Missy Lehand "secretary To President Fdr/roosevelt" Signed White House Letter For Sale

Marguerite LeHandMarguerite Alice "Missy" LeHand at her desk in the White House, c. 1935Personal Secretary to the PresidentIn office
March 4, 1933 – June 1941Appointed byFranklin D. RooseveltSucceeded byGrace TullyPersonal detailsBorn(1898-09-13)September 13, 1898DiedJuly 31, 1944(1944-07-31) (aged 45)Political partyDemocraticReligionRoman Catholic

Marguerite Alice "Missy" LeHand (13 September 1898 - 31 July 1944) was private secretary to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt for 21 years.

Early life

LeHand was born in Potsdam, New York to Daniel J. and Mary J. (née Graffin) LeHand, who were themselves the children of Irish immigrants. The family later moved to Somerville, Massachusetts. She graduated from Somerville High School in 1917, then attended secretarial school.

After holding a variety of clerical positions, she moved to Washington, DC, where she eventually became a secretary at the Democratic Party's national headquarters (where her brother Daniel also later worked). In 1920, when Franklin Roosevelt was running for Vice President on a ticket with James M. Cox against Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge, Roosevelt's office manager, Charles McCarthy, hired LeHand to work in the campaign's Washington office. It was her work on the campaign and her clear personal devotion to Roosevelt that caught the eye of the Roosevelts, who asked her to help with FDR's personal correspondence after the campaign. This in turn led to two more decades of employment.

Relationship with Roosevelt

LeHand had a room at Hyde Park and at Roosevelt's house in Manhattan, lived in a private apartment in the White House and accompanied Roosevelt on many trips to Florida and Warm Springs, Georgia, leading many to believe that LeHand was Roosevelt's mistress. As Doug Wead wrote in his work on the parents of presidents, The Raising of a President,

Some Roosevelt historians insist that their relationship was never consummated. Eleanor and the children accepted the relationship, which speaks for its innocence. Sara [Roosevelt] spoke favorably of Missy's family and upbringing. Years later, only Elliott, of all the children, would declare that it had not been as benign as historians like to believe.

In 1973, FDR's son Elliott published An Untold Story: The Roosevelts of Hyde Park, in which he recalled seeing LeHand in his father's lap and alleged that she "shared a familiar life in all its aspects with father". FDR's oldest son, Jimmy, disagreed, arguing that FDR's illness had made sexual function too difficult for him to have a physical affair. "I suppose you could say they came to love one another", he wrote, "but it was not a physical love."

Regardless of whether FDR and Missy LeHand had a sexual relationship, she was a constant presence in Roosevelt's life, fulfilling the First Lady's traditional role as hostess at White House functions when Eleanor was away. In many ways, the Roosevelts made her feel part of the family as well. Eleanor attended her mother Mary LeHand's funeral in Potsdam in 1932; FDR said he wished to attend, and most likely would have been able to, had the funeral been in Boston instead of New York.

Roosevelt rewrote his will to leave half of the income from his estate (which was eventually probated at more than $3 million) for LeHand's care after she suffered a stroke, and half to Eleanor. This was in recognition of her years of service as his secretary. According to author Doris Kearns Goodwin in her book No Ordinary Time, Roosevelt said it was the least he could do. The will stated that upon LeHand's death the income would go to Eleanor, with the principal eventually divided equally among his children. As LeHand died before FDR, her half reverted to Eleanor.

LeHand had a brief romance with Eleanor's bodyguard (and rumored love) Earl Miller in the early 1930s, and in 1933 was engaged to the diplomat William Christian Bullitt, Jr., then the US ambassador to Russia. FDR's son James later described this as "the one real romance" of her life. However, the engagement ended after LeHand visited him in Moscow and reportedly discovered him having an affair. Later in life, a friend asked LeHand if she regretted not having married, to which LeHand replied, "Absolutely not ... How could anyone ever come up to FDR?"


Missy Lehand

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