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James A. Roe, Sr. (July 9, 1896 – April 22, 1967) was an American politician from New York. He served as the leader the Queens County Democratic committee from 1938 to 1954 and a single term in the United States House of Representatives from 1945 to 1947.

James A. Roe, Sr.
James A. Roe (New York Congressman).jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 5th district
In office
January 3, 1945 – January 3, 1947
Preceded byJames J. Heffernan
Succeeded byRobert Tripp Ross
Personal details
Born(1896-07-09)July 9, 1896
Flushing, Queens, New York
DiedApril 22, 1967(1967-04-22) (aged 70)
Hollywood, Florida, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic Party


Early life and careerEdit

Roe was born July 9, 1896 in Flushing, Queens. His father, James A. Roe, was a clerk of the court who was descended from an Irish family. Roe attended Flushing High School and later played semi-pro baseball.[1]

At the outset of World War I in 1917, he joined the Army and graduated from the Army's School of Military Aeronautics at Cornell University and served in the United States Army Signal Corps. After the war he worked as a real estate and insurance broker, became involved in contracting and engineering business, and was on the board of directors of the Flushing National Bank. He developed tracts of land in Flushing and Murray Hill during his real estate career.[1]

Political careerEdit

He became active in the Queens Democratic Party and supported Franklin Delano Roosevelt for President in 1932. In 1934, he lost a bid for the party leadership but continued to contest the chairmanship of James Sheridan. After four years of infighting, Roe upset Sheridan for the leadership in 1938.[1]

After the United States entered World War II, Roe volunteered for Army service and was commissioned as a major in the Corps of Engineers. In 1944, while still serving in the Army, Roe was elected to Congress from New York's 5th congressional district. He resigned his commission to take his seat his seat in Congress and was discharged as a lieutenant colonel.

He courted controversy in 1948 when he led a movement to draft Dwight Eisenhower to run for President while the general’s political affiliation was unknown. Roe believed that Harry Truman would be defeated in the 1948 election and decided that the Queens delegation would not support anyone at the 1948 Democratic National Convention. The delegation voted for Roe on the first ballot. Despite his move and calls for him to resign, Roe was re-elected as party leader.[1]

Roe supported the successful candidacy of Vincent Impelliteri for mayor in 1950 but found himself at odds with Tammany Hall when Impelliteri ran for re-election in 1953. The Tammany-backed candidate, Robert F. Wagner Jr., refused Roe’s endorsement and worked to oust him from the party. His refusal to support W. Averell Harriman for Governor of New York in 1954 led to his ouster.[1] He continued to work behind the scenes as an insurgent and supported some successful candidates; but did not return to the party leadership.

He was a delegate to the National Democratic conventions in 1940, 1948 and 1960.

Personal lifeEdit

During the war he met Margaret Farrell, whom he married in 1920. They had four children. His son, James A. Roe, Jr., served justice of the New York Supreme Court who was indicted for bribery and was killed in a plane crash in 1968.[2]

After leaving politics, he resumed his former business interests. Roe died in Hollywood, Florida on April 22, 1967 and was buried at Mount Saint Mary Cemetery in Flushing.


  1. ^ a b c d e "James Roe Sr., Ex-Queens Democratic Chief, Dies". New York Times. 1967-04-23.
  2. ^ "Justice Roe Cleared Of Bribery Charges Day After His Death". New York Times. 1968-09-10.

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