White House cuisine became so notorious that Martha Gellhorn surprised her future husband Ernest Hemingway by wolfing down several sandwiches in preparation for dinner there. According toHistory Today, Eleanor came to the marriage with little to no education in sex. The correspondent most frequently focused on the romance angle was Walter Trohan of the Chicago Tribune. In Trohans memoir Political Animals, he describes receiving a tip in the fall of 1941 that the Crown Princess was visiting [the Presidents country home] Hyde Park every weekend without being on the guest list. It included Eleanor Roosevelt, Joe Kennedy, Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, and 1,200 others. Missy LeHand, FDR, Dutchess County neighbor Maunsell Crosby, and Frances de Rham, 1924 The year 1924 also introduced FDR to Warm Spring Georgia, where he In June 1942, two squads of saboteursall U.S. residents who returned to Germany to serve the Reichwere dropped by U-boat on beaches in New York and Florida, respectively. Eleanor nonetheless soon later learned the truth from the cousins and felt doubly betrayed to learn of her daughter's role in the long-time deception. But after she accidentally started a fire while lighting a cigarette the decision was made to send her home to Somerville, Massachusetts. The two were from separate branches of the Roosevelt clan, fifth cousins once removed. Roosevelt faced the challenges of a widened war at the moment when he lost a key member of his circle. Throughout his life, Franklin Roosevelt was surrounded by remarkable women. As a result, practically everyone left the presidential presence convinced his own argument had won the day. Roles of Tully and LeHand were by this time well defined and accepted. Daisy Bonner, who cooked for Franklin Roosevelt for twenty years in the Georgia White House, recalled his favorite dish. The story of Chicago in the nineteenth century is the story of the making of America, Donald L. Miller says. If Lucy Mercer had been a weaker, less generous-spirited woman, FDR might not have become one of Americas greatest Presidents.) I naturally fell for him. LeHand was romantically According to Joseph Alsop, a Roosevelt cousin and political columnist, ER had a downright ghastly childhood and youth, while FDR had an immensely happy childhood and a youth altogether comfortable and if anything overprotected. Surely the monumental demands ER made on her husband were proof of her belief in his ability to rise to them. [12] Eleanor Roosevelt biographer Blanche Wiesen Cook expressed skepticism that this had been a serious obstacle, noting the depth of Mercer's feelings. In doing so, he hoped to receive clemency and resume his life in America. Just a few months later FDR would be stricken with polio, and Missy would become his companion and gatekeeper. Yet after more than 10 years of marriage to a wife whom he would always respect and revere, he broke the rules of God and man and fell in love with another woman. Rutherfurd continued to meet more frequently with Roosevelt in the months that followed. When the stock market crashed in October 1929, Governor Roosevelt immediately took action. But she did. FDR was convinced he had found a new form of therapy. The noble woman was human. His team included Louis Howe, Frances Perkins, Sam Rosenman, and of course Missy. At the time of their marriage, Eleanor's uncle Theodore Roosevelt joked that "there's nothing like keeping the name in the family." . By Hayley Peterson Their marriage may have been a failure, but their partnership was a triumph. WebWidely considered the first female presidential chief of staff, Marguerite Missy LeHand was the right-hand woman to Franklin Delano Rooseveltboth personally and A Vermont Farmer Preserved the Worlds Most Ephemeral Art for Posterity. But when the book was published, she denied the affair, even though Potter claimed she had reviewed the manuscript and never asked to have that information retracted. He hated to be alone. As Lucy realizes in my book, if you cannot accept imperfections, you cannot loveor, I would add, write history, biography, or fiction. FDR's Indispensable Right-Hand Woman Portrayed Unfairly Again. Both branches of the Roosevelt family enjoyed wealth and privilege, yet the future first family were raised in markedly different circumstances. The decision would have profound consequences for the nation. He made no attempt to conceal his feelings about Missy.'. In the same letter, she admitted that she had been reading over some very old letters of his.. . From Nazi saboteurs washing up near Marthas vacation home, to secretary Missy LeHands collapse and the press implying the President and Princess were an item, theres a ton of drama in Episode 6 of Atlantic Crossing. (Mostly) FICTION: A similar telegram existed, but American intelligence never caught it nor implemented security measures based on it, say Atlantic Crossing co-writers; their research revealed the telegram became known only after the war. After discovering the relationship, she offered her husband a divorce. In a short period of time she became the most famous secretary in America. Missy LeHand, FDR's closest companion for two decades, was crippled by a stroke followed by a nervous breakdown. WebWidely considered the first female presidential chief of staff, Marguerite "Missy" LeHand was the right-hand woman to Franklin Delano Roosevelt - both personally and professionally - Whatever difficulties they had with intimacy, fidelity, and child-rearing, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt were united as a political partnership. He provided for her in his will, but she suffered a stroke in 1941 and predeceased him. In a tragic situation that tested all three individuals, each behaved with honor and dignity. He died on April 12, 1945 at the Little White House in Warms Spring, Georgia; the funeral took place on April 15 in Washington D.C. He replied that it had. WebThe Role: Missy LeHand served as private secretary to President Roosevelt, and according to biographer Kathryn Smith, eventually served as Chief of Staff in all ways but in name. But whitewashing the weaknesses of the great is a disservice to them as well as history. At a time when interest in their war just keeps on rising, why arent Americas World War II poets better remembered? She remained in the White House, and it was there she received the sad word of her husband's passing. Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously did his very best to control his public image. My fascination with Eleanor Roosevelt dates back to my childhood. She left only a handful of letters and no diaries, or at least none that have come to light. [12], Franklin's mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt, was adamantly against the idea of divorce, however, as it would mark the end of Franklin's political career; she stated that she would cut him off from the family fortune if he chose separation. Just in the late 1920s, Hazel Rowley (via NPR) documents 116 weeks that Franklin was gone. Whatever his reasons, Franklin chose to reconcile with his wife and promise to stop seeing Mercer. She spent time in Warm Springs getting FDRs new cottage ready for him. By the time of his final campaign in 1944, many noted his gaunt appearance and declining faculties, according to UVA's Miller Center. WebMissy once said he was really incapable of a personal friendship with anyone. Some found him almost sadistic. Her relationship with her mother-in-law was not one of constant hostility, but her patience with Sara was often tried. She later commented, "He deserved a good time. She was laid up in her bed for weeks, then transferred to a hospital. ], FACT: Yes, its known as Operation Pastorius, says series co-writer and historian, Linda May Kallestein. With Elliott Roosevelt deceased, Eleanor was given away at the wedding by her uncle. I shared her frustration when FDR declined to make an antilynching law a top priority, and refused to open the door to the Jewish victims of Hitlers persecutions, but wasnt she sufficiently astute to appreciate the adage that to be a great statesman, one must first be a good politician? He loved to gather a group around him while he mixed cocktails, told stories, and traded gossip and jokes. Subscribe to the MASTERPIECE email newsletter for weekly show news, schedule updates, and features on shows including Tom Jones. He started the first unemployment program and fought a corruption scandal with the mayor of New York. A sexual dalliance would have risked a pregnancy that could derail Franklin's family and career and Mercer's reputation. Many cabinet secretaries, congressmen, senators and ambassadors courted favor with Missy in an attempt to gain access to the president. She was 47 years old. In A First Class Temperament, Geoffrey C. Ward recounts a telling conversation between the young FDR and his wife. This knowledge did not keep him from straying again. WebMissy LeHand expresses her feelings to Martha. Sometimes, these bled into public view. According to William E. Leuchtenburg of UVA's Miller Center, Franklin was largely isolated on the family's Hyde Park estate in New York, educated by private tutors. That is undoubtedly true. [40][41] Rutherfurd is buried, along with her husband, in Green Township, New Jersey. It was then that their relationship became more unconventional. . It took a heavy toll physically and emotionally. She did not fight for jobs for the nations destitute, or decent homes for families living in automobiles, or safe consumer products, or rural electrification, or racial equality, or rearmament. Later, his two doctors - called in soon after the event - said he had suffered a fatal cerebral hemorrhage. But didnt she understand that her husband desperately needed a brief escape from the burden of reopening the banks and dreaming up Lend-Lease and responding to the worst naval defeat in Americas history? When I thought about their personal flaws, I marveled at the public good to which they put them. According to UVA's Miller Center, Franklin wasn't terribly involved in their upbringing. Anna I envied Lucy. The Quaker was Malcolm R. Lovell, a double agent who worked closely with German diplomat Hans Thomsen. She had a long face and a prominent jaw and nose, but a sweetness of expression that spoke of her good nature. I waded through the syrupy tributes in hope of a crumb of real insight. Nonetheless, FDR had his standards of conduct. . She speaks of how much you have given . Because of her efforts, women as well as men had Civilian Conservation Corps camps, and children no longer drank tainted milk, and blacks got a share, if not a fair one, of the defense miracle that was wresting the nation out of the Depression and into World War II. Franklin's response was to tell his wife gently, she would say that she was upset now but would feel differently later and so excused himself from the conversation. Polio struck without warning on August 10, 1921, while he was vacationing at his home on Campobello Island in Canada. Alice Roosevelt Longworthdaughter of Theodore Roosevelt, and a cousin of Eleanor'sencouraged the affair, inviting Mercer and Franklin to dinner together several times. When President Roosevelt died, Grace Tully took all of her and many of Missys papers with her. The Sad Truth About Franklin And Eleanor Roosevelt's Marriage, Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage. She made a point to be photographed with Japanese-Americans when she traveled to California after the attack. Although Missy had little contact with FDR, she worked closely with the inner circle of FDR advisers including Louie Howe, Steve Early, and Marvin McIntyre. Since a thorough medical exam a year before, he had received increasingly more intensive care and concern from a young recently recruited private physician. ' He also had a simple and unshakable faith in God. He was so engrossed in his work and campaigns that he hadn't the time to spare, and he believed not unusually for his time that it was the job of the mother to raise the children, or at least to hire a nanny to handle them. The Bank Holiday excitement is a bit too much for some! FDR's mother definitely wanted to keep her son a mother's boy, notes theNew York Review. During the same time period, Roosevelt was said to be involved with Dorothy Schiff, a former publisher of the New York Post. [Press officer] Steve Early called me into his office and asked me to stop.. FDR was not the sexual rake certain historians have made him out to be, but he did subscribe to the philosophy of the E. Y. Harburg song that would appear the year after his death, When Im not near the girl I love, I love the girl Im near. Missy once said he was really incapable of a personal friendship with anyone. Some found him almost sadistic. Just seven months later, Rutherfurd herself died from leukemia, aged 57, on July 31, 1948, just .mw-parser-output .frac{white-space:nowrap}.mw-parser-output .frac .num,.mw-parser-output .frac .den{font-size:80%;line-height:0;vertical-align:super}.mw-parser-output .frac .den{vertical-align:sub}.mw-parser-output .sr-only{border:0;clip:rect(0,0,0,0);height:1px;margin:-1px;overflow:hidden;padding:0;position:absolute;width:1px}3+14 years after Roosevelt, having destroyed almost all of her correspondence with the president. Each left their mark as individuals, Franklin Roosevelt as New York governor and as the longest-serving United States president, and Eleanor Roosevelt as the longest-serving first lady and as first U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. She did such a good job that when FDR was hired to be a vice president for the Fidelity and Deposit Company he asked her to become his full time secretary. But according to his contemporaries, the thirty-second President suffered a more personal form of isolation. It takes place during the June 1939 weekend that the British king and queen visited Roosevelt at his upstate New York cottage in Hyde Park, where FDR was said to take a number of mistresses. Roosevelt's longest supposed affair was with his secretary, Missy LeHand, which some historians believe he became romantically involved with beginning in 1921, when he was serving as governor of New York. [citation needed], Following Roosevelt's death, his administration concealed from the press the fact that Rutherfurd had been present during his death, fearing the scandal that would ensue. The young FDR did not take socially unsanctioned sex lightly. WebMissy LeHand was private secretary to Franklin D. Roosevelt (32nd US President of the United States) for over two decades. Their daughter Anna wrote in an unpublished article, It has always seemed to me that the greatest contradiction in my parents was, on the one handy their supreme ability to relate to either groups of people or individuals who had problems, and on the other hand, their apparent lack of ability to relate with the same consistent warmth and interest to an individual who was their child. Three of the children testified to their fathers charisma and elusiveness and their mothers coolness and confusing inconsistency. On June 4th, at a party in the White House, Missy collapsed, probably from a combination of a stroke and a heart attack. *Based on a series of articles(in Norwegian) written by Mari Aftret Mrtvedt and Ola Nymo Trulsen for NRK, the Norwegian Broadcasting Company. He knew what he owed to her; he knew how much he needed her." [13] Persico also doubts that this was a factor, observing that Mercer's mother Minnie had divorced and remarried, and that the family had come to Roman Catholicism only recently. One morning over breakfast she asked if a letter had arrived. Most historians date Lucy Mercers first visit to the White House, under her Secret Service code name of Mrs. Johnson, to August 1941. FDR's Secretary of Labor the first female Cabinet member also helpedcreatethe minimum wage, 40-hour work week, and first tough child labor laws. Although her official title as personal secretary was relatively humble, her power and influence were unparalleled. After serving six years of their sentences, Dasch and Berger were released and deported to West Germany. As told by Joseph P. Lash in "Eleanor and Roosevelt," after she had seen her husband's body, the first lady was told that her former secretary, Lucy Mercer, now Lucy Rutherfurd, had been with Franklin when he died. James Cox was the democratic candidate for President, and it was widely assumed he would lose to the Republican candidate Senator Warren Harding. Shoumatoff's presence became known, and she gave a press conference to address questions, but managed to hide Rutherfurd's role, which was even not mentioned in early post-war biographies and administration histories for almost two decades. Marguerite (Missy) LeHand was FDRs longtime personal secretary and confidante. LeHand loved the president dearly, and Franklin was very fond of her. Franklin allowed Eleanor to build a personal cottage, Val-Kill, on the family's Hyde Park estate, where she could host whomever she liked or be left alone. Thus was born a truly remarkable partnership. When FDR looked into Lucys eyes, he saw himself striding down Connecticut Avenue to the old State, War, and Navy Building, and loping across the sun-washed greens where hed played 18 holes of golf in the morning and another 18 in the afternoon, and doing a hundred things hed never given a thought to in the years before he was stricken. [33] In June 1944, Roosevelt requested of his daughter Anna, who was then managing some White House social functions and acting as hostess, that she help him arrange to meet Rutherfurd without Eleanor's knowledge. FDR was the most convivial of men. In 1940 he wrote his former headmaster, Endicott Peabody, More than forty years ago you said, in a sermon in the Old Chapel, something about not losing boyhood ideals in later life. When Germany unleashed its blitzkreig in 1939, the U.S.Army was only the 17th largest in the world. I identified with them both. The home was a gift from Sara (per Biography), and both residences were run by her. As a young Assistant Secretary of the Navy, FDR returned home each evening to a high-minded wife who was continually reminding him that he hadnt mailed the $50 hed blithely pledged to a hospital for immigrant children or that the story he told about his conversion to woman suffrage was more vivid than accurate. I mean a contagious genius for living joyously. STill, if FDR could not save his wife, he did not have to betray her. Lash speculates that this last betrayal contributed to Eleanor's feeling that Franklin's death was more an abstract grief at the loss of a symbol than a personal sorrow for her. Her personal conduct was no less inspiring; she was the embodiment of one of her husbands favorite wordsgrand. A soldier-historian looks at how the world has changed in the past decade and finds that America is both hostage to history and likely to be saved by it. She would be the first woman to hold the position of the secretary to the president. These were without doubt the most difficult years of his life, and those who were with him during that period became his most trusted confidants and advisers. This photo is from Jan. 20, 1936, Love nest: FDR took many of his close female friends whom he was rumored to be involved with romantically to his Hyde Park home in upsate New York. But while the two shared a broadly liberal vision of the United States, they had areas of strong political disagreement. She spent long periods of time at the White House with him during the war years and they often visited his cottage in Hyde Park. "[16] Eleanor later wrote, "I have the memory of an elephant. Terms of Use: PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. The Episode 6 scene of Roosevelt and Martha in a basement lockdown is fiction. WebThe Roosevelts were the ultimate power couple during the first half of the 20th century. She called the White House and her former assistant Grace Tully took a message for the President, but he did not call her back that day. Moreover, when it comes to historical cover-ups, many FDR and ER partisans would like to bury Lucy Mercer along with the inconvenient prejudices of their youth. "The Gatekeeper," Marguerite Missy LeHand and FDR at the White House, 1940. Shortly after Franklin and Eleanor's honeymoon, the whole family moved into a six-story home with two residences, according to Hazel Rowley's "Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage." Three days a week he also came home to her social secretary, who laughed at his jokes and responded to his teasing and saw no reason to question his version of the way things had happened. But nothing changed upon Franklin's return to the United States, and he gently but persistently made clear to his mother that he was leaving the nest. After the election, Eleanor asked Missy to come to her home in Hyde Park and help finish up the correspondence. Her stress was a trigger for heart problems, say the series co-writers, adding that the medication LeHand took gave her mood swings, depression and anxiety. FDR fled tears. Debate over America's involvement in World War II came to a head in July 1941 as the Senate argued over a draft extension bill. Franklin D. Roosevelt (c. 1919) and Eleanor Roosevelt (1933), Marriage and continued contact with Roosevelt, Charles Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough, his first memorable presidential inauguration, "Franklin Roosevelt Was Not Diplomatic as Wife", "FDR's Secret Love: How Roosevelt's lifelong affair might have changed the course of a century", "Paid Notice: Deaths KNOWLES, BARBARA RUTHERFURD", "MISS RUTHERFURD BECOMES FIANCEE; BETROTHED | Member of Noted Family WIll Be Wed to Robert Winthrop Knowles, Jr. of Boston", "MISS RUTHERFURD MARRIED IN AIKEN; Fermata School Graduate the Bride of Robert W. Knowles Jr., Former Service Man", "February 2011: FDR Letters to Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd", "Anna Eleanor Roosevelt Boettiger Halsted (1906-1975)", "New light on the revelations of Franklin Roosevelt's 30-year affection for Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd", Military history of the United States during World War II, Springwood birthplace, home, and gravesite, Little White House, Warm Springs, Georgia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Lucy_Mercer_Rutherfurd&oldid=1152540330, Short description is different from Wikidata, Articles with unsourced statements from November 2022, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License 3.0, This page was last edited on 30 April 2023, at 21:24. She lived quietly, if splendidly, on a great estate in rural New Jersey and a handsome retreat in fashionable Aiken, South Carolina. She was an exquisitely sensitive and engaging companion and later a constant and competent nurse to a husband who doted on her. FDR's affinity for the company of women was always well known and some historians dispute stories of his alleged affairs, saying his friendships never grew to become romances. I am not talking about giving up a career to stay home and raise children, or nursing an aging parent, or other instances of worthy self-sacrifice. When one of their children died in infancy, Eleanor fell into such deep mourning that she later wrote of feeling a bitterness toward her husband for a time. She had to, and J began to resent her for it. WebBesides children and grandchildren, several other longtime aides and friends also lived in the White House during the Roosevelt years. Rutherfurd is portrayed by Maria Dizzia. The blog of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum. Only a sliding door separated 49 East 65th Street (Franklin and Eleanor's residence) from Sara's next door. She functioned as FranklinRoosvelt's de facto chief-of-staff, yet Missy LeHand's role has beenmisrepresented and overlooked by historians. During the four years I spent with Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt, I never stopped wondering at the imaginations of those two children of privilege who came to intuit hardship they had never endured. that it would be best if you answered it now? she insisted. They brought explosives and cash and had plans that included disrupting New Yorks water supply. 17:41 25 Nov 2012, updated 13:35 18 Sep 2014. [4] In 1914, Mercer was hired by Eleanor Roosevelt to become her social secretary. "[17] The incident marked a turning point in her life; disillusioned with her marriage, she became active in public life, and focused increasingly on her social work rather than her role as a wife.[18][19]. But if his need for company was prodigious, it could also be promiscuous. The least disputed of Roosevelt's supposed affairs, however, was with Lucy Mercer, his wife's social secretary when he was assistant secretary of the Navy in 1916. In their united efforts against Sara Roosevelt's resistance to her son's marriage, they demonstrated early on their skill as a goal-oriented partnership. The year 1924 also introduced FDR to Warm Spring Georgia, where he would focus his efforts on findingan effective cure for polio and provide a world class rehabilitation clinic for its victims. It was with the help of these accomplished attorneys, social workers, journalists, and activists that she found her voice and defined her causes. This eventually became the March of Dimes Foundation which funded the research that led to a polio vaccine in 1954. After 65 years, the archives of FDRs personal secretary are now open to the public, The world-shaping relationship between these two giants got off to a rocky start. She already resented having the timeline and circumstances of their engagement dictated by her future mother-in-law; with a lengthy cruise separating them, she wondered if Franklin might not return her affections afterwards. Eleanor Roosevelt, born in 1884, had the more difficult time of it. After resigning his job FDR left for an extended cruise on a houseboat in Florida with Missy, his personal valet LeRoy Jones and a rotating cast of old friends. Grace performed dictation and typing, managed the President's mail, and served as primary files manager for the White House. She was a devoted and successful mother to five stepchildren and one biological daughter, all of whom adored her. In conjunction with Glenn Horowitz Booksellers, we are offering the archive, intact, directly from Ms. LeHands heirs. ", Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt shared a mutual respect and affection. They provided FDR with an important escape from the pressures of the White House, and their personal bonds allowed them to speak truth, sometimes uncomfortable truths, to the Boss. Everybody wants something, ER replied. Franklin spearheaded the New Deal and set an optimistic tone for the country through his speeches and "fireside chat" radio messages, while Eleanor advocated for her husband's policies and reached out to Americans through her newspaper columns and travels. Though he didnt mind others uneasiness, his need to charm was so great that he hated saying no to people. It begins, ER: her garlic pills (Sis could smell them on her breath).. Despite all of her work in helping bring FDRs dream of a presidential library to fruition, on June 30th, 1941, when it was dedicated, Missy was not there. Please, I begged, when she spent a night on the doorstep because she didnt want to disturb the servants or, she told her young husband when he returned at dawn from the dance shed left him to enjoy, to ruin his glorious time by going back to ask him for the key.