The Roosevelts and the Royals by Will Swift
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About Franklin D. Roosevelt

About King George VIAbout Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother


ELEANOR ROOSEVELT

Born October 11, 1884

Died November 7, 1962

Married Franklin Delano Roosevelt March 17, 1905

Six Children: Anna, Franklin Jr. (died in infancy), James, Elliott, Franklin Jr. and John.

Eleanor Roosevelt was the favorite niece of President Theodore Roosevelt. Al- though born into a prominent family, she endured a troubled childhood and often experienced life as a shy and inadequate outsider. Her beautiful mother, Anna, who died when Eleanor was eight, called her "Granny" and told her, "You have no looks, see to it that you have manners." After her alcoholic father Elliott died when she was ten years old, her dour grandmother sent her to boarding school in London during her teenage years. There she developed a life-long fondness for England.

When Eleanor returned home, she was thrilled and amazed that her distant cousin, the handsome and confident Franklin Roosevelt, began to court her. Despite the objections of his overbearing mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt, Eleanor and Franklin became engaged in 1903. When they married on St. Patrick’s Day in 1905 in a townhouse off Fifth Avenue, Eleanor’s Uncle Ted gave her away. Although she was uncomfortable with child-rearing, Eleanor bore six children over the next eleven years.

Eleanor became a dutiful political wife, supporting her husband as a New York State senator from 1910 to 1913 and then as Assistant Secretary of the Navy in Washington DC from 1913 until 1920. When he was struck with poliomyelitis in 1921, she nursed him devotedly and then encouraged him to lead an active political life- even fighting his mother who wanted him to retire to the quiet of Hyde Park.

Pursuing her own identity through involvement in women’s issues, Eleanor became an active Democrat and advocated better working conditions for women, the abolition of child labor, supported birth control, championed adequate housing and world peace. Eleanor made considerable income from radio shows, lectures, and magazine articles. With a group of feminist friends, she founded Val-Kill Industries, which provided jobs for people to make furniture, and the liberal Todhunter School in Manhattan.

After her husband became governor of New York in 1928, Eleanor became Franklin’s eyes and ears- reporting on social conditions in the state and the nation. At first, when Franklin Roosevelt ran for president in 1932, she dreaded the social responsibilities. "I did not want my husband to be president," Eleanor later declared. "It was pure selfishness on my part, and I never mentioned my feelings on the subject to him." She believed that her role as First Lady would signal "the end of any personal life of my own." However, in the White House she transformed the role of First Lady by holding press conferences, traveling ceaselessly to examine how her husband’s New Deal policies were affecting the nation, and by expressing her frank opinions in a daily syndicated newspaper column, "My Day." In the 1930s, Franklin and Eleanor worked closely together to bring America out of the Depression by improving economic, social, and working conditions for the nation. She won widespread respect for her compassion, integrity, and courage- often serving as the conscience of her husband’s administration. Her favorite motto was "You must do the thing you cannot do."

After America entered the Second World War against the dictators in Europe and Asia in 1941, Eleanor took on the role of a "universal mother" while visiting U.S. troops at home and abroad. In the fall of 1942, Queen Elizabeth invited the First Lady to England where she could observe the British women’s contribution to the war effort, and visit U.S. troops. Even Winston Churchill, with whom she often clashed, acknowledged her extraordinary impact on Great Britain. The next year she comforted and encouraged American troops on a lonely and depressing tour of war zones in the South Pacific.

When she became a widow in April 1945, she told a reporter that "the story is over." But that December, she accepted President Truman’s appointment as the only female delegate to the United Nations. In her seven years at the United Nations she headed the commission that created the first international bill of rights, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, supported both the founding of the state of Israel and the independence of India, and took a stand against communist despots. In the 1940s and 1950s, as she traveled the world working indefatigably for social justice and international peace, President Truman dubbed her "First Lady of the World."

In her last years, Eleanor had focused her energies on encouraging younger people: "I think perhaps one of the things to be desired in old age is the power to acquire new interests and to meet whatever situation comes with a gallantry which makes people feel that you are conferring a privilege on them when you share a little of your life with them." Only in 1962 did she begin to lose her extraordinary drive and energy. When she died in November of that year, she was buried beside her husband at Hyde Park. Four American presidents were among the mourners at her funeral. After her death former President Truman nominated her for the Nobel Prize.

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FOR MORE ON ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, PLEASE VISIT:

The Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute
Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century: Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt Timeline: 1884-1920
ROYAL PORTAL - Eleanor Roosevelt - 1884-1962



The Roosevelts and the Royals
Franklin and Eleanor, The King and Queen of England, and the Friendship that Changed History

by Will Swift
John Wiley & Sons: June 2004; ISBN: 0-471-45962-3; Hardcover; 384 pages
Now available at Amazon, BN.com, or your local bookstore



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