Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., lawyer and politician, was the fifth child of Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt. Educated at Groton, Harvard, and University of Virginia Law School, he campaigned for his father's reelection in 1940 and practiced law until he joined the navy in 1941. After the war, Franklin Jr. was active on the political scene, serving on the American Veterans Committee, Americans for Democratic Action, and the President's Civil Rights Commission. Beginning in 1949, he also served three terms in Congress representing New York's Twentieth Congressional District. His loss of the 1954 New York Democratic gubernatorial nomination to Tammany-backed candidate Averell Harriman effectively torpedoed his elective political career and his subsequent tries for elective office--a 1954 campaign for state attorney general and a 1966 bid for governor on the Liberal Party ticket--were unsuccessful. He turned his considerable energies into the business arena, first by becoming the major American importer of Jaguars and Fiats, and later by chairing the Park Avenue Bank and Mickelberry Corporation.
In 1960 Franklin Jr. broke with ER over the presidential candidacy of John F. Kennedy. Despite ER's opposition to Kennedy and her support for Adlai Stevenson, Franklin Jr. campaigned for John F. Kennedy during the critical West Virginia primary where he helped diffuse the fear over Kennedy's Catholicism and, thus, helped JFK win the state. When Kennedy became president, he named Franklin Jr. under secretary of commerce. In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson tapped him to head the newly created Equal Opportunity Commission, a position he left the following year. After leaving the government, Franklin Jr. continued to work on a variety of projects associated with the legacy of his parents. He chaired the executive committee of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, and supported the development of Roosevelt Campobello International Park. He died in New York in 1988.
Sources: Otis L. Graham, Jr. and Meghan Robinson Wander, eds., Franklin D. Roosevelt: His Life and Times (New York: Da Capo Press, 1985), pp. 368-69; Joseph P. Lash, Eleanor: The Years Alone (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1972), pp. 36, 91, 147-48, 274-75.
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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