FDR Hosts Democratic Women at the White House in 1940

 As suggested by a former First Lady to “Remember the Ladies” – on this day May 3, 1940 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt invited a group of Democratic women to meet with him at the White House. These woman were to be in Washington, DC to attend a meeting of the “women’s division” of the Democratic National Committtee. Today there is no separation of the genders within the DNC!* It was thought that a 100 or so of these Democratic advocates would accept his invitation but in the end 4,000  accepted. 

From History.com:

On May 3, 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt welcomes approximately 4,000 women attending a women’s division meeting of the Democratic National Committee to Washington D.C. The President and his wife Eleanor’s plans to host the event at the White House, however, had to be modified at the last minute, as they had originally expected only 100 guests.

The leadership of this women’s political advocacy group, which included Eleanor, took advantage of FDR’s generous offer to host the meeting at the White House.

FDR’s openness to the idea, originally Eleanor’s, reflected his support for women’s political advocacy. In fact, FDR frequently consulted Eleanor on policy matters. FDR initially had agreed to meet the Democratic women’s division in the Executive Office in order to shake hands and have “a little informal chat.”  In a complete surprise, thousands of women showed up in Washington, D.C. for the DNC conference a few days before the scheduled meeting of the women’s division at the White House. Deciding that the gathering would be too large to host at the White House, FDR instead invited the women to meet with him after attending conference activities elsewhere.

Documents recounting that day do not reveal exactly how many women showed up at the White House on May 3, nor where on the grounds FDR addressed them. They do reveal, however, that after welcoming the women, he invited them for an informal tour of the mansion with a warm “Come on in!”



Today in the DNC:    Donna Brazile, interim Chair of the Democratic National Committee (“DNC”), has called a meeting for May 4, 2011 at 3pm EST in Washington, D.C., to vote on who will serve as the next Chair of the DNC. Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz endorsed by President Obama as the go-to person to lead the DNC in the 2012  elections is expected to get the official nod as DNC Chair.

Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz

2 Responses to FDR Hosts Democratic Women at the White House in 1940

  1. joe from Lowell says:

    I was impressed by DW-S years ago, when she held a junior position in Nancy Pelosi’s leadership.

    She’s brilliant, and tough, and well-spoken, and did I mention tough?

    I predict that she will be the first woman, and the first Jewish, president.

  2. Marie says:

    Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was elected Chair of the DNC just after 4pm today.
    From the DNC website:
    “Rep. Wasserman Schultz is a leader and role model, a mother and cancer survivor, and a tireless advocate for values of opportunity, fairness, and equality. Her term as DNC chair begins immediately.”