Eleanor Roosevelt Quotes 1–30 of 71 Quotes

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (11 October 1884 – 7 November 1962) was a social activist, first lady and the wife of US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Below are 30 of 71 sourced Eleanor Roosevelt quotes. Sources and related information appear under each quote. Use the 'Cite this quote' link to get citation references.

“Oh! I want to put my arms around you, I ache to hold you close. Your ring is a great comfort. I look at it and think she does love me or I wouldn't be wearing it!”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

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Quote source: In a letter to Lorena Hickok, March 7, 1933

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right — for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be "damned if you do, and damned if you don't."”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

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Quote source: As quoted in How to Stop Worrying and Start Living (1944; 1948) by Dale Carnegie; though Roosevelt has sometimes been credited with the originating the expression, "Damned if you do and damned if you don't" is set in quote marks, indicating she herself was quoting a common expression in saying this. Actually, this saying was coined back even earlier, 1836, by evangelist Lorenzo Dow in his sermons about ministers saying the Bible contradicts itself, telling his listeners, "… those who preach it up, to make the Bible clash and contradict itself, by preaching somewhat like this: 'You can and you can't-You shall and you shan't-You will and you won't-And you will be damned if you do-And you will be damned if you don't.' "

“Understanding is a two-way street.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

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Quote source: As quoted in Modern Quotations for Ready Reference (1947) by Arthur Richmond, p. 455

“It isn't enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn't enough to believe in it. One must work at it.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

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Quote source: Voice of America broadcast (11 November 1951)

“We have to face the fact that either all of us are going to die together or we are going to learn to live together and if we are to live together we have to talk.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

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Quote source: The New York Times (1960), as cited in The Beacon Book of Quotations by Women (1992) by Rosalie Maggio, p. 156

“To me who dreamed so much as a child, who made a dreamworld in which I was the heroine of an unending story, the lives of people around me continued to have a certain storybook quality. I learned something which has stood me in good stead many times — The most important thing in any relationship is not what you get but what you give.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

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Quote source: Preface (December 1960) to The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt (1961), p. xvi; the last line was originally used in the initial edition of her autobiography: This Is My Story (1937)

“Life was meant to be lived, and curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

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Quote source: Preface (December 1960) to The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt (1961), p. xix

“My husband plunged into work on a speech and I went off to work on an article. Midnight came and bed for all, and all that was said was "good night, sleep well, pleasant dreams, with the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.'”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

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Quote source: from "My Day" (January 8, 1936)https://www2.gwu.edu/~erpapers/myday/displaydoc.cfm?_y=1936&_f=md054227 Eleanor Roosevelt, "My Day, January 8, 1936," The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Digital Edition (2017), accessed 7/24/2018, https://www2.gwu.edu/~erpapers/myday/displaydoc.cfm?_y=1936&_f=md054227.

“I think, at a child's birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

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More on this quote: From article "In Defense of Curiosity" appearing in The Saturday Evening Post 208 (August 24, 1935); 8-9, 64-66. As cited in What I Hope to Leave Behind, The Essential Essays of Eleanor Roosevelt Edited by Alida M. Black, p 20.
• As quoted in Todays Health (October 1966)

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“I think that somehow, we learn who we really are and then live with that decision.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

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Quote source: As quoted in Peter's Quotations : Ideas for Our Time (1972) by Laurence J. Peter, p. 5

“Friendship with oneself is all-important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

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Quote source: As quoted in The Beacon Book of Quotations by Women (1992) by Rosalie Maggio, p. 130

“When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

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Quote source: As quoted in "On The Universal Declaration of Human Rights" by Hillary Rodham Clinton in Issues of Democracy Vol. 3, No. 3 (October 1998), p. 11

“You get more joy out of the giving to others, and should put a good deal of thought into the happiness you are able to give.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

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Quote source: As quoted in Sheroes: Bold, Brash, and Absolutely Unabashed Superwomen from Susan B. Anthony to Xena (1998) by Varla Ventura, p. 150

“I think I have a good deal of my Uncle Theodore in me, because I could not, at any age, be content to take my place by the fireside and simply look on.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

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More on this quote: As quoted in The Three Roosevelts: Patrician Leaders Who Transformed America (2002) by James MacGregor Burns ad Susan Dunn, p. 563
Variant: I could not at any age be content to take my place in a corner by the fireside and simply look on.

“I had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: "No good in a bed, but fine against a wall".”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

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Quote source: From a speech given at the White Shrine Club, Fresno, California, quoted in The Event Makers I’ve Known (2012) by Elvin C. Bell, p. 161. She is described as being in her late 70s, so c. 1960–1962

“Up to a certain point it is good for us to know that there are people in the world who will give us love and unquestioned loyalty to the limit of their ability. I doubt, however, if it is good for us to feel assured of this without the accompanying obligation of having to justify this devotion by our behavior.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

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Source: This Is My Story (1937)

“The most important thing in any relationship is not what you get but what you give.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

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Source: This Is My Story (1937)

“The purpose of life...is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

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Quote source: You Learn by Living (1960) Foreword (January 1960)

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“One thing life has taught me: if you are interested, you never have to look for new interests. They come to you. … All you need to do is to be curious, receptive, eager for experience. And there's one strange thing: when you are genuinely interested in one thing, it will always lead to something else.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

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Roosevelt, Eleanor. “Eleanor Roosevelt Quotes: 1–30 of 71 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Eleanor-Roosevelt-quotes.html#21

Quote source: You Learn by Living (1960) p. 14

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, "I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along." … You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

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Quote source: You Learn by Living (1960) p. 29–30

“A mature person is one who does not think only in absolutes, who is able to be objective even when deeply stirred emotionally, who has learned that there is both good and bad in all people and all things, and who walks humbly and deals charitably with the circumstances of life, knowing that in this world no one is all-knowing and therefore all of us need both love and charity.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

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Quote source: You Learn by Living (1960) p. 63

“Happiness is not a goal, it is a by-product. Paradoxically, the one sure way not to be happy is deliberately to map out a way of life in which one would please oneself completely and exclusively.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

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Quote source: You Learn by Living (1960) p. 95

“"Anxiety," Kierkegaard said, "is the dizziness of freedom." This freedom of which men speak, for which they fight, seems to some people a perilous thing. It has to be earned at a bitter cost and then — it has to be lived with. For freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect. We must all face and unpalatable fact that we have, too often, a tendency to skim over; we proceed on the assumption that all men want freedom. This is not as true as we would like it to be. Many men and women who are far happier when they have relinquish their freedom, when someone else guides them, makes their decisions for them, takes the responsibility for them and their actions. They don't want to make up their minds. They don't want to stand on their own feet.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

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Quote source: You Learn by Living (1960) p. 152

“It takes courage to love, but pain through love is the purifying fire which those who love generously know. We all know people who are so much afraid of pain that they shut themselves up like clams in a shell and, giving out nothing, receive nothing and therefore shrink until life is a mere living death. (1 April 1939)”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

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Source: • Source: Wikiquote: "Eleanor Roosevelt" (Quotes, My Day (1935–1962):
Her daily newspaper column : selections at PBS)

“I was one of those who was very happy when the original prohibition amendment passed. I thought innocently that a law in this country would automatically be complied with, and my own observation led me to feel rather ardently that the less strong liquor anyone consumed the better it was. During prohibition I observed the law meticulously, but I came gradually to see that laws are only observed with the consent of the individuals concerned and a moral change still depends on the individual and not on the passage of any law. (14 July 1939)”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

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Roosevelt, Eleanor. “Eleanor Roosevelt Quotes: 1–30 of 71 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Eleanor-Roosevelt-quotes.html#27

Source: • Source: Wikiquote: "Eleanor Roosevelt" (Quotes, My Day (1935–1962):
Her daily newspaper column : selections at PBS)

“Little by little it dawned upon me that this law was not making people drink any less, but it was making hypocrites and law breakers of a great number of people. It seemed to me best to go back to the old situation in which, if a man or woman drank to excess, they were injuring themselves and their immediate family and friends and the act was a violation against their own sense of morality and no violation against the law of the land. (14 July 1939)”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

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Roosevelt, Eleanor. “Eleanor Roosevelt Quotes: 1–30 of 71 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Eleanor-Roosevelt-quotes.html#28

Source: • Source: Wikiquote: "Eleanor Roosevelt" (Quotes, My Day (1935–1962):
Her daily newspaper column : selections at PBS)

“Will people ever be wise enough to refuse to follow bad leaders or to take away the freedom of other people? (16 October 1939)”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

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Roosevelt, Eleanor. “Eleanor Roosevelt Quotes: 1–30 of 71 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Eleanor-Roosevelt-quotes.html#29

Source: • Source: Wikiquote: "Eleanor Roosevelt" (Quotes, My Day (1935–1962):
Her daily newspaper column : selections at PBS)

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