Study Guide

Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) Eleanor Roosevelt & Lucy Mercer

Eleanor Roosevelt & Lucy Mercer

Franklin's childhood may have been filled with discipline and rules, but does it explain his transformation from rich kid to man of the people? The fact that he wasn't spoiled surely played a role, but there were other influences that showed him what life was like on the other side of the proverbial tracks.

One person who surely had an impact was his wife. Like FDR, Eleanor Roosevelt was the product of a wealthy, high-society New York family—in fact, the same wealthy, high-society New York family. Eleanor was also a Roosevelt by birth, Franklin's fifth cousin once removed. When the two married in 1905, cousin and President Theodore Roosevelt presided at their wedding, observing to the groom, "Well, Franklin, there's nothing like keeping the name in the family."blank">Louis Howe convinced them to stay together. Divorce would almost certainly have ended FDR's political career.

After Lucy, Eleanor and FDR were never the same. Their relationship became largely a marriage of convenience and both seem to have had multiple affairs before FDR died. Franklin's affair with Lucy never became public, although she and FDR began seeing each other again in 1941. They continued their relationship right up until Roosevelt's death in 1945. And when Franklin D. Roosevelt died while on holiday in Georgia, it was Lucy, not Eleanor, who was at his side.