ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, First Lady of the United States born (d. 1962) American political leader who used her influence as an active First Lady from 1933 to 1945, longer than any other First Lady, to promote the New Deal policies of her husband, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, as well as taking a prominent role as an advocate for civil rights.
After FDR’s death in 1945, she continued to be an internationally prominent author and speaker for the New Deal coalition. She was a suffragist who worked to enhance the status of working women, although she opposed the Equal Rights Amendment because she believed it would adversely affect women. During the 1932 Presidential Campaign, Lorena Hickok of the Associated Press was assigned to cover Mrs. Roosevelt. At first the business relationship was rocky. Hickok didn’t believe it was worth the paper’s time and money to report on Mrs. Roosevelt, and Mrs. Roosevelt wasn’t happy about the intrusion on her privacy. Besides that, Mrs. Roosevelt came from a high class, aristocratic background, and Hickok came from a brash and rustic one. She was at home playing poker with the guys, smoking, and drinking. In time, their friendship became very close and intimate. Franklin D. Roosevelt didn’t seem to mind, as he was busy with his own romantic affairs.
Due to the public nature of Mrs. Roosevelt’s life, she and Hickok were often separated. Even so, they wrote daily letters to each other. Roosevelt wrote ten to fifteen page letters daily to Hick for a time.
In one Hickok writes: “Good night, dear one, I want to put my arms around you, and kiss you at the corner of your mouth. And in a little more than a week – I shall!” and Mrs. Roosevelt writes “Hick darling, All day I’ve thought about you & another birthday I will be with you & yet tonight you sounded so far away & formal. Oh! I want to put my arms around you. I ache to hold you close. Your ring is a great comfort. I look at it and think she does love me, or I wouldn’t be wearing it.”
In 1941, Hickok moved into the Whitehouse with the Roosevelts when she took a post in Washington. Some of the passion between the two seems to have died by this point. Mrs. Roosevelt was not able to give Hickok as much from their relationship as she wanted, yet Hickok remained because at least they had something. They remained friends until Mrs. Roosevelt’s death in 1962. Hickok destroyed many of the letters Mrs. Roosevelt sent to her and edit personal references out of many others. Those that remain still hint at an intimate love between the two women. Susan Quinn’s marvelous Eleanor and Hick is an intimate portrait that moves beyond the speculation and provides a loving history of these two powerful women.