Eleanor Roosevelt

A charismatic woman of charm and of contradictions, aristocratic in voice and manner, she was also “tough as nails,” says historian Geoffrey Ward. “In fact, she was one of the best politicians of the 20th century.”

Few people were neutral about her. To admirers, she was a woman of immense moral and physical courage. Through her newspaper columns, radio broadcasts and public appearances, she seemed to be a familiar friend. Her detractors saw her as a dangerous meddler, a dilettante, a traitor to her class, and political cartoonists had a field day with her buck teeth and weak-chinned profile. Some criticized her leftist leanings and her “overreaching” role as First Lady; others derided her as a political naïf. Determined to live life on her own terms, Eleanor Roosevelt traveled far from her sheltered beginnings to become one of America’s most admired figures.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Find out more about this remarkable figure in American history at pbs.org.

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