Eleanor Roosevelt — Beloved First Lady
Eleanor Roosevelt began her marriage to her distant cousin in his shadow — and became his legs. She also became one of the most beloved — and hated — First Ladies in U.S. history.
Eleanor was born into a wealthy New York family in 1884. After an unhappy childhood marked by the death of her parents, she married Franklin in 1905. Over the next decade, Eleanor had six children, found out her husband was playing around, and seemed destined to be either divorced or in the background as a politician’s wife.
But Eleanor rose to the occasion. As First Lady, she broke tradition and held more than 350 press conferences of her own — but for female journalists only. She was a tireless champion for civil rights and women’s issues and often represented her husband, whose polio prevented him from traveling easily, around the country.
But her activism also earned her vitriolic hatred from people who didn’t like her husband, her politics, or the fact that she was an independent woman.
After FDR’s death, Eleanor served as a U.S. delegate to the United Nations and as a roving ambassador-at-large. She died in 1962 at the age of 78.