Sugar, Money and Revolution - Isaac Roosevelt Amasses a Fortune

Sugar, Money and Revolution - Isaac Roosevelt Amasses a Fortune

Isaac Roosevelt was a sugar refiner who made a vast fortune selling the sweet treat.

Roosevelt used his situation to provide leadership to New York during the American Revolution.

Oh, his great-great-grandson also happened to be President of the United States. You might have heard of him, his name was Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Isaac Roosevelt

Isaac Roosevelt loved sugar.

Well, he loved refining sugar.

Isaac was one of the first members of the Roosevelt Family to strike it rich.

While most people in the sugar business found wealth making molasses or fermenting rum, Isaac opened one of the first major refineries in New York City.

Roosevelt’s profits were so great that he was able to assist in the creation of the city’s first Chamber of Commerce as well as investing in the first public hospital.


When the American Revolution began, Roosevelt sided completely with the Patriots.

Isaac was elected to the Committee of One Hundred, the revolutionary government which wrested control of New York from the Royal Governor.

As the British invaded New York City, Roosevelt evacuated to Dutchess County where he served with the militia for a short time.

Bank of New York

Roosevelt was elected to the State Senate and severed (with a brief hiatus) from 1777-1792.

During this time, Isaac became a founding member (and original director) of the Bank of New York. Two years later he was chosen as president of the organization.

Roosevelt worked closely with Alexander Hamilton during the creation of this bank. The two men would continue working with each other while the latter was Treasurer of the United States.


When the Constitution was sent to the States, Isaac Roosevelt was chosen to go to New York’s Ratifying Convention.

Roosevelt was a staunch Federalist, though his ability to compromise was much greater than Hamilton’s.

Isaac’s backroom deals led to the passage of the Constitution, but also brought the promise of a Bill of Rights.


Let’s be honest, the most fascinating thing about Roosevelt is his relationship to the future Presidents.

Isaac’s father and uncle were from New York City. His father moved to the Hudson Valley and his uncle moved to Long Island, starting the two famous branches of the Roosevelt Family.

The Long Island Roosevelts would end up descending to President Teddy and First Lady Eleanor. 

The Hudson Valley Roosevelts would lead to Isaac’s great-great-grandson becoming a President...FDR.

Early New York Rebels are fun to read about.

Here are some more:

John Haring Radicalizes the New York Delegation

Issac Low Organizes the Committee of Fifty-One

Simon Boerum of Brooklyn

Today’s book recommendation is a little bit different.

While I usually recommend Founder-centric books, to I will suggest you read ‘The Wars of the Roosevelts’ which cast an interesting light on Isaac’s descendants.

If you’d like a copy you can get one through the Amazon affiliate link below (you’ll support this site, but don’t worry, Amazon pays me while your price stays the same).

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Hamilton Plays Middleman - The Founding of the Bank of New York

Hamilton Plays Middleman - The Founding of the Bank of New York

Should The Feds Regulate Interstate Trade? (Federalist 42)

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