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Endicott Peabody, FDR's headmaster at Groton School, who emphasized "manly Christian character," had a profound influence on young FDR.

Peabody, the son of a wealthy Salem, Massachusetts, financier, graduated from Cambridge University and returned to America to enroll in a Massachusetts seminary. In 1884, he was ordained an Episcopal priest. The same year, he and two colleagues founded the Groton School for Boys in Groton, Massachusetts, approximately forty miles outside Boston. He modeled Groton after strict English boarding schools and emphasized "religious observance, vigorous exercise and spartan living." (1) Under his leadership, Groton challenged its students and staff to embrace their civil and religious responsibility, declaring in 1884 that "if some Groton boys do not enter political life and do something for our land it won't be because they have not been urged."(2)

FDR took Peabody's lessons to heart, especially his advocacy of strenuous Christianity. While at Groton, Roosevelt attended Peabody's confirmation class, joined a society that helped underprivileged boys at summer camp and a club in Boston, and one winter was responsible for helping to care for a local African American woman, to whom he brought food and fuel. FDR later recalled, "as long as I live, the influence of Dr. and Mrs. Peabody means and will mean more to me than that of any other people next to my father and mother." (3)

Peabody officiated at FDR and ER's wedding and at the private religious services FDR held before his inaugurations and major events. Peabody died January 20, 1945, the day of FDR's fourth inauguration.
 


Notes:

  1. "Peabody, Endicott" in Franklin D. Roosevelt, His Life and Times. Otis L. Graham, Jr., and Meghan Robinson, eds. (New York: Da Capo Press, 1985), 316.
  2. Frank Freidel, Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Rendezvous with Destiny (Little, Brown and Company: New York, 1990), 8.
  3. "Peabody, Endicott" in Franklin D. Roosevelt, His Life and Times, 316.
     

Sources:

Freidel, Frank. Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Rendezvous with Destiny. New York: Little, Brown & Company, 1990, 8-10, 573.

Graham, Otis L., Jr. and Meghan Robinson Wander, eds. Franklin D. Roosevelt, His Life and Times. New York: Da Capo Press, 1985, 316.
 

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