In 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed a woman named Frances Perkins as Secretary of the Department of Labor. This was the first time a woman held a cabinet position in the United States. She held this position for twelve years, the longest tenure of any Secretary of Labor. That means Frances was not only the first time a woman to enter the presidential line of succession, but that she was in line for the job for over a decade. As astonishing as this is, Frances was probably so used to breaking convention by that point that it hardly shortened her stride. After all, she went to court to defend her right to keep her own name after she got married (in a time when women were really only known by their association with men) and she was sole wage earner in her family. As Secretary of Labor through the New Deal, Frances put a lasting mark on American life and culture. We can thank her for things like social security, unemployment insurance, federal child labor laws, and the federal minimum wage. Find out more about this amazing Nerdy Chick HERE.
Frances Perkins Quotes:
- “Being a woman has only bothered me in climbing trees.”
- “The door might not be opened to a woman again for a long, long time, and I had a kind of duty to other women to walk in and sit down on the chair that was offered, and so establish the right of others long hence and far distant in geography to sit in the high seats.”
- “I promise to use what brains I have to meet problems with intelligence and courage. I promise that I will be candid about what I know. I promise to all of you who have the right to know, the whole truth so far as I can speak it. If I have been wrong, you may tell me so, for I really have no pride in judgment.”
- “Most of man’s problems upon this planet, in the long history of the race, have been met and solved either partially or as a whole by experiment based on common sense and carried out with courage.”