fearsome mother-in-law, though these are at odds with other views. She died in 1941, with her son, now President, at her side.
Sara Ann Delano was born at the Delano Estate in the town of Newburgh, New York, to Warren Delano, Jr. and Catherine Robbins Lyman. She had ten siblings, two of whom died as small children. Three more died in their twenties.
In 1862, Sara, her mother Catherine, and six brothers and sisters traveled to Hong Kong on the clipper ship Surprise, where they joined Warren Delano who had resumed his business of trading in opium, then still legal. On board ship, Sara enjoyed spending time in the sailmaker's loft listening to the sailmaker tell sea stories. Her brother Fred discovered Catherine's journal of the voyage many years later, in 1928. In 1865, she moved with her family back to Newburgh. She was educated at home, aside from a brief period in a girls' school in Dresden.
In 1880, she married James Roosevelt I. She gave birth to a son, Franklin on January 30, 1882. She later stated she only wanted one child, and the young Franklin became the focus of her attention. The New York Times described her character as "formidable and domineering". She taught Franklin reading and geography, and employed tutors rather than sending him to a conventional school. After the death of her husband in 1900, she temporarily moved to Boston to be close to her son who was then studying at Harvard University.
In 1906, Roosevelt commissioned a pair of houses to be built at E 65 Street, New York City, as a wedding present for Franklin and his wife, Eleanor, on the strict condition that she could move in next to them. She oversaw a series of connecting doors between the houses, allowing her access to the drawing room and children's bedrooms in the neighbouring property. Her son and daughter-in-law moved out after Franklin took office in the White House in 1933.
She lived to see Franklin elected President of the United States three times, becoming the first Presidential mother to vote for her son. Sara continued to support her son's career, even standing in as First Lady on several occasions. She was always prepared to say something positive about her son, and remained highly protective of him and his family.
Though Sara became known popularly as a stereotypical domineering mother-in-law after being portrayed as such in the film Sunrise at Campobello, her actual relationship with Eleanor was more complex. The pair grew close during the early years of the marriage, as Eleanor's mother had died when she was young, and she used Sara as a surrogate mother to discuss issues. She supported Eleanor after she discovered Franklin's affair with Lucy Mercer, which put the marriage close to collapse. However, the relationship began to be more distant after Eleanor became more heavily involved in politics and activism.
Sara Delano Roosevelt, with the President at her side, died on September 7, 1941, two weeks before her 87th birthday. "Minutes after her death, the largest oak tree at Hyde Park toppled to the ground. It was a clear windless day." (Quoted from The American Experience: FDR (Part IV; "The Juggler" 1940-1945) (1994), Written & Directed by David Grubin).
The funeral was held at her home in Springwood, which is located in Hyde Park, New York. The President can be seen wearing a black mourning band on his arm in photographs of him later signing the declaration of war against Japan. His mother's memory is commemorated with the Sara Delano Roosevelt Park in New York City's Lower East Side, which was dedicated during her lifetime, in 1934.
In 2003, the City University of New York announced they would restore Roosevelt's former home, now known as the Sara Delano Roosevelt Memorial House, on 47 East 65th Street, where she lived from 1908 until her death.
- "Sara Delano Roosevelt (1854-1941)". Teaching Eleanor Roosevelt Project. George Washington University. Retrieved March 21, 2015.
- Brands, H. W. (2008). Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. New York, NY: Doubleday. p. 17. ISBN 978-0-385-51958-8.
- Butow, R. J. C. (1999). [url=http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/1999/fall/roosevelt-family-history-1.html "A Notable Passage to China, Myth and Memory in FDR's Family History"]. Prologue Magazine (Washington, DC: The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration) 31 (3). Retrieved June 11, 2010.
- Gullan 2001, p. 192.
- Gullan 2001, p. 195.
- Gullan 2001, p. 191.
- "Fixing Monument To Mother-in-Law; Sara Delano Roosevelt Ruled Home of Franklin and Eleanor". New York Times. March 18, 2003. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
- Gullan 2001, p. 197.
- "Question: What was ER's relationship with Sara Delano Roosevelt?". The Eleanor Roosevelt Project. George Washington University. Retrieved March 21, 2015.
- Gullan 2001, p. 205.
- "National Affairs: Death of a Lady", Time, September 15, 1941, retrieved December 17, 2009
- Rough Guides. 2002. p. 190. ISBN 978-1-858-28869-7.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sara Delano Roosevelt.|
- China voyage of young Sara Delano Roosevelt on clipper ship Surprise with six siblings
- The President wearing a mourning band after his mother's death, December 10, 1941: http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/images/decwars.jpg
- Pottker, Jan (2014). Sara and Eleanor: The Story of Sara Delano Roosevelt and Her Daughter-in-Law, Eleanor Roosevelt. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-1-466-86451-1.