Franklin Roosevelt marries Eleanor Roosevelt - HISTORY
Year
1905

Franklin Roosevelt marries Eleanor Roosevelt

Future president Franklin Delano Roosevelt weds his fifth cousin once removed, Eleanor Roosevelt, in New York on this day in 1905.

Eleanor, born Anna Eleanor Roosevelt in New York in 1884, lost her mother Anna to diphtheria when she was eight. Her father, Elliot, a brother of Theodore Roosevelt, died as a result of alcoholism when she was 10 years old. As a result, Eleanor was raised by the extended Roosevelt family and met her future husband for the first time when she was just two years old and he was four. They saw each other frequently at dances and parties and over the years became very close. In 1903, a 22-year-old Franklin proposed marriage to the 19-year-old Eleanor; the couple wed two years later on St. Patrick’s Day. Former President Theodore Roosevelt gave away the bride. As Franklin pursued a career in politics, Eleanor raised four children (a fifth died in infancy), volunteered in civic organizations and worked for women’s suffrage before becoming first lady.

A year after their wedding, Teddy Roosevelt, who was very fond of his niece, wrote to FDR, “you and Eleanor are true and brave, and I believe you love each other unselfishly…” However, their married life proved less than blissful. In 1918, Eleanor was devastated to discover that Franklin was having an affair with her secretary, Lucy Mercer. When Eleanor threatened to leave him, his mother intervened and offered to support Eleanor financially if she would stay in the marriage. After that, Eleanor and Franklin maintained the public facade of a married couple but in reality lived as platonic partners who shared an interest in public service.

When Roosevelt became president in 1933, the shy Eleanor blossomed as she made public appearances on behalf of her husband and pursued a variety of philanthropic activities. She used her celebrity to promote civil rights and humanitarian causes and also published a daily newspaper column called “My Day.” Roosevelt valued Eleanor’s intellect and viewpoint and often consulted her on presidential matters.

FDR continued to have other affairs, including one with his secretary, Missy LeHand. His son, Elliot, recalled having seen LeHand sitting on his father’s lap and, that he, like the rest of the president’s family, “accepted it as a matter of course.” As for Eleanor, unsubstantiated rumors flourished regarding her alleged lesbian love affair with a female reporter named Lorena Hickok. The two women exchanged letters brimming with sexual undertones. A dear friend and mentor to Eleanor, Hickok moved into the White House in 1940.

After FDR’s death in 1945, Eleanor stayed active in public service, becoming a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. She died in 1962.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Clark pleads guilty in Yale grad student slaying

On this day in 2011, 26-year-old Raymond Clark III, a former animal research assistant at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, pleads guilty to the murder and attempted sexual assault of 24-year-old Yale graduate student Annie Le. On September 13, 2009, Le’s partially ...read more

First St. Patrick’s Day parade

In New York City, the first parade honoring the Catholic feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is held by Irish soldiers serving in the British army.Saint Patrick, who was born in the late 4th century, was one of the most successful Christian missionaries in ...read more

Van Gogh paintings shown

On March 17, 1901, paintings by the late Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh are shown at the Bernheim-Jeune gallery in Paris. The 71 paintings, which captured their subjects in bold brushstrokes and expressive colors, caused a sensation across the art world. Eleven years before, ...read more

The British evacuate Boston

During the American War for Independence, British forces are forced to evacuate Boston following Patriot General George Washington’s successful placement of fortifications and cannons on Dorchester Heights, which overlooks the city from the south.During the evening of March 4, ...read more

Saint Patrick dies

On this day in 461 A.D., Saint Patrick, Christian missionary, bishop and apostle of Ireland, dies at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland.Much of what is known about Patrick’s legendary life comes from the Confessio, a book he wrote during his last years. Born in Great Britain, probably in ...read more

Results of Peers investigation announced

After an investigation, the U.S. Army accuses 14 officers of suppressing information related to an incident at My Lai in March 1968.Soldiers from a company had massacred Vietnamese civilians, including women and children, at My Lai 4, a cluster of hamlets in Quang Ngai Province, ...read more

Bobby Jones is born

On March 17, 1902, Robert Tyre Jones, Jr. is born in Atlanta, Georgia. Jones, the first great American golfer, was a hero of the so-called “Golden Age of Sports” in America along with baseball player Babe Ruth, boxer Jack Dempsey, tennis player Bill Tilden and football player Red ...read more

Jim Bridger born

Two months before Lewis and Clark begin their epic western expedition, Jim Bridger is born in Richmond, Virginia. Twenty years later, Bridger, heading West along the routes Lewis and Clark pioneered, became one of the greatest mountain men of the 19th century.The son of a ...read more

Novelist and playwright Paul Green is born

Paul Green, future winner of the 1927 Pulitzer Prize for his play In Abraham’s Bosom, is born. Although Green was white, his work examined the problems of blacks in the South, based on his observations of his native state, North Carolina.Born in 1894, Green studied at the ...read more

Earthquakes kill more than 1,200 in Taiwan

A powerful earthquake and a full day of aftershocks rock Taiwan on this day in 1906, killing over 1,200 people. This terrifying day of tremors destroyed several towns and caused millions of dollars in damages.It was early on a Saturday morning when the first earthquake struck, ...read more

Battle of Kelly’s Ford, Virginia

On this day in 1863, Union cavalry attack Confederate cavalry at Kelly’s Ford, Virginia. Although the Yankees were pushed back and failed to take any ground, the engagement proved that the Federal troopers could hold their own against their Rebel counterparts.In the war’s first ...read more

Auto pioneer Gottlieb Daimler born

Gottlieb Daimler, who in 1890 founded an engine and car company bearing his name, is born in Schorndorf, Germany, on this day in 1834.As a teenager, Daimler apprenticed to become a gunsmith and later moved into mechanical engineering. In 1885, he met Wilhelm Maybach (1846-1929) ...read more

British evacuate Boston

On this day in 1776, British forces are forced to evacuate Boston following General George Washington’s successful placement of fortifications and cannons on Dorchester Heights, which overlooks the city from the south. During the evening of March 4, American Brigadier General ...read more

Shakeup in French government

In the midst of Allied plans for a major spring offensive on the Western Front, the French government suffers a series of crises in its leadership, including the forced resignation, on March 17, 1917, of Prime Minister Aristide Briand.Horrified by the brutal events at Verdun and ...read more