Eleanor Roosevelt conmemora el Día Mundial del Niño

Eleanor Roosevelt conmemora el Día Mundial del Niño


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La "Primera Dama del Mundo", Eleanor Roosevelt, lee una declaración sobre el bienestar infantil en honor al Día Mundial del Niño, que se celebró por primera vez un año antes, el 4 de octubre de 1953.


La paradoja de Eleanor Roosevelt: hijo del alcoholismo

En algún lugar entre las dos imágenes extremas de Eleanor Roosevelt, la de la primera dama entrometida y la del reformador humanitario y político consumado, se encuentra una figura compleja llena de contradicciones y paradojas ”, observó Tamara Hareven en la antología que marcó el centenario de Eleanor & # 8217s nacimiento en 1984. La colección se tituló Sin precedentes, y el ensayo de Hareven & # 8217 sobre "Urgencias y reforma" encabezó la sección final del volumen y # 8217 sobre "Paradojas". Autor de una biografía de admiración, Eleanor Roosevelt (1968), Hareven admitió en 1984 que la "omnipresencia y participación de Eleanor en muchas causas diferentes, sus declaraciones paradójicas y su apoyo a causas aparentemente contradictorias desconcertaron a sus contemporáneos y dejaron incluso a sus partidarios con la sensación de que sus actividades no tenían un patrón coherente". Los editores de Sin precedentes Explicó que se necesitaba una reevaluación académica porque las contradicciones en la larga y agitada vida de Eleanor Roosevelt no se explicaban por los elementos de la telenovela de la letanía estándar. Según este melodrama, Eleanor sobrevivió a una infancia huérfana y sin amor, a un esposo infiel y una suegra dominante, y emergió como una personalidad independiente solo después de que su esposo fue abatido por la poliomielitis en 1921. Su necesidad de servir mientras Franklin & # Los ojos y oídos de 8217 transformaron a la tímida Leonor en una líder pública autónoma. Fue un proceso triunfante que alcanzó su plenitud después de enviudar en 1945 y que se mantuvo gracias a la aclamación mundial hasta su muerte en 1962.

Pero debajo del escenario de la telenovela, la extraordinaria carrera de Eleanor estuvo marcada por una serie de paradojas entrelazadas que produjeron un simbolismo contradictorio. Ella era una idealista cruzada pero también una pragmática política astuta, una aristócrata con persuasiones izquierdistas, una reformista liberal agresiva que simbolizaba a la mujer liberada, pero que se oponía a la Enmienda de Igualdad de Derechos. Era intrínsecamente tímida, sin embargo, constantemente presionó a la conciencia pública con sus omnipresentes discursos, conferencias de prensa y publicaciones. Sus detractores conservadores la acusaron de ser una entrometida, bienhechora que amaba al mundo entero, sin embargo, incluso para sus seres queridos, Eleanor parecía incapaz de expresar sus emociones de forma espontánea. “Mi madre siempre estaba rígida, nunca lo suficientemente relajada como para retozar”, recuerda su hija Anna. "Mi madre amaba a toda la humanidad, pero no sabía cómo dejar que sus hijos la amaran".

Los estudiosos de Roosevelt han explicado los orígenes y la persistencia de estas tendencias contradictorias básicamente de tres formas. Una explicación es principalmente política y generacional, y busca explicar por qué Eleanor tardó tanto en apoyar cuestiones tan importantes de reforma femenina como el sufragio, la paz, las leyes sobre trabajo infantil y la ERA. Explica la extraordinaria carrera de Eleanor como puente de transición, que une a las élites reformadoras sociales de la era progresista con las feministas igualitarias modernas a través de actos de logro individual, mientras que el feminismo agresivo y colectivo, que había ganado el sufragio, permaneció inactivo durante 40 años. . Eleanor, una niña victoriana de finales del siglo XIX, creció con su partido agrario en la nación urbana del siglo XX, por lo que sus retrasos ideológicos no fueron más que dolores de crecimiento, paralelos a la transición demócrata de los derechos de los estados jeffersonianos a las reformas nacionalistas del New Deal. . Su firme oposición a la ERA avergonzó a las feministas modernas, pero la legislación protectora que amenazaba representaba comprensiblemente el triunfo liberal de su generación.

Una segunda explicación es estructural. Explica las diferentes funciones sociales y grados de libertad permitidos a una mujer cuyo lugar había sido definido en general por los valores patriarcales heredados de Estados Unidos, y específicamente por su famoso tío y esposo, de quien se derivaba su creciente estatus. En esta transición gradual, Eleanor se convirtió primero en la Primera Dama de Nueva York, luego en la Casa Blanca y la nación, luego en las Naciones Unidas y, en última instancia, en el humanitarismo mundial en general. La “oficina” de la Primera Dama era en sí misma una paradoja, que requería de los ocupantes serios y decididos una enagua pretendiendo lo contrario. Empoderada indirectamente por FDR, Eleanor finalmente encontró en la viudez su mayor libertad y plenitud. Carecía de la libertad de una Alice Paul, pero las muchas restricciones de su estatus atribuido se equilibraban con su visibilidad única como un púlpito de matones.

Una tercera explicación de las contradicciones de Eleanor ha sido necesariamente psicológica. Sin embargo, a diferencia de la mayoría de estas explicaciones, donde los psicohistoriadores y sus detractores se han enfrentado sobre qué impulsos más profundos y (generalmente) más oscuros impulsaron a Jefferson, Lincoln o Wilson, la evaluación psicológica de Eleanor Roosevelt ha sido sorprendentemente consensuada. Eleanor era una mujer primogénita seguida de hijos predilectos en la América victoriana y la sociedad dominada por hombres. En su Autobiografía (1961), se recordaba a sí misma como una "niña tímida y solemne incluso a la edad de dos años, y estoy segura de que incluso cuando bailaba nunca sonreía". Además, desde la más tierna edad sintió un profundo rechazo emocional porque estaba “sin belleza. Parecía una viejecita que carecía por completo de la alegría espontánea y la alegría de la juventud ". Su madre, Anna Hall Roosevelt, a quien Eleanor llamó "una de las mujeres más hermosas que he visto", incluso llamó a su sencilla hija "abuelita", y Eleanor "quería hundirse en el suelo de la vergüenza". Joseph Alsop recordó que una vez, cuando su madre estaba tomando el té con Anna, que era su prima, Anna se volvió hacia su pequeña hija y le comentó con total naturalidad: “Eleanor, apenas sé qué es lo que te va a pasar. Eres tan sencillo que realmente no tienes nada que hacer excepto sé bueno. " Desde el vínculo palpable de madre real e hijos preferidos, la pequeña y hogareña Eleanor se sintió emocionalmente excluida por una "curiosa barrera entre estos tres y yo". "Sentí que estaba separada de los chicos", dijo, y "algo me encerró".

La erudición feminista moderna, por supuesto, ha tenido mucho que decir sobre la centralidad implícita de la subordinación de las mujeres en estas explicaciones políticas, sociales y psicológicas. Las reevaluaciones feministas del papel de Eleanor tienden a enfatizar el papel liberador de su extensa red de amigas cercanas, en cuya especial crianza feminista se reforzó la independencia herida de Eleanor. Pero el consenso psicológico se basa en los años de formación de Eleanor, especialmente en la inusual influencia de las mujeres que gobernaron la vida del niño. Los propios relatos autobiográficos de Eleanor y las reconstrucciones de sus biógrafos han enfatizado su rechazo por una serie de mujeres excepcionalmente hermosas, frías y dominantes. En agudo contraste, estas mismas fuentes celebraron el intenso vínculo de amor entre la pequeña Eleanor y su cálido y gentil padre, quien solo parecía construir su maltrecha autoestima.

La primera entre las mujeres duras fue Anna Roosevelt, la madre crítica y exigente de Eleanor que a menudo sufría dolores de cabeza y depresiones, y que claramente parecía preferir la compañía de sus dos hijos. En FDR: Un recuerdo del centenario (1982), Joseph Alsop recuerda de manera poco halagüeña a Anna Roosevelt como “una mujer rígidamente convencional que de alguna manera combinaba devoción religiosa e intensa mundanalidad”, pero cuya característica más ostensible era su deslumbrante belleza y la vanidad que la acompañaba. El cuñado de Anna, Theodore Roosevelt, despreciaba su frivolidad, que "había devorado su carácter como un cáncer". Pero Anna murió repentinamente de difteria cuando Eleanor tenía solo ocho años, y Eleanor y sus hermanos menores fueron enviados abruptamente a su "abuela severa", Mary Livingston Ludlow Hall, que era "extremadamente severa con su hija y la prole". Como la hermosa hija de Livingston y la viuda de Valentine Hall, la abuela "incompetente" de Eleanor presidía "distraídamente" una casa irresponsable en la que sus seis hijos sorprendentemente hermosos eran mimados. Pero los nietos pobres que quedaron huérfanos sintieron la peor parte de su severa abuela, quien según la madre de Alsop poseía "la mayor habilidad para hacer que su entorno fuera sombrío de todas las mujeres de Nueva York". En la austera atmósfera victoriana de la sociedad de clase alta en Nueva York y Oyster Bay, Eleanor estaba "rodeada de tías egoístas despreocupadas" y sometida a la "severa supervisión" de "doncellas impacientes y institutrices estrictas". Finalmente, estaba el matrimonio de Eleanor a la edad de 19 años con su primo lejano Franklin, y con él una prolongada esclavitud como nuera de la dominante y desaprobadora Sara Delano Roosevelt. Carente de confianza en sí misma y de un toque maternal natural, Eleanor entregó la guardería de sus hijos a institutrices inglesas. La madre elegante y de fuerte voluntad de Franklin, en efecto, expropió a los hijos de Eleanor, refiriéndose a ellos como "mis hijos" y explicándoles que "tu madre sólo te parió a ti".

Solitaria, insegura y rechazada como una patita fea, la única fuente vital de tranquilidad y afecto de la pequeña Eleanor era su amado padre, Elliott: “Él dominó mi vida mientras vivió, y fue el amor de mi vida para muchos años después de su muerte ". El hermano menor de Theodore, Elliott, fue recordado por Eleanor como "encantador, guapo, amado por todos los que entraron en contacto con él, en lo alto o en lo bajo". Mientras que su madre Anna amaba la alta sociedad, recordó Eleanor, su padre "tenía una formación y una educación ajenas al patrón de mi madre". A diferencia de Anna, consciente del estatus, Elliott poseía el toque común. Parecía estar igualmente en casa con sus compañeros de polo y cazadores, los niños lisiados en el Hospital Ortopédico, los pilluelos de la calle en la Casa de Alojamiento de los Newsboys. A diferencia de Theodore, cuya combatividad podía estar teñida de grandilocuencia y cierta mojigatería moralista, Elliott generaba una calidez contagiosa. Con frecuencia descrito como "adorable", como su padre, Robert Roosevelt, Elliott cuando era joven era conocido por su generosidad y humor, y por su glamour, entre las jóvenes. Su madre y su hermana lo adoraban, y sus cartas reflejan un manantial de dulzura que mantenía el afecto en el que tan ampliamente se lo tenía. Elliott se casó con Anna después de un noviazgo breve y formal. Su primogénita, Eleanor, se unió profundamente a su padre, y él llamó a Eleanor su "Little Nell gay". “Él también le dio los ideales que ella trató de vivir toda su vida”, creía su biógrafo Joseph Lash, “al presentarle la imagen de lo que él quería que fuera: noble, valiente, estudiosa, religiosa, amorosa, y bueno."

Así, los recuerdos de la infancia de Eleanor y las reconstrucciones de biógrafos e historiadores han retratado el mundo de un niño que estaba dominado física y psicológicamente por mujeres hermosas que eran severas, frías, austeras e incluso crueles. Este ambiente severo fue aliviado solo por el adorado y adorado Elliott, quien era el amor de la vida de la joven Eleanor, y así permaneció, singular y para siempre, después de su devastador descubrimiento en 1918 del romance de su esposo Franklin con su secretaria social. Lucy Mercer. La infidelidad de Franklin es una de las dos principales borrones centrados en el hombre en un historial de infancia y adultez joven que, de lo contrario, está dominado por una opresión matriarcal casi sin alivio. Pero el otro se ha mantenido en gran parte como un fenómeno secreto, porque involucró el alcoholismo indiscutible de su amado y brillante padre, Elliott.

Mucho se ha hablado del impacto aplastante del amorío autoindulgente de Franklin, de cómo confirmó el profundo sentido de insuficiencia de Eleanor como esposa y madre, y de cómo posteriormente sublimó sus necesidades emocionales al buscar la realización personal a través de los medios sociales y políticos. acción en la arena pública. Los biógrafos recientes de los Roosevelt han sido generalmente conscientes del alcoholismo en el armario de Elliott. En Eleanor y Franklin (1971), por ejemplo, Lash describió la desastrosa autodestrucción de Elliott con un breve pero brutal detalle. David McCulloch fue aún más explícito en Mañanas a caballo (1981), y tanto Edmund Morris, en El ascenso de Theodore Roosevelt (1979) y Geoffrey Ward, en Antes de la trompeta (1985), dedicó un capítulo completo a Elliott y su trágica desaparición. Estas recientes reevaluaciones han tratado a la niñez dañina de Eleanor con sensibilidad. Pero pocos biógrafos se han sentido impulsados ​​o quizás calificados para sacar conclusiones clínicas importantes del grave problema con la bebida de Elliott. La literatura de Roosevelt suele extraer una conjetura de sentido común de que el encuentro de Eleanor con su padre y la sombra debilidad de su padre la dotó de una sensibilidad especial al dolor y el sufrimiento. Se dijo que esta experiencia dolorosa pero que fortaleció su carácter había fortalecido su determinación de ejercer la responsabilidad personal y evitar el trágico deterioro que había presenciado debido a la debilidad, la autocompasión y la autocomplacencia. Alsop incluso especuló que "la belleza de la madre de Eleanor Roosevelt debe haber sido más dura para ella que el alcoholismo de su padre", y que el período opresivo bajo su abuela Hall pudo haber sido "mucho peor".

Sin embargo, considere los propios recuerdos maduros de Eleanor sobre la extraordinaria intensidad de este vínculo padre-hija. Ella no solo apreciaba cada momento feliz con él, sino que también estaba realmente "desesperada por complacerlo". Recordó con dolorosa viveza aquellos casos en los que su falta de valor físico había fallado y, por lo tanto, lo decepcionó e incluso lo enfureció, como una vez en un paseo en burro y otra vez en un accidente a bordo de un barco en el mar, algo que un hijo fuerte seguramente nunca habría hecho. Incluso cuando los episodios de borrachera de Elliott estaban causando una gran ansiedad familiar, como cuando nació su segundo hijo (y tercer hijo), su hermano Hall, y Elliott regresó de una de sus reclusiones periódicas en un sanatorio, Eleanor recordó que “ ¡Fue la única persona que no me trató como un criminal! " Cuando su madre murió tan repentinamente en 1892, Eleanor recordó con asombrosa franqueza que “la muerte no significaba nada para mí, y un hecho borró todo lo demás. Mi padre había vuelto y lo vería pronto ". Ella y Elliott formaron un "pacto secreto", en el que padre e hija quedarían solos para siempre "para vivir en un mundo de sueños en el que yo era la heroína y mi padre el héroe". . . . A este mundo me retiré ".

Se requería la retirada, porque Anna había decretado, con la insistencia de Theodore, que tras su muerte, los niños serían criados por su sombría abuela materna, la señora Valentine Hall, y Elliott sería exiliado. Eleanor se dio cuenta de “la tragedia de la derrota total que esto significó para él. . . . No tenía esposa, ni hijos, ni esperanza ". Dos años más tarde, Elliott mismo había muerto, y la pequeña Eleanor, de diez años y huérfana, aparentemente tampoco tenía esperanzas: “La atención y la admiración fueron las cosas que durante toda mi infancia deseé, porque me hicieron sentir muy consciente del hecho. que nada de mí llamaría la atención o me traería admiración ". Pero Eleanor amonestó a su madre incluso en su tumba por responder a que su padre bebía menos con amor que con una fuerza altiva.

Pero, ¿cómo era realmente Elliott? Claramente, según todos los relatos contemporáneos, estaba extraordinariamente bendecido con riqueza y posición, calidez y encanto, atractivo atractivo y bonhommie deportiva. Pero algo andaba mal. Los síntomas inexplicables de comportamiento problemático surgieron ocasionalmente desde una edad temprana, y aunque fueron descartados o explicados de diversas maneras en la juventud de Elliott, especialmente por familiares y amigos devotos, su claridad hoy se deriva de una retrospectiva moderna. Cuando era niño, se decía que Elliott sufría de "subidas de sangre a la cabeza" periódicas. Cuando era un joven que cazaba tigres en la India, se apoderó de él una “fiebre” de origen exótico y traición recurrente. Un atleta espléndido, Elliott era curiosamente propenso a los accidentes, y sus familiares y amigos finalmente atribuyeron vagamente sus excesivas caídas a caballo a "convulsiones semi-epilépticas". La propia Eleanor compartía la creencia de que algún tipo de tumor en el cerebro podría haber ayudado a explicar la extraña debilidad interior de su padre. Su comportamiento cada vez más perturbado incluía, más allá de los síntomas físicos, episodios recurrentes de depresión y una incapacidad generalizada para mantenerse firme en sus objetivos o cumplir sus planes. Elliott abandonó St. Paul & # 8217s, nunca asistió a la universidad, no pudo & # 8217t parece escribir su libro prometido sobre la caza mayor, no pudo sostener sus empresas comerciales.

Cada vez más, a medida que Elliott persistió en su soltería animada pero desenfocada hasta los veinte años, su forma de beber provocó comentarios problemáticos. Una enfermedad encubierta, se explicó como una aparente consecuencia de su epilepsia o tumor o lo que sea (Elliott estaba acostumbrado a invocar “mi viejo problema indio”). En retrospectiva, la gravedad de su aflicción se hizo más clara para sus contemporáneos, especialmente en respuesta a la vergüenza y la vergüenza que fue visitar a la nobleza de Roosevelt. Como más tarde recordó Edith Carow Roosevelt: “Bebía como un pez y corría tras las damas. Me refiero a mujeres que no están en su propio rango, lo cual era mucho peor ". En su biografía de la esposa de Theodore, Edith Kermit Roosevelt (1980), Sylvia Jakes Morris describe cómo Theodore y Edith "temían invitarlo a cenar y lo veían lo menos posible". Deploraron los "círculos picantes de Long Island en los que él y su esposa amante de la sociedad se movían", y se desesperaron de que la "absolutamente frívola" Anna alguna vez actuara como una influencia estabilizadora.

Inicialmente, el matrimonio del libro de cuentos de Elliott con la encantadora Anna prometía la liberación de las locuras juveniles prolongadas a una madurez nueva y sobria. Pero no fue así, porque Elliott estaba muriendo de una enfermedad fatal. Sin duda, nunca sabremos con certeza si hubo alguna sustancia médica en las diversas nociones sobre la epilepsia o el tumor o la fiebre misteriosa, aunque es muy poco probable. Tales explicaciones más socialmente aceptables han sido comúnmente invocadas, especialmente por la nobleza, para evitar el temido estigma de la embriaguez. Pero la enfermedad esencial estaba clara: Elliott era un alcohólico crónico. Al principio de su matrimonio, renovó sus juergas imprudentes con sus amigos de la caza y el polo. Se puso cada vez más nervioso y de mal humor, girando hacia abajo, a lo largo de la infancia de Eleanor, hacia la etapa aguda que iba a terminar desastrosamente, como era la naturaleza de su enfermedad devastadora e incurable, en la desintegración mental y la muerte. En 1888 se cayó de un trapecio durante las representaciones teatrales de aficionados. Su tobillo fracturado fue diagnosticado erróneamente, lo que requirió que se lo volviera a romper y se lo reiniciara, lo que generó una agonía que agregó los narcóticos comúnmente disponibles láudano y morfina a su adicción al alcohol. Se volvió cada vez más hostil y deprimido, entregado a la ira de los borrachos, y en 1890 estaba en un estado de colapso que incluía incluso amenazas de suicidio.

En el desesperado viaje de la familia a Europa en 1890, Elliott comenzó con un solemne juramento de abstinencia. Pero pronto sucumbió a un comportamiento compulsivo violento. Esto llevó a una extraña serie de eventos, que Theodore llamó su "pesadilla de horror". Incluyó el compromiso de Elliott con un sanatorio en Viena, una frenética escapada a París, donde Elliott tomó con una amante estadounidense el pánico de Anna recién embarazada, quien se apresuró a casa con los niños para demandar el divorcio por motivos de locura. el internamiento violentamente ebrio de Elliott en un “asilo” seguro de París y, para rematar un drama más apropiado para la ficción pulp, la amenaza de chantaje de una demanda de paternidad por parte de una sirvienta embarazada en Nueva York, Katy Mann. Para el enfurecido Theodore, el comportamiento espectacularmente inmoral de su hermano constituía una "ofensa contra el orden, la decencia y la civilización" y una profanación del "santo lecho nupcial" por parte de su hermano "flagrante hombre-cerdo", Elliott, quien de ese modo había Perdió todo el lugar de la familia.

Abandonado en el manicomio de París, el desintegrado Elliott alternaba entre períodos de penitencia cargada de culpa con promesas solemnes de reforma a Anna y una furia violenta por haberlo traicionado y "secuestrado". Cuando la demanda de divorcio causó sensación en la prensa por la humillación pública de los prominentes Roosevelt, Theodore demandó un Auto de Locura contra su hermano. Luego llevó a Elliott a casa desde París, un hombre destrozado, que a cambio de la anulación de las demandas de divorcio y locura, perdió la mayor parte de sus derechos de propiedad y familiares, y acordó someterse al “Dr. Keely & # 8217s Bi-Chloride of Gold Cure ”. Este fue un tratamiento costoso de cinco semanas que se ofreció en Dwight, Illinois, y basado en el rechazo temporal del alcohol inducido químicamente por el cuerpo, su efecto fue similar al de la droga moderna antabuse, en la que el rechazo traumático pasa rápidamente con el cese. de inyecciones. El devastado Elliott también aceptó el exilio a un escondite familiar cerca de Abingdon, Virginia. Alsop describió la propiedad montañosa en la frontera entre Virginia y Virginia Occidental como una zona de madera "utilizada durante mucho tiempo como un lugar para almacenar borrachos de la familia", que eran "numerosos" entre el clan Roosevelt extendido.

Elliott se esforzó heroicamente durante su estadía temprana en Virginia para vivir una vida respetable y abstinente y para ganarse el perdón de Anna. Como siempre, sus votos pronto colapsaron ante el poder de su adicción. Luego, la repentina muerte de Anna por difteria en 1892 fue seguida poco después por la muerte por escarlatina de su hijo primogénito, Ellie, y luego de estos terribles golpes, Elliott se deslizó hacia el protegido mundo inferior de un alcohólico abandonado adinerado. En dedicadas cartas a Eleanor, prometió visitar con frecuencia a “El padre y la propia pequeña Nell”. Pero lo hizo de manera irregular, a menudo olvidando sus promesas en los apagones, y una vez la abandonó durante seis horas con el portero en el Knickerbocker Club de Nueva York mientras se emborrachaba y se desmayaba por dentro. En 1894 vivía en la ciudad de Nueva York con un nombre falso con una amante, "como una criatura herida y perseguida", dijo Theodore, a quien "no se le puede ayudar" y debe dejarse solo para que se muera de bebida. Cuando Elliott murió de delirium tremens y una caída en estado de embriaguez en agosto de 1894, la pequeña y desconsolada Eleanor ni siquiera fue llevada a su funeral.

¿Qué vamos a hacer con la extraordinaria disonancia entre esta catastrófica caída de Elliott el alcohólico y la visión caballeresca de la pequeña Nell de su adorado padre? Elliott Roosevelt era verdaderamente una figura patética que, a pesar de su riqueza y privilegios, sufría como millones de sus compañeros alcohólicos de una enfermedad antigua que se consideraba públicamente no como una enfermedad en absoluto, sino más bien como una marca vergonzosa de degeneración moral. Vivió en un infierno no tan privado y murió toda una generación antes de que se encontrara un programa de recuperación no médico que pudiera detener con éxito esta enfermedad incurable. Desde la fundación de Alcohólicos Anónimos en 1935, que se basó en principios psicológicos y espirituales más que en el conocimiento científico, otra generación de estudio y tratamiento ha producido el comienzo de una comprensión científica moderna de que el alcoholismo en el individuo químicamente dependiente parece tener orígenes biológicos. así como predisposiciones psicológicas, incluidas probables raíces genéticas. La Asociación Médica Estadounidense ni siquiera reconoció el alcoholismo como una enfermedad hasta 1955.

En la década de 1960, el tratamiento clínico del alcoholismo había producido la conciencia de que la familia del alcohólico desarrolla una psicopatología paralela propia, que se conoce como co-alcoholismo o codependencia. La investigación inicial de este fenómeno se concentró en el cónyuge del alcohólico. Pero en la década de 1970, un nuevo cuerpo de literatura clínica comenzó a describir patrones paralelos de ruptura en toda la familia del alcohólico, con especial atención a los hijos vulnerables de los alcohólicos. La investigación clínica reciente se ha concentrado en estos niños, incluso en la edad adulta, cuando la causa inmediata de su disfunción a menudo se había eliminado hace mucho tiempo. Las implicaciones clínicas y sociales y el tratamiento de este fenómeno se exploran en libros de base clínica como Janet G. Woititz, Matrimonio en las rocas (1979), Toby R. Drews, Poniéndolos sobrios (1980), Sharon Wegscheider, Otra oportunidad: esperanza y salud para los Familia alcohólica (1981) y Woititz, Hijos adultos de alcohólicos (1983).

De modo que, en la última generación, el tratamiento y la investigación del alcoholismo como enfermedad biofísica ha disminuido en gran medida el papel causal de los factores psicológicos en la creación de dependencia química. Pero al mismo tiempo, esta experiencia ha producido una comprensión clínica de que el alcoholismo es esencialmente un familia enfermedad en su contexto social. Esto, a su vez, ha reforzado el papel de los factores psicológicos en el condicionamiento de la conducta codependiente de los miembros de la familia en general y, en particular, ha revelado patrones imprevistos de pensamiento y conducta en el hijos adultos de alcohólicos que a menudo persisten con una tenacidad asombrosa y paralizante. En el caso de Eleanor Roosevelt & # 8217s, Elliott fue el alcohólico inmediato (algo alejado estaban los tíos de Eleanor & # 8217, Edward y Valentine Hall, cuya adicción y comportamiento eran paralelos a Elliott & # 8217s, y de quien Alsop informa: "estos dos hombres guapos se volvieron borrachos en un temprana edad"). El desastroso declive de Elliott & # 8217 se ajusta al patrón patológico clásico con cruel fidelidad. Pero, ¿qué hay de su impacto en el cónyuge e hijos de Elliott, específicamente en Anna y Eleanor?

En los últimos años, la acumulación de miles de historias de casos de familias alcohólicas en los registros clínicos ha producido una taxonomía de roles familiares o modelos de ajuste distorsionado que fueron definidos por la conducta controladora del padre alcohólico. Su papel (en el caso de Elliott & # 8217s, el padre & # 8217s, aunque el alcoholismo parece ser una enfermedad neutra en cuanto al sexo) se centra en negar su alcoholismo, tanto a sí mismo como a los demás. Esto conduce a un patrón familiar de esconderse, mentir, beber por la mañana, desmayos y síntomas físicos en general que se deterioran, que típicamente trazan un cuadro de fiebre que desciende patológicamente hacia abajo. Pero el concepto de alcoholismo como una enfermedad familiar psicológicamente significa que la vida de todos los miembros de la familia está fundamentalmente distorsionada por el comportamiento del padre químicamente dependiente. La primera víctima secundaria es el cónyuge, que paradójicamente funciona, en la taxonomía de los roles del co-alcohólico, como el Facilitador.

The Enabler es el jefe del elenco de apoyo, protegiendo al cónyuge alcohólico de las consecuencias de su comportamiento irresponsable y antisocial. Su rol (el rol conyugal de esposa predominó en los primeros estudios de casos, pero el Habilitador no es más intrínsecamente femenino que el alcohólico es masculino) es paradójico porque su protección instintiva ayuda a prolongar la agonía de la destrucción familiar mutua. Ella golpea a su cónyuge alcohólico, esconde sus errores, coartadas y mentiras para él, incluso para ella misma. Como resultado, paga un precio enorme, el menos pero más obvio es la vergüenza y la vergüenza de enfrentarse a familiares, amigos, acreedores y la comunidad en general. A medida que el alcohólico alivia cada vez más su propio dolor al proyectar su culpa y su odio a sí mismo sobre ella, ella se agota y se llena de dudas. Para soportar estos dolorosos ataques desde adentro, hace exactamente lo que ha hecho su cónyuge alcohólico: apaga sus sentimientos. Ella los apaga, es decir, excepto por la hinchazón y la ira corrosiva, que alternativamente reprime y vuelve a acumular sobre él.

Podemos reconocer estos síntomas en la miserable Anna Roosevelt, cuyo estrés extremo hizo que su molesta, severa y fría, Eleanor & # 8217, fuera una "madre crítica y exigente que a menudo sufría depresiones y dolores de cabeza". El estrés acelerado de vivir con un cónyuge alcohólico a menudo causa estragos en la salud de la Facilitadora, dejándola exhausta y físicamente vulnerable. En la descripción de Wegscheider & # 8217 de este síndrome peligroso pero familiar en Otra oportunidad, el Enabler "experimenta una o varias de las afecciones familiares relacionadas con el estrés: problemas digestivos, úlceras, colitis, dolores de cabeza y de espalda, presión arterial alta y posibles episodios cardíacos, nerviosismo, irritabilidad, depresión". En 1892, cuando Anna tenía solo 29 años, sus dolores de cabeza y de espalda eran tan severos que Eleanor, de ocho años, dormía en su habitación y pasaba horas acariciando la cabeza de su madre. Al final del año, la exhausta Anna había sucumbido a la difteria y había muerto.

Dos años después de la prematura muerte de Anna, tanto el padre alcohólico como su primogénito habían muerto. El hermano menor de Eleanor, Ellie, murió de escarlatina complicada por la difteria, y su hermano menor y sobreviviente, Hall, heredó los dones personales de su padre y también su maldición. Hall, un muchacho encantador y muy prometedor, se bebió lentamente hasta morir, y finalmente sucumbió a una insuficiencia hepática en 1941. La propia Eleanor estaba tan emocionalmente unida a su padre que era especialmente vulnerable al dolor familiar, que según la literatura clínica ha tendía a llevar a los hijos de alcohólicos a adoptar uno o más de los cuatro roles básicos en respuesta a la angustia y la ruptura familiar. Todos los roles responden a una necesidad inmediata de adaptarse a una situación anormalmente estresante, pero todos, por lo tanto, cobran un precio a largo plazo al distorsionar la personalidad y el comportamiento. Un papel común es la mascota, que se ve impulsada por el miedo al rechazo a actuar como el payaso, ganando así atención al proporcionar diversión, pero pagando el precio de la madurez detenida. Un segundo es el del chivo expiatorio, el niño salvaje que reacciona al dolor y la culpa con un comportamiento delictivo, ganando así atención negativa, pero al precio de un comportamiento autodestructivo. Pero ambos papeles eran ajenos a la naturaleza interior de la pequeña y tranquila Eleanor, que buscaba con todas sus fuerzas ser una buena niña. En cambio, Leonor parecía haber seguido otros dos roles comunes pero aparentemente contradictorios.

El primero fue el del Niño Perdido, huyendo a la soledad, solitario y tímido. Eleanor hizo su pacto secreto y sagrado con su padre, y se retiró a ese mundo de sueños. But the other and later role, which marked her transition to womanhood, and flowered slowly as she overcame her awkward shyness, was that of Hero. In the clinical literature, the Hero is driven by feelings of guilt to become a compulsive overachiever. Such achievements would provide Eleanor with the attention and admiration that she felt she had lacked all through her childhood. But the Hero, like the other distorted role-playing models, pays a high inner price. The ultimate goal of her achievements is not to satisfy her own needs, but rather to make up for the massive deficit of self-worth that the alcoholic so dear to her and the alcoholic family around her has created. In this view, and especially in light of the profound bond between father and daughter, Eleanor’s primal deficit drove her to an extraordinary life of compulsive overachievement that could never succeed in paying off the debt and assuaging the guilt, and thereby allow her to acknowledge her own terribly damaged self-esteem, or her own deeply buried anger at her father for betraying her love and abandoning her.

Joseph Lash, who was Eleanor’s close friend as well as biographer, sensed the punishing measure of unrealistic expectations and inevitable frustrations that were fused into Eleanor’s heroic role-playing. Because she so idolized her father,

she would strive to be the noble, studious, brave, loyal girl he had wanted her to be. He had chosen her in a secret compact, and this sense of being chosen never left her. When he died she took upon herself the burden of his vindication. By her life she would justify her father’s faith in her, and by demonstrating strength of will and steadiness of purpose confute her mother’s charges of unworthiness against both of them.

to overestimate and misjudge people, especially those who seemed to need her and who satisfied her need for self-sacrifice and affection and gave her the admiration and loyalty she craved. Just as her response to being disappointed by her father had been silence and depression because she did not dare see him as he really was, so in later life she would become closed, withdrawn, and moody when people she cared about disappointed her.

Throughout her adult life Eleanor understandably demonstrated a powerful aversion to alcohol itself, the savage agent of so much of her heartbreak and misery. “Eleanor had not a single close male relation of her own generation or the preceding one,” Alsop asserts, “who did not end as a drunkard, with the sole exception of her President-uncle and her President-to-be-husband. No wonder she loathed the sight of any form of drink as long as she lived.” But at a deeper level, she also demonstrated to a high degree throughout her career so many of those traits and attributes that are clinically associated with the adult children of alcoholics. The inventory of symptoms includes difficulty with intimate relationships, tendencies toward both impulsiveness and being super responsible (or super irresponsible), extreme loyalty even in the face of evidence that the loyalty is undeserved, and a constant quest for approval and affirmation.

But cautions are in order. The chief caveat is against a crude reductionism that would appear to explain away Eleanor Roosevelt’s entire rich career, as if it were merely derivative of a darker, monocausal force, an acting out of a path foredoomed by her father. Eleanor Roosevelt was a strong woman of firm Victorian moral beliefs, who continued to grow throughout her amazing fourscore years. Unlike many children of alcoholics, Eleanor was not so crippled that her talents were buried and her life severely disrupted. Unlike many adult children of alcoholics, she did not tend to lie, or to have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end. Unlike many Heroic role-players, she did not burn out her health—indeed, she had a constitution of iron.

Eleanor’s compulsion to pursue her causes prompted Franklin Roosevelt’s immortal prayer: “O Lord, Make Eleanor tired.” But Eleanor would not, could not tire. Toward the later war years Franklin sought refuge from the relentless single-mindedness with which she pursued her causes. He sought instead the company of his daughter Anna and Lucy Mercer Rutherford, who provided him with what his son Elliott called “a woman’s warm, enspiriting companionship, which my mother by her very nature could not provide.” Eleanor’s inability to find emotional fulfillment in her marriage reinforced her long quest for special personal relationships with a series of quite different men (Louis Howe, John Boettinger, Earl Miller), but especially with women. The latter frequently came in pairs of “Boston marriages” (Esther Lape and Elizabeth Read, Nancy Cook and Marion Dickerman), but also singly, as with the extraordinary Marie Souvestre, the headmistress of Allenswood finishing school near London, and later with Rose Schneiderman, Molly Dewson, Lorena Hickok.

In 1980 Doris Faber published her controversial biography, The Life of Lorena Hickok: E.R.’s Friend, which explored the possible lesbian relationship between Hickok and Eleanor, and prompted Joseph Lash’s spirited denial in Love, Eleanor: Eleanor Roosevelt and Her Friends (1982). Hickok’s lesbianism seems clear enough. But the lesbian claims on Eleanor, beyond fond Platonic ties, are implausible. Historian William Chafe has concluded that “the preponderance of evidence suggests that Eleanor Roosevelt was unable to express her deep emotional needs in a sexual manner.” Such intimacy seemed beyond her inner reach, whoever the presumed partner. Eleanor eventually pulled back from the overpossessive Hickok, as she seems to have ultimately withheld herself in all of her close personal relationships. “I know you often have a feeling for me which for one reason or another I may not return in kind,” she wrote Hickok. “I am pulling back in all my contacts now. I have always done it with the children, and why I didn’t know I couldn’t give you (or anyone else who wanted or needed what you did) any real food, I can’t now understand.” Eleanor simply could not let herself go emotionally, whether with Hickok or Franklin or Earl Miller or even with her own children.

But what she could do, with an iron discipline and determined self-control, was to seek vicarious fulfillment through her public causes. During her early widowhood, her normal work routine consisted of approximately a half dozen full-time jobs hopelessly interrupted by constant travel. This included the UN Human Rights Commission, a tight schedule of lecture tours, a regular radio commentary with her daughter Anna and a television show under her son Elliott’s management, a daily column published in 75—90 newspapers, a monthly question-and-answer page in the Diario de casa de las señoras y después McCall’s, writing the second of Tres autobiographies, and attending to board meetings and assorted support and fund-raising appeals for the American Association for the United Nations, Brandeis University, Americans for Democratic Action, the United Jewish Appeal, the NAACP, the Citizens Committee for Children, and on and on. Eleanor’s children frequently upbraided their mother for her insistence that no meeting was too small and no worthy cause too obscure to merit her attention. She replied to their resentment with the lame if not fantastic explanation that she had to accept such invitations because “I need the publicity,” or “Because nobody else will go. It’s important they should know someone cares.” Lash found Eleanor fallen into her mood of deepest depression over her children’s frequent quarrels and divorces. Yet she never changed a life style that constantly took her away from them and led her to respond to countless invitations from groups weighty or marginal in an unending search to bolster a self-esteem that was so terribly damaged in childhood.

Eleanor’s hectic schedule and reputation for availability not surprisingly generated a deluge of correspondence, and it was her unbreakable rule not only that engagements must be kept, but also that letters must be answered—the latter often averaging from 50 to 100 a night. Small wonder that her avalanche of speeches and writings said little that was novel or original or of lasting value. For all her empathic instincts, Eleanor lacked a mind of exceptional or creative ability, and her grueling regimen guaranteed that her speeches and writings would rarely soar above the commonplace. Small wonder, also, that her critics, who often mainly despised her left-wing causes, accused her of cheapening the office of First Lady by constantly galavanting about the globe while her children were improperly raised, by writing articles for pay, making broadcasts, even appearing in paid commercials. “The First Lady presented an image,” Hareven conceded, “not of serene domesticity but of hectic travel, disorganized activities, and busybody occupations.”

In light of all the blows and disappointments that she suffered throughout her life, and also in light of her rather normal intellectual gifts, Eleanor Roosevelt’s achievements remained astonishing. While the devastating impact of her father’s alcoholism appears to have exacted a high and unfair price in damaging her self-worth and blocking her emotional release and private fulfillment, it seems also to have fueled a rare lifetime of top-speed striving for purposes that were both worthy of the effort and much in need of champions with prestige, energy, and a stout heart. Chief among Eleanor’s prescient understandings were her conviction that women were to be taken seriously and must play a serious role in public affairs, that America’s treatment of its black citizens was a moral abomination, and that guardianship of human rights was a global responsibility that transcended traditional nationalisms. That her astounding drive in this higher calling was heavily derived from the childhood pain of an alcoholic family is also testimony to her strength and capacity for growth and should not detract from the power of her symbolism to those whose causes she championed.

Painfully shy but publicly loquacious, loving mankind but with bottled-up emotions, moved by compassion yet impelled by an innocent childhood’s inheritance of guilt, this paradoxical woman drove through life in an endless quest. In the process she surmounted a tragic and crippling legacy with becoming strength for an enriching 78 years. Peace, to her restive spirit.


Eleanor Roosevelt Commemorates World Children's Day - HISTORY


Eleanor Roosevelt and Fala
by Unknown
  • Ocupación: First Lady
  • Nació: October 11, 1884 in New York City, New York
  • Murió: November 7, 1962 in New York City, New York
  • Best known for: Being an active first lady who worked for human rights.

Where did Eleanor Roosevelt grow up?

Eleanor Roosevelt was born in New York City on October 11, 1884. Although she grew up in a fairly wealthy family, she had a tough childhood. Her mother died when she was eight and her father when she was only ten.

While her parents were alive, her mother treated her poorly, calling her "Granny" because she thought Eleanor was so serious and old-fashioned looking. Eleanor had few friends her age and was a quiet and frightened child. Her father was more encouraging, but wasn't around much. He would send her letters that she kept for the rest of her life.

When Eleanor turned fifteen her grandmother sent her boarding school near London, England. At first Eleanor was scared, however the headmistress took a special interest in her. By the time she graduated, Eleanor had gained confidence in herself. She had learned a lot about herself and life. She returned home a new person.

Upon her return to the United States, Eleanor began to date her distant cousin Franklin Roosevelt. He was a handsome young man attending Harvard University. They spent a lot of time together and Franklin fell in love with Eleanor. They were married on March 17, 1905. Eleanor's Uncle Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States, gave away the bride in the wedding.

Once married, the couple began to have children. They had six children including Anna, James, Franklin (who died young), Elliott, Franklin Jr., and John. Eleanor kept busy running the household and taking care of the children.

Franklin had become a famous politician. His goal was to become president. However, Franklin became very sick one summer with a disease called polio. He nearly died. Although Franklin lived, he would never walk again.

Despite his illness, Franklin decided to stay in politics. Eleanor was determined to help him in any way she could. She became involved in a number of organizations. She wanted to help poor people, black people, children, and women have better lives.

A New Kind of First Lady

Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated as President of the United States on March 4, 1933. Eleanor was now the First Lady. The job of the First Lady had always been to host parties and entertain foreign dignitaries and political leaders. Eleanor decided she could do more than this.

At the start of Franklin's presidency, America was in the middle of the Great Depression. People around the country were struggling to find jobs and even to have enough to eat. Franklin created the New Deal to try and help poor people recover. Eleanor decided to travel around the country to see how people were doing. She traveled thousands and thousands of miles. She let her husband know where people needed help and where his programs were and weren't working.

When Japan attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor, Franklin had no choice but to declare war and enter World War II. Eleanor didn't stand still or stay at home in safety. She went to work for the Red Cross. She traveled to Europe and the South Pacific to visit the sick and the wounded and to let the troops know how much they were appreciated.


First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt Flying
from the National Park Service

On April 12, 1945 Franklin died of a stroke. Eleanor was sad, but she wanted to continue their work. For seven years she represented the United States at the United Nations (UN), which was created in large part by her husband. While a member, she helped to write the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which described that people throughout the world should be treated fairly and had certain rights that no government should be able to take away.

Eleanor also wrote a number of books including This is My Story, Esto lo recuerdo, On My Own, and an autobiography. She continued to fight for equal rights for black people and women. She served as chair for the Commission on the Status of Women for President Kennedy.

Eleanor died on November 7, 1962. She was buried next to her husband Franklin. After her death Time Magazine called her the "world's most admired and talked about woman".


The Children of FDR

Franklin Delano Roosevelt had six children with his wife, Eleanor, although the first FDR Jr., born in 1909, also died that year. A second FDR Jr. would eventually be christened in 1914. Thus five of his children survived into adulthood, all of whom lived to advanced ages during a tumultuous century.

His firstborn, a daughter named Anna, emerged into the world only 14 months after her parents' marriage. During two marriages, first to a stockbroker and then to a newspaper editor, she was active in both writing and editing. As Eleanor Roosevelt began to take a more active interest in social causes, FDR invited Anna to move into the White House and serve as the official hostess. Thus Anna was preset at the Yalta Conference and for many of the major political functions during WWII. Eventually she and her third husband became active in labor relations, the Kennedy Administration, and various other political and public relations enterprises. She died in 1975 of throat cancer at the age of 69.

FDR welcomed his first son into the world a year after Anna. After attending Harvard and the Boston School of Law, James Roosevelt campaigned for his father's 1932 election. His business in insurance became so successful that he dropped out of law school and began working full-time for his father's administration in 1937, first as Presidential Secretary. He became a commissioned Lieutenant Colonel in the Marine Corps, serving first as an attache to British forces before requesting an active duty post. He served with the controversially forward-thinking Marine Raiders and earned the Silver Star, eventually retiring as a Brigadier General in 1959. He also went to Hollywood, then served as a US Representative from California between 1955-65, during which time he actively spoke against Joseph McCarthy. He eventually published several memoirs, married four times, and fathered seven children. He died at age 83 in 1991 of Parkinson's, the last of FDR's children.

Elliott Roosevelt was born in 1910, eventually following in his older brother's footsteps by becoming an active member of the Armed Forces during WWII. He enlisted in the US Army Air Corps, the forerunner to the Air Force, and served as a pilot and commander. After flying over 300 combat missions, he retired a brigadier general upon the war's conclusion. He never achieved the same level of success in civilian life. He raised horses in Portugal, worked on a ranch in Texas, and lived on the property Eleanor bought on his behalf. He died in 1990 at age 80, after having been married five times. He fathered five children and adopted four.

FDR's third surviving son, name FDR Jr., contracted a serious strep infection in 1936 that was successfully treated with new sulfonamide antibiotics. Because of his father's fame, FDR Jr.'s recovery and the press that followed ushered in a new era of antibiotic acceptance among the US public, which greatly aided in wartime medicine. He eventually married five times and fathered five children, with his primary life's work revolving around politics and the law. He also imported cattle and Fiats, until his death in 1988 of throat cancer on his 74th birthday.

The last child born to FDR and Eleanor was John Aspinwall Roosevelt. He served in the US Navy as a lieutenant and received the Bronze Star. After marrying a woman whose father was staunchly Republican, John "defected" to the Republican Party, which caused considerable friction in his solidly Democratic family. That tension only increased as he actively campaigned for the likes of Eisenhower and Nixon. Despite his active interest in politics, he was the only of his brothers who never campaigned for public office. He retired as vice president of an investment firm in 1980, before heading up various charity organizations. He married only twice and fathered four children before his death in 1981 at age 65.

What I find most fascinating about the Roosevelt children is the participation in armed service. Can you imagine the children of any modern-era president serving on the front lines of a major conflict, or even being allowed to do so? Amazing, really!

SONG OF SEDUCTION's sequel from Carina Press, PORTRAIT OF SEDUCTION, is now available! Later this year watch for Carrie's new Victorian series from Pocket, as well as her "Dark Age Dawning" romance trilogy from Berkley, co-written with Ann Aguirre under the name Ellen Connor. "Historical romance needs more risk-takers like Lofty."


Civil Rights

In 1945, she had joined the NAACP, increasing her involvement in the civil rights movement. Eleanor hated violence and especially detested lynching. She worked with Thurgood Marshall and helped with housing and community planning for African Americans. “Black Americans appreciated Eleanor Roosevelt’s unflinching connection of housing rights to civil rights” (Black 104). She also supported the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) and fought against the discrimination and segregation of public schools. When she visited the segregated First Methodist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, she refused to sit on either the white or black side and had her chair placed in the center aisle between two sides. Throughout the 1950s, Eleanor Roosevelt was interviewed frequently on radio and television, and she used such programs to promote different causes. Eleanor continued to work for the Democratic Party, and emphasized that civil rights and civil liberties were the most important aspects of democracy. As she became older, she became even more liberal in her outlook. Some of her critics even accused her of being responsible for black riots.

Eleanor and JFKThe FBI had a file on her of over 4,000 pages which contained her letters and her work, including her controversial opinions against racism and lynching. During the “Red Scare” about Communism in America throughout the 1950’s, Eleanor was caught in the middle. She defended the students accused of being Communists because she saw them as idealists, and she stressed their right to freedom of speech. Although she was anti-Communist, she strongly disagreed with Senator Joseph McCarthy’s tactics of accusing people, especially students, of being un-American if they supported liberal causes. To win the 1960 Democratic nomination, Senator John F. Kennedy knew that he needed to gain Eleanor’s support. The Democratic Party was split on the issue of civil rights. Eleanor wanted Adlai Stevenson to win the Democratic nomination that year, but Kennedy was nominated instead. Kennedy had to go to Val-Kill to gain Eleanor’s support, because he wanted to win the votes of African Americans. After he was elected President, Eleanor was disappointed that Kennedy’s administration was not initially supportive of civil rights in general and the Freedom Riders in particular – causes which were very important to her. She was, on the other hand, delighted with the creation of the Peace Corps under Kennedy’s influence and became an enthusiastic supporter of the agency. President Kennedy appointed her to the Peace Corps Advisory Board and to the chairmanship of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women.

Throughout her life, Eleanor fought for issues that she felt were necessary to address, like racial equality and worldwide Eleanorhuman rights. She served on the Board of the NAACP and “labeled racial prejudice undemocratic and immoral” (Black, 37). After World War II, Eleanor focused on racial discrimination, not just in the U.S., but internationally as well. By fighting for worldwide human rights, Eleanor became known as the “First Lady of the World.” She continued “discussing their problems in her speeches, columns, and articles,” and fought for human rights both nationally and abroad (Black 94). Ever since she was young, she had believed that everyone has the right to speak his or her mind, and in her last book, Tomorrow is Now, she stressed the necessity of individual action. By emphasizing the fact that one should not do just what everyone else is doing, she wrote, “we have to learn to think freshly about our new revolutionary world, to free our intelligence from the shackles of fear, and set it to work on the most challenging problem we have ever faced: the preservation of civilization” (Roosevelt, Tomorrow is Now, 26). Along with emphasizing the ideas that the state is supposed to serve the people and the citizens are supposed to be informed, she expressed the importance of having respect for other nations and other people.

She remained intensely involved with the United Nations because she saw the organization as a “reflection of the whole world,” which was very important to her (Roosevelt, Tomorrow is Now, 113). Eleanor Roosevelt died on November 7, 1962 at the age of 78. When remembering their mother, her children stated, “we were the most important thing in her life in our opinion-- and that’s the way she made everybody throughout the world feel” (Flemion and O’Connor, 44).


Eleanor Roosevelt Commemorates World Children's Day - HISTORY

As the chair of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, Eleanor Roosevelt was the driving force in creating the 1948 charter of liberties which will always be her legacy: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Born in New York City, Eleanor married rising politician Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1905 and became fully immersed in public service. By the time they arrived in the White House in 1933 as President and First Lady, she was already deeply involved in human rights and social justice issues. Continuing her work on behalf of all people, she advocated equal rights for women, African-Americans and Depression-era workers, bringing inspiration and attention to their causes. Courageously outspoken, she publicly supported Marian Anderson when in 1939 the black singer was denied the use of Washington’s Constitution Hall because of her race. Roosevelt saw to it that Anderson performed instead on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, creating an enduring and inspiring image of personal courage and human rights.

In 1946, Roosevelt was appointed as a delegate to the United Nations by President Harry Truman, who had succeeded to the White House after the death of Franklin Roosevelt in 1945. As head of the Human Rights Commission, she was instrumental in formulating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which she submitted to the United Nations General Assembly with these words:

“We stand today at the threshold of a great event both in the life of the United Nations and in the life of mankind. This declaration may well become the international Magna Carta for all men everywhere.”

Called “First Lady of the World” by President Truman for her lifelong humanitarian achievements, Roosevelt worked to the end of her life to gain acceptance and implementation of the rights set forth in the Declaration. The legacy of her words and her work appears in the constitutions of scores of nations and in an evolving body of international law that now protects the rights of men and women across the world.

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right—for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.” —Eleanor Roosevelt


This Week in Roosevelt History: March 15-21

March 15, 2010 in This Week in Roosevelt History | Tags: ER, FDR | by fdrlibrary | Comments closed

March 17, 1905: FDR and ER are married in New York City by President Theodore Roosevelt.

Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt at “Algonac” in Newburgh, NY.
May 7, 1905
FDR Library Photo Collection. NPx 63-536.

Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt pictured shortly after their marriage in March 1905.
March 1905
FDR Library Photo Collection. NPx 62-41.


The First Lady

Upon moving to the White House in 1933, Eleanor Roosevelt informed the nation that they should not expect their new first lady to be a symbol of elegance, but rather "plain, ordinary Mrs. Roosevelt." Despite this disclaimer, she showed herself to be an extraordinary First Lady.

In 1933, Mrs. Roosevelt became the first, First Lady to hold her own press conference. In an attempt to afford equal time to women--who were traditionally barred from presidential press conferences--she allowed only female reporters to attend. In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused to allow Marion Anderson, an African American singer, to perform in their auditorium. In protest, Mrs. Roosevelt resigned her membership in the DAR.

Throughout Franklin D. Roosevelt's presidency, Eleanor traveled extensively around the nation, visiting relief projects, surveying working and living conditions, and then reporting her observations to the President. She was called "the President's eyes, ears and legs" and provided objective information to her husband. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States entered WWII, Mrs. Roosevelt made certain that the President did not abandon the goals he had put forth in the New Deal. She also exercised her own political and social influence

She became an advocate of the rights and needs of the poor, of minorities, and of the disadvantaged. The public was drawn in by the First Lady's exploits and adventures which she recounted in her daily syndicated column, "My Day". She began writing the column in 1935 and continued until her death in 1962.

During the war, she served as Assistant Director of Civilian Defense from 1941 to 1942 and she visited England and the South Pacific to foster good will among the Allies and to boost the morale of U.S. servicemen overseas.


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When was Eleanor Roosevelt born?
Eleanor Roosevelt was born October 11, 1884 in New York City.

Who were Eleanor's parents?
Eleanor's parents were Elliott and Anna Hall Roosevelt. Elliott was the younger brother of Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt, the twenty-sixth President of the United States. Anna Hall was descended from the Livingston family. The Livingstons, an old Hudson River family, played an important role in the formation of the new republic: one Livingston administered the oath of office to George Washington, another signed the Declaration of Independence, still another became a Supreme Court justice.

Was Eleanor an only child?
No. Eleanor had two brothers Elliott Roosevelt (1889-1893) and Gracie Hall Roosevelt (1891-1941), who was known as Hall. A few months after their mother's death in 1892 both boys contracted scarlet fever. Hall recovered, but Elliott did not.

When did Eleanor's parents die?
Eleanor's mother died of diphtheria following an operation on December 7, 1892, when Eleanor was eight years old. Her father died on August 14, 1894, less than two years later when Eleanor was not quite ten years old.

Where did Eleanor go to school?
After her mother's death, Eleanor went to live with her grandmother, Mrs. Valentine G. Hall, in Tivoli, New York. She was educated by private tutors until the age of 15, when she traveled to England to attend Allenswood, a preparatory school for girls run by a progressive headmistress, Marie Souvestre. Eleanor was very studious but also very popular at Allenswood and many believe that she gained much self-confidence during her time there. She later wrote that Marie Souvestre was an important role model and perhaps one of the most influential people in Eleanor's life.

What sport did Eleanor participate in at Allenswood?
Eleanor played varsity field hockey.

Did Eleanor go to college?
No, but Allenswood provided a serious collegiate environment with high scholastic standards.

What did Eleanor do after her coming out party?
After her debut into New York society, Eleanor found herself caught in a whirl of debutante parties, an ordeal she later termed "utter agony." The following year Eleanor turned to other acceptable activities for young socialites, joining the Junior League and teaching calisthenics and dancing to the children at the Rivington Street Settlement House in New York City's Lower East Side. She also became a member of the Consumers League, participating in the investigation of sweatshops in the city.

Could Eleanor dance?
Eleanor was an excellent dancer. The Eleanor Roosevelt Reel was named in her honor.

What people influenced Eleanor's life?
In a 1951 Look Magazine article, Eleanor Roosevelt listed seven people who, in her estimation, shaped her life. The first two were her father and mother: her father provided her love and reassurance, and her mother gave her the unattainable goal of perfection. Madame Marie Souvestre, headmistress and a teacher at Allenswood School, gave her a sense of confidence, and her Aunt Pussie (Mrs. W. Forbes Morgan) taught her discipline.

But, she said, it was the personalities of her husband and her mother-in-law that exerted the greatest influence on her development. It was their influence that made her "develop willy-nilly into an individual." Lastly, Louis Howe, her husband's political advisor, pushed her into taking an interest in politics.

Did Eleanor want FDR to be President?
In her autobiography This I Remember, Eleanor wrote: "From a personal standpoint, I did not want my husband to be president. I realized, however, that it was impossible to keep a man out of public service when that was what he wanted and was undoubtedly well equipped for. It was pure selfishness on my part, and I never mentioned my feelings on the subject to him."

Did Eleanor ever run for President?
No. President Truman indicated that she would be acceptable to him as a vice-presidential candidate, but Eleanor made it clear that she did not wish to seek elective office.

What was the relationship between Sara Delano Roosevelt, FDR's mother, and Eleanor?
The relationship between Eleanor and her mother-in-law was a complex, changing one. At the time of her engagement, Eleanor was a shy, insecure girl looking for love and acceptance. Sara Roosevelt dominated her and Franklin's world and when Eleanor entered it, she dominated her as well. It was her husband's illness, Eleanor said, that made her stand on her own two feet in regard to her husband's life, her own life and the rearing of her children. Her mother-in-law was "a very vital person [whose] strongest trait was loyalty to her family," Eleanor wrote in her My Day column on Sara's death.

What role did Eleanor play in FDR's presidency?
According to The Eleanor Roosevelt Encyclopedia, Eleanor "exerted considerable influence on the New Deal. As First Lady, she served as both an advocate for, and a critic of, FDR's developing reform program. While she neither drafted legislation nor held elective office, she worked with other reformers outside and inside the administration to shape the contours of the New Deal."

Who was Lorena Hickok?
Lorena Hickok was a top newspaperwoman who was assigned to cover Eleanor Roosevelt for the Associated Press (AP) during FDR's first campaign in 1932. She developed a deep attachment to Eleanor which compromised her objectivity and she resigned from the AP. It was "Hick" who suggested that the First Lady hold White House press conferences for women reporters only. She then went to work as the chief investigator of relief programs for Harry Hopkins, head of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration. Her major duty was to travel around the country and report on the effectiveness of local relief administrations. She died in Hyde Park, New York in 1968.

What is "My Day"?
"My Day" was a syndicated column that Eleanor wrote six days a week from December 1935 until her death in 1962. The column was her public diary. She used it as a pedagogical device, a political tool, and a medium for communicating the liberal ethic to her readers.

Following is an excerpt from her column:

NEW YORK, OCTOBER 21, 1960 - As we watch the Presidential campaign unroll, I wonder how many have noticed one rather interesting change in the modern type of campaign. This was brought to my attention the other day when a young newspaper reporter said to me: "Do you really think that the decision as to a man's fitness for the office of President should depend, in part at least, on what kind of a President's wife his wife will be?"

I looked at her in surprise for a moment, because it had not dawned on me what changes had come about since Mr. Eisenhower's first campaign.

Apparently we have started on a new trend. I can't remember in my husband's campaign, nor in Mr. Truman's, that such a question could be asked. Some of the children or I would accompany my husband on the various campaign trips, and if we were around at railroad stops he would introduce us to the crowd in a rather casual manner. He often said "My little boy, Jimmy," when Jimmy was as tall as he was!

My husband insisted always that a man stood on his own record. He did not bring his family in to be responsible in getting him votes or in taking the blame for his decisions. I think he sometimes found it amusing to let me do things just so as to find out what the reaction of the public would be. But nothing we did was ever calculated and thought out as part of the campaign in the way we feel that Mr. Nixon plans every appearance with his wife.

There must be times when the whole situation becomes practically unbearable, I would think, for the woman of the family. And I hope that we will return to the old and rather pleasant way of looking upon White House families as people who have a right to their own lives.

The wives, of course, have certain official obligations, but they are certainly not responsible for their husband's policies. And they do not have to feel that sense of obligation at every point to uphold the ideas of the man of the family.

With so many people around a President who say "yes" to everything he says, it is fun sometimes for the family around him to say "no" just for the sake of devilment--but that should be a private family relaxation.

What did Eleanor do after FDR's death?
After Mrs. Roosevelt left the White House in 1945, her life was busier than ever. She continued to be an influential figure in the Democratic Party. President Truman appointed her a member of the first U.S. delegation to the United Nations in 1945 and she served as chairman of the Human Rights commission.

She gave public lectures and speeches, supported organized labor, and worked on behalf of a variety of causes, such as child welfare, displaced persons, minority rights, and women's rights. She continued to write books and her syndicated My Day column.

When did Eleanor Roosevelt die?
Eleanor died on November 7, 1962, in New York City from aplastic anemia, tuberculosis, and heart failure. She was 78 years old.


Eleanor Roosevelt

A shy, awkward child, starved for recognition and love, Eleanor Roosevelt grew into a woman with great sensitivity to the underprivileged of all creeds, races, and nations. Her constant work to improve their lot made her one of the most loved—and for some years one of the most reviled—women of her generation.

She was born in New York City on October 11, 1884, daughter of Anna Hall and Elliott Roosevelt, younger brother of Theodore. When her mother died in 1892, the children went to live with Grandmother Hall her adored father died only two years later. Attending a distinguished school in England gave her, at 15, her first chance to develop self-confidence among other girls.

Apprehensive at the thought of being a wallflower, she returned for a debut that she dreaded. In her circle of friends was a distant cousin, handsome young Franklin Delano Roosevelt. They became engaged in 1903 and were married in 1905, with her uncle the president giving the bride away. Within 11 years Eleanor bore six children one son died in infancy. “I suppose I was fitting pretty well into the pattern of a fairly conventional, quiet, young society matron,” she wrote later in her autobiography.

In Albany, where Franklin served in the state Senate from 1910 to 1913, Eleanor started her long career as political helpmate. She gained a knowledge of Washington and its ways while he served as assistant secretary of the navy. When he was stricken with poliomyelitis in 1921, she tended to him devotedly. She became active in the women’s division of the State Democratic Committee to keep his interest in politics alive. From his successful campaign for governor in 1928 to the day of his death, she dedicated her life to his purposes. She became his eyes and ears, a trusted and tireless reporter.

When Mrs. Roosevelt came to the White House in 1933, she understood social conditions better than any of her predecessors and she transformed the role of first lady accordingly. She never shirked official entertaining she greeted thousands with charming friendliness. She also broke precedent to hold press conferences, travel to all parts of the country, give lectures and radio broadcasts, and express her opinions candidly in a daily syndicated newspaper column, “My Day.”

This made her a tempting target for political enemies but her integrity, her graciousness, and her sincerity of purpose endeared her personally to many—from heads of state to servicemen she visited abroad during World War II. As she had written wistfully at 14: “no matter how plain a woman may be truth loyalty stamped upon her face all will be attracted to her.”

After the president’s death in 1945 she returned to a cottage at their Hyde Park estate she told reporters: “the story is over.” Within a year, however, she began her service as American spokesman in the United Nations. She continued a vigorous career until her strength began to wane in 1962. She died in New York City that November, and was buried at Hyde Park beside her husband on the grounds of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum.


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