I.

Champion of Her Husband's Ideals

She had not quite realized how much she had relied upon her husband intellectually, Eleanor Roosevelt wrote Walter Nash, New Zealand's minister of finance, adding, "I shall hope to continue to do what I can to be useful, although without my husband's advice and guidance I feel very inadequate." 1

It was the old ambivalence. She belittled her powers at the very time she was astonishing the world by her stoutness of heart. Franklin Roosevelt's death occasioned an overwhelming sense of personal loss. "I am frightened," wrote Helen Wilmerding, Eleanor's Roser classmate. "Who will take care of us now?" Strong men felt the same. "What a void has been left for the nation and the world," commented Justice Wiley Rutledge, and over in the House office building, a young Texas congressman, Lyndon B. Johnson, with tears in his eyes, exclaimed to a newspaperman, "God—God how he could take it for us all." 2

She sensed the country's feeling of rudderlessness and loss but instead of yielding to it sought to convert the nation's grief into an instrument for her husband's objectives. "Perhaps in His wisdom," she said in her column "My Day," which she resumed writing the Monday after her husband's burial,

the Almighty is trying to show us that a leader may chart the way, may point out the road to lasting peace, but that many leaders and many peoples must do the building. It cannot be the work of one man, nor can the responsibility be laid upon his shoulders, and so, when the time comes for people to assume the burden more fully, he is given rest. 3

Franklin's death seemed to have united the country, she wrote her Aunt Maude:

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Eleanor: The Years Alone
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