The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project is a university-chartered research center associated with the Department of History of The George Washington University

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The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project
Questions and Answers about Eleanor Roosevelt

Question: When did ER and FDR meet, court, and fall in love?


picture: FDR and ER, Campobello, 1904Eleanor Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt met only occasionally before ER left for Allenswood. The most notable of these encounters occurred at ER's aunt Corrine Robinson's 1898 Christmas party when a sixteen-year-old Franklin asked a fourteen-year-old ER to dance. While they enjoyed each other's company, it was only when ER returned from school in London that they revived their friendship. In the summer of 1902 FDR saw ER sitting alone on the train en route to her grandmother's home in Tivoli and invited her to join both him and his mother in a different car. Their interest in one another increased as they ran into one another at various social events in New York City and attended a small White House New Year's Eve dinner hosted by ER's uncle, Theodore Roosevelt. By the summer of 1903, the relationship grew more serious. FDR proposed November 22, 1903, as they walked along the river beside Groton Academy, where they had just visited ER's younger brother, Hall. Sara Delano Roosevelt, concerned that they were too young, asked them to keep the engagement secret for a year and then took FDR on a five-week cruise. The separation increased FDR and ER's devotion and when he returned he decided to attend law school at Columbia University rather than Harvard so that they could be closer to one another. FDR gave ER an engagement ring October 11, 1904, her twentieth birthday. They announced their engagement at family gatherings in early December 1904.


Lash, Joseph P. Eleanor and Franklin. New York: Signet Press, 1971,150-176.