Doing my tours at the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace yesterday I did not fail to mention that April 12–today–marks the 70th anniversary of Franklin Roosevelt’s passing.
It was not until I began volunteering at the TRB that I realized how intertwined the two sides of the family were, and indeed remain today. To give one example: when Franklin was himself assistant secretary of the navy, in the Wilson Administration, he and Eleanor rented a Dupont Circle house from Anna Roosevelt Cowles. Mrs. Cowles was Theodore’s older sister and Eleanor’s aunt. Throughout much of World War One, Theodore himself used to drop in to that N Street home to discuss preparedness and how the war was going. FDR learned much in Washington from 1913-1921 that served him well as commander-in-chief thirty years later.
One thing I always mention is how young many of the Roosevelts were when they died. Theodore Roosevelt Sr. was 46 and his wife Martha Bullock just 48. Their son Elliott, Eleanor’s father, was all of 34 when his demons finally caught up with him. Elliott’s son Hall had just turned 50 when his own difficult life came to an end in 1941. Theodore Roosevelt was a mere 60. Then there was FDR himself. All presidents age while in office but Franklin Delano Roosevelt looked considerably older than his 63 years when, after months of failing health, he succumbed to a cerebral hemorrhage at his Warm Springs, Georgia retreat seventy years ago today.
(top image/Library of Congress)