First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was brought into the world on October 11th 1884, in New York City, New York by her father, Elliott Roosevelt and mother, Anna Rebecca Hall. Elliott Roosevelt was an heir, and brother of the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, who never had the need for a career though he once held a position as junior partner at a real estate firm, in his earlier years. He spent most of his time hunting and in later years suffered from alcoholism and an addiction to narcotics. He was later committed to an asylum in France but not before taking multiple trips around the world with his fourth cousin James Roosevelt and his wife Sara Delano Roosevelt. After their trip together, Elliott was asked to be godfather to James and Sara’s son, Franklin. Anna Rebecca Hall-Roosevelt was a popular figure in the New York City social scene both before and after her marriage to Elliott Roosevelt. She gave birth to two other children after Eleanor but sadly she died two years after her husband passed away in a French asylum. This left Eleanor and her two younger brothers in the care of their maternal grandmother. 

Eleanor had a very good education which consisted of years of private tutoring by a tutor whom solely provided services to families of the wealthy in New York at the time. In 1890, Eleanor attended a convent school in Italy. Seven years later, she attended the Allenswood Girl’s Academy in England. She attended the academy for three years which is where she developed a love of politics and geography. Eleanor later described the years she spent at the academy as the “happiest years” of her life. After schooling, she became active in the social atmosphere that her mother had been involved in though she was not interested in pursuing the social life that her mother and grandmother had. Eleanor wanted to do more and became involved actively with social reform movements in the Progressive Era; she then worked as a secretary and investigator. During a train trip to her grandmother’s home, Eleanor struck up a conversation with another passenger by the name of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, her fifth cousin, once removed. The two began to secretly date and eventually it led to an engagement. Their families believed that they were much too young for marriage and encouraged them to separate but they proceeded against their wishes, Former President Theodore Roosevelt, Eleanor’s uncle, walked her down the aisle during their wedding ceremony and the two married anyway despite the objections. 

After marriage, Eleanor and Franklin had six children, one daughter and five sons. Not long after marriage, Eleanor began to develop an interest in politics as her husband, was appointed Assistant Navy Secretary from 1913 to 1920. In 1920, Franklin Roosevelt was nominated as the democratic vice presidential candidate. The Republican Party won the election and Franklin returned to his career in New York. Eleanor became deeply involved in various organizations and committees until 1929, when Franklin became the governor of New York. This made Eleanor the First Lady of New York state and gave her many resources to advocate women’s rights. Eventually, once again Franklin Roosevelt became involved in the presidential election, however this time as a candidate for presidency. Eleanor stood by Franklin and even voted for her husband. Eleanor Roosevelt held the title of First lady longer than any other presidential wife. Her husband’s presidency lasted for twelve years, one month, one week and one day. Eleanor was first lady through many national tragedies, including the Great Depression and World War II. She was extremely active verbally and physically throughout her time as First Lady, she held various press conferences and had a huge impact on women’s rights. Eleanor had a strong desire to run for presidency herself and many suspected that she encouraged her husband to become president, in order to fulfill her own political goals and desires. Eleanor Roosevelt devoted her entire adult life to human rights, especially women’s rights and politics, she even continued her practices after the death of her husband in 1945 up until her own death in 1962, at the age of 78. 

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