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Elliott Roosevelt and his three children (from left to right, Elliot Jr., Anna Eleanor, and "Gracie Hall") in 1892

Elliott Bulloch Roosevelt (February 28, 1860 – August 14, 1894) was the father of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt and the brother of US President Theodore Roosevelt. Elliott and Theodore were of the Oyster Bay Roosevelts. Eleanor later married their Hyde Park Roosevelt cousin and future US President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Elliott was the third of the four children of Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. and Martha Bulloch Roosevelt. He had one older sister, Anna, and one younger sister, Corinne (grandmother of journalists Joseph and Stewart Alsop). He was competitive with his older brother, Theodore. At a young age, Elliott (nicknamed Ellie or Nell) was academically more successful than Teddy and seemed to many to be the most promising of the four Roosevelt children; however, he was eventually surpassed by his older brother. This competition would continue into the next generation with Theodore's daughter Alice and Elliott's daughter Eleanor. Elliott maintained a charming and winsome personality all his life. That charm would mask a growing drinking problem that started at a young age.

Eleanor Roosevelt & father Elliot in 1889.jpg

Elliott was Theodore's best-man on October 27, 1880, on Theodore's first marriage to Alice Roosevelt. When Elliott was 23, he met the beautiful Anna Hall, and they wed quickly, producing three children, Anna Eleanor (1884–1962), Elliott Jr (1889–1893), and Gracie Hall (1891–1941). After this point, Elliott Sr. developed a "casual drinking" problem, which soon became alcoholism, an affliction to which Gracie later succumbed. Despite his drunkenness, Eleanor adored her father, and he in turn doted on her. Eleanor would always remember her father's tender affection for her, and she wrote a book about his hunting adventures. While not excusing his conduct, she sensitively tried to highlight his positive virtues.

Due to his drinking problem, Elliott was exiled to Abingdon, Virginia, where he would constantly write letters, mostly to Eleanor. Eleanor later recalled that on his many horseback riding expeditions with the young children in Virginia, he became attached to "one girl in particular whom I was jealous." On occasion, he would, to the jubilation of Eleanor, return back home for a few days. Finally, his drinking ruined him. At the age of 34, Elliott attempted suicide by jumping out a window; he survived the fall, but suffered a seizure and died.

On Franklin and Eleanor's wedding day in 1905, her "Uncle Ted" gave the bride away.

Elliott fathered a child with Katy Mann, a young servant girl employed by Anna. His brother sent a detective who specialized in likenesses to look at the child and subsequently the Roosevelts settled out of court for $10,000. The sum was placed in a trust, but according to the Manns the child never received a dime. It was apparently looted by Katy's lawyers. There was some correspondence between Eleanor Roosevelt and her half-brother Elliott Roosevelt Mann (died 1941) after FDR was elected president in 1932.[1][2]

Elliott's grandson and namesake, Elliott Roosevelt, the third son of Eleanor and Franklin, became a war hero and author.

See also

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Notes

  1. ^ H. W. Brands, T.R. The Last Romantic
  2. ^ Jean Edward Smith, FDR (2007), New York: Random House, 2007, p. 42: "Whatever happened to the funds, there is no doubt that Elliott Roosevelt Mann was Eleanor's half brother."

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