Monday, 16 January 2012

About Eleanor Roosevelt

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) - Human rights campaigner, orator, author, and USA Representative to United Nations.

Being compromised is always deemed as weak, complacent or even cowardly, particularly during confrontation with a rival, a legal suit challenger, or even a feuding entity. In another words, that means there is an utter disagreement that needs to tackle head on so as to avert turning the situation from getting out of hand or worse. During a crisis it may not be the best solution, but before a better idea crops up, to compromise with one another seems to be viable and sensible.

Eleanor Roosevelt was at first a shy and reticent person. She became bold and outspoken after a period of hard times looking after her husband who suffered a crippling desease.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) was the first lady of the USA from 1933 to 1945. Her husband Franklin D. Roosevelt (They married in 1905), who was the 32nd President of the US, suffered a crippling paralytic illness that confined him to wheel chair bound the rest of his life since 1921. The doctor in attendance diagnosed the sickness as polio though more recent researches indicated that it otherwise. Despite his immobility President Franklin Roosevelt remained a charismatic, handsome and socially active person and had many female admirers and even mistresses. Eleanor was furious to discover love letters exchanged between her social secretary Lucy Mercer and the President. She asked for divorce but that never took place with the intervention of her mother in law Sara Roosevelt. Besides that Lucy Mercer being a Catholic could not bring herself to marry a prominent man with 5 children. The presidential couple reconciled with promises to end the secret, illicit affair. However without the knowledge of the first lady Eleanor, it went on after a period of cooling off the steam. 

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945) was a handsome, charismatic and socially active president with many female admirers, despite of his handicap.

Eleanor Roosevelt was away in Washington for some social events during the last few days of Franklin Roosevelt’s life as his sickness suddenly took an abrupt turn for the worse. Lucy Mercer was by his sickbed in the President’s family house in New York during his final hours and had in fact stayed with the dying president for a few days. She left quickly soon after keeping vigil with Franklin’s passing so as to avoid open clashing with or confronting the First Lady who would be dashing back home in matter of hours. When Eleanor arrived and knew about the presence of Lucy Mercer earlier, she blew her top and flew into a wild rage. She was cursing vehemently and angry with her daughter Anna who attended to Lucy, and allowed the latter to stay on upon her father’s instruction. After her eruption of indignation and fury, Eleanor cooled down to sensible thinking and deeds. She calmly telegraphed her four sons who were serving the armed forces overseas. She told them the news of their father’s demise, and that there was no need for them to rush back for the funeral as war was going on and they should stay on at the frontline for the nation(During the final chapters of the WWII). She chose not to pursue the matter further with Lucy Mercer as the affair would cease naturally followed the passing of her husband.

The Roosevelt gravesite at Rose Garden, Hyde Park, NY that laid the presidential couple together, side by side.

As a woman and the USA First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt was highly appraised and commended for her handling of her predicament under such delicate situation. To protect the honor of the President and the Roosevelt family, she chose to be compromised, while faced with such blunt humiliation, in times of sorrow.

     A stamp bearing her picture was issued in memorial of her.

Eleanor Roosevelt went on to become a member of the delegates of USA to United Nations during the administration of President Harry S. Truman in 1945-1952; and again in 1961-1962 when she was appointed as USA’s representative to the United Nation by John F. Kennedy. Eleanor Roosevelt was a powerful advocate for human rights, and a strong propagator for the formation of the United Nation in its founding years. She continued her unyielding effort to enhance the status of working women but did not support the Equal Rights Amendment because she thought that it could affect the women adversely. Eleanor Roosevelt lived to a ripe age of 78 and died in 1962. She was laid to rest next to her husband, at Roosevelt’s family cemetery at Rose Garden, Hyde Park, New York. For her chosen epitaph inscribed on the tombstone, it read: The only thing that we fear is FEAR itself! (Penned by her husband the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt)

This brass memorial was erected in her honour at Riverside Park, Manhattan.

With regards to matter of compromising, still it depends on the magnitude of one’s targeted aim. If it was trivial and minor, do not waste time to fight over how much one’s sacrifice or loss. If it was a substantial one, like the sovereignty of a nation, then compromising might not be a good solution.

Alan CY Kok

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