Did FDR Have Kids?


Patricia Truslow, Contributor

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franklin theodore roosevelt relatedFranklin and Eleanor Roosevelt had six children, but only five of them survived infancy, the first FDR, Jr. died within a year of his birth. A brief biography of the children follows.

  • Anna was born in 1906, the first child and only daughter of Franklin Roosevelt's six children. Anna was married three times, and pursued a career in writing and editing. As her mother became increasingly involved in promoting social programs, FDR asked Anna to move into the White House as his official hostess; she was present with Roosevelt at the Yalta Conference as well as other political functions during World War II. Anna remained active in politics, especially in the area of labor relations for the workforce.
  • James Roosevelt was Franklin's first surviving son. James attended law school, but left to manage his successful insurance company. He worked on Roosevelt's 1932 campaign and was his father's Presidential Secretary in 1937. James eventually became a Lieutenant Colonel in the Marine Corps and retired as a brigadier general in 1959. He also served as a U.S. Representative from California for ten years.
  • Another son of FDR's, Elliott, followed James into the military during World War II as a pilot and commander in the Air Force, who flew over three hundred combat missions. He retired as a brigadier general at the conclusion of the war. Elliott was never as successful in his private life as he had been in the Air Force, generally having to rely on his work as a horse breeder and financial support from his mother.
  • The second FDR, Jr. was Roosevelt's third surviving son. FDR, Jr. is best recognized as one of the first people to be treated with sulfonamide antibiotics for a strep infection; his rapid recovery and public prominence as Franklin's son helped promote the use of antibiotics as an accepted medical treatment. FDR, Jr.'s career was centered on law and political involvement, but he also dabbled in the importing of cattle and cars. He served six years as a congressional representative for the state of New York.
  • John Aspinwall Roosevelt was the last born of FDR's children. He served in the U.S. Navy as a lieutenant and was decorated with the Bronze Star after World War II. After marrying the daughter of a Republican, John joined the Republican Party, which did not bear well with his strong Democratic family. He campaigned for both Eisenhower and Nixon against his families wishes. Although he was active in politics, John never sought public office; he worked with an investment firm and chaired many charity organizations.

Franklin D. Roosevelt's children knew him more as a president than as a father; FDR was not an active parent, although he appeared to have loved his children deeply. The closest child to him was Anna, who is purported to have supported Roosevelt's extramarital affair, even going so far as to arrange secret meetings between him and his mistress without her mother's knowledge. Both Franklin and Eleanor were most proud of their sons' participation in the military during the war, and they both supported those who elected to serve in public office. The children of FDR carried on the tradition of being a public servant, which their father had begun and their mother supported.