“Eleanor Roosevelt’s (1884-1962) Influence on Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945): An Estranged Marriage Turned Political Partnership That Changed History.”

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“Eleanor Roosevelt’s (1884-1962) Influence on Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945): An Estranged Marriage Turned Political Partnership That Changed History.”  Franklin and Betty J. Parker Dialogue, Given February 20, 2012, Uplands Book Review Group, Pleasant Hill, TN, bfparker@frontiernet.net

 

Betty:  Greetings.  Thank you for being here.

 

Frank:  This review follows and enlarges on our earlier [Sept. 20,] 2010, FDR review.1

 

Betty:  We knew that Eleanor helped FDR’s career but not how large her influence was.  We tell her story from her viewpoint to understand better how together they made and changed history. 

 

Frank:  He needed her; she needed him.  He could not have done all he did without her.

 

Betty:  He’d been a lawyer, married 5 years, with children, when he ran for the New York State Senate.  It was a hard won first election.  His heavily Republican Dutchess County, NY, district had not elected a Democrat in nearly 50 years. 

 

Frank:  This freshman state senator then boldly challenged powerful Tammany Hall.  He opposed its lackey choice as the state’s new U.S. Senator.  FDR won this battle, drawing admiration from NY Democrats and nationally.2

 

Betty:  FDR’s NY State Senate experience plus his solid backing of Woodrow Wilson’s3 1912 presidential election led to FDR’s appointment as Assistant Secretary U.S. Navy, seven years, 1913-20, including valuable World War I experience. 

 

Frank: In August 1921, at age 39, FDR was stricken with polio.  Eleanor nursed him.

 

Betty: His political advisor Louis (called Louie) Howe (1871-1936), an Albany, NY, newsman, then helped Eleanor become FDR’s political stand-in.

 

Frank:  Louie Howe kept FDR’s handicap hidden from public view.  Few then and later knew how crippled FDR was. 

 

Betty:  Eleanor, Louie Howe, and others helped FDR reenter politics as NY State  Governor, two terms, 1929-33, the early Great Depression years.  With Eleanor telling him things he needed to know, aided by Louie Howe, plus several Columbia University “Brain Trust” professors,4 FDR’s NY State relief work for the jobless drew national attention. 

 

Frank:  FDR’s NY job-creating programs were models for his later New Deal presidency: building roads, waterways, public buildings, dams, plus other improvements.

 

Betty:  What enabled FDR to win four unprecedented elections was the shock of Great Depression joblessness, threat of a Hitler-run world, and anger over Japanese Pearl Harbor attack.

 

Frank: As a young man in his 20s FDR was considered a pleasant “light weight,” a charming “feather-duster.”

 

Betty:  Amazing, that world-shaking events thrust a crippled FDR and Eleanor into leadership roles during our country’s (and world’s) greatest crises.5 

 

Frank:  Amazing, that their leadership during the Great Depression and World War II not only saved us from a Nazi-run world, but also gave us our social security safety net, G.I. Bill, United Nations.  New Deal programs, praised by many, damned by the rich, reinvigorated, reshaped the U.S., while retaining free enterprise.6

 

Betty: Result: most historians rate FDR the greatest 20th century U.S. President, second greatest of all U.S. Presidents after Abraham Lincoln.  Most rate Eleanor the greatest woman of the 20th century.

 

Frank:  After highlighting their lives, Betty as Eleanor tells Eleanor’s inside story; why, after a marital crisis, instead of divorce, she chose to be FDR’s political partner.

 

Betty:  Their marriage began in love, resulted in 6 pregnancies in 11 years, 1906-16.7

 

Frank:  In 1918, 13 years into their 40-year marriage, Eleanor discovered FDR’s affair with her younger beautiful social secretary, Lucy Mercer (1891-1948).

 

Betty: This discovery occurred when both FDR and Eleanor were deep in WW I work.  FDR then 36 was U.S. Navy Assistant Secretary.  Eleanor, 34 was their children’s main caretaker and a busy Red Cross volunteer.   FDR returned from a naval inspection tour in France and England.  Tired, ill with the 1918 flu, he was taken from his ship to their New York City (NYC) home.

 

Frank:  Unpacking his trunk Eleanor found Lucy Mercer’s love letters to FDR.  Shocked, hurt, she confronted ailing FDR, offered divorce.

 

Betty:  FDR’s horrified mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt (1854-1941), threatened to cut FDR out of her will if he divorced.  Louie Howe told FDR divorce would end his presidential quest, urged FDR to make amends, Eleanor to forgive, FDR to continue his political career.9

 

Frank:  With FDR’s apology and promise never again to see Lucy Mercer, their marriage continued.  Lucy Mercer married (Feb. 1920) a rich older socialite widower.8  Only after FDR’s death (April 12, 1945, age 63) did Eleanor learn that FDR-Lucy contact had continued, that Lucy was with FDR the day he died.

 

Betty:  FDR and Eleanor each overcame handicaps.  Eleanor grew up shy, frightened, plain-looking, in a rich, privileged Victorian family which prized female beauty.

 

Frank:  Eleanor’s mother, Anna Rebecca Hall (1863-92), the beauty of her time, married handsome Elliott Roosevelt (1860-94), Theodore Roosevelt’s (TR) younger brother.10

 

Betty:  Trouble soon surfaced.  Eleanor’s mother, ashamed of Eleanor’s plain looks, was herself shamed by husband Elliott’s alcohol and drug addiction.

 

Frank:  Eleanor’s mother, with Eleanor and two younger sons, separated from Elliott. Eleanor was age 8 when her mother died, age 29, of diphtheria.  One of Eleanor’s brothers died soon after.   Eleanor was age 9, when her father died disgraced.

 

Betty:  Orphaned, Eleanor and remaining brother were cared for by their stern old-fashioned maternal grandmother, Mary Livingston Ludlow Hall (1813-1919).  A sympathetic “Aunty Bye” Roosevelt (uncle TR’s older sister),11 rescued Eleanor by having her sent to Allenswood School for Girls in England, for 3 years, 1899-1902.

 

Frank:  Ordered back to NYC for her “Coming Out” party (1902), a willowy Eleanor, teaching at a ghetto settlement house, became engaged (1903) and married (March 17, 1905) to FDR, her fifth cousin once removed, whom she’d known on and off all her life. 

 

Betty: He was of the equally rich and privileged Hyde Park, NY, Hudson River Roosevelts.

 

Frank:  Unlike Eleanor’s troubled childhood, FDR grew up secure, joyous, with aspirations from boyhood to emulate his idol, 4th cousin TR, Eleanor’s paternal uncle. TR was U.S. President when he gave Eleanor away in marriage.

 

Betty: In August 1921, FDR suffered severe illness and paralysis in their remote, rustic Canadian Campobello Island summer home off the coast of Eastport, Maine.  Louie Howe arranged FDR’s secret transfer to a NYC hospital.

 

Frank:  Eleanor, FDR. and Howe fought off MaMa Sara’s determination that FDR become the invalid manager of her Hyde Park, NY, estate.  While FDR struggled without success to walk, women, given the vote (Aug. 26, 1920), needed political awareness.  To keep FDR’s political name alive, Louie Howe groomed Eleanor to be FDR’s stand-in, a leader among Democratic women.

 

Betty:  FDR exercised vigorously, tried every cure.  During his seven failed recovery years, Eleanor became a political powerhouse, speaking, writing, organizing women for political awareness.

 

Frank:  FDR developed powerful shoulder, torso, arm muscles.  With strong hands he lifted himself from a wheel chair of his own design, into chairs, into car seats, into and out of bed.  Steel-braced from heel to hip, using a crutch or cane, gripping an aide’s arm with the other hand, he shuffled forward, appearing to walk.

 

Betty: Learning to function despite lifeless legs toughened FDR physically, matured him mentally, sensitized him psychologically.

 

Frank:  His 7-year failed struggle to walk somehow gave FDR, later, new patience to solve Great Depression and WW II problems.  He made his handicap work for him.

 

Betty:  Louie Howe was the driving force behind and between FDR and Eleanor.  Howe, having watched FDR in Albany, NY, sensed FDR’s political potential, selflessly gave the last 25 years of his life to nurturing FDR’s presidential ambition.

 

Frank: Howe had asthma, was unkempt, brusque, but a wizened political genius, a rare, selfless, dedicated president-maker.   ¶Now here is how polio crippled FDR re-entered political life.

 

Betty: 1924:  NYC’s Catholic politician Al Smith (1873-1944) hoped to be nominated the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate.  Smith needed respected Protestant politician FDR to nominate him.

 

Frank:  Louie Howe seized the moment, had FDR carried unseen into NYC’s mammoth Madison Square Garden. 

 

Betty:  With limp legs steel-braced and leather-strapped from heel to hip, using a cane, gripping 16 year old son James’s arm, FDR shuffled forward to grip the sturdy lectern.

 

Frank:  Flashing his broad smile, FDR gave a rip-roaring nomination speech, ending with: “And so I give you the next President of the United States, Alfred E. Smith, the Happy Warrior of political battles.”  Thunderous applause!

 

Betty:  Result: while Al Smith lost the 1924 presidential nomination, FDR‘s stirring speech brought him much attention.  Nationally, FDR, not Al Smith, was the Happy Warrior.

 

Frank:  Four years later, 1928, Al Smith, was the Democratic presidential nominee running against Republican Herbert Hoover. 

 

Betty:  Al Smith again needed FDR’s help, believing that if FDR ran for NY State Governor, he, FDR, would help Smith win the U.S. presidency.   FDR agreed to run.

 

Frank:  Result: Al Smith lost to Herbert Hoover, 1928.  But thanks to Howe’s maneuvering FDR narrowly won as NY State Governor. 

 

Betty:  On that slim majority vote, FDR, as NY State 2-term Governor, as Louis Howe planned it, positioned himself to become U.S. President.   ¶Now back to Eleanor, born 1884 into the Oyster Bay, Long Island, NY, progressive-Republican Roosevelt family.

 

 Frank: Eleanor, back in NYC from Allenswood school near London, imbued with Mlle. Souvestre’s liberalism, taught at an East Side ghetto Settlement House.

 

Betty: The once ugly duckling, pretty at age 20, was surprised to meet again, be wooed by, and married to her 5th cousin, handsome, buoyant, politically aspiring FDR.

 

Frank:  Young FDR, tutored at home to age 15, attended, without special distinction, Groton, then Harvard, then Columbia Law School to be near Eleanor during courtship.  Eleanor confided to a cousin prophetically: I don’t know how I will ever keep him; he is so popular, so flirtatious.

 

Betty:  FDR’s elderly father, a widower, James Roosevelt (1828-1900), married much younger Sara Delano.  FDR’s birth almost killed Sara and Franklin.  Sara, adored, over-protected young FDR, made him feel special.

 

Frank:  FDR grew up with few playmates.  His father taught FDR to hunt, fish, swim, manage sailboats and motor launches in rough waters around their Campobello Island home. 

 

Betty:  FDR’s noblesse oblige, absorbed from his father, reinforced by Groton’s headmaster, was steered by Eleanor toward uplifting the needy.

 

Frank:  Young FDR early determined to emulate his hero cousin TR.  FDR’s later hero was U.S. Pres. Woodrow Wilson, whose failed League of Nations FDR later improved upon through the United Nations.

 

Betty:  FDR early learned to evade MaMa Sara’s smothering presence by ruses,  dissembling, joking, joshing her, and keeping his diary in code.  Outwardly smiling, charming, self assured, winsome, eminently likeable, party-loving FDR was also privately secretive and cleverly conniving. 12 

 

Frank: These characteristics, surprisingly, aided his political rise and his 12 year hold on presidential power.   ¶With that background, Betty, put on your Eleanor hat.  Describe your troubled childhood and later life.

 

Betty as Eleanor:  As a child I felt ugly, afraid, unloved, unwanted.  I sensed something wrong about PaPa, often absent, who, when home, loved me, promised to take me to wonderful places.

 

Frank:  What did you think when you pieced together family whispers?

 

B as Eleanor:  MaMa’a coldness to me, her early death, I saw as aggravated by PaPa’s drinking, drug use, extra-marital affairs.  ¶PaPa’s “nervous condition,” I later thought, came from a real illness, epilepsy, un-diagnosed, un-treated, relieved with excessive drink and drugs.

 

Frank: How did your troubled parents affect your later life?

 

B as Eleanor:  MaMa was pleased when I rubbed her migraine-pained forehead. I learned that if I wanted to be loved, I had to be useful.  ¶From PaPa’s unfulfilled promises I learned to expect disappointments.

 

Frank:  As an adult, how did you see your parents’ troubled lives?

 

B as Eleanor:  I saw their lives as cries for help.  Their suffering made me want to be useful, to help others.

 

Frank:  Orphaned, you lived with stern GrandMaMa Hall’s troubled family.

 

B as Eleanor:  Aunty Bye Roosevelt, Uncle TR’s older sister, who had studied abroad under wonderful Mlle. Marie Souvestre, urged GrandMaMa to send me to her London Allenswood school.  Those happy 3 years, 1899-1902, changed my life. 

 

Frank:  What did you learn at Allenswood?  What was special about headmistress Mlle. Souvestre?

 

B as Eleanor:  Only French was spoken, with demerits when you lapsed into English.  My French nurse taught me to speak and think in French before I learned English.  I fitted in; learned great literature, history, art, music.  Mlle. Souvestre opened our eyes to human suffering; awakened in us the need for social service.  ¶Mlle. Souvestre saw that I lacked self-confidence, took me on holidays to France, Switzerland, Italy; let me travel un-chaperoned with a guide book to museums and historic places.  She gave me confidence.  I kept her picture on my dressing table all my life.

 

Frank:  Back to NYC.  Tell of your social work, courtship, marriage.

 

B as Eleanor:  I felt useful teaching dancing and calisthenics to disadvantaged girls.  On the train up the Hudson Valley FDR and I accidentally met, renewed our childhood acquaintance.  FDR invited me to Hyde Park and to Campobello.  With my maid as chaperone I happily accepted.

 

Frank:  Why did FDR pursue you? 

 

B as Eleanor:  He was at Harvard College then, very open, talkative about going to law school, getting into politics, running for the New York legislature—following in Uncle TR’s footsteps.   I encouraged him to pursue his dreams. 

 

Frank:  FDR found his ideal mate in you, serious, concerned, unlike his earlier flighty girl friends.  Being the President’s niece was a bonanza, better than a dowry.  He proposed, you accepted.

 

B as Eleanor:  MaMa Sara said we were too young, he 21, I 19.  She urged us to we wait a year to see if ours was true love.  FDR faced MaMa, determined to marry me.  Uncle Teddy, then U.S. President, offered us a White House wedding.  We preferred a NYC wedding.  Uncle TR  gave me away on St. Patrick’s Day 1905.

 

Frank:  How did you get along with possessive mother-in-law MaMa Sara?

 

B as Eleanor:  She dominated our early married life.   Even our children, when I corrected them, ran to MaMa, who gave in to their every whim.  I was stifled, cried privately, lost my self confidence.

 

Frank:  Your move to Albany when FDR became State Senator got you away from MaMa Sara.  There Louie Howe became FDR’s political advisor.  Back to the 1912 election of Democrat Woodrow Wilson: although Uncle TR was the Progressive party candidate, you and FDR vigorously backed Wilson.  How did FDR get to be Wilson’s Assistant Secretary, U.S. Navy?

 

B as Eleanor:  Through North Carolina newspaper editor Josephus Daniels (1862-1948), a major backer of Woodrow Wilson, who named Daniels U.S. Navy Secretary.  Daniels asked FDR to be his Assistant U.S. Navy Secretary, just the job FDR wanted, the same post TR held before he became Vice President and then U.S. President.

 

Frank: Jumping to the 1920 presidential election: Republicans Warren G. Harding (1865-1923) for president, Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933) for Vice President, were bound to win.  ¶Why did Louie Howe let FDR run as Democratic Vice President in a Republican win year?

 

B as Eleanor:  Democrats nominated weak candidate Ohio Governor James S. Cox (1870-1957).  Cox, needing geographic balance and NY State votes, wanted FDR, then 38, as his Vice President nominee.  Louie Howe knew that FDR needed national exposure.

 

Frank: Howe also wanted you, Eleanor, on the campaign train to strengthen the FDR-Eleanor political partnership. 

 

B as Eleanor:  Louie Howe was right.  Republicans won.  But that lost 1920 campaign resulted in FDR’s national exposure, brought Marguerite Alice “Missy” LeHand(1898-1944) as his secretary, and Louie Howe to sharpen my political skills. 11

 

Frank: FDR hired “Missy” LeHand for needed post-1920 campaign correspondence.  She became increasingly useful as his secretary during his polio recovery years, governorship, and presidency, 21 years of devoted service.

 

B as Eleanor:  We all enjoyed “Missy” Lehand.  She became a family intimate, FDR’s secretary, his hostess when I traveled, his caretaker on his houseboat trips to exercise and swim in Florida waters and in Warm Springs, GA.

 

Frank:  Some thought of Missy LeHand as FDR’s “Office Wife.”  Were you  apprehensive, jealous?

 

B as Eleanor:  She deferred to me, was devoted to FDR, filled his needs.  ¶Overly serious, I often grated on FDR’s nerves.  He and I needed space.   Missy’s devoted care of FDR freed me for other leadership roles.

 

Frank:  How did Louis Howe groom you for leadership?

 

B as Eleanor: On the 1920 campaign train, ever-perceptive Louie Howe showed me how to help FDR’s career, how to increase women’s political awareness.  I marveled at Louis Howe’s devotion.  From 1920 onward I sat at his feet, followed his suggestions, learned from him how to speak, write, and serve.

 

Frank:  Name activist women’s organizations you joined and the activist women leaders you befriended.

 

B as Eleanor: I was active in the Women’s NYC Club, League of Women Voters, Women’s Division of the NY State Democratic Committee, Consumers League, Junior League, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.  I grew especially close to political activists Nancy Cook (1884-1962) and her life partner Marion Dickerman (1890-1983).

 

Frank:  At Nancy and Marion’s Greenwich Village home you met and learned much from avant-gard writers, painters, poets, musicians.

 

B as Eleanor:  We three lived together at the Val-Kill cottage  which FDR in 1926 had built for us in the woods away from Hyde Park.  We started a Val-Kill furniture factory employing local craftspeople.  Nancy and I taught at, and Marion was Dean of NYC’s Todhunter Girls School. 13 I loved teaching.

 

Frank: In 1924 by chairing the National Democratic Women’s Platform Committee, you greatly advanced women’s political influence.  You also backed Democrat Al Smith running for NY State Governor against Republican Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. (1887-1944), TR’s son,14 your first cousin. You created a stir driving your small car topped with a paper-maiche teapot belching smoke.  Explain.

 

B as Eleanor:  I wanted to remind voters of Republican Teapot Dome Oil Scandal during the Harding administration, when Republican officials were bribed to let private oil companies profit illegally selling U.S. Navy oil  reserves.15

 

Frank: Now to 1932: What were your goals on becoming First Lady in the White House?

 

B as Eleanor: I was 49, determined to continue active public service and to advance the goals Franklin and I shared.  Ours was a lively White House with family, guests, live-in assistants (Missy, Louie Howe, servants, others), ongoing activities without end.  ¶To ease the Great Depression FDR needed me to be his eyes and ears.  I was always on the go.

 

Frank:  FDR’s big November 1932 victory brought elation, hope, optimism, promise of better days.  Remember FDR’s uplifting campaign song?  How did it go? 15

 

Happy days are here again.  The skies above are clear again.  So, Let’s sing a song of cheer again.   Happy days are here again.

 

Frank:  And what song came out of the Hoover Depression?  “Brother, can you Spare a Dime?”

 

B as Eleanor:  Back to Pres. FDR, March 4, 1933: he swung into action; closed all banks to check their solvency; reopened sound ones quickly.  In his first radio fireside chat he told listeners: your money is safer in a guaranteed bank than under the mattress.  Congress, called into special session, in a hundred days, passed his barrage of 15 New Deal bills.  Jobs multiplied.  Confidence soared.

 

Frank:  Eleanor, your biographer, Doris Kearns Goodwin, wrote that you  were the  first White House First Lady to: hold regular press conferences, first to write a syndicated [“My Day”] newspaper column, first to give sponsored radio broadcasts, first to annually earn more than her husband’s presidential salary—and give it to charity, first on a lecture circuit; first to testify before congressional committees on needed reforms.  ¶In WW II after visiting U.S. troops in England and in the South Pacific, you urged FDR to create the G.I. Bill for returned veterans.16  Please comment.

 

B as Eleanor:  I started press conference for women reporters only because I wanted more women reporters hired, paid and respected equally with men. 

 

Frank: The idea came from…?

 

B as Eleanor: Prize winning Associated Press reporter Lorena Hickok (1893-1968), who covered me in the 1928 and 1932 campaigns.  We became intimate friends.  Louie Howe helped me plan the news conference.15

 

Frank:  How did FDR and his advisors react to your press conferences?

 

B as Eleanor:  They encouraged them, sometimes used them to test opinion on New Deal programs.  If criticized, I drew fire.  FDR could then correct his plan to avoid trouble.  He’d laugh and say:  My Missus does what she wants, says what she wants, goes where she wants.

 

Frank:: You got many qualified women into top positions, such as  Frances Perkins (1882-1965).  In 1933 you urged FDR to appoint Perkins Labor Secretary, the first woman cabinet officer in history.  She created the 1935 Social Security Act. 

 

B as Eleanor:  Frances Perkins worked for FDR when he was governor, 1929-33, and admired his zeal in fighting the Great Depression.  She was his chief cabinet ally throughout his 12 year presidency.

 

Frank:  You also initiated the National Youth Administration, 1935.  Why?

 

B as Eleanor: I wanted work-study funds for 18 to 25 year old high school and college students.  The CCCs took care of many of the over 25 year old jobless.

 

Frank:  You championed the rights of African Americans, who 60 years after slavery ended were still discriminated against.

 

B as Eleanor:  I also urged including African Americans in all New Deal programs, including the Homestead communities, the National Youth Administration, Civilian Conservation Corps, others.  Majority prejudice stymied my efforts.

 

Frank:  You hosted at the White House gatherings of African American leaders, including Walter Francis White (1893-1955), A. Phillip Randolph (1889-1979), and others.  They later led the 1950s and ’60s civil rights movement.  You pushed for anti-lynching legislation which failed, voted down by Southern Democrats who chaired powerful congressional committees.

 

B as Eleanor:  I proudly attended the 1938 interracial Birmingham conference on race relations, was told not to break the Alabama law about separate white/black seating.

 

Frank:  But your presence shouted loud and clear that segregation was wrong.

 

B as Eleanor:  I intervened when African American singer Marian Anderson (1902-93) was denied because of her race the right to perform at the Daughters of the American Revolution’s Constitution Hall, Washington, D.C. 

 

Frank:  You publicly resigned your DAR membership; arranged for Marian Anderson to sing instead on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  ¶You started the Homestead movement, first in Arthurdale, W.VA., for out-of-work coal miners; the second Homestead community was here in nearby Crossville, TN.  About 100 of these subsistence communities were formed in the U.S. to relieve poverty. ¶Describe your greatest  disappointments.

 

B as Eleanor:  That Social Security  omitted self employed farm workers, home makers, domestic workers, others not on a payroll; that universal health care was stymied by powerful medical/drug interests; that the State Department blocked efforts to save Jewish refugees, especially children.

 

Frank:  You helped FDR win his unprecedented third term at the 1940 Democratic National Convention.  Explain.

 

B as Eleanor: A third term in 1940 was then legal but without precedent.  FDR, as was the custom, did not attend the convention but remained at Hyde Park.   The problem was that he had not declared his own candidacy.  Other presidential contenders divided Democratic ranks.  The convention was in an uproar of indecision.

 

Frank:  From the convention Frances Perkins phoned you, Eleanor, saying: unless you come right away and say the right thing, another presidential candidate will be chosen.  On the plane to Chicago, you Eleanor, wondered what to say.

 

B as Eleanor:  I said, “This is no ordinary time.”  Europe is at war,  Hitler is winning, the U.S. is bound to become involved.  Our country needs FDR’s continuing firm leadership. 

 

Frank: That was enough for a unanimous FDR re-nomination.   You got FDR his third term. ¶Then, on your own, after FDR’s death, Pres. Harry S Truman appointed you to the United Nations.  You chaired the contentious UN subcommittee that in 1948 completed the landmark “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”  Explain.

 

B as Eleanor:  That Declaration stands as a moral document to benefit all mankind.  Working with the Soviet diehards during Cold War tensions required all the skills I could muster: patience, careful analysis of issues, sensitivity to cultural differences, awareness of language nuances.  I continued at the U.N. until 1953 when Eisenhower became president.  Then I volunteered to travel and serve through the American Association for the United Nations, to assure my husband’s legacy as a founder of the United Nations.

 

Frank:  My quick key ending questions/answers: ¶Your influence on FDR?  You were his rudder urging his help for people in trouble when they could not help themselves.  ¶Your estranged marriage?  FDR, spoiled by his mother, needed adoring ladies.  ¶Why you each remained political partners?  He needed your liberal guiding conscience; you needed his political power.  ¶How you both changed history, and in what direction?  You enlarged the middle class, created a safety net for U.S. workers, helped save the world from Hitlerism, kept U.S. free enterprise alive, made U.S. government more responsible for needy people.  ¶Finally, I ask you, Eleanor, yourself:  what was your influence on FDR?

 

B as Eleanor:  I was the irritating liberal spur under his political saddle.  I insisted that he do more and more to advance human rights and well being.  He expected me to goad him.  He kept a basket beside his bed for my notes, requests, suggestions.  I was the conscience he wanted, needed, to fuel his political power to do good.  ¶Family connections, 5 children, 31 grandchildren, 40 years of marriage tied us together.  ¶When our 3rd-born died in infancy, when my only surviving brother died, FDR hugged me.  There were affectionate moments.  Deep down we needed and loved each other.

 

Frank:  Good job well done.   Rest well next to FDR. 

 

Both together: Thank you so much for being here.

END with Footnotes, Books, Other References below_______________________

Footnotes:

1We hope to make both FDR and ER papers accessible on the internet.   Search google.com or bing.com or any search engine under Franklin Parker, 1921-or bfparker, adding:  Eleanor Roosevelt (1864-1962) and/or Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1962-1945).

 

 2U.S. senators now directly elected by state voters were then (1910-13) chosen by state legislatures.  FDR led an opposition against Tammany Hall’s choice (a Tammany Hall lackey) and for a better choice.

 

3Woodrow Wilson, 1856-1924; 28th U.S President during 1913-21.

 

4“Brain Trust Professors :” Raymond Moley, Columbia University political scientist, city reformer, concerned with “anarchy of concentrated economic power.”  Adolf Berle, Columbia U., considered a prodigy while at Harvard, excellent in law and economics.  Rexford Tugwell, Columbia U. economist.  Other close FDR advisors: Felix Frankfurter, Harvard Law School, for economic decentralization, fair play through banking and securities regulations; close advisor Louie Howe.  See Burns book below, Crosswinds of Freedom, pp. 13-14.

 

5No previous major power world leader comes to mind who had FDR’s physical handicap.

 

6Critics (and there were many) said then and since that FDR and ER misused their power to socialize the USA and that FDR at Yalta, by not standing up to Stalin, lost Eastern Europe to Communism and brought on the US-USSR Cold War.  Most historians believe that it would have taken WW III to oust Soviet troops from Eastern Europe, that FDR, advised that it would cost millions in lost lives and treasure to invade Japan, needed and got Stalin’s aid in defeating Japan.

 

7Third-born Franklin, Jr. died in infancy (1909-09), with the same name given to fourth-born, 1914-88).

 

8A bereft Eleanor often brooded alone over FDR’s marital betrayal with Lucy Mercer in Washington, D.C.’s Rock Creek Cemetery, gazing at the landmark hooded woman’s statue named “Grief,” sculpted by Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907), on the grave of the suicide wife (Marian “Clover” Hooker Adams’ (1843-85) of Henry Brooks Adams (1838-1918). Did Eleanor contemplate suicide?  See under books below Cook, Vol. 1, pp. 235-236, 248, 280, 428, 492.

 

9For Louie Howe’s influence on the Roosevelts, see under Books below: Fenster, Julie M.

 

10 Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919, 26th U.S. President during 1901-09.

 

11Aunty Bye, also called “Bamie,” was Anna Roosevelt Cowles (1855-1931).  See under Books below:  Collier, p. 35.

 

12Protecting with secrecy his elderly father’s heart attacks reinforced FDR’s later secrecy.

 

13For Eleanor intimates Nancy Cook and Marion Dikerman, see: http://usasearch.gov/search?affiliate=nps&v%3Aproject=firstgov&input-form=advanced-firstgov&query=nancy+cook&buttonName=go&query-quote=

 

14Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. (1887-1944), President TR’s oldest son, succeeded FDR as Assistant U.S. Navy Secretary, 1921, under Republican Pres. Warren G. Harding, during the transfer of oil leases from the Navy to private oil companies but was not involved in Teapot Dome Scandal bribes.  For TR, Jr.-FDR rivalry, see: http://www.google.com/search?source=ig&hl=en&rlz=&=&q=FDR-Theodore+Roosevelt%2C+Jr.+rivalry&btnG=Google+Search

 

15Teapot Dome Scandal, Interior Secretary Albert B. Fall (1861-1944), See under Books below: Finer and  Garraty, Eds.,  p. 1062.

 

16For FDR’s four presidential and other election campaigns, see Israel, Fred L. Student’s Atlas of American Presidential Elections, 1789 to 1996. Washington, DC:  Congressional Quarterly, 1997, p. 111 plus index on FDR.  Also Rosenboom, Eugene H., and Alfred E. Eckes, Jr., A History of Presidential Elections From George Washington to Jimmy Carter, Fourth Edition.  NY: Macmillan, 1979 (Chapters X-XIII plus index on FDR).

 

17On Eleanor’s contributions, see under Books Goodwin, p., 617.

 

18Under Books below see Fenster.

 

Note: Eleanor Roosevelt’s  three important men intimates, not mentioned in text above for lack of speaking time, were:  NY State Trooper Earl Miller (), Joseph Lash (1909-87), and David Gurewitsch  (1902-74).  See descriptions under their names in google.com or bing.com or other search engine.

 

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962): Best Online Sources, Easy access, quick read:

http://www.gwu.edu/~erpapers/abouteleanor/

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/eleanor/filmmore/transcript/index.html

http://www.firstladies.org/biographies/firstladies.aspx?biography=33

For Time Magazine free access to FDR, ER, related topics: www.time.com/archives 

The following mentions ER and FDR in all Wikipedia articles:

http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:Search&ns0=1&redirs=1&advanced=1&search=Eleanor+Roosevelt&limit=500&offset=20

American Heritage Magazine  articles, 2 pages, on ER and FDR: http://www.americanheritage.com/search/apachesolr_search/Eleanor%20Roosevelt%20%281884-1962%29

 

 Eleanor Roosevelt  and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Best Books On:

Note:  Over 8.5 million entries under: Eleanor Roosevelt (1864-1962), Books By and About, in: http://www.google.com/search?source=ig&hl=en&rlz=&=&q=Eleanor+Roosevelt%2C+books+by+and+about+&btnG=Google+Search

 

Black, Conrad.  Franklin D. Roosevelt, Champion of Freedom, 2003.  Canadian author describes how FDR convinced Americans to struggle to win WW II in order to preserve liberty and democracy.  Depicts FDR as a man of strength and vision.

 

Brands, H.W. Traitor to His Class:  The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 2008.  University of Texas historian traces FDR’s New Deal legislation intended to save the American political economy; describes his forceful, cagey WWII leadership; and depicts his role in creating the postwar international order.

 

Burns, James MacGregor. Crosswinds of Freedom.  NY:  Alfred A. Knopf, 1989.  See index for Roosevelts and related topics.

 

Burns, James MacGregor.  Roosevelt:  The Lion and the Fox 1882-1940, 1956. Williams College political scientist, first of two respected FDR books, depicts FDR as Machiavellian; both a wily fox and a tenacious lion.  Using original sources, personal recollections of those who knew and worked with FDR, as he did himself, author   describes FDR’s weaknesses and deficiencies, but concludes that FDR had: “…courage, joyousness, responsiveness, vitality, faith, and above all, concern for his fellow man.”

 

Burns, James MacGregor.  Roosevelt: Soldier of Freedom 1940-1945, 1970.  Sequel to the above, covers FDR as World War II president.

 

Collier, Peter, with David Horowitz, The Roosevelts: An American Saga. NY: Simon &Schuster, 1994.  Excellent family background, both the Republican Oyster Bay L.I., NY TR Roosevelts, the Democrat Hyde Park, NY (FDR) Roosevelts, their interconnections, and intimates.

 

Cook, Blanche Wiesen.  Eleanor Roosevelt, Volume One 1884-1933.  NY: Viking, 1992.  Volume Two: The Defining Years 1933-38.  NY: Penguin, 1999.

 

Fenster, Julie M. FDR’s Shadow: Louis Howe, The Force That Shaped Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.  2009.  Intimate account of how newspaperman and political guru got

FDR into the White House.

 

Freedman, Russell.  Eleanor Roosevelt, A Life of Discovery.  NY: Clarion Books, 1993, p. 145.

 

Freidel, Frank Burt.  Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Rendezvous with Destiny.  Excellent account of FDR’s early years and struggle with polio.

 

Goodwin, Doris Kearns.  No Ordinary Time:  Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.  The Home Front in World War II, 1994,  Goodwin shows how FDR led the U.S to victory and how Eleanor championed social justice for African Americans and became a role model in the changing role of women.  Asserts that FDR made the fewest mistakes of any World War II leader.

 

Larrabee, Eric.  Commander in Chief:  Franklin Delano Roosevelt, His Lieutenants, and Their War.  Profiles all major WWII commanders, tells of FDR’s skill in choosing them (sometimes from obscurity), and explains many of FDR remarkably skilled strategic decisions.

 

Leuchtenburg, William Edward.  Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, 1932-1940.  The New Deal created the Securities and Exchange Commission for safer financial markets, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to end bank panics, Social Security, unemployment insurance, Federal Reserve Board, rural electricity, Federal Home Agency (created modern mortgages), Fair Labor Standards Act, and the Civilian Conservation Corps, Wagner Act, farm supports, and GI Bill.”

 

Rauchway, Eric.  The Great Depression and the New Deal:  A Very Short Introduction.  A highly regarded history of the Great Depression and the New Deal.

 

Rowley, Hazel.  Franklin and Eleanor.  Highly readable recent account by a British-born author who regarded the Roosevelt marriage as mainly a happy one with both free to enjoy their roles and to lead separate lives.

 

Smith, Jean Edward.  FDR.  2007.  Meticulous re-interpretation of FDR’s life and accomplishments.  Much on Roosevelt’s personal life.  Smith admires FDR, criticizes his failings,  conveys the great significance of Roosevelt’s career.

 

Ward, Geoffrey C.  A First-Class Temperament: The Emergence of Franklin Roosevelt, 1989.  Oliver Wendell Holmes said that FDR had a second class intellect but a first-class temperament.  Sequel to author’s Young Franklin Roosevelt 1882-1905.  Covers  FDR’s rapid rise, 1905-1928, New York State Senator, Navy Secretary, Lucy Mercer love affair, 1920 vice presidential candidate on the losing Democratic ticket, crippling polio, New York State Governor.

 

End.  Thank you for visiting.  Corrections, comments to:  bfparker@frontiernet.net

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