Eleanor Roosevelt ( 1884-1962 )

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Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962), one of the most admired women in American history, acted as first lady from 1933 until 1945, longer than any other presidential spouse, and put that position on the nation’s political map. Yet, ironically, Eleanor did not want the job because she thought it would hamper her own self-development as an independent person. Through her own path-breaking efforts she transformed her role from official hostess to important spokesperson for her husband’s administration. In the process she became a role model for millions of Americans who applauded her activism on behalf of social causes. When her husband, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had been unable to walk for eleven years due to infantile paralysis, was elected president in the depths of the Depression in 1932, she wrote in her autobiography that she was happy for him. She believed that being president would “make up for the blow that fate had dealt him” and that he would steer the country through the crisis confronting it.[1] But for herself, she continued, “I was deeply troubled. As I saw it, this meant the end of any personal life of my own. . . . I had watched Mrs Theodore Roosevelt and had seen what it meant to be the wife of a president, and I cannot say that I was pleased at the prospect.”[2] Before Franklin’s election, Eleanor had launched her own career as a writer and teacher. As she put it, “By earning my own money, I had recently enjoyed a certain amount of financial independence and
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