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Lucy Mercer was the social secretary of Eleanor Roosevelt, but is best known for her long affair with Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Full Name Lucy Page Mercer Rutherfurd
Who mistress
Birth Date April 26, 1891
Death Date July 31, 1948
Country United States
Born Washington D.C., USA
Died New York, New York, USA
Cause of Death leukemia
Education n/a
Father Carroll Mercer
Mother Minnie Mercer
Spouse Winthrop Rutherfurd
Siblings Violetta Carroll Mercer
Children Barbara Mercer Rutherfurd Knowles


Mercer was hired by Eleanor Roosevelt as her social secretary in 1914. A loyal and hardworking young lady, she was soon accepted by Eleanor as a friend, and allowed into the Roosevelt family's circle of friends.

Mercer began a romantic affair with her friend's husband Franklin D. Roosevelt in the summer of 1916, two years after meeting Eleanor, who was at the time on an island vacation with her children, while Roosevelt himself remained at home in Washington D.C. for work. It was to be the beginning of a lifelong obsession. Mercer was 25 years old, and Roosevelt was 34. Mercer often accompanied Roosevelt to yachting events, which Eleanor disliked attending. In 1917, as Eleanor grew suspicious, Mercer either quit or was fired from her job as the secretary of her lover's wife. However, this only served to aid the affair, as Mercer took a new post working in the office of Roosevelt himself; he was at the time the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. They were seen out together numerous times, causing gossip to swirl about the city. In 1918, Roosevelt embarked on a work trip to Europe, during which time he and Mercer wrote numerous love letters back and forth. Upon returning home, these letters were discovered by Roosevelt's wife, who confronted him and furiously asked for a divorce. However, she later withdrew this opinion and refused to grant him one, which Roosevelt told Mercer. Roosevelt promised never to speak to Mercer again, and she lost contact with him. Heartbroken, she left Washington D.C. Within two years, she was married to a wealthy man, the news of which Roosevelt heard about at a party. Despite the two years that had passed, and his promise to his wife, he contacted her again, and they wrote heartfelt letters to one another through the entire 1920's. In 1926, he mailed her a copy of his first important public lecture, privately dedicating it to her. When being inaugurated as President in 1933, he wanted more than anything for Mercer to be there to witness one of the proudest moments of his life, and arranged for her to attend. In 1941, she had a secret, private dinner with Roosevelt at the White House, and her visit was recorded under a code name. The two had a holiday together in 1944, and again in 1945, this time going away to Georgia. However, while there, Roosevelt suffered from a cerebral hemorrhage and passed away. Though Mercer attempted, out of respect for Eleanor, to cover up the fact that Roosevelt had died while vacationing with her, Eleanor learned the truth eventually. Mercer was devastated by Roosevelt's death, and destroyed all of the thousands of letters that she had kept of their correspondance. 

Alice Roosevelt Longworth - a cousin of Eleanor - was a friend of Mercer and supported her affair with Franklin. She invited the couple over to her home for dinner on at least several occasions. She later commented that she had thought Franklin simply "deserved a good time."

After Mercer left her city in heartbreak over her just-ended affair with Roosevelt, she took a position as governess for the children of Winthrop Rutherfurd, who was at the time known to be one of New York's most eligable widowers. Two years after taking up her post in Rutherfurd's household, they were married, in February 1920. She decided not to tell Roosevelt about her engagement, and he only learned about it from overhearing people speaking of her recent marriage at a party. The two had an amicable marriage, despite Mercer's continued affair with Roosevelt. When Rutherfurd fell into ill health in the 1930's, Mercer diligently tended to him.

Mercer was a friend of painter Elizabeth Shoumatoff. She arranged for Shoumatoff to paint Roosevelt's portrait in 1941.

Mercer met Roosevelt's daughter Anna Roosevelt Halsted in 1944, after Roosevelt requested of his daughter that she help him arrange to meet with Mercer in person without Eleanor finding out. Anna, angry at the difficult situation her father was putting her in, grudgingly agreed to help, but was prepared to dislike Mercer with a passion. However, she found that she enjoyed the older woman's company very much, and the two became friends.


Washington D.C., USA - Was born here, 1891. Lived here, 1891 - 1918, and 1940 - 1945.

New York, New York, USA - Lived here, 1918 - 1940, and 1945 - 1948. Died here, 1948.

Warm Springs, Georgia, USA - Visited here, 1945.

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