Friday, July 5, 2013

Eleanor Roosevelt


Eleanor Roosevelt


First Lady of the World

She was tall, thin and painfully shy as a child, but at the end of her life she was consistently named the world's most admired woman. Born in New York City on October II, 1884, into a family of wealth and power (her uncle was President Theodore Roosevelt), Eleanor Roosevelt was raised by her grandmother after the death of her parents. She married a distant cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in 1905, by whom she bore six children. Despite her shyness, Mrs. Roosevelt responded to a strong sense of civic duty and entered political work in New York State following her husband's election as governor in 1928. Her direct involvement with Franklin's constitu­ents took on national proportions with his election to the presidency in 1932, during the early, bitter days of the Great Depression when 17 million Americans were out of work. Charged with being the President's "eyes," Mrs. Roosevelt traveled 40,000 miles (65,000 km.) the first year alone, reporting back to her husband on conditions in coal mining communities, migrant worker camps, and major cities. Her reports directly affected the course of relief legislation later called for by the president. With America's entry into World War II, Mrs. Roosevelt began visiting U.S. troops at the front and wounded soldiers in hospitals, often carrying personal messages back to their families. When President Roosevelt died in office in 1945, President Harry S. Truman asked Eleanor to join the first U. S. delegation to the newly-founded United Nations, where she helped to establish an international structure dedicated to the avoidance of future wars. In order to gain firsthand knowledge of the problems that faced the UN, she toured war-torn Europe and, as Chairwoman of the International Commission on Human Rights, she hammered out a document calling for an end to ignorance, poverty, and disease. It also declared the rights of war refugees and minorities to join in opportunities for a decent life. She resigned from the UN in 1952. As a campaigner, lecturer, and author of books and syndicated newspaper and magazine columns, Eleanor Roosevelt's life was a commitment to justice for people in all walks of life. Her last official act was to serve as Chairwoman of President John F. Kennedy's Commission on the Status of Women. She died at her home in New York City on November 7, 1962, at the age of 78. One newspaper account of her death included this comment made by an admiring child: "She was like a mother to the world."

Illustration: Portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt at the age of 65, by Douglas Chandler, 1949

(C) 1979, Panarizon Publishing Corp, USA
Illust: White House Coll.
Printed in Italy 03.0 12.01.02

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