Eleanor Roosevelt Biography

Eleanor Roosevelt was one of the most active First Ladies of all time. She fought for human rights and wasn't afraid to speak her mind.

She was a woman of grace, wisdom, and was very interested in the subject of human rights. Her uncle, Theodore, was President of the United States and Eleanor Roosevelt herself became First Lady in 1933.

Although always called Eleanor, the name given to her at birth was Anna Eleanor Roosevelt. She was born on October 11, 1884 to Elliot Roosevelt and Anna Hall Roosevelt. The family was wealthy and Eleanor never lacked any physical comforts. She was not quite so lucky in the self esteem department, however, and thought of herself as

"painfully shy" and never saw beauty in herself. She even felt ashamed of these things because of the notable outward beauty her mother possessed.

In addition, Eleanor's childhood was not a happy one. There was not a good relationship with her mother, and her father was denied access to the family after developing a problem with alcoholism.

Both of Eleanor's parents had died before she even entered her teenage years, her mother passing away first when Eleanor was only eight. Eleanor was sent to live with a grandmother, and then her father died two years later.

Age fifteen found Eleanor being sent to a finishing school for girls near London. The schooling turned the awkward girl into a woman with social grace prepared to be introduced into society.

When she was nineteen, she became engaged to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. They shared a common last name because they were distant cousins. Much too distant to prevent a marriage, luckily for them. The engagement was not formally announced for some time, and the wedding took place on St. Patrick's Day, 1905. President Theodore Roosevelt gave the bride away.

Franklin and Eleanor's marriage produced six children, five of whom lived. Anna, James, Elliot, Franklin, Jr. and John were born between 1906 and 1916. During the time her children were very young, Eleanor worked with the Red Cross while World War I was raging. Franklin was the Assistant Secretary of the Navy during this time period.

In 1921, just five years after the birth of their last child, John, Franklin Roosevelt was crippled from polio. He was thirty-nine years old. Eleanor made sure to help keep his political career alive and thriving.



The year 1927 found Eleanor serving as vice principal at a school in New York City of which she was one of the owners. She taught history and government classes during this time.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt ran for and won the presidency in 1932 and was sworn into office in 1933. He successfully won four consecutive elections, remaining President until 1945. He had only served a few months into his fourth term when he died in April of that year. Eleanor had a significant role in helping the President.

Eleanor was never satisfied to be simply a

"hostess" in the White House. She had a great interest in human rights and was active in politics. She lectured around the country and planned all-female press conferences. Eleanor Roosevelt even hosted her own radio show. She traveled to visit with soldiers during World War II. She worked toward the goal of racial equality and got involved in many projects involving equal rights.

Also as First Lady, Eleanor helped with forming the National Youth Administration, worked for anti-segregation legislation, and helped with getting the Army Nurse Corps to accept black women into membership.

After Franklin's death, Eleanor remained active in her causes. She was a founder of Americans for Democratic Action in 1947 and a delegate for the United States to the United Nations for eight years, at the request of President Harry Truman. She worked as leader for the Human Rights Commission of the U.N. and held this position from 1945 until 1952 and was again later named a United Nations delegate by President John F. Kennedy in 1961.

Eleanor also used her skills as a speaker and writer to author a newspaper column called "My Day" from 1935 until near to the time of her death. Many wise quotations came from her heart and pen. The My Day column appeared six days a week, no matter what Eleanor happened to be doing or from where she was writing. The column did not appear the few days following Franklin's death but was consistent after that time.

She wrote of her concerns, of controversial topics, and of things that affected Americans. Her wisdom was evident in the quotes from many of her columns. In May of 1937, she wrote "It is not so much what people do in this world as their reasons for doing it which really makes a difference. Sacrifices are not so important as the reasons for which you sacrifice, and no sacrifice is any good which remains ever present as such."

Two years later, another quote of great wisdom came from Eleanor's newspaper column. It was April of 1939, and her though at the time was "It takes courage to love, but pain through love is the purifying fire which those who love generously know. We all know people who are so much afraid of pain that they shut themselves up like clams in a shell and, giving out nothing, receive nothing and therefore shrink until life is a mere living death."

In addition to her syndicated column, over two dozen books were authored by Eleanor Roosevelt over the years. In her book titled This Is My Story, she mentions one of the first things that started her wanting to watch out for the rights and welfare of others. She says, "Very early I became conscious of the fact that there were men and women and children around me who suffered in one way or another. I think I was five or six when my father took me for the first time to help serve Thanksgiving Day dinner in one of the newsboy's club houses which my grandfather Theodore Roosevelt had started."

A stroke claimed Eleanor Roosevelt's life in November of 1962. She had lived her life trying to help the less fortunate, and those minorities that were being oppressed at the time. She was outspoken and often said the things that others thought but dared not say. Eleanor is buried at the family home at Hyde Park, New York, next to Franklin.

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