Eleanor Roosevelt traveled more than 40,000 miles during FDR's first year as president. "Never before had a first lady taken to the road," says biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin. "She became his legs," says journalist Chalmers Roberts.
David McCullough [voice-over]: During her husband's first year as president, Eleanor traveled more than 40,000 miles, reporting back to the White House on the New Deal.
Doris Kearns Goodwin: Never before had a first lady taken to the road and traveled hundreds of thousands of miles on her own, supporting her husband. What she was looking for was the human detail that she could bring back to her husband to let him understand what the people of his land were thinking, feeling and hoping.
Chalmers Roberts: She became his legs. She became his emissary. She could go places that he couldn't go, and she went everywhere.
David McCullough [voice-over]: Eleanor wrote a daily column, called "My Day," held weekly press conferences, received hundreds of thousands of letters. Her popularity ratings were sometimes even higher than her husband's.
My American Experience
Who is your favorite 20th-century American president? Was it FDR? Reagan? Clinton? Or one of the other 14 men who helped usher the United Sates through the 1900s? Who do you think was the most influential?