Publish date:
Updated on
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.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

TDIH-Golda-Meir-GettyImages-50377818

Golda Meir elected in Israel

On this day in 1969, 70-year-old Golda Meir makes history when she is elected as Israel’s first female prime minister. She was the country’s fourth prime minister and is still the only woman to have held this post. Meir, who was born in Kiev, Ukraine and raised in Wisconsin, ...read more

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

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 ...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

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