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Eleanor Roosevelt

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Before Eleanor Roosevelt the role of the first lady was not a political Presidential role; it was merely a formal title of the President's wife. By being active in politics during and after her husband's Presidency, Eleanor Roosevelt paved the way for all future Presidential wives. Of course, she did not have instant success; she had many trials that helped her become an important and influential role model. Eleanor Roosevelt's dedication to her husband, her political activity, and her volunteer work enabled her to change the role of the First Lady, impacting society in a significant way.

Anne Eleanor Roosevelt was born on October 11, 1884, to Elliot Roosevelt and Anna Hall (Morey 12). Elliot and Anna were wealthy New York socialites. Her dad was an alcoholic who was rarely at home, and her mom treated her as if she were ugly and meant nothing (Morey 16). Being a child of wealthy parents allowed Eleanor to see what life was like from the rich perspective. It made her realize that it was better to give to someone who was in need, than to give to someone who did not need. Her parents both died when she was eight years old. Eleanor then was taken care of by her grandmother. When Eleanor was fifteen years old, she attended a distinguished school in England (Morey 19). She studied under Mademoiselle Marie Souvestre who had a great influence on her education and thinking. Going to this school at such a young age gave her the first chance to develop self-confidence among other girls. Eleanor was the niece of Teddy Roosevelt, making her a distant cousin of Franklin Delano Roosevelt whom she later married (Freedman 26). Marrying him and his attack of polio in 1921 set Eleanor on the path of social commitment.

After becoming a member of the NAACP (National Association for Advancement of Colored People) in 1939, Eleanor fought against inequality. This allowed Eleanor to join its leaders in asking the government to act decisively to ban discrimination in the armed forces and in defense work (Morey 86). Asking this permission allowed the first unit of black combat pilots to take off for overseas duty in April 1943 (Morey 87). Eleanor also improved economic opportunities for blacks in Franklin's New Deal. Her black discrimination complaints against New Deal economic programs received a hearing at the White House, and the President agreed. Franklin signed an executive order barring discrimination in the administration



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