By: Ele Thompson
Fifty years after the death of Eleanor Roosevelt, people are still fascinated by her. The wealthy childhood she enjoyed is very interesting. Her life as the first lady of the United States intrigued many people. Even after her husband’s death she remained active in politics and social organizations.
The birth of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt occurred on October 11, 1884. She was born in New York City to the parents of Elliot Roosevelt and Anna Hall Roosevelt. Eleanor was named Anna after her mother and her aunt Anna Cowles. Eleanor after her father, and was nicknamed “Ellie” or “Little Nell”. She was also the niece of President Theodore Roosevelt. Eleanor also acted in such a good manner that as a child her mother nicknamed her “Granny”. Her mother died from a disease called diphtheria when she was eight. Eleanor’s father also died as an alcoholic two years later. Her brother Elliot Jr. died from the same disease as her mother.
Eleanor as a teenager was raised by her maternal grandmother, Mary Ludlow Hall. Eleanor was insecure and wanted affection. She felt that she was the “ugly duckling”. At the age of 15 her family sent her to Allenswood Academy, a private school in London, England. During her time there she learned to speak French and she gained self confidence. Roosevelt returned to the United States in 1902 at the age of 17. This move ended her education. She was later given a debutante party at the Waldorf- Astoria Hotel. She also did volunteer work in the East Side slums of New York City. That same year she met her father’s fifth cousin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and she was excited when the 20-year-old dashing Harvard University student demonstrated affection for her. On New Year’s Day, 1903, Franklin’s courtship of her began. Later she brought Franklin along with her on her rounds of the tenements, which was a walking tour that profoundly moved therefore sheltered young man. On November 1904 they became engaged, though it was not announced until December 1, 1904, at the insistence of his mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt. She took him on a cruise in 1904, hoping that the relationship would be separated and it would squelch the romance between them, but Franklin returned to Eleanor with a renewed ardor. Their wedding date was also fixed so that President Roosevelt, who agreed to give the bride away.
Eleanor Roosevelt still fascinates people even after all of these years. Out of her whole life time she had been nominated three times for a noble peace prize between 1947 and 1955. Eleanor was also a member of the Brandeis University Board of Trustees, delivering the University’s first commencements speech, and she joined the Brandeis faculty. In 1961, all volunteers of Roosevelt’s autobiography which she had begun in writing in 1937 were complied into the Auto-biography of Eleanor Roosevelt. Some of the charities or groups she was in included the Chairman of the Presidential Commission on The Status of Women,Chairman of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, and United States Representitive of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Her and her husband had six children. She was also the niece of President Theodore Roosevelt. Her two brothers were Elliot Roosevelt Jr. and Hall Roosevelt. She also had a half brother named Elliot Roosevelt Mann( he died 1941). When she was little she acted in such an old fashioned manner as a child that her father had once nicknamed her “Granny”.
Eleanor at the age of 20, married Franklin Roosevelt, age 23, which was her fifth cousin was removed, on March 17, 1905 (St. Patrick’s Day). The couple spent a preliminary honeymoon of one week at the Hyde Park, and then they set up housekeeping in a townhouse in New York City. That same summer they spent a three month tour in England for their formal honeymoon. Retuning form the U.S., the newlyweds settled in New York City in a house provided by Franklin’s mother. She did not gain a measure of independence until her husband was elected to the state sense and then they moved to Albany, New York. The Roosevelt’s had six children and five of them survived infancy. Anna Eleanor Jr. was born on May 3, 1906. Their second child was James Roosevelt and he was born on December 23, 1907. The third child was Franklin Delano Jr. was born on March 18, 1909. Then they had a son named Elliot Roosevelt and he was born on September 23, 1910. Their next son was named John Aspinwall and he was born on March 13, 1916. Finally the last son was named Franklin Delano Jr. and he was born on August 17, 1914. The family began spending their summers at an Island called Campobello, New Brunswick, on the Maine-Canada border which was where Franklin was stricken with a paralytic illness in August 1921, which resulted in permanent paralysis in her legs. It was Eleanor who prodded Franklin to return to an active life. She is also the only First Lady whose maiden name and married name were identical. Eleanor still had a continuous relationship with her mother-in-law. Before she fell in love with Franklin she already had a relationship with Sara but it was a highly engaging cousin. Even though Eleanor had a hard relationship with her mother-in-law, Sara wanted to be Eleanor’s mother-in-law. From Sara’s opinion, Eleanor was pretty young and inexperienced and also lacked maternal support. Sara felt like she had a lot to teach her daughter-in-law on what a young wife probably should know. Sara was also very disposed to ensure her son’s success in every area of life including his marriage. Sometimes even Eleanor had issues with the influence that came with the “mother’s largesse.”
Following her husband’s paralytic illness attack in 1921, she began serving as a stand-in for her incapacitated husband, making many appearances on his behalf, and carefully coached by Louis Howe, with successful results. This is when she began working with the Women’s Trade Union League (WTUL), raising many funds in the support of the union’s goal: 48 hour week, which was minimum wage, and the abolishment of child labor. Through the 1920’s, she became very influential as a leader in the New York State Democratic Party while her husband used her contacts Democratic women to try to strengthen his standing with them. In the 1920’s Eleanor taught some literature and American History at the Todhunter School for women, now the Dalton School, in New York City.
According the Presidential inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt on March 4, 1993, Eleanor became the First Lady of the United States. Having watched the strictly restrain and common protocol of her aunt, Edith Roosevelt, during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909), Roosevelt went out on a different course. With Eleanor’s husband very strong support, despite the criticism of them both, she still continued with the bustling business and speaking the agenda she had started before becoming the First Lady, in an area where very few women had careers. Eleanor was the first to hold weekly conferences and she also started writing a widely newspaper column, “My Day” at the urging of her agent, George T. Bye. She also maintained a travel schedule over her 12 years in the White House. In a widely cartoon of this time from The New York magazine (June 3, 1933) an astonish coal miner, coming down from a dark tunnel, says to a co-worker “For gosh sakes here comes “Mrs. Roosevelt!” She also became a very important connection with the African American population during the segregation era. Eleanor was outspoken in her support of the Marian Anderson in 1939 when the black singer was contradicted the use of Washington’s Constitution Hall and was instrumental in the concert held on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The First Lady played a role in affairs when she appointed Mary McLeod Bethune. One big highlight of her years was the 1939 visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, which were the parents of the currently reigning Queen Elizabeth II and the first British monarchs to set a foot on the U.S.
Eleanor Roosevelt received 48 horary degrees during her whole life. Eleanor’s first was a Doctor of Humane or D.H.L. on June 13, 1929, was also the first honorary degree given and awarded b Russell Sage College in Troy, New York. Her last was a Doctors of Laws, LL.D. degree given by what is now Clark Atlanta University in June 1962. In the year of 1958, Folkways Records absolved a collection by Roosevelt of her account o the United Nations Declarations of Human Rights. Ten years later, she was awarded on one the United Nations Human Rights Prize. She was also nominated three times, during her whole life for a Nobel Peace Prize, between 1947 and 1955. Roosevelt was also the FirstLady to receive honorary membership into a sorority called Alpha Kappa Alpha. Following her husband’s death in 1945, she moved from the White House to New York where lived for the rest of her life. She got injured on April 1960 when she got struck by a car in New York City. Roosevelt died at her Manhattan home on November 7,1962 at 6:15 p.m. at the age of 78. Eleanor’s funeral was at Hyde Park and was attended by John F. Kennedy. A memorial to Eleanor was dedicated in 1996, and was built at the southern end of New York Riverside Park.
The life of Eleanor Roosevelt was filled with many exciting events.
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