Extraordinary letters penned during FDR’s presidency document the warm friendship between Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Margaret “Daisy” Suckley, his distant cousin, friend, and confidant.
FDR and Daisy shared a family heritage rooted in the Hudson Valley. Wilderstein, Daisy’s home in Rhinebeck, New York, was less than a dozen miles from Springwood, FDR’s family estate in Hyde Park, but the cousins did not become acquainted until 1922 when FDR’s mother, Sara, invited Daisy for a visit while FDR was recovering from polio.
Their close friendship began after Daisy attended FDR’s inauguration on March 4, 1933, and ended following her visit to Warm Springs, Georgia, just before FDR died there on April 12, 1945. During his presidency, Daisy frequently visited the White House, went on trips with FDR, helped organize his papers at the new presidential library, and gave him his beloved Scottish terrier, Fala.
Daisy’s diaries, her letters to FDR, and more than three dozen handwritten letters FDR wrote to her were found after her death in 1991, just short of her 100th birthday. They were published in 1995 in Geoffrey C. Ward’s Closest Companion: The Unknown Story of the Intimate Friendship Between Franklin Roosevelt and Margaret Suckley.
In their correspondence, Daisy comments on FDR’s work, current events, the doings of friends and family, and her visits with Franklin. And the president reciprocates. In fifteen handwritten letters to Daisy he wrote between 1934 and 1944, FDR describes life in the White House—private meetings, influential people, and important events—imbued with humor and detail.
A gift to New York City’s Hunter College from Roger and Susan Hertog, the letters—never before seen by the public—are on display at Roosevelt House, where FDR and Eleanor lived as newlyweds. The exhibit, “Affectionately, F.D.R.,” is free to the public through May 31, Mondays through Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and during evening events. For more information: please visit http://www.roosevelthouse.hunter.cuny.edu/visitor-information/