A column from a 1937 issue of PATHFINDER MAGAZINE included these two seemingly random tales from the life of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The brief remembrance on the second page is a bitter-sweet story about young Eleanor and her mother's vision of her as a hopelessly plain-looking girl.
This magazine article explains what a unique force in presidential history Eleanor Roosevelt was. She defied convention in so many ways and to illustrate this point, this anonymous journalist went to some length listing fifteen "firsts" that this most tireless of all First Ladies had racked-up through the years - we shall list only four of them, the attached article will list the rest:
• She was the first President's wife to continue her own career in the White House.
• The first to hold regular press conferences.
• The first to travel by air.
• The first to have traveled so widely, so extensively and tirelessly, and to have examined conditions at first hand and under all situations.
In this article, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt (1884 – 1962) attempted (very politically) to play both sides of the street, implying on the one hand that the creation of the Japanese-American internment camps seemed a reasonable measure in wartime; but the reader doesn't have to have a degree in psychology to recognize that she believed otherwise:
"'A Japanese is always a Japanese' is an easily accepted phrase and it has taken hold quite naturally on the West Coast because of some reasonable or unreasonable fear back of it, but it leads nowhere and solves nothing. Japanese-Americans may be no more Japanese than a German-American is German...All of these people, including the Japanese-Americans, have men who are fighting today for the preservation of the democratic way of life and the ideas around which our nation was built."
Written not too long after she assumed the title "First Lady"; Eleanor Roosevelt (1906 – 1975) was causing a dust-up in Washington:
"With the Constitution making no provision whatever for the duties of President's wives, they have heretofore confined their activities largely to the social side of the white House."
"Mrs. Roosevelt's governmental activities are approved by those who see in them altruism, sympathy for the downtrodden, and a great desire to serve others. Her activities are opposed by those who feel that she is not properly a public servant because she is not responsible to the American electorate or directly accountable to it at election time."
During a 1936 visit to a research facility devoted to finding a cure for children's lung ailments, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was remembered by a reporter for having blurted out a highly insensitive question:
"What is the use of saving babies, if they can't earn a decent living when they grow up?"
With two years to think about her impulsive inquiry, the reporter responded with outrage in formulating an answer.
This column, by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, was an articulate effort at make some sense of her husband's death, which took place during one of the most critical periods in world history:
"Perhaps in His wisdom, the Almighty is trying to show us that a leader may chart a way, may point out the road to lasting peace, but that many leaders and many peoples must do the building. It cannot be the work of one man, nor can the responsibility be laid upon his shoulders, and so when the time comes for peoples to assume the burden more fully, he is given rest."