Catalogue


Beloved island : Franklin & Eleanor and the legacy of Campobello /
Jonas Klein introduction by George J. Mitchell.
imprint
Forest Dale, VT : Paul S. Eriksson, c2000.
description
xiii, 274 p., [16] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 24 cm.
ISBN
083971033X (hardcover)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
author
imprint
Forest Dale, VT : Paul S. Eriksson, c2000.
isbn
083971033X (hardcover)
catalogue key
4007088
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Jonas Klein served in communications management positions at IBM Corporation and holds degrees in political and social science from Bates College and the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. He lives on the island of Georgetown, Maine
First Chapter

Chapter One

Childhood

James and Sara Delano Roosevelt could scarcely have imagined that their only child would one day become President of the United States and be the only President to be elected to four terms, serving through the American twentieth century's two darkest hours. Franklin Roosevelt was, arguably, one of the most important political figures in the history of the Republic and, indeed, of modern times. Although James and Sara could not have been aware of these improbabilities, they were highly instrumental in their realization. James and Sara's lineage, breeding, wealth, and social status were not only young Franklin's birthright, they were his bedrock.

    The nineteenth-century Hudson River aristocracy of the Roosevelts and Delanos traced their roots to the early American colonists. Franklin, an eighth-generation Roosevelt, was a descendant of Niklaus Rozenvelt, an early Dutch trader in New Amsterdam. Phillipe De La Noye, a Huguenot, was the first Delano to arrive in the Colonies, in 1621.

    Both families won and lost huge fortunes in fur, lumber, shipbuilding, and the great sea trade. The Delanos acquired much of their later wealth in the enormously lucrative opium trade of the mid-nineteenth century. Warren Delano, Sara's father, amassed spectacular wealth while living and trading in China both before and during the Opium Wars. Financial setbacks, while not infrequent, were offset by triumphs that created substantial fortunes, providing both families with all the good things that affluent post-Civil War American life could offer.

    Along with economic and financial security, this privileged class developed broad interests in travel and adventure, a cultivation of the fine arts, and a remarkable spirit of noblesse oblige . This spirit fostered a genuine belief in responsibility for aiding the helpless and providing service to the community. If not precisely the same ethic, this was in many ways the legacy of Jeffersonian democracy.

    In nineteenth-century America, rank and privilege were accorded to wealth, whether acquired by inheritance or by commercial success. Although the Delano fortune was greater than that of the Roosevelts, both families were comfortably lodged in the first rank. James and Sara were secure in this semi-leisured class that also embraced concepts of Christian service and responsibility.

    Service was demonstrated in a variety of ways, but always with a style and grace that befitted the donor's social status. This attitude was shared by the Oyster Bay branch of cousin Theodore Roosevelt and his family, who were somewhat more active socially and better financially endowed than the Hyde Park branch. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born into this comfortable world in 1882 and was lavished with all the love and attention that his parents could bring to bear. Sara's sister Dora observed, "He was brought up in a beautiful frame."

    James Roosevelt, who had been widowed, was in his fifties when he married Sara Delano of Newburgh, New York. James was financially secure and reasonably healthy, and as a country squire, he had not only the tangible resources to lavish on his family, but also the time and, for a while, the energy. Sara Delano, less than half James's age, was bright, attractive, and worldly. When Franklin was born, he was loved and cherished with style and gusto. He weighed more than ten pounds at birth, and the delivery was difficult. Sara was advised not to have more children, and this admonition influenced both her conjugal relations and the intensity of the love and attention she would devote to her only child. So much attention was paid to Franklin that he never developed close childhood friendships. He had doting parents, attentive servants, personal tutors, and childhood pets to attend his every need.

    For a time, Sara apparently was reluctant to recognize that young Franklin was growing up. Many early photographs showed him dressed in skirts or kilts even to the age of seven. This was not a wholly uncommon occurrence, however, for a time when society was absorbed in the sentimentality of the hugely popular book, Little Lord Fauntleroy .

    Both parents surely served Franklin well. James was an instructive companion and Sara a supportive mother. Although closely attended, Franklin was not unduly sheltered or restrained from vigorous physical activity. In fact, he was encouraged to develop "gentlemanly" sporting skills and to test himself in these activities.

    Franklin acquired many of these skills and developed a variety of hobbies. In addition, he learned to withstand pain, to accommodate discomfort, and to acquire limitless patience. These were, in many ways, to become among his most prominent attributes. The ability to endure physical and emotional pain was both a strength and a weakness. In later life it served Franklin well in triumphing over disability, but it also allowed him to mask his inner self and repress his deepest emotions.

    As a child, Franklin played enthusiastically, if not often, with other children who were carefully selected as playmates. At an early age, he often assumed leadership roles. Sara recalled in her autobiography that he was always the only child issuing orders, and that they were usually obeyed. When she called this to his attention, Franklin replied, "But, Mommie, if I didn't give the orders, nothing would happen." This statement was surely prophetic.

    Franklin was enthusiastic about his hobbies and collections. These interests remained with him throughout his life, providing him with a means to relax, a way to occupy idle hours, and a technique to escape Sara's hovering presence. When he was piloting his boat or arranging his bird or stamp collections, Franklin was in charge and determining his own order of the world.

    Franklin's earliest years taught him that his family were people of some importance and standing, and so was he. This early confidence served him well in achieving goals, if not in winning friends. He quickly learned how to please adults and win their respect, but at some personal sacrifice. His charm and energy delighted adults and encouraged younger children to look up to him. But these same qualities often raised walls between him and friends of the same age. As a result, he enjoyed little of the peer sharing that most adolescents crave.

    European trips were constant events for the Roosevelts. Franklin's honeymoon was his eleventh trip across the Atlantic. His early experience with European languages and cultures gave him a slight British accent and continental tastes in manners and clothing. Extensive trips abroad had always been a family tradition. The Delanos and Roosevelts had long traveled worldwide. At one time, a young Sara had lived in Hong Kong.

    Tutored at home until the age of fourteen, Franklin had a succession of teachers who likely impressed upon him their social and political ideas. He often recalled a French tutor's positive influence in later life. Another, a Swiss, reportedly held strong socialistic views and may have planted in Franklin some early ideas about social change.

    Franklin was enrolled at Groton School two years beyond the normal entering class. Classmates had already made firm friendships, and Franklin was never fully accepted by most of them. His purposeful attitude and his enthusiasm attracted the attention of instructors but rarely his fellow students. Franklin did win prizes in punctuality and in the "high kick," a peculiar activity in which the participant would throw his feet in the air, kick at a hanging object, and then land, often on his head. Franklin succeeded in this event while others were unwilling to endure its pain. But it provided Franklin a means to excel and a way to call attention to himself. His slight build, however, was not suited to the "Muscular Christianity" of Groton's team sports. Franklin competed, but he was never a successful team athlete.

    Franklin was an unremarkable scholar. He may have been attentive to his lessons, but the quality of his work was mediocre, a pattern that continued at Harvard with attainment of "Gentleman's C" grades. His principal claim to distinction at Groton was his bloodline to cousin Theodore, then Vice-President of the United States. Franklin happily traded on this providential kinship. At school, as well as in later life, Franklin used whatever he had going for him.

    Both parents had done what they could to ensure that Franklin would be "very nice" and that he would always be "bright and happy." Sara learned this from her father and she devoted herself to the same propositions in raising her own son. Unpleasantness was to be ignored or, better still, laughed off. When he suffered some minor disappointment at Groton, Sara told Franklin that "we must be above caring ... keep your position and character and let no one make you feel small, go ahead your own way, and be kind to everyone if you have the chance...."

    Sara often said that Franklin was a Delano, not a Roosevelt. Her close involvement in his life was unceasing, but Franklin eventually learned to protect his private thoughts carefully while still showing Sara both deference and love. He was the son of a mother who had been intensely devoted to her own father. Freud might have been describing Franklin when he wrote, "A man who has been the indisputable favorite of his mother keeps for life the feeling of a conqueror, that confidence of success that often induces real success."

    All his life, Franklin did the utmost to follow Sara's advice and to live up to her expectations. As a result, he appeared to have a peaceful and sometimes passive composure, behind which he buried all unpleasant thoughts. While he clearly charted a life of his own, he always remained the dutiful son who had perfected the art (or curse) of guarding closely his deepest emotions. Eleanor told a friend years later that his "was an innate kind of reticence. It became part of his nature not to talk to anyone of intimate things." He kept his own counsel and seemed to believe strongly in his own empowerment.

    Groton School meant a great deal in Franklin's development. Its founder and headmaster, the Reverend Endicott Peabody, was a towering presence in the lives of "Grotties." Peabody's goal was to turn out young men capable of bringing the highest ideals to the reform of government. He emphasized strong morals, Christian ethics, and the avoidance of sin while encouraging full mental and physical development. His influence on his students was profound. For Franklin, Peabody reinforced everything he had come to know about responsibility to his fellow man and service to the community. Franklin idolized Peabody and later attested to his belief that Peabody's influence was second only to that of his parents.

* * *

    Franklin's childhood was ordered, loving, and seemingly free of fear, insecurity, or desperation. Eleanor's adolescence could not have been more different. Her cousin Corinne Robinson Alsop wrote that Eleanor "knew she had a ghastly childhood, but didn't realize how ghastly it was." Her early years were marked by tragedy, unrequited parental love, abject fear, and the development of a spectacular sense of insecurity.

    Eleanor's father, Elliott, was Theodore Roosevelt's younger brother. Elliott showed little of the strength of character and determination of the future President. His relatively brief life was marked with disappointments, failures, and addictions. Although dashing, witty, and enormously charming, Elliott was unable to sustain any serious pursuits. He expressed admiration for brother Ted's successes but was apparently envious of them. His indulgences and idleness were closely held within the family for a time, but they persisted, and Elliott began drinking to excess.

    Elliott was introduced to Anna Hall, the eldest child of Valentine G. Hall, Jr., and Mary Livingston Ludlow Hall of Beacon, New York. At eighteen, Anna Hall was a dazzling beauty, and she and Elliott fell in love almost instantly. Their engagement was announced at Algonac, the ancestral home of Sara Delano Roosevelt. Anna had been raised in wealth by her reclusive and puritanical father and a tyrannized mother. Her mother was never allowed to shop on her own or to understand family finances. When Anna's father died in 1880, Mary Hall was totally unprepared to manage a household and six children under the age of seventeen. Anna escaped from this chaotic and joyless home in marriage. She was enormously attracted to Elliott's joyful and romantic nature. He may have recognized in her a more serious mien that might give him some sense of the stability lacking in his life.

    The Roosevelts welcomed Eleanor's birth in 1884, but clouds had already formed on the family's horizon. Theodore's mother and his wife Alice both died on the same day. Eleanor's birth was initially looked upon as a great relief to these tragedies. But her parents' marriage was severely troubled. Elliott's idleness and drinking continued, and Anna was unable or unwilling to handle the responsibility of caring for an infant and had little assistance from her husband.

    In Anna's eyes, young Eleanor did not reflect either parent's outstanding qualities or expectations. She was considered plain-looking and joyless. Eleanor recalled in later years that as a child she was "very solemn ... lacking in the spontaneous joy and mirth of youth." Eleanor had neither her mother's beauty nor her father's gaiety.

    Franklin and Eleanor first met at Springwood when he was four years old and she was two. Neither remembered this early meeting, but Franklin had dutifully and tirelessly carried an unsmiling Eleanor on his back across the nursery floor. Later, when she came down for tea, Eleanor refused to enter the parlor, standing timidly in the doorway. Anna called, "Come in, Granny," telling Sara and James that Eleanor was "such a funny child, so old-fashioned." Consequently, Eleanor was convinced by what she constantly heard. She believed she was unattractive, clumsy, and a poor reflection of her glamorous parents. She held these views all her life.

    Eleanor adored her father and was at her happiest when she was with him. He was affectionate and transported her into his fantasies. But his behavior had become increasingly erratic. Elliott resigned from his brother-in-law's firm and took his family on a European voyage. Aboard the Brittanic , they were struck by another liner, and a disorderly attempt to abandon ship followed. Eleanor was dropped into the waiting arms of her father, standing in a lifeboat. Elliott, the only male passenger to leave the Brittanic , was condemned for ungentlemanly and cowardly behavior, although his actions were misunderstood. The ship did not sink, but the two-year-old Eleanor felt the trauma intensely. Her great fear of the sea lasted well into adulthood.

    Eleanor was constantly reminded to be brave, but the admonitions served only to increase her anxiety. Anna and Elliott were first puzzled and then irritated by her fears. Eleanor became more convinced than ever that she was a disappointment to them, and her feelings of inadequacy and despondence grew. She later wrote, "Fear has always seemed to me the worst stumbling block which anyone has to face. It is the great crippler. Looking back it strikes me that my childhood and my early youth were one long battle against fear."

    Elliott and Anna had two more children, Hall and Elliott, Jr. The births did nothing to strengthen the weakening marriage or encourage Elliott to stick to any of the "cures" that he undertook. By 1891, he had entered an Austrian sanitarium, and Eleanor was sent to a nearby convent school. It was a disastrous experience for her, and she felt out of place and unwanted. Elliott returned briefly to the family, but his drinking and carousing were out of control.

    Elliott left the family home, fathered a child with one of the family maids, and took a New York City apartment with his mistress. Now a public scandal, Elliott was an embarrassment to the family in general and to Theodore in particular. Theodore was then rapidly rising as a public figure and he felt compelled to chastise his brother publicly, calling his spectacularly immoral behavior an "offense against order, decency, and civilization."

    Theodore and their sister Bamie tried to commit Elliott to an institution, but he threatened divorce and even more public embarrassment. Another "cure" and an exile to Virginia provided a brief respite for Elliott, but not for the family. Anna had taken her children to Bar Harbor, Maine, where her beauty and charm briefly made her the toast of the summer community. But Anna was crumbling emotionally and knew that she was failing her children. She made a few feeble and misguided attempts at motherly attention and companionship. Eleanor's anger grew and she blamed Anna for Elliott's long absences that deprived her of the only real love she had known. With few exceptions, there was little closeness and affection between mother and daughter.

    In October, 1892, Anna underwent surgery, for an unreported cause. After the operation, she contracted diphtheria. Her mother prevented Elliott's return and Anna died in December without seeing her husband again. Then eight years old, Eleanor had lost her mother, but her beloved father soon returned, however briefly. Elliott was well over the edge, unable to grieve for his wife or care for his children. He returned to Virginia. Four months later, Elliott, Jr., died of scarlet fever. Once more Elliott returned, only to injure his head seriously while in a drunken stupor. In a state of delirium, he had a violent seizure and died. In the space of twenty months, Eleanor had lost her mother, a baby brother, and her beloved father. She later remembered that she "began living in my dream world as usual.... From that time on I ... lived with him more closely, probably, than I had when he was alive."

    Throughout her life, Eleanor talked at length about her father, speaking of his virtues and keeping his memory alive. She published some of Elliott's collected letters so that her children would get some sense of the character that Eleanor held so dear to the end of her days.

    Until the age of fifteen, Eleanor was in the care of her austere and restrictive grandmother, Mary Hall. Eleanor's only pleasure was in the companionship of her brother Hall. This close relationship with Hall continued into their adulthood, until he, too, succumbed to severe alcoholism.

    Life with Grandmother Hall at Tivoli, on the Hudson, was a genuine horror for Eleanor. In addition to the grim and despotic grandmother, Eleanor and Hall shared a home with their Aunt Pussie and two severely alcoholic uncles. Pussie was incurably romantic and had a history of failed affairs. She repeatedly called Eleanor unattractive and told her that, unlike her beautiful dead mother, she would not have any beaux.

    Grandmother Hall did nothing to enhance Eleanor's self-esteem or respond to her needs. Eleanor's teeth were not straightened, her clothes were not stylish, and little attention was paid to the development of her character or intellect. Eleanor's longing for love and for her lost father increased and she developed what she later called her "Griselda" moods, which haunted her for the rest of her life. These periods of despair were the signs of an intensely unhappy child, if not the manifestation of clinical depression. The adults in her immediate life were chronically depressed women and alcoholic men.

    By good fortune, at age fifteen Eleanor was sent to England to attend the Allenswood School under the supervision of Mademoiselle Marie Souvestre. In much the same way Franklin grew under the Reverend Mr. Peabody at Groton, Eleanor blossomed under Mlle. Souvestre. In her three years at Allenswood, Eleanor became a favorite of both faculty and students, admired for her intelligence, her character, and her heart. She took responsibility, she succeeded in her studies, and she developed both taste and skill in the humanities, especially poetry. At Allenswood Eleanor read and recited poetry aloud, a practice she continued throughout her days.

    From Mlle. Souvestre she heard then radical ideas of trade unionism, the rights of nations, and the innocence of Alfred Dreyfus. Eleanor recognized that being exposed to her teacher's leftist views and atheism "did me no harm. Mlle. Souvestre shocked me into thinking, which was beneficial."

    Mlle. Souvestre reported to Grandmother Hall, "I have not found [her] easily influenced in anything that was not perfectly straightforward and honest, but I often found that she influenced others in the right direction. She is full of sympathy for all those who live with her.... As a pupil she is very satisfactory, but even that is of small account when you compare it with the perfect quality of her soul." Eleanor later wrote, "Whatever I have become since had its seeds in those three years of contact with a liberal mind and strong personality." After Eleanor had completed her schooling and returned to America, Mlle. Souvestre wrote to Grandmother Hall that Eleanor had "the warmest heart I ever encountered," and to Eleanor, "I miss you every day of my life."

* * *

    By the age of eighteen, both Franklin and Eleanor had experienced adolescences that clearly shaped their characters and personalities. Both were born to wealth and exposed to education, culture, and experience available only to the privileged. Neither was encouraged to form close relationships with peers, but both related to adults and the adult world. Both learned to keep their emotions hidden, Franklin through systematic training, Eleanor from a childhood filled with tragedy and abandonment. Both were tremendously influenced by positive preparatory school experiences and powerful mentors. One had been prepared to expect the best, one to fear the worst. Franklin looked forward to Harvard and to taking his rightful place in early twentieth-century American society. Eleanor, with more confidence and a developed intellect, looked forward with far less enthusiasm to the role that society required of young women of her station.

    Franklin's loving childhood developed in him the confidence to overcome disappointment. Insecurity, in a manner, prepared Eleanor for the ordeals of her life. She said later, it "hardened me in much the same way steel is tempered." In order to protect herself from emotional crisis, she learned self-discipline. She saw what happened to those who lost self-control. Consequently, she developed "an almost exaggerated idea of the necessity of keeping all of one's desires under complete subjugation." Convinced that she was neither loved nor wanted, she learned that she could win affection, or at least respect, by helping others. She believed that "the feeling that I was useful was perhaps the greatest joy I experienced."

    Powerful influences in their childhoods set both Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt firmly and inexorably on their unique paths to adulthood. They were certainly influenced by later events, relationships, and the many forces that came into play in their remarkably productive lives. But it is also clear that one Roosevelt had been permanently scarred by unrelieved parental indulgence, and the other by its absolute absence.

Continues...

Excerpted from Beloved Island by Jonas Klein Copyright © 2002 by Jonas Klein. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2000-09-15:
The popular 1960 movie Sunrise at Campobello familiarized the public with Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt's summer home, the site where he was stricken with polio. In 1964, as the result of Eleanor's suggestion to JFK, the locale was memorialized as the Roosevelt Campobello International Park, with the couple's cottage as its centerpiece. The author of this book, a Maine resident, attempts to portray the influence of this Canadian island on the lives of its two most famous personalities. Campobello was where FDR's father taught him to sail, and it was also Eleanor's first private home with Franklin. But it was only one of the wealthy couple's multiple homes, especially after they reached the White House. Despite the book's premise, the reader is left with the distinct impression that it was the Roosevelts who shaped Campobello rather than the reverse. Nonetheless, the biography and the setting make this a readable and enjoyable story. Recommended for public and academic collections.DWilliam D. Pederson, Louiiana State Univ., Shreveport (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2000-08-25:
Klein successfully evokes the spirit of summer days at Campobello IslandÄin the Bay of Fundy, off the province of New Brunswick, CanadaÄwhich not only served as a summer home for Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, but also provided a peaceful backdrop to a life of marital troubles, illness (Franklin contracted polio one summer at Campobello) and the hectic activity and public scrutiny of political life. As Klein relates, FDR was first introduced to Campobello as an infant by his parents, James and Sara. He grew to love hiking, fishing and sailing, and became an expert sailboat navigator. His wife-to-be, Eleanor, was invited to Campobello, a proper setting for introductions among wealthy young men and women, and the two fell in love. She enjoyed the relaxed life there, and later found refuge in a cottage that she and FDR acquired; indeed, it was the only place she felt truly at home. Klein, a communications manager who lives on an island off Maine, successfully evokes the Northeast island aesthetic, a summer haven for many of the most privileged Americans, particularly before the 1920s and '30s. Much of the political and personal events he provides as background material, such as FDR's affair with Lucy Mercer, have been widely written about, but the everyday anecdotes about Campobello are diverting and interesting. Eleanor and FDR fished together ("Eleanor was usually more successful than Franklin"), sailed on their boats, the Half Moon and Vireo, and took numerous cliff walks. After being stricken with polio in 1921, FDR did not return to his "beloved island" for 12 years, although Eleanor continued to visit with their children and friendsÄfor, as Klein so well illustrates, it was a mainstay in their busy and not always joyful lives. (Their home is now in the middle of Roosevelt Campobello Park, jointly created in 1964 by the U.S. and Canada and frequented by tourists.) Photos. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, August 2000
Library Journal, September 2000
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Reference & Research Book News, August 2001
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Summaries
Publisher Fact Sheet
This is the story of Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt & the ways in which their lives were influenced by their summer home on Campobello Island. It is a personal history that examines the Roosevelts' background & traditions & explores their public trials, tragedies, & triumphs, as well as the frustrations & disappointments of their private lives. Campobello played a vital role in the formation of character for both Franklin & Eleanor, & provided them with physical challenges & emotional solace. It was at Campobello that Franklin was felled by polio, the most defining events in both their private lives & public careers. Their story is peppered with anecdotes, personal letters, & the reminiscences of the aides, friends, & family who played important roles in their lives.
Bowker Data Service Summary
This is the story of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and the influence their summer home on Campobello Island had upon them. It is a personal history that examines the Roosevelts' background and traditions and explores their public trials, tragedies, and triumphs.
Main Description
This is the story of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and the influence their summer home on Campobello Island had upon them. It is a personal history that examines the Roosevelts' background and traditions and explores their public trials, tragedies, and triumphs, as well as the frustrations and disappointments of their private lives. Campobello played a vital role in the formation of character for both Franklin and Eleanor, and provided them with physical challenges and emotional solace. It was at Campobello that Franklin was felled by polio, the most defining event in both their private lives and public careers. This story is peppered with anecdotes, personal letters, and the reminiscences of the aides, friends, and family who played important roles in their lives.
Table of Contents
Introductionp. xi
Photographsp. viii
Prologuep. 1
Childhoodp. 5
Campobellop. 16
Beloved Islandp. 27
Keeping the Name in the Familyp. 42
Six Straight Weeks at Campp. 67
I Can Forgive But Not Forgetp. 87
I Don't Know What's the Matter With Mep. 99
Finding Strengthp. 117
My Old Friends of Campobellop. 135
How I Wish You Could Come For Even a Few Daysp. 151
I Have a Terrific Headachep. 174
The Air Has the Tang of the Seap. 195
Playing the Cards They Were Dealtp. 214
Epiloguep. 225
Chronologyp. 234
Cottage for Sale, 1957p. 241
Notesp. 242
Bibliographyp. 260
Indexp. 267
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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