History of the United States

Pistol-Carrying Eleanor Roosevelt Changed What It Means To Be First Lady

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt blazed the trail for American women to be opinionated and independent. The fact that she carried a pistol in lieu of Secret Service protection is just an illustration of how hardcore she was.

Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt's license to carry a pistol.

Come At Me, Bro

There's a reason you know Eleanor Roosevelt's name when other former First Ladies don't particularly ring any bells. To state it plainly, Eleanor Roosevelt was a boss. While FDR was president and Eleanor First Lady, she often took long-distance trips to carry out her many service projects. She insisted on driving her own car — something that made the Secret Service quite uncomfortable. The Secret Service suggested (begged, rather) that she take a special agent, a police escort, or a chauffeur. As a compromise, Roosevelt became a card-carrying pistol-wielder.

So what? She had a gun, big deal. Actually, the symbolism of that act was huge. Women at the time didn't do that. The First Lady of the United States especially didn't do that. According to Laura Browder, author of "Her Best Shot: Women and Guns in America," early 20th-century gun ads encouraged women to buy firearms for their personal safety, but that trend disappeared before FDR took office. Eleanor Roosevelt clearly broke the mold.


Defying expectations is never easy, and it never goes out of style. During Roosevelt's time (1884–1962), the First Lady of the United States was understood to be more of an accessory to her husband than an influential political figure. As TIME reported, "she spoke fiercely and freely about racism, poverty, and sexism in a way that would have been impossible for a sitting president at the time." Despite what expectations or stereotypes a person faces, Roosevelt can be looked to as a shining example of how it can be conquered.

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10 Amazing Quotes From Eleanor Roosevelt

"I cannot believe that war is the best solution. No one won the last war and no one will win the next."

A Short Biography Of Eleanor Roosevelt

She was known as a tenacious and hard-working woman active in politics of her own.

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Eleanor explained the President's policies to the American people on his behalf. 00:24

  2. She was known as a tenacious and hard-working woman active in politics of her own. 00:59

Written by Curiosity Staff December 14, 2016

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