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Margaret Suckley was a close friend and confidante of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and served as the archivist for the first American presidential library.
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In her will, she bequeathed Wilderstein to a preservation society to protect it in perpetuity.
After her death, friends and family members of Suckley were sorting through her crumbling mansion and found a worn silk-lined suitcase under her bed. Inside were diaries and letters, including more than 30 written to her by Franklin Roosevelt in his own hand, as well as letters from her to him. The letters revealed much about the true nature of their relationship,
but also raised even more questions. Though much of the correspondence deals with mundane concerns, many letters contain romantic overtones that suggest an intellectual, if not a physical, intimacy. On more than one occasion, FDR wrote, “I wish you were here,” referring to her fondly as “Daisy.”
The letters also show Suckley to be one of FDR’s closest companions during his final years. They reveal a mutual friendship of love, trust and discretion. As a confidante, Suckley was unconditionally trusted by Roosevelt. He wrote to her about the invasion of Normandy, his doubts about the 1944 election and of his desire to leave the White House for a quieter life. He even suggested quitting the presidency to head the United Nations. As for Suckley, it is clear from her letters that she had a deep affection for Roosevelt. He also wrote to Suckley about his failing health, which she helped keep a secret from the public, the press and many of his political associates. Suckley was with Roosevelt on April 12, 1945, when he died at the “Little White House” in Warm Springs, Georgia.
For most of her life, Margaret Suckley was an unassuming woman who remained on the fringes of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s entourage of friends, family and political allies. She never married and often referred to herself as a “prim spinster.” She and FDR two enjoyed one of the most secret relationships of the 20th century, revealed nearly five decades after Roosevelt’s death through the letters they exchanged for nearly 20 years.
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