James Roosevelt I

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James Roosevelt I
James Roosevelt Portrait crop.JPG
Painting of James Roosevelt at Springwood Estate in Hyde Park, New York
Born (1828-07-16)July 16, 1828
Hyde Park, New York, U.S.
Died December 8, 1900(1900-12-08) (aged 72)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Alma mater Union College
Occupation Businessman
Spouse(s) Rebecca Brien Howland
(m. 1853–1876; her death)
Sara Ann Delano
(m. 1880–1900; his death)
Children James Roosevelt Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Parent(s) Isaac Daniel Roosevelt
Mary Rebecca Aspinwall
James with his son Franklin in 1895

James Roosevelt I (July 16, 1828 – December 8, 1900), known as "Squire James",[1] was an American businessman and horse breeder, and the father of American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Early life

Roosevelt was born on July 16, 1828 in Hyde Park, New York. He was the son of businessman Isaac Daniel Roosevelt (1790–1863) and Mary Rebecca Aspinwall (1809–1886). Isaac's parents were businessman and politician Jacobus Roosevelt III and Catherine Welles. His maternal grandparents were John Aspinwall and Susan Howland.

In 1847, James Roosevelt graduated from Union College in Schenectady, New York.


Roosevelt's business interests were primarily in coal and transportation. He was vice president of the Delaware and Hudson Railway and president of the Southern Railway Security Company.

Personal life

Before his marriage, Roosevelt was considered an eligible bachelor: tall, slender, and wealthy, with considerable society connections. In 1853, he married his second cousin, Rebecca Brien Howland (1831–1876). They had one son, James Roosevelt "Rosey" Roosevelt (1854–1927), who married Helen Schermerhorn Astor (1855–1893).

Four years after Rebecca's death, he met a sixth cousin named Sara Ann Delano (1854–1941) at a party celebrating graduation of his distant cousin Theodore Roosevelt Jr. (1858–1919) from Harvard University. James and Sara were married on October 7, 1880, and became the parents of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882–1945), who married Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962). James reportedly was a good father to Franklin, but his recurring heart problems eventually made him an invalid. Franklin reacted by becoming fiercely protective of his father.

James died twenty years after he married Sara and left the bulk of his estate to her, and a modest inheritance to Franklin.[2] He is buried at the churchyard at St. James Episcopal Church in Hyde Park; his grave is flanked by those of his wives.

In popular culture

Roosevelt is voiced by John Lithgow in The Roosevelts, a 2014 documentary series by Ken Burns.


In 1927 Franklin and Sara Roosevelt donated money to the town of Hyde Park for the construction of a new library, named after James, and still in use today.

See also


  1. ^ Miller, Nathan (1992). Theodore Roosevelt: A Life. 
  2. ^ Brands, H.W. (2008). Traitor to his Class. New York, NY: Doubleday. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-385-51958-8. 

External links

  • Media related to James Roosevelt, Sr. at Wikimedia Commons
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