5 Fascinating Facts About FDR

On July 18, 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt was nominated for an unprecedented third term in office. Roosevelt would eventually be elected to a record four terms in office, the only U.S. president to serve more than two terms.  But that's not the only interesting fact about America's 32nd president—here are five other things you may not know about FDR...


President Teddy Roosevelt Walked Eleanor Down the Aisle at Her Wedding to FDR. # FDR in 1933, the year he was first elected President of the United States. Image source: WikiCommons Much has been documented about FDR's admiration for his distant cousin, Theodore. But few people realize that Eleanor was actually also a family member (albeit a distant one). Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was FDR's fifth cousin once removed and the niece of then-President Teddy Roosevelt. Teddy actually walked Eleanor down the aisle on her wedding day, March 17, 1905, because Eleanor's father had passed away. Sadly, Great Uncle Teddy wouldn't live long enough to see FDR rise to the presidency—he died in 1919.

He was the First President to Make a Woman Part of His Cabinet. It's hard to believe that when Roosevelt first ran for office as the vice presidential running mate to James M. Cox in 1920, women had just earned the right to vote mere months before. 13 years later, when Roosevelt finally made it into the White House, he became the first president to nominate a woman for his cabinet. Frances Perkins served as Secretary of Labor during all four of Roosevelt's terms in office, helping orchestrate several of his key initiatives including social security. It was the second time the duo had worked together—Perkins served as labor commissioner when FDR was governor of New York. 


Secret Service Agents Ruined Photos of FDR in a Wheelchair. # Rare photo from 1941 of Roosevelt in his wheelchair. Image source: WikiCommons Most people know that FDR contracted polio in 1921 and spent most of his adult life relying on a wheelchair. But boy, did he want to do everything he could to keep it a secret. Roosevelt was notoriously private about his ailment, choosing to have most public appearances showing him sitting in an open chair or standing behind a podium. Few photos depict FDR in a wheelchair and for good reason—media figures who tried found themselves getting their cameras confiscated or film ripped out as a result.

He was the First Sitting President to Fly on a Plane. Plane travel was a bit dicier in the 1930s than it is today, and so it was risky for FDR to take the flight to Chicago in order to accept his nomination at the 1932 Democratic Convention. But when he later took a flight to Morocco to meet with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1943, FDR became the first sitting president to travel by plane and the first president to leave the country during wartime. Speaking of flying...

His Wife, Eleanor, Flew in a Plane with Amelia Earhart. Amelia was an inspiration to an entire generation of young women, and the First Lady was no exception. Based on her admiration for Earhart, Eleanor applied for her own pilot's license and even got to go on a short flight with Amelia herself in 1933. Upon Earhart's disappearance in 1937, Eleanor was grief-stricken and told reporters that Amelia's last words must have been "I have no regrets."

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