The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

[This column has emendations. View original version]


HYDE PARK, Sunday—I want to quote today from a letter which, I think, contains the best argument we can put forward for the type of opportunity which democracy can afford. It was written to me by a woman, and the portion which illustrates the value of democracy is as follows:

"As I approach my 60th birthday this month, I write this letter with thankful heart, firm in the conviction that my story could have happened only in the United States of America.

"In September, 1903, my dad, a Baptist minister, brought his family of five children to America to educate us in this 'land of the free,' because he had heard so much about it in our native land, Merrie England. I am the oldest. I was almost 13 when we arrived in Flushing, Michigan, where Father became pastor of the village Baptist church. We lived in Michigan until 1908, quickly adding a picturesque American slang to the rudiments of our education.

"As a brief rest from pastoral work, Dad accepted a position as teacher in a business college in Macon, Georgia, inviting his two oldest daughters to join him there and imbibe the (then) new type of education. Fortified with a business course, we quickly secured good positions in offices. I met a young graduate of Mercer University and married him in 1917. He was invited to serve as pastor's assistant at First Baptist Church, Chattanooga, to which city we moved in December of that year. World War I was just over when our first son was born, and a promotion was given to my husband in Oklahoma City. Two sons came to bless our home in that city, when the church in Miami beckoned and my husband accepted. We managed to survive several hurricanes, lost the home we had begun to purchase, and our fourth son arrived to complete our male quartet.

"A change in occupation on the part of our breadwinner providentially brought us to Atlanta in 1931, with a good position in an established national advertising concern. But the depression closed its doors and he was forced—then past 50 years old—to begin almost at the beginning, as an independent advertising salesman, with no specified salary, on a commission.

"So, with mighty little money and plenty of ambition, we reared our sons in a Christian home. All four became Boy Scouts, three of them Eagles. We held up college as a goal toward which we would like them to work, and they eagerly accepted the challenge. Selling bread, cakes and pies, for a door-to-door baking company, at the magnificent wage of 10 cents an hour, they each secured 'jobs,' working after school and all day on Saturdays. Soon the two oldest sons found newspaper routes and worked as carriers, early and late, winning nice cash prizes for their labor and resourcefulness, bought their own clothes and helped out mightily with their school expenses.

“With faith and a $5 bill, one son entered Georgia Tech, signing a note for the balance of that first quarter's tuition, thanks to the good graces of the president, brother of one of my husband's former employers, fully acquainted with our financial disability and our integrity. On the cooperative plan, studying three months and working three months, the three older boys graduated from Georgia Tech. Our youngest chose the University of Georgia, from which he was graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1949. He now has his Master's degree and is at this moment working toward his Ph.D. degree.”

Tomorrow I shall tell you the sequel to this tale, the proof of what a democratic country can offer.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Hyde Park (Dutchess County, N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, November 13, 1950

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
[ ERPP bio | LC | VIAF | WorldCat | DPLA | Wikidata | SNAC ]

Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

  • Brick, Christopher (Editor)
    [ VIAF | ORCID ]
  • Regenhardt, Christy (Associate Editor)
    [ ISNI ]
  • Black, Allida M. (Editor)
    [ VIAF | ISNI ]
  • Binker, Mary Jo (Associate Editor)
    [ VIAF | ORCID ]
  • Alhambra, Christopher C. (Electronic Text Editor)
    [ VIAF | ORCID ]

Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

Published with permission from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

TEI-P5 edition published on April 28, 2017.

XML master last modified on May 2, 2022.

HTML version generated and published on May 3, 2022.

Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.