Eleanor Roosevelt, born in 1884, was a transformative First Lady and an influential humanitarian. After facing a challenging childhood, she married Franklin D. Roosevelt and became a significant political partner during his presidency.
As First Lady, she used her role to advocate for the underprivileged and expand the traditional expectations of the position, such as holding press conferences, writing a newspaper column, and hosting a radio show.
Following her husband’s death, Eleanor served as a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly where she contributed significantly to the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Even after leaving the UN, she remained politically active, tirelessly championing for human rights, racial equality, women’s rights, and world peace until her death in 1962. Eleanor Roosevelt’s legacy continues to inspire global efforts towards inclusivity and equity.
Eleanor Roosevelt Quotes
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
“Great mind discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.”
Early Life and Marriage
Eleanor Roosevelt was born Anna Eleanor Roosevelt on October 11, 1884, in New York City. The niece of President Theodore Roosevelt, she was introduced to a life of privilege, but also encountered significant adversity during her childhood. Her mother died when she was eight, followed by her father two years later. Eleanor was then raised by her maternal grandmother.
In 1905, she married Franklin D. Roosevelt, a distant cousin, with whom she had six children. Their partnership eventually evolved into a political one that would change the landscape of American history.
Role as First Lady
Eleanor Roosevelt served as First Lady from March 1933 until April 1945, during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s unprecedented four terms as President. She transformed the role of First Lady from a largely ceremonial position to one of significant political influence and activism.
Unlike previous First Ladies, Eleanor regularly held press conferences, wrote a daily syndicated newspaper column, “My Day,” and hosted a weekly radio show. She became a voice for the underprivileged, advocating for expanded roles for women in the workplace, the civil rights of African Americans and Asian Americans, and the rights of World War II refugees.
Humanitarian Work and the United Nations
Following President Roosevelt’s death in 1945, Eleanor remained active in politics. In 1945, President Truman appointed her as a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly, where she played a crucial role in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She served as the chair of the Human Rights Commission during the drafting, championing for the rights of all people. This document remains a milestone in the establishment of human rights standards worldwide.
Later Years and Legacy
After leaving the UN in 1953, Eleanor continued to advocate for the issues she cared deeply about. She made numerous public appearances, wrote columns, and even hosted television programs, voicing her views on racial equality, women’s rights, and world peace.
Eleanor Roosevelt passed away on November 7, 1962, leaving behind a legacy of compassionate leadership and steadfast advocacy for human rights. She forever transformed the role of the First Lady in American society, setting a new standard for public service.
Today, she continues to be remembered as a woman who used her platform to amplify the voices of the marginalized and to challenge injustices. She once said, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” And indeed, she lived her life according to this principle, proving that one can bring about significant change regardless of their circumstances. Eleanor Roosevelt’s legacy continues to inspire and challenge us to work towards a more inclusive and equitable society.