Elliott Roosevelt, the third child of Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt, was his mother's favorite child and the one for whom she felt the most responsibility. After attending Groton, Elliott decided not to attend college as his brothers had. Instead, he went into business where his flamboyance soon attracted unwelcome media attention. Tensions increased in 1940 when Elliott decided to second the vice-presidential nomination of Jesse Jones rather than support Henry Wallace, his father's candidate. Elliott partially redeemed himself during World War II, accompanying FDR as a military aide to the Casablanca and Cairo-Teheran Conferences and serving as a photo reconnaissance pilot.
After FDR's death in 1945, Elliott and his family moved to Top Cottage to be near ER and to enable her to live at Val-Kill as she wished. Mother and son also joined in a farming venture, Val-Kill farms, which proved to be unprofitable. During this period, Elliott also served as ER's agent, arranging the serialization of the second volume of her autobiography and developing both a television and a radio series which she hosted.
During this period, with ER's support, Elliott pursued a writing career. His first book, As He Saw It (1946), was controversial because it portrayed the British and the Americans as allies against a largely guiltless Soviet Union in the postwar world. ER, who did not agree with Elliott's conclusions but had nevertheless written the book's dedication, defended the book and her son. She continued to support Elliot by giving him the permissions necessary to edit four volumes of his father's letters and writing the introductions for each.
However, by 1952 the relationship between mother and son frayed when Elliott unexpectedly sold Top Cottage. Elliott left Hyde Park and thereafter he was involved in several different activities. He raised Arabian horses in Portugal, served as mayor of Miami Beach between 1965 and 1969, and with a collaborator produced three nonfiction books about his parents' lives. He also wrote a series of mysteries in which ER was portrayed as an amateur detective.
Elliott died of congestive heart failure in 1990.
Sources: Otis L. Graham, Jr. and Meghan Robinson Wander, eds., Franklin D. Roosevelt: His Life and Times (New York: Da Capo Press, 1985), pp. 366-67; Doris Kearns Goodwin, No Ordinary Time: Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II (New York: Touchstone Books, 1994), pp. 178-79, 635; Joseph P. Lash, Eleanor: The Years Alone (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1972), pp. 90-91, 172-73, 184-85; Joseph P. Lash, Eleanor and Franklin (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1971), pp. 490, 495, 622-23, 693.
Recommended citation: Eleanor Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and the Election of 1960: A Project of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, ed. by Allida Black, June Hopkins, John Sears, Christopher Alhambra, Mary Jo Binker, Christopher Brick, John S. Emrich, Eugenia Gusev, Kristen E. Gwinn, and Bryan D. Peery (Columbia, S.C.: Model Editions Partnership, 2003). Electronic version based on unpublished letters. .
For more information, visit The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers home page at https://erpapers.columbian.gwu.edu/.
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