ELEANOR ROOSEVELT – AMERICA’S FIRST LADY – LOVED A WOMAN
There would have to be doubters to the fact that a First Lady of the White House continued a passionate relationship with a woman. Any there would be many reasons for such doubts and the desire to change history for such a leading person as Eleanor Roosevelt.
She was after all the wife of a President who got America back on its feet after the Depression. Franklin D. Roosevelt held the highest office of the land which included the Supreme Commander of the armed forces and a world leader. The affair took place in the 1930s when lesbians and gay men kept a low profile. But, the affair did take place and there are hundreds of letters between Eleanora and her lover, Lorene A. Hickok known affectionately as Hick.
To make sure that this relationship was not merely platonic, Biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin summarized the letters between Kickok and Roosevelt as follows:
Hick longed to kiss the soft spot at the corner of Eleanor’s mouth; Eleanor yearned to hold Hick close; Hick despaired at being away from Eleanor; Eleanor wished she could lie down beside Hick and take her in her arms. Day after day, month after month, the tone in the letters on both sides remains fervent and loving.
When Franklin was elected President, Eleanor wore a sapphire ring given to her by Hicks. Eleanor kept a picture of Hicks in her study in the White House.
Here are a couple of more letters to demonstrate the extent of their loving.
March 7, 1933 - ER to Hick…
All day I’ve thought of you & another birthday I will be with you, & yet tonite you sounded so far away & formal. Oh! I want to put my arms around you. I ache to hold you close. Your ring is a great comfort to me. I look at it and think she does love me, or I wouldn’t be wearing it.
Hick writing to ER after a long separation…
Only eight more days . . . Funny how even the dearest face will fade away in time. Most clearly I remember your eyes, with a kind of teasing smile in them, and the feeling of that soft spot just north-east of the corner of your mouth against my lips. . . .
Quite a lot of passionate letters flowed between Eleanor and Hick. Doris Faber who wrote a biography of Eleanor stated that 2,236 letters were from Roosevelt to Hickok, and 1,024 were from Hick to Eleanor. Many of the passionate letters spring from the situation where Eleanor lived in Washington and Hick was a reporter in New York.
The lovers met when Hick was a reporter. She interviewed Eleanor when her husband, Franklin D was running for president. Sparks must have ignited instantly, because they became extremely close travelling to events together and dining alone in Hick’
What Franklin thought or knew of the relationship is unknown. However, when he was President, the three of them dined every Sunday. In 1937, the relationship cooled and Eleanor explained in a letter that she had never wished to hurt Hick. The relationship must have reached an agreement and been a pleasant one, because from 1941 to 1945, Hick lived at the White House, but her mailing address and residency was at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.
It was during these years that Hick had an intense relationship with Marion Janet Harron, a United States Tax Court Judge.
These three lesbians, Eleanor, Hick and Marion were on such good terms, that Marion was a visitor to the White House. It should be mentioned that Eleanor had been acquainted with lesbians of prominence such as Nancy Cook and Marion Dickerman, and Eshter Lape and Elizabeth Read.
When affairs end, it is so refreshing to find that some women can continue to have a strong friendship. This was the case between Eleanor and Hicks.
When Hicks’ diabetes worsened in 1945, she lived in a cottage on the Roosevelt estate until she died in 1968. She and Eleanor continued to correspond with one another until Eleanor’s death in 1962.
History never gave me models like these when I was at school or later in university. No one wrote that lesbians are ‘every where including the White House.” LOL.
Eleanor deserves a blog on her own accomplishments.. She held such posts as Chairman of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights under President Truman – and- United States Delegate to the United Nations General Assembly