July 17, 1940: Eleanor Roosevelt Addresses the Democratic National Convention on Behalf of FDR
On this day in 1940, Eleanor Roosevelt addressed delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago on behalf of her husband, making her the first candidate’s spouse ever to do so. After her husband gained the nomination for an unprecedented third term, he asked Eleanor to ease the delegates’ concerns over his choice of controversial vice presidential candidate, Henry Wallace. In her speech, she called for unified action during a time of war.
Eleanor remained a Democratic Party figure after her husband’s death and was the first former First Lady to address national political conventions (1948, 1956 and 1960).
Photo: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
Day 54: Quebec Conferences
FDR and Winston Churchill held two wartime conferences in Quebec. The first conference took place on August 17-24, 1943. The two discussed topics concerning the future operations in the Mediterranean and Operation Overlord. Conversations on atomic energy were also on the agenda, with FDR and Churchill agreeing that neither would communicate any information about atomic development to third parties, namely the Soviet Union, without each others consent.
The second Quebec Conference was held on September 11-16, 1944. The central topics of this conference were postwar policy towards Germany and postwar economic assistance to Britain.
Two silver models of a Whale and a Phoenix were presented to President Roosevelt by Prime Minister Winston Churchill at the Second Quebec Conference in September 1944. These are small scale models representing installations devised and built as part of the artificial harbor constructed off the beaches of Normandy in June 1944.
A Whale was an 80 foot long pontoon bridge causeway, which connected the Lobnitz pier to the shore.
A Phoenix was a hollow concrete caisson 200 feet long by 60 feet wide by 60 feet high. Laid end to end they formed a breakwater near the beach for landing craft to unload their cargo.
Day 49 - Eleanor in Great Britain
In October 1942, Eleanor traveled to Great Britain on a goodwill trip to help foster Anglo-American relations. While there she toured the country - meeting with American servicemen, British women defense workers, Prime Minister Churchill, members of Parliament and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
Eleanor talked about the trip in her autobiography saying:
The next event of real importance to me was my husband’s decision that I should accept Queen Elizabeth’s invitation to go to Great Britain to see the work the women were doing in the war and to visit our servicemen stationed there. I did not know that one of the reasons my husband was eager to have me go over there was that those men would shortly be leaving for North Africa for the invasion…
The trip to Great Britain seemed to offer me a chance to do something that might be useful…I visited universities and innumerable factories, stayed on estates where the grounds were now being used for agricultural purposes and in country houses whose owners, now living in one small part of them, had turned them into nurseries for evacuated or wounded children. I saw the way the Women’s Voluntary Services had organized to perform innumerable duties, from moving into a town which had just been bombed and needed everything from food to laundry service, to looking after the billeting of workers who had been moved from one factory to another.
Day 26: Eleanor Roosevelt in India
In 1952 Eleanor made a significant trip to Asia – a month of which was spent in India. Having been invited by Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Eleanor chronicled her trip through her “My Day” columns and later in her book India and the Awakening East. Through her writings she worked on educating Americans on what was a little-known country at the time.
Her “My Day” column from March 3, 1952 talks about her excitement at finally visiting India:
It is very exciting to be in India after reading my father’s letters of many years ago, which told of his trip under very different circumstances 89 years ago. Meeting people from here and reading books about it are not quite the same as seeing with one’s own eyes. It is really a joy to feel that I have accomplished something I have talked about and hoped for, but really did not ever expect to see. My impressions are becoming very well crystallized in my mind as I go forward on this trip, and it is certainly most interesting to see the difference that a landscape takes on when it is peopled by so many more inhabitants than one would see at home in the same area of space.
Day 18: Eleanor in Chile & Peru
These two flags were presented to Eleanor Roosevelt on November 2, 1952, in Santiago, Chile, by the daughter of the incoming President, Carlos Ibáñez del Campo. As head of the official United States delegation, Eleanor was in Santiago for the inauguration of General Ibáñez’s second presidency.
On her way home from Chile, Eleanor made a stop in Peru. This sterling silver tray was given to her by Ernesto Romero of Lima, Peru, to commemorate her visit.
Today we begin “Around the World in 80 Days with the Roosevelts.” Follow along as we journey around the world chronicling two lifetimes of travel and the Roosevelts’ common commitment to diplomacy and human rights.
Day 1: Eleanor Roosevelt in the South Pacfic
From August 17-September 24, 1943, Eleanor Roosevelt undertook a 25,000 mile trip to the South Pacific as a representative of the American Red Cross. During her trip she made 17 stops in Australia, New Zealand and a number of small Pacific Islands, including Guadalcanal, Bora Bora, Samoa, Fiji, New Caledonia and Christmas Island.
Eleanor spent most of the trip visiting about 400,000 servicemen at military bases, hospitals, nursing homes and American Red Cross recreation clubs. She chronicled her experiences in her “My Day” columns, the proceeds from which she donated to the Red Cross.
Eleanor Roosevelt and the Todhunter School
In 1927, Eleanor and her friends Marion Dickerman and Nancy Cook purchased a small, private school for girls in New York City called Todhunter School. The school provided primary and secondary education, and it emphasized art, music, and drama, as well as a college preparatory curriculum. Todhunter combined traditional testing and grading standards with progressive teaching methods.
Eleanor was Associate Principal of Todhunter School and taught courses in American history, literature, and current events. She patterned her teaching techniques on Marie Souvestre, the Allenswood headmistress who had been so influential in her own life. Eleanor greatly enjoyed her work at Todhunter, telling a reporter in 1932 that “I like it better than anything I do.”
"…Pete Seeger, the folk singer. He lives not far from me near Beacon,
N.Y., and is loved by many people, young and old, who have enjoyed his music.”
-Eleanor Roosevelt, January 15, 1962
Eleanor Roosevelt and Pete Seeger shared a vision for a more equal world. In 1944, Pete was photographed singing for a racially integrated crowd at the opening of the Washington Labor Canteen, with Eleanor Roosevelt seated front and center. (Library of Congress photo)
-from the FDR Library
May 3, 1919 - January 27, 2014