Essay 1. Compare the activism and views of women held by Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1930s and Hillary Clinton in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Describe similarities and differences and how these two women typified trends of their time.
Hilary Clinton and Eleanor Roosevelt Likeminded Activists
By intention, Hilary Clinton emulated Eleanor Roosevelt in her position as First Lady. Both were fearless activists. Both wrote newspaper columns and spoke out on issues of health and human services and the importance of education in improving the standard of living. Both authored books during their time as First Lady, and Hilary won a Grammy Award (FirstLadies.org).
Eleanor Roosevelt focused on Civil Rights issues, championing equal rights and opportunities. She connected the dots and saw the importance of education on the standard of living. Hilary Clinton followed in her footsteps, believing in the importance of quality education for all (Eleanor Roosevelt and Civil Rights).
Eleanor Roosevelt challenged segregation as the status quo of her time and fought to extend the Federal Emergency Relief Program to be more inclusive of African Americans. She did not turn a blind eye to homelessness, racial discrimination, poverty or violence. Supporting women’s issues, she became an advocate of the Women’s Trade Union League. She endorsed a five-day work week and the 1930 Dressmaker Strike, discouraging harsh sweatshop conditions (FirstLadies.org).
As First Lady, Hilary Clinton started a federal Children’s Health Insurance Program to provide healthcare coverage to those in need. She drew attention to illnesses of Gulf War veterans including those caused by agent orange. She also successfully sought to increase the research funding for prostate cancer and childhood asthma at the NIH. Protecting children, she led an effort to pass the Foster Care Independence Bill to facilitate transition to adulthood for parentless children. She also supported an annual drive to encourage older women to seek a mammography to prevent breast cancer, with the cost covered by with Medicare. Hillary Clinton forwarded the cause of the US Agency for International Development, a program granting micro-loans to small women-owned businesses in both developing nations and impoverished communities (FirstLadies.org).
- FirstLadies.org. First Lady Biography: Hilary Clinton. http://www.firstladies.org/biographies/firstladies.aspx?biography=43
- FirstLadies.org. First Lady Biography: Eleanor Roosevelt. http://www.firstladies.org/biographies/firstladies.aspx?biography=33