An activist, writer, first chair of UN Commission on Human Rights, and the most politically active First Lady in the US history.
Born in New York City to an affluent and politically dominant family, she became an orphan at the age of 8 and was raised by her grandmother. At 15 she was sent to London to study languages and arts in a private school, where her headmistress Marie Souvestre inspired her political and social awareness.
After returning to New York, she married her distant cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who later became the 32nd president of The United States. By his side, she was a politically active First Lady for no less than 12 years. The couple had six children.
In addition to advising her husband in his political career, she was an active member of various organizations promoting equal rights for women, racial and social justice.
Her vast activity is said to have been boosted after finding out about her husband’s affair: she decided to stay by his side but availed herself to independent activism, and her own affairs with both women and men.
She was the author of several books, contributed content to many publications and radio shows, including the popular newspaper column “My Day”, which was published six days a week for 26 years, and delivered many speeches during her nationwide travels.
At 62 she was appointed to the first US delegation to the United Nations, where she was central in creating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Until her death, she was involved in policy making, notably chairing the President’s Commission on the Status of Women.
“I care so little about what ‘they’ say”
More Interesting Anecdotes:
- At her wedding, she was walked down the aisle by her uncle, then US president, Theodore Roosevelt.
- She was invited by the Queen to visit England during World War II, without her husband.
- She took part in establishing a female-owned furniture cooperative in Val-Kill, New York.
- During her time at the White House, she held 348 press conferences with women reporters only.
- She was initially opposed to the movement calling for women’s right to vote.
- Together with Michelle Obama, she is considered the tallest first lady as far as records show.
- John F. Kennedy nominated her for Nobel Peace Prize, but she did not win it.