Eleanor Roosevelt. Essay

1242 words - 5 pages

Eleanor Roosevelt1884-1962Eleanor Roosevelt was one of the greatest humanitarians and visionaries of our time. She had many life experiences and relationships that influenced her, creating a life of profound self-fulfillment, bold political action and a love of humanity. In a farewell speech made to the New York City Women's Trade Union League before entering the White House as first lady in 1933, her comments foreshadows her lifetime endeavors as a woman committed to humanity; " I truly believe that I understand what faces the great masses of people in the country today. I have no illusions that anyone can change the world in a short time. Things cannot be completely changed in five minutes. Yet I do believe that even a few people, who want to understand, to help and to do the right thing for the great numbers of people instead of the few can help." (Lash, 1984, PG 58)Eleanor Roosevelt was born in New York City on October 11, 1884. She was the daughter of Anna Hall and Elliott Roosevelt and the niece of the famous Teddy Roosevelt. They were a very wealthy, high society family. Although they had much wealth, Eleanor never lived a protected life. Between her father and her young uncles and aunts she would see active alcoholism, adultery, child molestation, rape and abandonment. Growing up with scandal had her pursue early on, a life of self-fulfillment and meaningful work rather than a futile life of keeping a high society profile. Eleanor's mother, who was known for her beauty, thought Eleanor as ugly and a disappointment and let Eleanor know this. When her mother died in 1892, all the children went to live with Grandmother Hall; her father, who she loved dearly, died only two years later. The pain she suffered as a result of the early deaths of her parents would help shape her character filled with compassion for others and inspire her to accomplish the many humanitarian acts she did. (Cook, 1992, PG 15)Another major influence in Eleanor's life came at the age of 15 when she attended Allenswood, a famous finishing school in England, founded by Marie Sovestre, daughter of the French philosopher and novelist Emile Souvestre. The school was dedicated to teaching young women responsibility in society and personal independence, within or without marriage. The school thrived in a time when independent and creative education for women was thought to be dangerous to society. (Cook, 1992, PGS 102-105) Another interesting footnote about Marie Sovestre is that it was known in French society that her one great tragedy was when a love relationship ended with a co-mistress of the school at Fontainebleau that had preceded Allenswood. Eleanor never spoke or wrote of Mlle Souvestre's sexuality and it is never clear whether she ever new about her lesbianism. (Lash, 1984, PGS 14-15) Eleanor blossomed in the warm, friendly environment of Allenswood; it was as if she had started life over. She left behind the people who pitied her because she was an orphan or who...

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