Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) was an American politician, diplomat and activist. I was only vaguely familiar with Eleanor as the wife of FDR, until I recently learnt of her full awesomeness when watching Ken Burns’ epic seven-part, 14-hour documentary The Roosevelts: An Intimate History. The series covers in great detail the incredible lives of Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Being Australian, we’re not really taught American history and I was only watching it because of my admiration of Teddy Roosevelt, so I wasn’t really familiar with FDR and Eleanor. But their lives are just as fascinating and the whole series was a joy to watch.

Eleanor had a troubled childhood, her mother, who thought her daughter was ugly, died when Eleanor was young, followed by her brother the following year. Her father was an alcoholic and also died young. She suffered from depression throughout her life, and just like her favourite uncle Theodore, she coped with her sadness by living a life of action.

During the 12 years Eleanor was by her husband’s side in the White House, she redefined the role of First Lady. Not content to spend her time hosting lunches and afternoon teas, Eleanor rolled up her sleeves and championed numerous causes. She helped establish a community for homeless miners during the Great Depression, was integral in helping the civil rights movement and fought tirelessly for women’s equality. Eleanor was soon the most famous woman in the world thanks to her own nationally broadcast radio show and syndicated newspaper column.

After FDR’s death and the end of WWII, Eleanor was named a delegate to the newly formed United Nations and later became the chairperson of the Commission of Human Rights. She played an integral role in drafting what became the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This quote was used in the final episode of the Roosevelt Documentary and was taken from Eleanor’s book You Learn By Living, which she wrote near the end of her life. There’s a great article about the book on Brain Pickings.

RELATED COMICS: Brené Brown – The Woman in the Arena. Frank Herbert – Litany Against Fear. Theodore Roosevelt – The Man in the Arena. Marianne Williamson – Our Deepest Fear.

The character in this comic first appeared in comic No. 157, featuring a quote by Amy Poehler. In that comic, you can discover why she decided to try comedy. RELATED COMICS BY COMEDIANS: George Carlin (explicit), Bill Hicks, Henry Rollins and Louie C.K.

CREDIT: Brief quote from p.41 (“Courage is more exhilarating than fear … stare it down.”) from You Learn By Living: Eleven Keys For A More Fulfilling Life by Eleanor Roosevelt. Copyright (c) 1960 by Eleanor Roosevelt. Copyright Renewed 1988 by Franklin A. Roosevelt. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.