31 Mar Eleanor Roosevelt: Passionate Spirit, Tenacious Ambition
Today marks the last day of Women’s History Month for the year 2015. To celebrate the end of a most enjoyable month, let’s discover more about one of the most influential woman of the 1940s, Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Not only was she a power-house politically, she was also an impassioned spirit capable of accomplishing anything she set her mind towards.
As many of you already know, Eleanor grew up in a wealthy home in a ritzy area of New York. Her uncle, Former President Theodore Roosevelt, helped the Roosevelt clan reach and maintain celebrity amongst the American public. His work in social reforms undoubtedly influenced Eleanor as she grew older; reinforcing her tendency at doing good works and philanthropy.
|Roosevelt family portrait
Born October 11, 1884 in New York City, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt grew up in a lavish life that was struck by tragedy all too soon. At the tender age of eight years old, Eleanor lost her mother and then her father only two years later. Naturally, with such a tragic loss, it would be very easy for a child to revert into themselves; however, boarding school in England helped Eleanor regain her self confidence, setting the groundwork for the woman she would become.
In her early twenties, Eleanor fell in love and married her distant cousin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, the future President of the United States. Together, the pair had six children: Anna, James, Franklin, Elliot, Franklin Jr. and John. The first Franklin died in infancy. Having many children did not slow Eleanor down in the slightest. During the First World War, Eleanor stayed active in the American Red Cross, among many other civic duties.
|Eleanor visiting soldiers abroad.
Eleanor’s public service prepared her for one of the biggest trials she and Franklin would face together, his polio disease. Franklin was diagnosed with polio in 1921 and suffered from limited mobility, making everyday tasks difficult, especially for a future president. When Franklin took office in 1933, Eleanor became his eyes and ears throughout the country. She wanted to take charge of the situation dealt to her family and become a leading role in American politics, forever changing the expectations of a First Lady. Her biggest concerns were for family matters and women’s issues, but she spoke fervently about Human Rights in press conferences and in her very own newspaper column, “My Day”; which mainly dealt with the country’s poor and social justice for all. When war broke out across the world for a second time, Eleanor did not hesitate to visit U.S. troops overseas.
Despite Franklin’s death in 1945, Eleanor continued to work in public service for another fifteen years. She spent some time, 1945-1953, as a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly, as well as participated in the Human Rights Commission. Her greatest achievement would be when she helped draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She wrote several autobiographies, including On My Own (1958) and Autobiography (1961) and she later appointed chair of the Commission on the Status of Women by President John F. Kennedy.
Eleanor’s work throughout her life was invaluable for women, then and now. She changed the way women were viewed, not only in politics, but in the work force as well. Eleanor passed away at 78 years old to cancer. Her humanitarian efforts and political fervor has created a long lasting legacy for all women to aspire towards.