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Foundations of a Public Life:  Courtship and Marriage

Courtship and Marriage

"E Is An Angel."

     - Franklin Roosevelt, diary entry, July 7, 1903

"Well Franklin, there's nothing like keeping the name in the family."

     - President Theodore Roosevelt to Franklin Roosevelt, March 17, 1905

Franklin was 20 and Eleanor just 18 when they began courting. Distant relatives (fifth cousins, once removed) they'd met on occasion during their youth and enjoyed each other's company.

In 1902, Eleanor returned from school in England to make her debut in New York society. In November, she encountered FDR at a society event. Soon they were meeting at parties. They danced, talked, and read poetry together.

Eleanor was attracted by Franklin's charm and ambition, and by the sense of self-confidence and security that had been missing from her own life. Franklin thought Eleanor beautiful and was drawn to her intelligence and concern for others. She volunteered to work with immigrant children on Manhattan's Lower East Side. He was stunned to see the conditions under which they existed.

The Roosevelts married on March 17, 1905 in New York. Eleanor's uncle - President Theodore Roosevelt - gave away the bride. His overpowering presence made the newlyweds supporting players at their own wedding.

Visit our Digital Artifact Collection to learn more about the artifacts shown above, including the Engagement Ring and the Usher's Stickpin.
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