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Roosevelt: Theodore and Franklin Share Name, Distantly Related

Image: Roosevelt: Theodore and Franklin Share Name, Distantly Related
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, left and President Theodore Roosevelt. (AFP/Getty Images; Library of Congress/Reuters/Landov)

By    |   Monday, 29 Sep 2014 08:50 PM

While many Americans may assume that President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945) was the son of Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909), the two former presidents who led the country three decades apart were actually fifth cousins.

Their closest tie was FDR’s wife Eleanor who was also the niece of President Theodore Roosevelt. Uncle Teddy was president of the United States in 1905 and even walked his brother Elliot’s daughter down the aisle. (And yes, that means the president and first lady were fifth cousins once removed.)

Vote Now: Was Teddy or Franklin Roosevelt the Greatest American President?

Years before he wooed Teddy Roosevelt’s niece, FDR admired his distant cousin. Franklin became aware of Theodore’s rising star in American politics at the age of 14 when his parents sent him to the prestigious Groton School in Massachusetts. Although the cousins both served as presidents of the United States, Theodore was a Republican and Franklin a Democrat. In spite of the fact that his cousin was in the White House, Franklin declared allegiance to the Democrat party while writing for Harvard College’s Crimson publication, according to the University of Virginia's Miller Center.

Death played key roles in the presidential ascent of Theodore Roosevelt and the untimely descent of Franklin more than four decades later. The assassination of William McKinley in 1901 lifted Teddy Roosevelt into the presidency. Later, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency ended abruptly when he died of a stroke in 1945, leading Harry S. Truman to take the oath of the nation’s highest office.

The tie between the 26th and the 32nd president is easy to spot because Teddy Roosevelt and FDR were presidents who shared a family name, but there are several other lesser-known Roosevelt family tree connections: President Martin Van Buren (1837-1841) was a third cousin twice removed to Theodore Roosevelt, and genealogists have determined that FDR was distantly related to a total of 11 U.S. presidents — five by blood and six by marriage.

Those include John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Ulysses Grant, William Henry Harrison, Benjamin Harrison, James Madison, Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft, Zachary Taylor, Martin Van Buren, and George Washington. Franklin D. Roosevelt is the only president to serve more than two terms.

Urgent: Who Is the Greatest American President in History?

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While many Americans may assume that President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945) was the son of Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909), the two former presidents who led the country three decades apart were actually fifth cousins.
roosevelt, theodore, franklin, related
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2014-50-29
Monday, 29 Sep 2014 08:50 PM
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