How Were Theodore And Franklin D. Roosevelt Related?

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Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt, who are included among America's most respected presidents, were distant cousins. Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) was born in New York City. After a career in public service that included organizing the first volunteer cavalry regiment (soldiers mounted on horseback) known as the Rough Riders, the ardent outdoors enthusiast became vice president in 1901. When President William McKinley (1843–1901) was assassinated on September 14, Roosevelt succeeded him as president. He was elected in his own right in 1904, and went on to serve until 1909, spending nearly two full terms in the White House.

Theodore Roosevelt was president of the United States when he walked his niece, Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962), down the aisle at her wedding on March 17, 1905. She was marrying her distant cousin, Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945), who had been courting her since he entered college at Harvard in 1900. When Theodore Roosevelt ran for president in 1912, he was not backed by his young Democratic cousin Franklin, who was then a state senator in New York and a supporter of Woodrow Wilson (1856–1924), the Democratic candidate. After Wilson was elected, he appointed Franklin assistant secretary of the U.S. Navy; by the end of World War I (1914–18), Franklin Roosevelt was a well-known national figure.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was born in Hyde Park, New York. Like his fifth cousin Theodore, he went on to a life of public service, which bore some remarkable similarities to that of his cousin: Both Theodore and Franklin served as assistant secretary of the U.S. Navy (1897–98 and 1913–20, respectively) and both were governors of New York (1899–1900 and 1929–33, respectively). As presidents, both served the nation for more than one term, but Franklin was the only president to be elected for third and fourth terms, from 1933 until his death in 1945. (In 1951 the U.S. Congress voted in favor of the Twenty-second Amendment, limiting presidential tenure to two terms.) Both played important roles in times of conflict. Theodore served as president during the Russo-Japanese War (1904–05), which he was instrumental in ending with the Treaty of Portsmouth (New Hampshire) on September 5, 1905. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for this achievement the following year. Franklin Roosevelt was one of the so-called Big Three leaders during World War II (1939–45). Along with Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1874–1965) of Great Britain and Premier Joseph Stalin (1879–1953) of the Soviet Union, he coordinated the Allied nations' effort against Nazi Germany and Japan. Roosevelt was a also champion of peace, having been central in laying plans for the United Nations (an international peacekeeping organization).

Further Information: Franklin D. Roosevelt: Our Handicaps Exist Only in the Mind. [Online] Available, October 26, 2000; Freedman, Russell. Franklin Delano Roosevelt. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992; Miller, Nathan. Theodore Roosevelt: A Life. New York: Morrow, 1994; Theodore Roosevelt—Man of Action. [Online] Available, October 26, 2000.

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