Keely Bautista

Biography of Eleanor Roosevelt

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The position of First Lady is a tricky one; it's not a political or appointed office, yet during any presidential administration, her name (and personality) is far more known that that of the vice president or secretary of state. Likewise, the First Lady has, potentially, the ear of the president in a far more influential way than these other elected officials. Until recent years, most First Ladies made a deliberate choice not to get involved with the politics of running the country.

Eleanor Roosevelt's sense of duty, however, as well as her lifelong commitment to humanitarianism, led her to choose a different route. Still, by her own admission, her instincts for self-effacement would have probably kept her out of the political limelight, were it not for the crippling polio that curtailed many of her husband's speech-making appearances after 1921.

The timing for a First Lady such as Eleanor could not have been more auspicious. When Franklin Roosevelt took office as President of the United States, the country was in the grip of a fierce depression that threatened to topple its financial foundations. As the decade segued into the 1940s, the world became involved in a war against Nazism and Fascism. Domestically, racial and gender inequalities ran rife throughout the United States, at a time when the nation, more than ever, could not survive such division.


There is a famous photo of Eleanor and Franklin in their car during Inauguration Day, looking confident and even radiantly happy. It belied her true feelings of fear that she would be forced, for the sake of political correctness, into abandoning some of her pet projects a scenario she had no intention of allowing. That evening, Eleanor, the least socialite of all Washington wives, donned a silver-blue gown and fur coat and attended, by herself, the inaugural ball. She would be the only First Lady ever to do so without her husband, because Franklin didn't want to be publicly seen in a wheelchair and unable to dance.

According to the second volume of her autobiography, This I Remember, Eleanor said of her husband's presidency (and her own prominence) to her friend, reporter Lorena Hickok, “I never wanted it, even though some people have said that my ambition for myself drove him on…I never wanted to be a President's wife, and I don't want it now.”

Buy a copy to keep reading!


Biography of Eleanor Roosevelt

+ Introduction

+ Beginnings

+ First Lady of a State and a Nation

+ White House Years

+ …and much more
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