Laura Ingalls Wilder is best remembered as the author and subject of the Little House on the Prairie series of children’s novels. These were based on her childhood in a settler American family. Her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, is generally regarded as the one who encouraged her to write the books and assisted her with editing and publishing the novels. But a look at the Wilder family tree also shows a distant relationship to one of the most controversial men to ever be elected to The White House.
What U.S. President was related to Laura Ingalls Wilder? In addition to all we know about her own history, Wilder was also a distant relative of the Delano family, descendants of the 32nd president of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. This can be traced as far back to the landing of Mayflower in 1620. As happens in many families, the two sides were politically speaking as different as night and day. FDR is considered the father of the modern Democratic party, while Rose Wilder Lane is considered, along with Ayn Rand and Isabel Paterson, as one of the founding mothers of the American libertarian movement.
Upon reviewing the various Little House books, one can see the roots of Rose Wilder Lane philosophy sprinkled in as reflections on her mother’s circumstances. In addition to working on her mother’s writings, Lane also emerged in the 1930s as an avowed conservative author and speaker. She was a staunch public critic of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt, his administration and his New Deal programs. Lane simply couldn’t stand the man. According to a 2012 article in the New Yorker, “When Roosevelt was elected; she noted in her diary, ‘America has a dictator.’ Lane is said to have prayed for his assassination, and considered out loud actually doing the job herself.
During the 1940s and 1950s, Lane played a hands-on role in launching the “libertarian movement” and is given credit by many for coining the term. There was even a file compiled by the FBI on Lane during this time, over concerns about the strong political stances which she championed.
After her mother’s death, Lane also wrote and published On The Way Home, providing the backstory around her mother’s original 1894 diary of the journey from South Dakota to Missouri. This was intended to serve as the wrap up to the Little House series, for those fans who since her mother’s death that were now writing to Lane wanting to know, “what happened next?”
Rose Wilder Lane remained quite active as both caretaker of her mother’s legacy and as an active voice in the Libertarian Movement until her death in 1968.
— Various Sources