A Collection of Wisdom

Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt, who lived from 1884 to 1962, was a diplomat, social reformer, political figure, peace advocate, and humanitarian. She was widely regarded as one of the world’s most powerful and influential women during her time. As the wife of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor was the First Lady of America from 1933 to 1945, and she later served as a diplomat in the United Nations.

Early Life

Eleanor was the niece of Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th US President. Her early life was marked by the tragic losses of both of her parents and one of her brothers, all three of whom had died by the time Eleanor was 10 years old.

She and her surviving brother lived with other relatives. In her mid-teens, Eleanor attended a girls’ boarding school near London. She later returned to New York and became active in community service.


Several years later, Eleanor married her distant cousin Franklin D. Roosevelt, and within the next eleven years, she gave birth to six children (one of whom died in infancy). Franklin became a senator of New York State in 1911, and later became an assistant secretary of the navy, while Eleanor performed the traditional ceremonial roles of a “political wife.” In 1917, the US entered World War I, and Eleanor became very actively involved in war-related volunteer work, which gave her a very satisfying feeling.

In 1918, Eleanor was devastated when she found out that Franklin was having an affair with another woman. She wanted a divorce, but Franklin convinced her that he would stop seeing the other woman. She and Franklin remained married, but their relationship lacked intimacy from that point on.

Early Political Involvement

Franklin’s political career continued to progress, but in 1921, he was afflicted with polio, which soon crippled him. Eleanor began playing an integral part in his career. She also grew a personal interest in politics, and championed various causes and organizations such women’s trade unions, women’s voting, and the Democratic Party.

The First Lady

Franklin later became governor of New York City, and in 1933, he became President of the United States.

In her role as the nation’s First Lady, Eleanor was extremely active: she pursued liberal causes, conducted White House press conferences for women in the media, represented Franklin and played many of his presidential roles, went on fact finding trips for him, and wrote a daily newspaper column.

Eleanor also went on lecture tours and spoke at various functions about child welfare, housing reform, and equal rights for women and minorities. Additionally, she also performed many bold actions to defend the rights of women, minorities, the underprivileged, and the youth.

United Nations Delegate

When Franklin died in 1945, new President Harry Truman made Eleanor a delegate to the United Nations (UN). She became the chairman of their Commission on Human Rights, and played an integral role in writing and instituting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Eleanor also actively promoted the Democratic Party, and later served as chairman of President John F. Kennedy’s Commission on the Status of Women for a year until her death in 1962.

Eleanor Roosevelt Quotes

One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And, the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.

What one has to do usually can be done.

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by each experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, “I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” You must do the thing you think you cannot do.

Do what you feel in your heart to be right—for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

Understanding is a two-way street.

Friendship with oneself is all-important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.

I cannot believe that war is the best solution. No one won the last war and no one will win the next.

All of life is constant education.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Excerpts From the “Universal Declaration on Human Rights”

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world… Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations… Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, and in the equal rights of men and women; and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom…

Now, therefore, The General Assembly proclaims This Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights…

Article 2: Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status…

Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4: No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6: Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7: All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law…

Article 9: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10: Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 12: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation…

Article 15: (1) Everyone has the right to a nationality. (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16…(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 17: (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others. (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18: Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20: (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. (2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21: …(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government…

Article 23: (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment. (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work…

Article 24: Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 25: …(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26: (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages… (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups …

Article 27: (1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community… (2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.