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March 17th, 2017

book cover - tpbol

Presidential wedding anniversary: the Franklin Roosevelts

On this date in 1905, a unique wedding took place in New York City's Church of the Incarnation. US President Theodore Roosevelt gave away the bride, 20-year-old (Anna) Eleanor Roosevelt, who was the President's younger brother's daughter. That alone didn't make the wedding unique, but the groom was the bride's fifth cousin once removed. That, too, didn't provide any uniqueness to the wedding. But the groom's last name was also Roosevelt, which did lend an air of newness to the proceedings. And 28 years later (minus a couple of weeks), the groom was inaugurated as President of the United States, which did indeed prove unique. Two Presidents have had sons become President (and one President's grandson), but no Presidential daughters have ever become First Lady. And while this wasn't a case of the President's daughter moving into the White House, Theodore is the only President to give away a future First Lady at her wedding.

It was the only marriage for either Franklin or Eleanor, who were together until his death in 1945 (she died in 1962). There is pretty conclusive evidence, however, that each had other lovers during their marriage. Franklin and Eleanor had six children, five of whom lived to adulthood, giving them three sons-in-law and sixteen daughters-in-law:

Anna Eleanor, Jr. (1906-1975) was married three times and bore three children.

James (1907-1991) retired from the Marines as a Brigadier General, served in the House of Representatives (representing California) from 1955 to 1965, and was married four times and fathered seven children. I met his son, James, in 1986, when he ran for a seat in the House of Representatives representing Massachusetts' fifth district (the seat Tip O'Neill was retiring from). He lost a multi-way primary to eventual winner Joseph P. Kennedy II).

Franklin Delano, Jr. was born and died in 1909.

Elliot (1910-1990) was a pilot in the US Army Air Forces during World War II. He married five times and fathered five children.

Franklin Delano, Jr. (1914-1988) served in the US Navy during World War II. He represented New York in the House of Representatives from 1949 to 1955, and was Under-Secretary of Commerce to President Kennedy. He married five times and fathered five children.

John Aspinwall (1916-1981) served in the US Navy during World War II. He split with his family, joining the Republican Party to support Dwight Eisenhower's candidacy in the election of 1952. He was married twice and fathered four children.
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Second Lady Ann Gerry

On this date in 1849, Ann Thompson Gerry died. Born in August 1763, she married Elbridge Gerry -- a member of the Confederation Congress -- in 1786. In the next fifteen years, the Gerrys had ten children, and in 1810, Elbridge became the 9th Governor of Massachusetts. In 1812, he was elected the fifth Vice President, and when he took office in March 1813, Ann became the second woman to serve as Second Lady (Gerry's predecessors Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr, and George Clinton had all been widowers). The Gerrys remained together until Elbridge's death in office in November 1814; Ann survived until 1849. Elbridge is buried in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, DC. Ann, who was living in New Haven, Connecticut, with her children at the time of her death, is buried in that city.