May 3, 1940: FDR invites thousands of democratic women to the White House
One of the many qualities that made F.D.R. so special was his acceptance of women in politics. The president always made efforts to include women in the political conversation. He supported feminism in a way no president before him ever had, especially during the 1940 meeting of the Democratic National Committee!
Eleanor and FDR: Females in the government
It’s no secret that Eleanor Roosevelt was a powerful First Lady. She was fully dedicated to her role in politics. Up until the F.D.R. administration, women’s political advocacy on a national level often fell flat. During her time as the First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt was an avid feminist. She established her position as more than the President’s wife— and she swayed her husband in the process. F.D.R. always showed respect towards his wife and her political opinions, even when they conflicted with his own. Through working with his wife, he proved that he believed women could make a difference in politics. And on May 3, 1940, he got to prove just how massive his dedication to female involvement in politics truly was.
Supporting women in politics
The women’s division of the Democratic National Committee planned on meeting in D.C. in 1940. F.D.R. kindly offered the White House as a venue. Considering that Eleanor was one of the leaders of the group, he couldn’t think of a better place to host the group. At first, F.D.R. and Eleanor were expecting a mere 100 women to show up to the meeting. However, it was soon clear that F.D.R.’s plan to host it in his Executive Office may not work out. Three, short weeks before the conference, the couple learned that nearly 600 women were planning on attending. F.D.R. wasn’t too worried. After all, Eleanor and F.D.R. lived in the biggest house in the country. They could easily relocate a crowd of 600 to the White House East Room. Unfortunately, 600 was a vast understatement.
Coping with the turn-out
Instead of the anticipated 600, nearly 4,000 women turned out for the event. F.D.R. realized that it would be impossible to cram them all into the East Room. Instead, he suggested they hold the activities of the conference outside of the White House walls. However, while the White House couldn’t hold them all at once, he was thrilled to meet with the members of the committee. At the end of the conference’s festivities, F.D.R. invited all the women who turned up to swing by the White House for a chat. Not a bad invitation, huh? Plenty of committee members took Roosevelt up on his offer. Despite having to cancel hosting the conference, he welcomed them into the White House with plenty of hospitality. He ending up taking reams of women on a tour of the massive mansion.