As a young man, Roosevelt described himself as a “Hudson River gentleman, yachtsman, philatelist and naval historian.” And though he added to those interests, that’s what he became.

His home, Hyde Park, was high above the banks of the Hudson River. And he was indeed a gentleman in the sense that he never had to work for a living, but instead lived a lavish lifestyle on family money.

It all started with his great, great grandfather who founded a sugar-refining business.  Then his great-grandfather went into banking as did many other Roosevelts in generations to come. They also married well.

Roosevelt was born on the family estate to Sarah Delano Roosevelt. Sarah was wealthy, one of the wealthiest woman of the time and had so many connections, some think she might have had the most impressive background of anyone in American history.

She sent her son to Europe every year. She hired private tutors so he didn’t have to associate with those “beneath him.” He went to Groton School and Harvard and then on to Columbia University Law School. Later he left Columbia to take a job on Wall Street.  Meanwhile, he married Eleanor, a niece of his cousin, Theodore.

Franklin took many weeks off from his job to honeymoon in Europe, but no one cared. He wasn’t being paid to work. He was being paid for his connections.  But instead of living a wild, partying life as many rich kids did (and do), his interest was people, so it was natural for him to get into politics.  And natural that he would have the charm and connections to eventually become president.

Hyde Park was an interesting place to visit, but it did not have the warmth of some of the other presidential homes. Granted, there were more people here and the tour was rather “canned.”  You didn’t learn anything that wasn’t on the prescribed speech.

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