Hillary Clinton and Eleanor Roosevelt
Compare and Contrast Research Paper
A research paper on Hillary Clinton and Eleanor Roosevelt? Yes! Certainly Research papers on Hillary Rodham Clinton note that she has become a very powerful influence, not only in Washington, but around the country as well. A great topic for a political science project is to compare and contrast Hillary Clinton and Eleanor Roosevelt.
- On more than one occasion, Hillary Clinton came to the rescue of her husband, President Clinton, in a variety of interesting ways including hiring private detectives to hound the opposing forces.
- She claims to model herself after Eleanor Roosevelt which may strike one as odd and certainly there are opponents to this comparison.
- However, when one takes into account the social differences of the time period in which Eleanor Roosevelt had to operate compared to that of today, there may be more similarities than at first meet the eye.
To begin the political science research paper, state that Hillary Clinton’s claim for a connection to Mrs. Roosevelt, a connection that is spiritual, of course, and not familial, draws much criticism from those that seem to already have a distaste for Hillary Clinton. Her claim that she uses Mrs. Roosevelt is a role model offends many, especially her famous attempt at “channeling” with Mrs. Roosevelt.
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was first lady from 1933 to Franklin Roosevelt’s death in 1945. She gained national renown as a champion of human rights and a diplomat for the United States, continuing to work for others even into the presidency of John Kennedy. Like her husband, she was thrust into a national role. More so than other first ladies, Eleanor Roosevelt assumed a prominent place in national politics. This was due to at least two factors: first of all, Franklin’s disability kept him confined to a wheelchair. Eleanor had to act as his eyes and ears, taking his case to the public in ways he could not. Secondly, Eleanor felt a real compassion for humanity, and earnestly sought to use her influence to better others.
As a good leader should, Eleanor led from higher moral ground. She established a reputation as a humanitarian early on by teaching in a settlement house in Manhattan in 1902. During World War I, she visited wounded soldiers and worked for the Red Cross. Before the Great Depression, she continued service as a teacher at Todhunter, a school she and two friends had purchased.
But it was her time as the first lady that would put her in the national spotlight, and not everyone approved. Franklin’s New Deal was a highly controversial set of programs designed to lift the U.S. economy out of its doldrums (or at least to keep it performing at a minimum level until World War II could complete the resurrection). The scope and breadth of Eleanor’s various crusades made her a hero for some, and the object of scorn for others.
As first lady, Eleanor took prominent leadership roles in a variety of political contexts. Since Franklin was in a wheelchair, Eleanor conducted many tours of the nation, spreading the message of the New Deal and keeping her finger on the pulse of the public. She created press conferences for women reporters, forcing news services to expand their pool of female employees so they would have someone present at the White House when important news broke. She created a daily syndicated column called “My Day.” Her ability to reach so many people through her travels and writing earned her the title of “most valuable member of the kitchen cabinet". Just as the Great Depression and World War II gave Franklin license to expand the power of the presidency, the real job of being first lady forced Eleanor into new and often exciting roles.
Eleanor’s leadership extended into the race issues of the day. Relations between blacks and whites were particularly strained during the New Deal. One incident that showed Eleanor’s capacity to lead involved the singer Marian Anderson. Another opportunity to showcase her skills involved the struggle to pass federal anti-lynching legislation.
In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused to allow Marian Anderson, an African-American singer, to perform in Constitution Hall. Scharf notes that Eleanor expected some resistance to her liberal views on social matters, and would have been willing to work with the DAR if there were any indication their minds were open to reconsidering racial matters. However, racist policies were so entwined in the organization that Eleanor felt she had to resign.
The Marian Anderson incident gave Eleanor the chance to lead by example: she would not belong to an organization that espoused racism, and her action was an encouragement to others to do something when their moral codes were offended. In her letter of resignation, Eleanor scolded the DAR, writing “You have set an example which seems to me unfortunate.... You had an opportunity to lead in an enlightened way and it seems to me that your organization has failed.”
She also took a leadership role in the fight for federal anti-lynching laws. The number of lynchings of African-Americans leapt during the Great Depression. Many Americans felt incidents of the crime would drop if it were a federal crime. However, Franklin could not afford to jeopardize support for his New Deal legislation by supporting the legislation. He already felt his support base had been weakened by the attack on his first New Deal by the Supreme Court.
So Eleanor took up the campaign to create federal anti-lynching legislation. She worked with the executive secretary of the NAACP, Walter Francis White, on this matter. Ultimately, she would concede Franklin “feels that lynching is a question of education in the states” rather than a federal legislative matter. Still, she offered White advice on continuing the fight, by talking to “prominent members of the Senate.” As an advocate for the legislation, she spoke perhaps more loudly than any legislation could.
There is much to be learned about the art of leadership from Eleanor Roosevelt. She transformed the position of first lady from one of ornamentation to one of social activism. She grew from a somewhat socially awkward matron into a publicist for the president and an advocate of liberalism. As a leader, she created her own opportunity to influence American society.
She led others through her words, actions, and deeds – all characteristics of effective leaders. Besides public speaking, she personally answered countless letters sent to her and her husband. By doing so, she showed those she served that she was truly listening to their concerns, and that their concerns were important to her. She knew how to win the support of those she led.
She showed that leaders must sometimes advocate unpopular positions. Her anti-lynching crusade, as with many of her other efforts, met with resistance from many quarters. But she was unafraid to be challenged, even on sensitive political matters. This illustrates one of the most important responsibilities of leadership.
She also was a leader in her family. She managed to deal with Franklin’s extramarital activities and served as eyes, ears, voice, and legs to the polio-stricken president. Her compassion and caring for others ranged well into the public and private parts of her life.
Eleanor Roosevelt stands in history as an excellent example of fine leadership. Over several decades, she served America with courage, vigor, and conviction. In doing so, she demonstrated many characteristics of outstanding leadership.