Many minorities and women. Eleanor Roosevelt was born

Many Americans are unaware of Eleanor Roosevelt’s many accomplishments, displayed both while married to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and after his death in 1945. She was a proficient advocate of liberal causes such as child welfare, housing reform, and equal rights for racial minorities and women. Eleanor Roosevelt was born in New York City on October 11, 1884. Elliott Roosevelt, her father, was the younger brother of Theodore Roosevelt and suffered from alcoholism and narcotic addiction. Between 1890 and 1891, during the third overseas trip for the Roosevelt family, Elliot Roosevelt was sent to an asylum in France. His brother Theodore Roosevelt committed him to a an institution in Dwight, Illinois a year later in an effort to end his addiction. Eleanor’s mother, Anna Hall, died when Eleanor was eight years old. Her four-year-old brother died the following year, and her father died the year after that. What once was a family of five had been reduced to two (“First Lady Biography: Eleanor Roosevelt” n.d.).During the time Eleanor Roosevelt’s father had been held in a French asylum for recovery treatment, the family lived in Italy. Her mother, unable to deal with her own family issues, placed Eleanor Roosevelt in a convent school. Little is known about Eleanor’s experience there, including what, if any, educational training she received there. After her mother’s death, Eleanor was moved to England, where she was enrolled in Allenswood Girls Academy, run by Marie Souvestre. Eleanor Roosevelt later stated that Souvestre as the first greatest influence on her life. In the academy, she was taught French, German, Italian, English literature, music, drawing, painting, and dance (“First Lady Biography: Eleanor Roosevelt” n.d.).One of Eleanor’s closest friends was a distant cousin, young Harvard student Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The two became engaged in 1903 and were married two years later, with her uncle Teddy Roosevelt, who had skipped the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York to attend the wedding, giving the bride away during the ceremony. Within eleven years of marriage, Eleanor bore six children, one daughter, and five sons (“Anna Eleanor Roosevelt” 2017).After Franklin had been employed as an attorney on Wall Street,  he was elected to the New York State Senate as a representative of Dutchess County. After moving to the state capital city of Albany, Eleanor Roosevelt began to attend congressional sessions and build an interest in politics. While Franklin served in the state Senate from 1910 to 1913, Eleanor started her long career as his political helpmate (“First Lady Biography: Eleanor Roosevelt” n.d.).During the Woodrow Wilson Administration, FDR was appointed Assistant Navy Secretary. Eleanor Roosevelt joined other cabinet spouses in accepting the invitation of the First Lady to tour the alley dwellings of deplorable housing conditions of the capital city’s largely African-American underclass. During WWI, Eleanor Roosevelt assumed several volunteer jobs in Washington, D.C. working for two private aid organizations which assumed roles in providing supplemental care for seamen, the Navy Relief Society, which focused on needs of sailors, and the American Red Cross. She was asked by a Navy Chaplain to give emotional support and bear witness to the terrible conditions of sailors who returned from the war with mental health issues and were being treated at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital (“First Lady Biography: Eleanor Roosevelt” n.d.).No First Lady served through two nationally traumatic events such as did Eleanor Roosevelt, presiding at the White House during the Great Depression and World War II. Unique to her tenure was the fact that the President was physically limited by his then-hidden condition of polio. Thus apart from finding a way to integrate her own professional interests and experiences into the public role of First Lady and assume the traditional management of the White House, Eleanor Roosevelt worked closely with the President and his staff as an unofficial Administration representative and on policy-related issues. She knew for certain that she would be active in word and deeds, especially in light of the devastation the Great Depression was continuing to have on the lives of millions of Americans. Her extraordinary history of experience and work in progressive advocacy policy, the media, education, and women’s issues, however, greatly informed her as she found her direction. In terms of her life experiences and her evolving vision as First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt was unprecedented in comparison to others who had or would assume the role (“Anna Eleanor Roosevelt” n.d.).Two days after becoming First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt held what was to become the first of 348 press conferences.. They gave her the chance to focus on breaking news, whether it was the threat that Hitler presented in Europe or the problems of Washington, D.C.’s social welfare institutions. What made Eleanor Roosevelt’s White House press conferences so unique was the open ban on any male reporters. Large publications wanted to report the news that Eleanor released, but could do so only by continuing to employ women reporters. This practice proved crucial in establishing women reporters as part of the modern White House Press Corps. She also was the first presidential wife to travel all over the country, give lectures and radio broadcasts, and express her opinions in a daily newspaper column, “My Day” (“First Lady Biography: Eleanor Roosevelt” n.d.) While Eleanor Roosevelt took an active interest and was well versed in all the areas of The New Deal, her focus was mostly on the reform movement. Her efforts can be largely seen as providing aid and relief to citizens who were homeless, hungry and unemployed. Those whom she most often ensured equal and fair treatment for were women, African Americans, youth, and coal miners. The First Lady was successful in changing both the Civil Works Administration and the Federal Emergency Relief Administration to expand to include divisions that dealt specifically with the problems faced by unemployed women (“Anna Eleanor Roosevelt Is Born” n.d.). Eleanor Roosevelt was emotionally troubled by the Roosevelt Administration’s policy of sending Japanese-Americans to internment camps. She initially voiced her strong protest of the policy in public, and soon enlisted the Attorney General to fight the policy with the President. With the public mostly anti-Japanese, however, she lost her case, focusing then on their processing, making certain they were evacuated from their homes with dignity, and that families were kept together. In November of 1943, her disgust and shame at the camps seemed to have had some influence on FDR for he approved plans to begin letting individuals have exit permits, though he maintained the general policy until after he had won his fourth presidential election, in 1944 (“First Lady Biography: Eleanor Roosevelt” n.d.).After the President’s death in 1945, she returned to a cottage at his Hyde Park estate. Within a year, however, she began her service as American spokesman in the United Nations. She continued a vigorous career until she began to suffer physically in 1962. She died in New York City that November and was buried at Hyde Park beside her husband (“Anna Eleanor Roosevelt” 2017).


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