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The wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt changed the role of the first lady through her active participation in American politics.
Eleanor Roosevelt and her husband Franklin were well known for being gracious and fun loving hosts at both the White House and their home at Hyde Park.
A short biography of Eleanor Roosevelt, who became one of the most outspoken First Ladies in the White House. She became politically active by writing a newspaper column and drafting the UN Bill on Human Rights.
Biography of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and her relationships with body guard Earl Miller and Associated Press reporter Lorena Hickok.
Biography of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and her proactive campaigning for husband, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, for his policies and programs unlike her predecessors.
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Born in New York City on October 11, 1884, Eleanor Roosevelt—the niece of Theodore Roosevelt—was one of the most outspoken women in the White House. She married Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1905. During her husband's presidency, Eleanor gave press conferences and wrote a newspaper column. After his death, she served at the United Nations, focusing on human rights and women's issues.
"The political influence that was attributed to me was nil where my husband was concerned ...If I felt strongly about anything, I told Franklin, since he had the power to do things and I did not, but he did not always feel as I felt."
"We need not fear any isms if our democracy is achieving the ends for which it was established."
"It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness."
"No matter how plain a woman may be, if truth and loyalty are stamped upon her face, all will be attracted to her."
"My interest ... is not aroused by an abstract cause but by the plight of a single person."
"The greatest thing I have learned is how good it is to come home again."
"The ability to think for myself did not develop until I was well on in life and therefore no real personality developed in my early youth."
"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face ...You must do the thing you think you cannot do."
"From the personal standpoint, I did not want my husband to be president. It was pure selfishness on my part, and I never mentioned my feelings on the subject to him."
"It was not until I reached middle age that I had the courage to develop interests of my own, outside of my duties to my family."
"One thing I believe profoundly—we make our own history."
"I was a solemn child, without beauty and painfully shy."
First lady, writer and humanitarian Eleanor Roosevelt was born Anna Eleanor Roosevelt on October 11, 1884, in New York City. The niece of President Theodore Roosevelt, Eleanor was known as a shy child, and experienced tremendous loss at a young age: Her mother died in 1892 and her father died two years later, when she was just 10 years old. Eleanor was sent to school in England when she was a teenager—an experience that helped draw her out of her shell.
In 1905, Eleanor married her distant cousin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who would later become president of the United States. The couple had six children: Anna, James, Franklin (who died as an infant), Elliott, Franklin Jr. and John. Despite her busy home life, Eleanor became active in public service during World War I, working for the American Red Cross.
After her husband suffered a polio attack in 1921, Eleanor stepped forward to help Franklin with his political career. When her husband became president in 1933, Eleanor dramatically changed the role of the first lady. Not content to stay in the background and handle domestic matters, she showed the world that the first lady was an important part of American politics. She gave press conferences and spoke out for human rights, children's causes and women's issues, working on behalf of the League of Women Voters. She even had her own newspaper column, "My Day." She also focused on helping the country's poor, stood against racial discrimination and, during World War II, traveled abroad to visit U.S. troops.
For her active role in public policy, Eleanor was heavily criticized by some. She was praised by others, however, and today, she is regarded by as a leader of women's and civil rights, as well as one of the first public officials to publicize important issues through the mass media.
Following her husband's death, on April 12, 1945, Eleanor told interviewers that she didn't have plans for continuing her public service: "The story is over," she reportedly stated. However, the opposite would actually prove to be true. From 1945 to 1953, Eleanor served as a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly. She also became chair of the UN's Human Rights Commission. As a member of the Human Rights Commission, she helped to write the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—an effort that she considered to be her greatest achievement.
Outside of her political work, Eleanor wrote several books about her life and experiences, including This Is My Story (1937), This I Remember (1949), On My Own (1958) and Autobiography (1961). She made a return to public service the same year her autobiography was published (1961), when President John F. Kennedy made her a delegate to the United Nations.
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Eleanor Roosevelt began courting her father's fifth cousin, 20-year-old Harvard student Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in 1903. The couple got engaged in November, married on St. Patrick's Day 1905, and produced six children, five of whom survived infancy. In 1921, while vacationing in Campobello Island, New Brunswick, FDR contracted an illness that resulted in permanent paralysis of his legs. Another blow followed: FDR's affair with Eleanor's social secretary, Lucy Mercer. The marriage endured, however, and as President and First Lady, they used their influence to promote New Deal policies and advocate for civil rights.
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When the 19th Amendment was ratified, women were finally given the right to vote, and over the years many courageous women have stepped onto the national political stage as well. In 1916, Jeannette Rankin became the first woman elected to Congress and almost a century later Sonia Sotomayor became the first Latina woman to serve on the Supreme Court. And within the last two decades, the esteemable Hillary Clinton has served as First Lady, a New York senator and Secretary of State. These women, and many more, are setting the stage for the future of female leaders in Washington.
Visit Biography.com's Women's History group to explore more biographies, photos and videos of some the world's most fascinating women."
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