Untraditional First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt Invented a Role No Successor Has Quite Matched

By Ruth Rosen. Ruth Rosen, a. professor of history University of California, Davis, writes regularly on political culture. | The Christian Science Monitor, September 4, 1992 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Untraditional First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt Invented a Role No Successor Has Quite Matched


Ruth Rosen. Ruth Rosen, a. professor of history University of California, Davis, writes regularly on political culture., The Christian Science Monitor


WHEN her husband entered the presidential campaign, newspapers editorialized against her liberal causes. Republicans cast her as a radical who threatened American values. Critics painted her as a negligent mother.

She violated every kind of social and political expectation. While her husband was governor, she pursued a professional career and stumped the nation in behalf of women's and children's rights. Big business hated her because she championed the cause of the worker. Even the FBI kept a secret file on her activities.

Though she and her husband maintained separate private lives, theirs was a close political partnership. He learned to trust her political advice. He agreed to bring female leaders into his inner circle. And he adopted her civil rights stance as his own.

Her name was Eleanor Roosevelt, the most influential First Lady in American history. Columnist, teacher, activist, editor, she entered Franklin Delano Roosevelt's first presidential campaign as a well-known political activist. During his presidency, Republicans red-baited her as a Bolshevik who threatened the nation's security. Magazines ridiculed the barbecues she substituted for formal presidential dinners. Still, she outlasted her critics. After FDR's death, she championed the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights and gained the status of elder stateswoman. In her last years, she chaired JFK's Committee on the Status on Women, helping spark the revival of feminism.

Hillary Clinton has said that Eleanor Roosevelt is her idea of a model first lady. It's hard to imagine a better choice. Before FDR's presidency, Eleanor Roosevelt championed all kinds of causes many considered un-American: child labor protection, social security, consumer rights, equal pay for equal work, and civil rights legislation. According to Blanche Wiesen Cook's new biography, Eleanor Roosevelt gently nudged FDR in ever more progressive directions.

Like Eleanor Roosevelt, Hillary Clinton has been demonized by the right-wing as a backstage usurper scheming to take over the White House.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Untraditional First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt Invented a Role No Successor Has Quite Matched
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?