Roosevelt was born at his family’s estate at Hyde Park, in Dutchess County, New York on January 30,1882. He was the only child of James Roosevelt and Sara Delano Roosevelt.
James Roosevelt was a moderately successful businessman, with a variety of investments and a special interest in coal. He was also a conservative Democrat who was interested in politics. His home overlooking the Hudson River was comfortable without being ostentatious, and the family occupied a prominent position among the social elite of the area. Sara Delano, 26 years younger than her previously widowed husband, brought to the marriage a fortune considerably larger than that of James Roosevelt. The Delano family had prospered trading with China, and Sara herself had spent some time with her parents in Hong Kong. So, Franklin was born into a pleasant and sociable home, with loving wealthy parents.
Roosevelt’s parents sent him off to school in 1896. They selected Groton School in Massachusetts, which had a reputation as one of the finest of the exclusive private schools that prepared boys for the Ivy League colleges. Young Roosevelt was a good student, popular with his fellow students as well as with his teachers.
Roosevelt moved to New York City, where he entered the Columbia University Law School in 1904. Although he attended classes until 1907, he failed to stay on for his law degree after passing the state examinations allowing him to practice law. For the next three years he was a clerk in a prominent law firm in New York City, but the evidence is clear that he had little interest in law and little enthusiasm to be a lawyer.
Well before he finished his work at Columbia, young Franklin Roosevelt had married his distant cousin Anna Eleanor Roosevelt. They had been in love for some time and were determined to marry in spite of the opposition of Franklin’s mother. The bride’s uncle, President Theodore Roosevelt, was present at the ceremony in New York City on March 17, 1905. Five of their six children grew to maturity: Anna, James, Elliott, Franklin, Jr., and John. The chief problem faced by the young couple during the early years of their marriage was Sara Roosevelt’s possessive attitude toward her son. Eleanor’s forbearance mitigated this situation, but the problem remained for many years.
Roosevelt entered politics in 1910, when he became a candidate for the New York State Senate in a district composed of three upstate farming counties.