The secret lives of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt
Who would have guessed the famous US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor both lived a life away from their own marriage. It is a known fact that during those times FDR did have a secret love affair with his wife’s one-time social secretary, Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd.
Eleanor Roosevelt, on the other hand, tried to have a romantic involvement with other people surrounding her including her bodyguard Earl Miller. There were also rumors of attraction to a female reporter by the name of Lorena Hickok.
Secret love affairs that lasted until death
While keeping their marriage intact, both FDR and Eleanor were aware of each other’s paramours. At one point their marriage would have ended in divorce when Eleanor discovered letters in his suitcase after a wartime visit to Europe. What prevented this from happening were the circumstance of disinheritance from his mother and Mercer’s Catholicism. FDR promised his wife to end the affair. But his love affair with Mercer never faded even to his last breath.
Eleanor Roosevelt had her own share of secrets. She was madly responsive to Hicks’ admiration and between them; Hickok was able to preserve more than 3,000 of their letters up until 1932 when Eleanor died. One of those letters writes, “And so you think they gossip about us… I am always so much more optimistic than you are. I suppose because I care so little about what ‘they’ say.”
An unconventional relationship ahead of its time
Although the couple cultivated romantic ‘closeness’ with their friends, they had their marriage preserved possibly out of respect. Their private lives and unorthodox relationship were shared from the close comforts of the White House particularly their ‘alternative family’ including their aides, advisers, and confidantes.
A few centuries ahead of its time, recent writers and historical experts ponder at how greatly their relationship affected the outcome of the War and the new generation. It might have been an impossible feat considering the system during those times, but they were able to forge a marriage that lasted four terms in the White House and a life well beyond their age.