October 07, 2003

Presidential Fun Fact of the Day

Eleanor Roosevelt.

Eleanor was used to coming and going as she pleased. Via planes, trains, and automobiles, she logged about 80,000 miles of travel during her first two years as First Lady. She drove herself--often unescorted. She attended public events without security.

After the attempt on Franklin's life in 1933, her husband wanted the Secret Service to provide Eleanor with a bodyguard, but she adamantly refused. Many times the subject was broached, but Eleanor insisted, "Americans are wonderful. I simply can't imagine being afraid of going among them as I have always done, as I always shall."

Because of her refusal to have a bodyguard, the Secret Service provided her with a gun. She resisted this too at first, but eventually agreed to lessons at the FBI headquarters so she could learn how to handle the weapon. After a few visits to the FBI firing range, Chief J. Edgar Hoover was alarmed. He told the President, "If there is one person in the U.S. who should not carry a gun, it's your wife. She cannot hit a barn door."

Later on, Eleanor did learn how to shoot the gun, and she dutifully carried it in the glove compartment of her car. Unloaded.

Posted by Jennifer at October 7, 2003 07:54 AM