The A to Z of the Roosevelt-Truman Era (The A to Z Guide Series)

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By the time of her death, Roosevelt was regarded as "one of the most esteemed women in the world"; The New York Times her called "the object of almost universal respect" in an obituary. Through her father, she was a niece of President Theodore Roosevelt. Her mother nicknamed her "Granny" because she acted in such a serious manner as a child. Roosevelt had two younger brothers: Elliott Jr. She also had a half brother, Elliott Roosevelt Mann, through her father's affair with Katy Mann, a servant employed by the family.

Her mother died from diphtheria on December 7, , and Elliott Jr. He survived the fall but died from a seizure. Roosevelt doted on Hall, and when he enrolled at Groton School in , she accompanied him as a chaperone.

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While he was attending Groton, she wrote him almost daily, but always felt a touch of guilt that Hall had not had a fuller childhood. She took pleasure in Hall's brilliant performance at school, and was proud of his many academic accomplishments, which included a master's degree in engineering from Harvard. After the deaths of her parents, Roosevelt was raised in the household of her maternal grandmother, Mary Livingston Ludlow of the Livingston family in Tivoli, New York.

Roosevelt was tutored privately and with the encouragement of her aunt Anna "Bamie" Roosevelt , she was sent to Allenswood Academy at the age of 15, a private finishing school in Wimbledon, outside London, England, [22] where she was educated from to The headmistress, Marie Souvestre , was a noted educator who sought to cultivate independent thinking in young women.

Souvestre took a special interest in Roosevelt, who learned to speak French fluently and gained self-confidence. She was beloved by everybody. At age 17 in , Roosevelt completed her formal education and returned to the United States; she was presented at a debutante ball at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel on December She was later given her own "coming out party". It was a beautiful party, of course, but I was so unhappy, because a girl who comes out is so utterly miserable if she does not know all the young people. Of course I had been so long abroad that I had lost touch with all the girls I used to know in New York.

I was miserable through all that. Roosevelt was active with the New York Junior League shortly after its founding, teaching dancing and calisthenics in the East Side slums. But, he added, "I know my own mind, and known it for a long time, and know that I could never think otherwise. Patrick's Day parade, and who agreed to give the bride away. The couple were married on March 17, , in a wedding officiated by Endicott Peabody , the groom's headmaster at Groton School.

Theodore Roosevelt's attendance at the ceremony was front-page news in The New York Times and other newspapers. When asked for his thoughts on the Roosevelt—Roosevelt union, the president said, "It is a good thing to keep the name in the family. That summer they went on their formal honeymoon , a three-month tour of Europe. From the beginning, Roosevelt had a contentious relationship with her controlling mother-in-law. The townhouse that Sara gave to Eleanor and Franklin was connected to her own residence by sliding doors, and Sara ran both households in the decade after the marriage. Early on, Roosevelt had a breakdown in which she explained to Franklin that "I did not like to live in a house which was not in any way mine, one that I had done nothing about and which did not represent the way I wanted to live", but little changed.

Despite becoming pregnant six times, Roosevelt disliked having sex with her husband. She once told her daughter Anna that it was an "ordeal to be borne". In September , Roosevelt was unpacking one of Franklin's suitcases when she discovered a bundle of love letters to him from her social secretary, Lucy Mercer. He had been contemplating leaving his wife for Lucy. However, following pressure from his political advisor, Louis Howe , and from his mother, who threatened to disinherit Franklin if he followed through with a divorce, the couple remained married.

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Disillusioned, Roosevelt again became active in public life, and focused increasingly on her social work rather than her role as a wife. In August , the family was vacationing at Campobello Island , New Brunswick , Canada, when Franklin was diagnosed with a paralytic illness , at the time believed to be polio. When the extent of his disability became clear, Roosevelt fought a protracted battle with her mother-in-law over his future, persuading him to stay in politics despite Sara's urgings that he retire and become a country gentleman.

Franklin's attending physician, Dr. William Keen, commended Roosevelt's devotion to the stricken Franklin during the time of his travail. This proved a turning point in Roosevelt and Sara's long-running struggle, and as Eleanor's public role grew, she increasingly broke from Sara's control. Franklin encouraged his wife to develop this property as a place where she could implement some of her ideas for work with winter jobs for rural workers and women. Each year, when Roosevelt held a picnic at Val-Kill for delinquent boys, her granddaughter Eleanor Roosevelt Seagraves assisted her.

She was close to her grandmother throughout her life. Seagraves concentrated her career as an educator and librarian on keeping alive many of the causes Roosevelt began and supported. In , she campaigned for Democrat Alfred E. Smith in his successful re-election bid as governor of New York State against the Republican nominee and her first cousin Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. Her aunt, Anna "Bamie" Roosevelt, publicly broke with her after the election. She wrote of her niece to her son, "I just hate to see Eleanor let herself look as she does.


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Though never handsome, she always had to me a charming effect. Alas and alack, ever since politics have become her choicest interest, all her charm has disappeared! Theodore's elder daughter Alice also broke with Roosevelt over her campaign. Alice and her aunt reconciled after the latter wrote Alice a comforting letter upon the death of Alice's daughter, Paulina Longworth. Roosevelt and her daughter Anna became estranged after she took over some of her mother's social duties at the White House. The relationship was further strained because Roosevelt desperately wanted to go with her husband to Yalta in February two months before FDR's death , but he took Anna instead.

A few years later, the two were able to reconcile and cooperate on numerous projects. Anna took care of her mother when she was terminally ill in Roosevelt's son Elliott authored numerous books, including a mystery series in which his mother was the detective. However, these murder mysteries were researched and written by William Harrington. They continued until Harrington's death in , ten years after Elliott's death. Published in , the biography also contains valuable insights into FDR's run for vice president, his rise to the governorship of New York, and his capture of the presidency in , particularly with the help of Louis Howe.

Another of the siblings, James, published My Parents, a Differing View with Bill Libby , , which was written in part as a response to Elliot's book. Mother R. In the s, Roosevelt had a very close relationship with legendary aviator Amelia Earhart.

One time, the two sneaked out from the White House and went to a party dressed up for the occasion. After flying with Earhart, Roosevelt obtained a student permit but did not further pursue her plans to learn to fly. Franklin was not in favor of his wife becoming a pilot. Nevertheless, the two women communicated frequently throughout their lives. Roosevelt also had a close relationship with Associated Press AP reporter Lorena Hickok , who covered her during the last months of the presidential campaign and "fell madly in love with her".

Edgar Hoover despised Roosevelt's liberalism, her stance regarding civil rights, and her and her husband's criticisms of Hoover's surveillance tactics, and so Hoover maintained a large file on Roosevelt, [56] which the filmmakers of the biopic J. Edgar indicate included compromising evidence of this relationship, which Hoover intended to blackmail Roosevelt with. Compromised as a reporter, Hickok soon resigned her position with the AP to be closer to Roosevelt, who secured her a job as an investigator for a New Deal program.

There is considerable debate about whether or not Roosevelt had a sexual relationship with Hickok. It was known in the White House press corps at the time that Hickok was a lesbian. Doris Kearns Goodwin stated in her Pulitzer Prize —winning account of the Roosevelts that "whether Hick and Eleanor went beyond kisses and hugs" could not be determined with certainty. Rupp criticized Faber's argument, calling her book "a case study in homophobia" and arguing that Faber unwittingly presented "page after page of evidence that delineates the growth and development of a love affair between the two women".

Beasley stated, "That the Hickok relationship was indeed erotic now seems beyond dispute considering what is known about the letters they exchanged. In the same years, Washington gossip linked Roosevelt romantically with New Deal administrator Harry Hopkins , with whom she worked closely. He became her friend as well as her official escort, teaching her different sports, such as diving and riding, and coached her in tennis. Biographer Blanche Wiesen Cook writes that Miller was Roosevelt's "first romantic involvement" in her middle years.

But they are most unlikely to have had an 'affair'. Roosevelt's friendship with Miller occurred at the same time that her husband had a rumored relationship with his secretary, Marguerite "Missy" LeHand. Smith writes, "remarkably, both ER and Franklin recognized, accepted, and encouraged the arrangement Eleanor and Franklin were strong-willed people who cared greatly for each other's happiness but realized their own inability to provide for it.

They are thought to have corresponded daily, but all letters have been lost. According to rumor, the letters were anonymously purchased and destroyed, or locked away when she died. In later years, Roosevelt was said to have developed a romantic attachment to her physician, David Gurewitsch, though it was likely limited to a deep friendship. In the presidential election , Franklin was nominated as the running mate of Democratic presidential candidate James M. Roosevelt joined Franklin in touring the country, making her first campaign appearances.

Harding , who won with electoral votes to Following the onset of Franklin's paralytic illness in , Roosevelt began serving as a stand-in for her incapacitated husband, making public appearances on his behalf, often carefully coached by Louis Howe. Smith in his successful re-election bid as governor of New York State against the Republican nominee and her first cousin Theodore Roosevelt Jr.

He does not wear the brand of our family," which infuriated her.


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By , Roosevelt was promoting Smith's candidacy for president and Franklin's nomination as the Democratic Party's candidate for governor of New York, succeeding Smith. Although Smith lost the presidential race, Franklin won handily and the Roosevelts moved into the governor's mansion in Albany , New York. In , she joined friends Marion Dickerman and Nancy Cook in buying the Todhunter School for Girls, a finishing school which also offered college preparatory courses, in New York City.

At the school, Roosevelt taught upper-level courses in American literature and history, emphasizing independent thought, current events, and social engagement. She continued to teach three days a week while FDR served as governor, but was forced to leave teaching after his election as president. It was located on the banks of a stream that flowed through the Roosevelt family estate in Hyde Park, New York. Roosevelt and her business partners financed the construction of a small factory to provide supplemental income for local farming families who would make furniture, pewter, and homespun cloth using traditional craft methods.

Capitalizing on the popularity of the Colonial Revival , most Val-Kill products were modeled on eighteenth-century forms. Roosevelt promoted Val-Kill through interviews and public appearances. Val-Kill Industries never became the subsistence program that Roosevelt and her friends imagined, but it did pave the way for larger New Deal initiatives during Franklin's presidential administration. Cook's failing health and pressures from the Great Depression compelled the women to dissolve the partnership in , at which time Roosevelt converted the shop buildings into a cottage at Val-Kill , that eventually became her permanent residence after Franklin died in Otto Berge acquired the contents of the factory and the use of the Val-Kill name to continue making colonial-style furniture until he retired in In , Roosevelt's cottage at Val-Kill and its surrounding property of acres 0.

Having known all of the twentieth century's previous First Ladies, she was seriously depressed at having to assume the role, which had traditionally been restricted to domesticity and hostessing. With support from Howe and Hickok, Roosevelt set out to redefine the position. According to her biographer Blanche Wiesen Cook , she became "the most controversial First Lady in United States history" in the process. She was the first presidential spouse to hold regular press conferences and in became the first to speak at a national party convention.

Roosevelt maintained a heavy travel schedule in her twelve years in the White House, frequently making personal appearances at labor meetings to assure Depression-era workers that the White House was mindful of their plight. In one famous cartoon of the time from The New Yorker magazine June 3, , satirizing a visit she had made to a mine, an astonished coal miner, peering down a dark tunnel, says to a co-worker, "For gosh sakes, here comes Mrs.

In early , the " Bonus Army ", a protest group of World War I veterans, marched on Washington for the second time in two years, calling for their veteran bonus certificates to be awarded early. The previous year, President Hoover had ordered them dispersed, and the US Army cavalry charged and bombarded the veterans with tear gas.

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Also in after she became First Lady, a rose was discovered and named after Roosevelt, with the name Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt Rosa x hybrida "Mrs. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall". The American Youth Congress was formed in to advocate for youth rights in U.

Roosevelt's relationship with the AYC eventually led to the formation of the National Youth Administration , a New Deal agency in the United States, founded in , that focused on providing work and education for Americans between the ages of 16 and Speaking of the NYA in the s, Roosevelt expressed her concern about ageism, stating that "I live in real terror when I think we may be losing this generation. We have got to bring these young people into the active life of the community and make them feel that they are necessary. Roosevelt was in attendance at the hearings and afterward invited the subpoenaed witnesses to board at the White House during their stay in Washington D.

Joseph P. Lash was one of her boarders. The President admonished them to condemn not merely the Nazi regime but all dictatorships. Afterwards, many of the same youth picketed the White House as representatives of the American Peace Mobilization. Among them was Joseph Cadden, one of Roosevelt's overnight boarders. Roosevelt's chief project during her husband's first two terms was the establishment of a planned community in Arthurdale, West Virginia.

After an initial, disastrous experiment with prefab houses , construction began again in to Roosevelt's specifications, this time with "every modern convenience", including indoor plumbing and central steam heat. Families occupied the first fifty homes in June, and agreed to repay the government in thirty years' time. After losing a community vote, Roosevelt recommended the creation of other communities for the excluded black and Jewish miners.

Roosevelt remained a vigorous fundraiser for the community for several years, as well as spending most of her own income on the project. Conservatives condemned it as socialist and a "communist plot", while Democratic members of Congress opposed government competition with private enterprise. Later commentators generally described the Arthurdale experiment as a failure. But I do. During Franklin's administration, Roosevelt became an important connection to the African-American population in the era of segregation. Despite the President's desire to placate Southern sentiment, Roosevelt was vocal in her support of the civil rights movement.

After her experience with Arthurdale and her inspections of New Deal programs in Southern states, she concluded that New Deal programs were discriminating against African-Americans, who received a disproportionately small share of relief money. Roosevelt became one of the only voices in her husband's administration insisting that benefits be equally extended to Americans of all races.

Roosevelt also broke with tradition by inviting hundreds of African-American guests to the White House. Her White House invitation to the students became an issue in Franklin's re-election campaign. She was involved by being "the eyes and the ears" [] of the New Deal. She looked to the future and was committed to social reform. One of those programs helped working women receive better wages.

The New Deal also placed women into less machine work and more white collar work. Women did not have to work in the factories making war supplies because men were coming home so they could take over the long days and nights women had been working to contribute to the war efforts. Roosevelt brought unprecedented activism and ability to the role of the First Lady. In contrast to her usual support of African-American rights, the " sundown town " Eleanor , in West Virginia, was named for her and was established in when she and Franklin visited the county and developed it as a test site for families.

As a "sundown town", like other Franklin Roosevelt towns around the nation such as Greenbelt , Greenhills , Greendale , Hanford , or Norris , it was for whites only. Roosevelt's support of African-American rights made her an unpopular figure among whites in the South. Rumors spread of "Eleanor Clubs" formed by servants to oppose their employers and "Eleanor Tuesdays" on which African-American men would knock down white women on the street, though no evidence has ever been found of either practice.

Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, , Roosevelt spoke out against Japanese-American prejudice , warning against the "great hysteria against minority groups. On May 21, , Roosevelt visited Westmoreland Homesteads to mark the arrival of the community's final homesteader. Accompanying her on the trip was the wife of Henry Morgenthau Jr. I do not like charities," she had said earlier. But cooperative communities such as Westmoreland Homesteads, she went on, offered an alternative to "our rather settled ideas" that could "provide equality of opportunity for all and prevent the recurrence of a similar disaster [depression] in the future.

Roosevelt was an unprecedentedly outspoken First Lady who made far more use of the media than her predecessors; she held press conferences over the span of her husband's year presidency. She relaxed the rule only once, on her return from her Pacific trip. She also agreed at first that she would avoid discussing her views on pending congressional measures. Still, the press conferences provided a welcome opportunity for the women reporters to speak directly with the First Lady, access that had been unavailable in previous administrations.

Just before Franklin assumed the presidency in February , Roosevelt published an editorial in the Women's Daily News that conflicted so sharply with his intended public spending policies that he published a rejoinder in the following issue. Bye , Roosevelt's literary agent , encouraged her to write the column. Beasley has argued that Roosevelt's publications, which often dealt with women's issues and invited reader responses, represented a conscious attempt to use journalism "to overcome social isolation" for women by making "public communication a two-way channel".

Roosevelt also made extensive use of radio. The couple married in and had two sons, Doud Dwight who died of scarlet fever as a small child and John. World War I ended just before Eisenhower was scheduled to go to Europe, frustrating the young officer, but he soon managed to gain an appointment to the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Graduating first in his class of , he served as a military aide to General John J. Pershing , commander of U. Army chief of staff. During his seven years serving under MacArthur, Eisenhower was stationed in the Philippines from to Marshall called Eisenhower to Washington , D.

He then directed the amphibious invasion of Sicily and the Italian mainland in that led to the fall of Rome in June Made a full general in early , Eisenhower was appointed supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in December of that year and given the responsibility of spearheading the planned Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe. On D-Day June 6, , more than , Allied forces crossed the English Channel and stormed the beaches of Normandy; the invasion led to the liberation of Paris on August 25 and turned the tide of the war in Europe decisively in the Allied direction.

His brief return to civilian life ended in , however, when President Harry S.

In that position, Eisenhower worked to create a unified military organization that would combat potential communist aggression around the globe. After mixed results in primary elections against the Republican front-runner, Senator Robert A. Nixon of California as his running mate, Eisenhower then defeated Adlai Stevenson to become the 34th president of the United States. Eisenhower would beat Stevenson again four years later in a landslide to win reelection, despite health concerns after suffering a heart attack in As a moderate Republican, Eisenhower was able to achieve numerous legislative victories despite a Democratic majority in Congress during six of his eight years in office.

In addition to continuing most of the New Deal and Fair Deal programs of his predecessors Franklin Roosevelt and Truman, respectively , he strengthened the Social Security program, increased the minimum wage and created the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. In , Eisenhower created the Interstate Highway System, the single largest public works program in U. Eisenhower was even more hesitant, however, in the realm of civil rights for African Americans. In , in the case of Brown v.

Board of Education of Topeka, the U. Supreme Court had ruled that school segregation was unconstitutional. Eisenhower did sign civil rights legislation in and providing federal protection for black voters; it was the first such legislation passed in the United States since Reconstruction.

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