The longest serving First Lady of the United States of America was a woman named Anna Eleanor Roosevelt and she was known as one of the most outspoken first lady’s of the White House.
Eleanor Roosevelt was born on 11th October 1884 in New York City into the Roosevelt dynasty and she had a very privileged and political upbringing.
Her uncle was Theodore Roosevelt, who was the President of the USA from 1901-1909.
When Eleanor was 10 years old she lost both her parents to diphtheria. She was sent to England to be educated and became a strong, confident and independent woman. She chose to work as a social worker which served her well in later life.
In 1905, she married Franklin Delano Roosevelt, her distant 5th cousin and they went on to have six children. Franklin was a senator and Eleanor was active in the American Red Cross during World War I.
In 1921, Franklin contracted polio, which left his legs paralysed but Eleanor persuaded Franklin to continue in politics and with her help he became the 32nd President of the United States in 1933.
Whilst Eleanor Roosevelt was the first lady, she changed the role of purely being a hostess to that of a politician.
She spoke passionately about women’s rights, human rights, racial discrimination, welfare, workers’ rights and children’s issues.
She worked with the Women’s Trade Union League to abolish child labour and set up a minimum wage.
Eleanor was also active in the civil rights movement insisting on equal rights for everyone, regardless of race, even going so far as to break tradition and invite several African-Americans into the White House for social and political causes.
As the policy of presidential terms was different back in the days of Franklin D. Roosevelt, he spent four terms in office from 1933 to 1945, which spanned across the Great Depression and World War II. This is how Eleanor Roosevelt remains to be the longest serving first lady of the USA.
The policy has however now changed, so that a sitting president can only serve a maximum of two consecutive terms (8 years).
Eleanor’s husband Franklin died in 1945 and the then Vice President, Harry Truman became president.
Truman appointed Eleanor as a delegate to the United Nations, a post she held from 1945-1953.
She became the Chair of the UN’s Human Rights Commission and during her time she helped to co-write the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In 1961, at the age of 77 years old, the new president John F. Kennedy appointed Eleanor to become involved in the UN again along with the National Advisory Committee of the Peace Corp and also the chair of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women.
Eleanor was known as one of the greatest humanitarians with an overwhelming sensitivity to those in need.
She sought out political and social change wanting to make the world a fairer and better place before sadly passing away on 7th November 1962.
Feature Image is Eleanor Roosevelt