When Eleanor was fifteen, she was sent to London to attend Allenswood, an excellent school. There, at last, she gained confidence and made friends. At eighteen Eleanor returned to New York for her debut. Almost six feet tall and plain, she was dreading then social whirl, but it brought her together with handsome, charming Harvard student Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He was impressed when his distant cousin Eleanor too him on a tour of the tenements on the Lower East Side, where she was teaching in a settlement house.
To Eleanor’s surprise, Franklin fell deeply in love with her, convinced that this idealistic young woman would help him “amount to something some day.” On March 17, 1905, when he was twenty-three and she was twenty, Eleanor and Franklin were married in New York.
After the wedding, Eleanor was dominated by Franklin’s mother. Sara Delano Roosevelt decided where the young couple would live, and how their children – Anna Eleanor, James, Elliott, Franklin D. Jr., and John Aspinwall – should be brought up. Under her mother-in-law’s influence, Eleanor gave up her settlement house work, and she felt useless and unhappy.
In 1910 Franklin Roosevelt won a seat in the New York State Senate and moved his family to the state capital, Albany. Here Eleanor Roosevelt was introduced to the fascinating world of politics. In 1913, President Woodrow Wilson appointed Mr. Roosevelt assistant secretary of the navy.
The Roosevelt moved to Washington, and after World War I, Eleanor Roosevelt began to get seriously involved in politics, encouraged by her husband and his secretary, Louis Howe.
In 1921, Franklin Roosevelt was stricken with polio and paralyzed. Eleanor Roosevelt not only cared for him during his illness but urged him to continue his political career. In 1928, she helped him campaign for governor of New York – and win. Governor Roosevelt could not travel, so Mrs. Roosevelt became his “eyes and ears,” visiting state prisons and hospitals and reporting on how they were run.
Convinced that her husband could lead America out of the Great Depression, Mrs. Roosevelt worked hard on his successful campaign for president in 1932. In her first year as First Lady, she traveled 38,000 miles around the country, from slums in Puerto Rico to villages in Maine. She…