Dead Presidents

Historical facts, thoughts, ramblings and collections on the Presidency and about the Presidents of the United States.

By Anthony Bergen
E-Mail: bergen.anthony@gmail.com

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In August 1876, 48-year-old James Roosevelt was absolutely devastated when his 45-year-old first wife, Rebecca, suffered a massive heart attack and died at their home in Hyde Park, New York.  James mourned Rebecca’s death for nearly three years before deciding to try to end his loneliness and attempt to fill the void left by Rebecca’s passing.  The widower — now north of 50 years old — even had a a particular woman in mind, and she happened to be a distant cousin.  James, a member of the Hudson Valley branch of the Roosevelt family, began visiting the Long Island branch of the Roosevelt family, hoping to win the interest of 23-year-old Anna Roosevelt — better known as “Bamie” — Theodore Roosevelt’s older sister.

James’s efforts were unsuccessful.  Bamie was not interested.  However, his visits to Long Island were not entirely fruitless.  The mother of Theodore and Bamie, Mittie, felt sorry for James and decided to play matchmaker.  At a dinner party that Mittie hosted, she introduced James to 26-year-old Sara Delano and the two quickly hit it off.   They married on October 7, 1880, and on January 30, 1882, Sara gave birth to their only child, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the future President of the United States.

When he was 23 years old, Franklin D. Roosevelt did what his father was unable to do years earlier — he joined the Hudson Valley Roosevelts and the Long Island Roosevelts by marriage.  On March 17, 1905, Franklin married Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, the niece of Bamie and Theodore.  Since Eleanor’s father had died in 1894, the bride was escorted down the aisle and given away by her uncle Theodore, who just happened to be President of the United States at the time.  At the wedding, the first President Roosevelt congratulated the future President Roosevelt on the marriage between the two distant cousins by telling FDR “Well, Franklin, there’s nothing like keeping the name in the family.”

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