eleanor Roosevelt biography

eleanor Roosevelt


it is not easy to describe in a few words the wonder of that wonderful lady called Eleanor Roosevelt. Apart from being the First Lady of the United States as wife of President Franklin  Roosevelt, she was to many who were touched by her life, an icon of warmth and friendship. Her tall stately appearance bustling with energy soon came to be regarded with much affection just after a few days in the legendary White House.

The formality of the White House was something that she could not understand. In a characteristic manner Mrs. Roosevelt declared boldly, "I shall not toe the line". It was more than on one occasion that the breezy informality of Eleanor‘s style not only came to be talked of in the stiff inner paneling of the White House but soon it was accepted and appreciated as well. She was the people’s friend. Approachable on all occasions Eleanor’s spontaneity was what endeared her to all who came in contact with her.
On her first day at the White House a woman reporter who wanted to get in touch with the First Lady’s secretary to obtain some information was surprised as her call was received directly by none other than the First Lady. The startled reporter protested that she did not want to trouble the First Lady, but Eleanor Roosevelt insisted on personally getting the information that she wanted. "You may call me anytime," she said. She tried to bridge the gap that inevitably comes between the electorate and the elected. The royalty of red tapism was her one great enemy. She endeavored at all costs to behave like an average American citizen. She shunned the pompous grandeur that comes from being the privileged class. At the Inaugural Buffet, the President waited his turn like everyone else to be served. She scandalized everyone when she insisted on operating the lift herself. “This just isn't done Mrs. Roosevelt, "protested the lift man."It is now", came the reply.
Eleanor's down to earth attitude and her forthright approach made her a familiar figure in the lives of everyday people. She would often commute by taxis or the underground. Very often she walked. Her own security was her least concern. When the Secret Service offered her protection after her husband narrowly escaped a bid on his life, Eleanor's answer was typical. "Nobody’s going to shoot me. I'm not that important. ’Sticking to her guns she refused to be under any kind of protection and insisted on living her own life the way she had planned. On the insistence of the Secret Service she learnt to use a revolver that she invariably forgot to carry!
It was the little acts of kindness that were so much a part of Mrs. Roosevelt’s personality that made her one of the most popular figures of her time. However busy her schedule she always found time for a little act of thoughtfulness that would brighten another's day. When one of the band of women reporters that were covering her activities fell ill and was absent, Mrs Roosevelt at once noticing her absence asked the reason. On learning the reason, she organized a vacation at the Roosevelt house at Campobello for the reporter and her family. Ruby Black the reporter and her family did take a vacation as guests of Roosevelt. Ruby returned to her job reinvigorated. In another instance, a small town teacher bringing a crippled boy to Washington asked Mrs. Roosevelt's advice as to what they must see in the capital. Responding to this Eleanor not only organized a special tour for the boy but she also put up the boy at the White House. Such was her generosity and it only increased as the years rolled on. The White House’ Housekeeper Mrs. Henrietta Nesbitt once said, "1 have never known a woman except Mrs. Roosevelt whose motives were always pure kindness.
Mrs. Roosevelt received a deluge of letters every day. Her secretaries helped her to answer the official ones but the personal ones she always insisted on answering herself. "I want people to write to me," she said. "I think it's important for people to feel that in the house where the government centers they have a friend". Emma Bugbee a newspaper correspondent who covered Mrs. Roosevelt's activities over the years remembers that when once on a holiday she (Emma) sent postcards to a 100 odd friends from Europe. it was only Mrs. Roosevelt who replied by mail. Her interest in the people was genuine and she never missed an opportunity to show that she cared. When Emma Bugbee completed 50 years as a reporter for the New York Herald Tribune, and the office gave her little surprise party, it was none other than the former first lady who breezing into the room and congratulated Emma like an old affectionate friend. She had a dozen important things to do but as always she had time enough to fit in a little act of kindness. Though not conventionally a good looker people were often surprised to find that she was more appealing in person than her photographs. The camera was unjust because it could never convey the soft colouring of her fair hair, her frank, alert eyes and her patient endearing personality.
. Another aspect of her personality was her amazing energy.  During her tenure at the White House she kept an exceptionally tight schedule. Waking up at dawn she went riding at 6 am, had breakfast at 7 and was busy at her desk by 7. 30 Am. additions to her formal duties as the first lady she wrote a column for a syndicated newspaper and articles for magazines. She was also part of a newspaper guild she took voice lessons, spoke on the radio, and lectured. All the money she earned in this i’ -' way she gave to charity. Patiently she would pour over her mail r late into the night. She had this inexhaustible drive about her that was simply incredible. After a hectic day of engagements which started at 6 in the morning and would officially end at 10  in the evening Eleanor Roosevelt would still be aiming to do a  few hours of work. She was never tired. Often she would say, 9 "I'm never tired except when I am bored”.
As a wife too she was a definite support to her husband.  Her understanding of the national and international issues of it :5 the hour was acute. Very often the President would involve her 5 on a subject that he was immediately concerned with. He liked it to get her opinion. It was always an intelligent one that helped sift and sort out his own views. Once he incited her so sharply s on a thorny issue that she furiously contradicted his views with e a dozen points. The next day she was thunderstruck to hear him blatantly quoting her remarks to the British Ambassador as e his views.
 The President gave a free hand to his wife in all that she n 1 did. Though her ideas often outraged people, Roosevelt did not try to restrain her. He would say, "Lady, this is a free ‘n country. Say what you think anyway the whole world knows m that I can't control you. "But there were moments when the first lady tried to be discreet. Once when she had to pay an exceptionally large bill she sent a note to the president's secretary that read, "Missy, I know F. D. R. will have a fit."Roosevelt happened to see the message when Miss Leehand, his secretary was out . When she rertumed, she found written across it: "Pay it. Have had the fit. F. D. R.” The biggest blow came when President Roosevelt suddenly died in office. But life had more things on her agenda. President Truman on taking over, appointed Mrs. Roosevelt as a delegate to the first assembly of the United Nations, meeting in London in 1946. She soon proved herself to be a well informed and able debator. At the General Assembly in Paris 1948, after the Declaration of Human Rights, which she had shepherded for three years she received a standing ovation as she walked into the conference hall. It was a tribute to her outstanding work as peace promoter of the She held her post till 1952. During these years she did all she could to help people in distress. She received over 1000 letters everyday all asking for some kind of help. All the people who had no ‘high’ connections would always think of Mrs. Roosevelt. People knew that they won't be disappointed.
During her term in public life Mrs. Roosevelt had circled the globe three times. She had, to her many achievements an interview with Krushchev in Russia. She faced a communist
mob in India and swam with Tito on his island. She had in her life time written millions of letters and traveled millions of miles. But this inexhaustible energy began to flag eventually. She developed anemia. She thought that she had picked up some rare kind of germ. Actually she was suffering from bone-marrow tuberculoises. On November 7 right after her 78th birthday she died.
She was laid to rest beside her husband in the rose garden at Hyde Park. There were people from all over the world who came to pay their last respects to this lady who had touched the lives of millions across the globe. She had won so many hearts simply by being humane and kind. Even after her death the memory of her gentle heart lives on in the lives of so many people. After her death a housewife received a cheque of 10 $. She was the daughter of a hitchhiker whom Mrs. Roosevelt had picked up once. He was out of a job at that time. She found him a job. The man was so taken in by her kindness that he resolved to name his daughter after her, if he ever had one. When a girl was born Mrs. Roosevelt asked to be the girl’s godmother. The gir1 grew up and married. Each birthday she received a 10 dollar cheque from her godmother. The last came on November 10. It bore a feeble signature. It was posted a day before she died. "That was the kind of woman she was”, the housewife said. “She never forgot".
Eleanor Roosevelt lived a full life. Her own words sum-up her life the best. ”. . . . 1 could not at any age be content to take my place by the fire side and simply look on. Life was meant to be lived. One must never turn his back on life.” She never did.

No comments:

Post a Comment