Eleanor Roosevelt’s “No Ordinary Time” Speech

In 1940, the United States was still struggling through the Great Depression even with the implementation of two New Deal programs that were intended to jump-start and reinvigorate a stagnant economy.  1940 was also an election year in the United States.  The Depression and the growing concern over conflicts overseas were dividing a nation and its leaders as to what was best.

Chicago hosted its sixth Democratic National Convention in July of 1940.  The event was marked loud and rowdy meetings over whether President Franklin D. Roosevelt should be nominated again for a third term.  Consideration of a third term was unmatched in U.S. history.  Adding even more strain was the fact that President Roosevelt insisted Henry A. Wallace, a Midwesterner and member of President Roosevelt’s Cabinet, received the nomination for Vice President.  Wallace was a controversial choice. The economy and events happening abroad would cause division among many members of the Party.

The chaos was so great, Francis Perkins, another member of Roosevelt’s cabinet who was at the Convention, and President Roosevelt, who was in Washington D.C., would ask First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to address the Convention Hall. On July 18, 1940,  referring to only a single page of notes, the First Lady called for unification of the Party and the US in 1940. The line “This is no ordinary time” and those that followed would bring cooperation and calm at the Convention in Chicago. Eleanor Roosevelt made history in Chicago by becoming the first spouse of a President or nominee to address a Convention. President Roosevelt would go on to win his third term.



“1940 Democratic National Convention | In Roosevelt History.” In Roosevelt History | Sharing the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum Collections and Programs. http://fdrlibrary.wordpress.com/tag/1940-democratic-national-convention/ (accessed July 19, 2013).

“Democratic National Political Conventions 1832-2008.” Democratic Conventions. http://www.loc.gov/rr/main/democratic_conventions.pdf (accessed July 18, 2013).

“Conventional Facts | History & Archaeology | Smithsonian Magazine.” History, Travel, Arts, Science, People, Places | Smithsonian Magazine. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/conventional-facts.html (accessed July 19, 2013).


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