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  • "If We Can Nominate Her, She is a Cinch to Elect":Helen Gahagan Douglas and the Gendered Politics of Accommodation, 1940-1944

Democrat Helen Gahagan Douglas of California is widely remembered for her senatorial loss to Richard Nixon and his red-baiting tactics in 1950. She is also remembered for her extraordinary rise to Congress in 1944. While not disputing her talents, this article explores the gendered politics of accommodation that shaped her initial success. Douglas established political credibility by accommodating male partisans at some cost to local women leaders and she benefitted from an incumbent effect not unlike congressional widows. The Democratic Party, in turn, accommodated Douglas in a winnable district because of her symbolic value as a woman who could stand up against Republican women in Congress. By examining Douglas's campaign at both local and national levels and analyzing the accommodation politics that this campaign reveals, this article adds to the integrationist and separatist interpretations of women's partisan history and sheds new light on women's electoral success in a male-dominated political system.

Widely remembered as the "pink lady" soundly defeated by Richard Nixon in a 1950 bid for the U.S. Senate, Helen Gahagan Douglas of California is also remembered for her meteoric rise to Congress in 1944. Although she had never run for elective office before, she easily won her first congressional campaign and became one of few congresswomen elected without the benefits of widowhood. Dynamic, talented, and beautiful, she appeared to win on her own merits. Douglas's legacy is more complicated, however, as her candidacy in 1944 did not represent an overturning of the existing order but an accommodation on the part of both Douglas, who benefited from an incumbent's succession, and the male-dominated Democratic Party which benefited from the symbolic value of Douglas's gender.1 This accommodation came at some cost to local female leaders when Douglas adapted to the interests of male party leadership during her tenure as the state party's national committeewoman. By examining Douglas's campaign at both the local and national levels and analyzing the accommodation politics that this campaign reveals, this article adds to the integrationist and separatist interpretations of women's struggles for partisan influence and sheds new light on women candidates in a male-dominated political [End Page 140] system. A politics of accommodation was a necessary if not inevitable approach to women's electoral success in a political arena dominated by men.

Running for the first time in 1944, Douglas offered the desirable qualities of professional experience, intelligence, and glamour. She was a successful Broadway actress in the 1920s, an advocate for Dust Bowl migrants in the late 1930s, and an active member of the Democratic Party in the early 1940s. Married to film star Melvyn Douglas, she had excellent name recognition, fundraising contacts in Hollywood, and an appealing charisma. Douglas socialized with elite New Dealers including Franklin Roosevelt and served as an alternate delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1940. She also served as a national committeewoman, and headed the state's Democratic Women's Division from 1940 to 1944. Well qualified, Douglas had the credentials of a promising candidate.

Douglas's biographer, Ingrid Scobie, masterfully details the extent to which Douglas earned the recognition she received; like successful male politicians, Douglas was smart and savvy, fostering influential connections and demonstrating excellent leadership skills.2 Douglas, furthermore, was unapologetically female. Scholars credit her for "running as a woman" at a time when female politicians were expected to "do as little as possible to call attention to themselves or to their gender."3 Campaigning in a historically safe Democratic district in Los Angeles, Douglas defeated her rivals in a contested primary and won the general election by a narrow but safe margin.4 Yet her victory in 1944 was not simply meritorious. Douglas won because she effectively accommodated the gendered dynamics of party politics.

Historians of women's participation in formal political institutions have focused on women's conflicting strategies for partisan influence. Primarily a history of white, middle-class women seeking influence in a predominantly white male institution, these women privileged by race sought ways to transcend discrimination by gender. On the one hand, they were separatists, forming women-only organizations such as Women's Democratic Leagues with agendas independent of their national party. On the other hand, they were integrationists, forming official party auxiliaries such as the Democratic Women's Divisions that stressed party loyalty and assimilation into the party structure dominated by men. Although these groups often overlapped with shared leadership, women struggled for partisan influence, shifting from one approach to another or sometimes using both strategies at the same time.5

Women candidates expose the limits of these efforts for partisan influence since they are not easily categorized as either separatists or integrationists. The history of women candidates explores many aspects of women's electoral success, including the politics of widowhood, the interests of [End Page 141] competing parties, the limits of progressive and suffrage politics, and the opportunities created by one-party states. In each case, women candidates responded to party politics dominated by men.6 Douglas was no different. As a candidate, she challenged the separatist legacy that kept women out of elective office, yet, as a woman, she was not historically privileged with integrative access to these positions. An accommodation with men in her party was a necessary alternative, even if this meant compromising the leadership of local women and making her gender symbolically useful on the national level. Examining these local and national issues reveals the accommodation politics that explain Douglas's success as a candidate. This article introduces accommodation as a useful concept for women's political history, especially in the study of women candidates who could neither fully integrate nor succeed as separatist politicians.

Aligning the Women's Division with the Male Establishment

Douglas proved her willingness to accommodate male party leaders when she became national committeewoman, California's female representative on the Democratic Party's national board, in 1940. Douglas was a party newcomer, so winning this coveted position over long-time party leader Nettie Jones of Glendale put her in the local spotlight as someone who was loyal to the party of California men over its locally organized women. As national committeewoman, furthermore, Douglas aligned the leadership of the Women's Division with the party's male establishment, compromising the status of prominent female leaders such as Jones.

California's Democratic women viewed the national committeewoman position as the culmination of a political career dedicated to the party and its women. Linked to organized women through the Women's Division and to male party leadership through the State Executive Committee, the national committeewoman was selected every four years by the state's delegation to the party's national convention.7 Mary Foy, a founder of the Women's Democratic League—established in 1912 and considered the "oldest party group" in the state—proudly remembered her political career that began when she "was drafted for the County committee." Then, "for the rest of my life some post on one of the various committees saw me doing my part, from year to year, until I had filled almost every type of official party work from the precinct up, through City, County and State, and finally to National Committeewoman for California." Her career involved "mountains of work for the Democratic party" and included a bid for Congress in 1934. In 1940, Foy was Honorary Vice Chairman of the State Central Committee.8 When the state party readied to elect a new national committeewoman, Foy eagerly spoke up for Nettie Jones. [End Page 142]

Jones, like Foy, had a long partisan career. Widely known as Mrs. Mattison B. Jones, she worked in Woodrow Wilson's presidential campaigns and in 1922 she managed her husband's primary campaign for governor.9 By 1935, Jones presided over the California Federation of Democratic Women's Study Clubs, an affiliation of local clubs and part of the Woman's National Democratic Club set up by the national party's Women's Division.10 In 1940, she was an executive member of the State Democratic Central Committee. The task of working with numerous Democratic women's groups both within and outside official party lines was formidable. Yet Jones had Mary Foy's confidence. "It is not so easy to distinguish between a quasi-official organization like the Federation of Study Clubs and an official organization like the Woman's Division of the State Central Committee or a volunteer organization like the Woman's Democratic League," Foy said. Yet "Mrs. Jones is to be commended in that she succeeds in keeping these and other fields of activity each within its own realm." Jones was an effective leader who "can see the goal, the objective toward which all work done must tend" and who can get "the groups moving toward that goal."11

Jones earned the respect of national leaders when she took an integrationist approach with the party: she led California's fifty-fifty campaign for equal representation of men and women in state party central committees. James Farley, chair of the Democratic National Committee, issued a call for these gender parity rules and urged women to get involved through the National Women's Division. In August 1935, Jones's organization held a conference with Farley as the guest of honor. The Democratic Digest, reporting that "California Hears Secretary Farley," pictured a beaming Jones with the national party chairman. Over a thousand women attended the event, including former national committeewomen, current leaders of the state Women's Division, and Culbert Olson, chair of the State Central Committee. 12 The following year Molly Dewson of the National Women's Division met with Jones and the northern and southern California representatives of the state Women's Division.13 When "fifty-fifty" became law in 1937, women pledged "'A Democratic State in '38,'" an ambition fulfilled when Governor Olson took office. Accomplished as a leader of Democratic women, Jones had the endorsement of established local leaders and the attention of national party organizers.14

Jones, however, took a separatist approach when she expanded her work with Democratic women: in 1938 she managed Gertrude Clark's campaign for lieutenant governor. Clark, of Amador County in northern California, was widely known as the past president of the statewide Parent and Teacher's Association (PTA). The two women attracted publicity with their regional diversity and networks of women through both the PTA and Democratic clubs. Jones introduced Clark to women voters at Southern [End Page 143] California campaign stops and appeared in local news coverage of the events. Reporters identified her as both campaign manager and president of the state Federation, emphasizing her leadership of women's separatist organizations. The Monrovia Journal, for example, complimented Jones for "her piquant remarks and common talks" which "made many warm supporters for Mrs. Clark" adding that she had "spoken before a large number of Democratic Study clubs, women's clubs, civic and social organizations in behalf of Mrs. Clark." The San Bernardino Sun reported Jones's assertion of unity among the state's Democratic women: "Mrs. Jones had stated in her introduction [of Clark] that the Democratic women were all friends and to everybody, everywhere," except with Clark's campaign opponents.15 In an election with fourteen primary candidates identified as Democrats, Clark faced long odds.16 Yet she and Jones crossed an important line: they competed directly with men within the party. Rather than back the party's leading male candidate, Ellis Patterson, Jones and Clark took their own path, increased their visibility as leaders, and threatened to bring organized women voters with them.

While it may be a stretch to say that party leaders punished both Jones and Clark for their separatist challenge to the party establishment, neither one was rewarded with the party's top post for women: California national committeewoman. Jones, defeated by Douglas, was outmaneuvered by men in the party who backed Douglas, a party newcomer. Douglas claimed that Jones was "someone I didn't know," and that she "hadn't discovered what a national committeewoman did" when she was first approached to run by male leaders.17 Clark was similarly defeated by a newcomer, Clara Shirpser, when she went up for national committeewoman in 1952. Shirpser echoed Douglas's naïve tone when she said "I don't even know what a Democratic National Committeewoman does!" Winning with the male leadership's support, she later admitted that Clark "thought she had secured something she wanted badly; then at the last minute I got a lot of support."18 Both Douglas and Shirpser recalled the bitter aftermath of their victories. Jones "never forgave me for defeating her," Douglas said, adding that she later "learned that she had been working for years for that position."19

A political novice, Douglas had no idea about the decades of work performed by rank-and-file women seeking meaningful political status through both separatist and integrationist approaches. Compared to Jones, Douglas had little party experience and virtually no connection to California women's partisan associations. Male party leaders recruited Douglas for national committeewoman on the train ride to the 1940 Democratic National Convention in Chicago where the selection of national committeewoman would take place. By the time the train arrived in Chicago, Douglas recalled, "it appeared that people thought I had consented to do it."20 [End Page 144]

The effort to make Douglas national committeewoman, however, may have started earlier when party leaders realized the extent of Nettie Jones's ambitions. The incumbent national committeewoman, Lucretia Grady, wife of Assistant Secretary of State Henry Grady, was not running again. Because she was from San Francisco, the position would ordinarily rotate to a woman from Southern California, such as Jones. Party leaders, however, gave Douglas many opportunities to challenge and overshadow Jones's leadership in the months leading up to the July convention. In January, when women invited Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins to speak at their annual convention organized by Jones, Douglas drew on her Washington D.C. contacts and independently organized an elegant reception and dinner for the secretary, a dinner to which Jones was not invited. In February, Douglas published an article on migrant labor in the Democratic Digest. In April, when Eleanor Roosevelt visited California, Douglas served as her principal host, traveling with her on a tour of the state's migrant camps and entertaining her at her home with other invited guests of distinction. Nettie Jones, the actual head of the state's Southern California Women's Division and the statewide Federation of Democratic Study Clubs, was not included in the program. When Roosevelt wrote about her visit in her "My Day" newspaper column, Douglas saw her credibility rising further. Jones, meanwhile, saw her political status eroding.21

National politics played into this nettled affair. President Roosevelt, up for a third term, faced opposition from his vice president, John Nance Garner. Serving from 1933 to 1941, Garner nevertheless broke with Roosevelt in 1937 and headed a group of conservative Democrats concerned about the New Deal and the growing budget deficit. Fueled by the recession of 1937, this "Democratic junta" combined with Republicans to obstruct reform legislation and undermine control of the party by New Dealers at the 1940 convention.22 Garner wanted the nomination for president, but so did National Party Chairman James Farley, Secretary of State Cordell Hull and Maryland Senator Millard Tydings. Democrats who stood behind the president tried to stem this tide of opposition. California's Governor Olson remained loyal to Roosevelt, as did Douglas's husband, Melvyn. When Melvyn was named a party delegate, Douglas was named an alternate. As Douglas recalled, she believed her nomination served "to ensure that Melvyn got to the convention." Ellis Patterson, California's new lieutenant governor and the man whose candidacy Jones and Clark had challenged, was nominated to head the slate of delegates.23

In California, organized women, like men, faced partisan disagreements between conservative and liberal Democrats. The 1934 gubernatorial defeat of Wilsonian Democrat George Creel by former Socialist Upton Sinclair in the Democratic primary caused a wave of hysteria over the radical influence [End Page 145] in the party. Many Democrats voted for Republican Frank Merriam in the general election rather than support Sinclair, putting a Republican in the governor's office at the height of the New Deal. On the national level, however, Democrats won large majorities in both the House and Senate. This new Congress threatened to radicalize the New Deal and push Roosevelt further to the Left. In 1938, when Culbert Olson ousted Governor Merriam, he launched a "little New Deal" to address California problems.24 By 1940, California Democrats had split between Olson liberals and party conservatives who feared a radical swing and the costs of a New Deal in California.

Douglas, coming late into politics as a staunch New Dealer, kept clear of the controversies. Nettie Jones, however, had previously aligned herself with James Farley in the fifty-fifty campaign and had taken a position against Ellis Patterson in the primary of 1938. She had stood with those challenging the president. Roosevelt supporters feared losing control to these renegade Democrats. If they could not line up the Women's Division on their side, they could at least throw it into disarray. Undermining Jones's leadership amongst women was one tactic. Another was the recruitment of Douglas as national committeewoman.

When Douglas returned to California from the Chicago convention, she was the new national committeewoman.25 She was also the party's state vice president for women in both northern and southern California, two positions that ordinarily went to women selected by the Women's Division. In 1940, as Douglas recalled, this selection process was "overlooked" amidst the confusion of the convention. "A hastily prepared resolution" authorized the state chairman, William Malone, to select the women. He chose Douglas. When she protested that she already had one job as national committeewoman and could not possibly take on two more, he apparently told her "That's no problem. I don't want you to do anything anyway." Party men wanted women unorganized. Douglas, fuming that "Malone had taken me for a lightweight," was determined to be effective.26

As the new leader of the Women's Division in the state's Democratic Party, however, Douglas faced a troubled constituency. Distressed by the strong-arm manipulations of male partisans, the president of the Women's Democratic League, Arabella Rodman, wrote a sharp letter of complaint to the Democratic governor. "I want you to know how angry and disappointed hundreds of California Women are at the election (by your Machine) of Mrs. Helen Gahagan as our National Committee Woman," she wrote. Chastising the Governor for his "awful blunder," she claimed that organized women could not work with someone so discredited by the process as was Douglas. "Many of the women threaten to withdraw from the Party and more will never again support you or the delegates who so lightly considered our choice" of Nettie Jones. She urged the Governor to ask Douglas to resign [End Page 146] "as you will find that women will not work with or for her." Douglas, she said, "knows little of [the Women's Division] or their problems." In his reply, Governor Olson acknowledged that Jones's "long and faithful work for the party deserves recognition" and that "she received a very substantial vote." But, he argued defensively, "that she did not receive a majority was not due to any machination of mine." His letter indicates statewide concern by organized women about Jones's defeat, as he told Rodman that he had spoken to a Democratic Women's Study Club in Northern California "a few days ago" about this same matter.27 Glendale Democrats also struggled with Jones's defeat. To Douglas, the local club president wrote that "Mrs. Jones, being a Glendale woman, we naturally supported her." But she concluded, "as I try to teach my children to be good sports, I sincerely wish you all the success in the world."28 Douglas faced the daunting task of leading an organization of women betrayed by her selection.

In rebuilding the Women's Division, Douglas appointed loyal Roosevelt Democrats. To this end, however, she regularly consulted elected male officials for their recommendations. Congressman Harry Sheppard of Yucaipa, for example, redirected Douglas "to have a little heart-to-heart talk with [two] gentlemen" who had the party's best interests in Orange County. "I will be perfectly willing to go along with the recommendation that may come out of that conference between you three," he wrote. Oakland Congressman John Tolan's office rebuffed Douglas's consideration of a Mrs. Mallory for a Northern California position, recommending someone else and sending a clear message. "Certainly, the Congressman agrees that Mrs. Mallory would be fine," the letter said, but "if you would like to select another woman, we would like to have Mrs. Hipkins considered." She "gets along with all the women that can be marshaled into standard organization." And, "when you ask her to get something done, she will know how to do it your way, and not fly off with a lot of non-conforming ideas of her own. Her forte is the mechanical routine of organization, and not the more pleasant tasks of standing in one spot assembling an intellectual appeal," the letter said. In other words, she would be unquestionably loyal to the party without personal ambitions or separatist ideologies.29 Like much of the male leadership, these congressmen appreciated Douglas's inquiry and recommended she turn to their trusted men for advice on who they considered suitable for appointment to the Women's Division.

When Douglas consulted women, she asked them to assess the loyalty of other women. A letter from Margaret Hall in Modesto commented on a list of women for the State Central Committee with statements such as "do not know her" or "unreliable—involved in Women's Division fight." Hall considered another woman "neurotic and not to be trusted" and described yet another as "absolutely unreliable in every way." Hall concluded her [End Page 147] letter with a reminder to Douglas that Merced County "has been more or less under the thumb" of a male party leader "for 30 years" and that he "has boasted that he would not allow the women to organize in Merced County."30 Was Douglas up to organizing women for their own political influence or to finding women who would be loyal to male party leaders? The latter was arguably the case and that was why the local male establishment trusted her so much. As national committeewoman, Douglas proved her allegiance not to local women but to male party leaders.31

Winning Local Support: The Role of Incumbency

Having established her credibility as a partisan loyal to the male establishment, Douglas benefitted from one of the most important sources of support for her congressional bid: the retiring incumbent. Thomas Ford, an aging six-term congressman still popular in his district, felt exhausted and "sick at heart" over the conservative turn taken in Washington. Concerned about post-war reconstruction and the political climate in Congress, he wanted someone to "carry on in the tradition of Stand by the President," a "real Democrat" who would stand up to both Republicans and conservative Democrats.32 Once he chose Douglas to replace him, he extended his political credibility and resources to make her bid for office successful. Like a congressional widow, Douglas inherited political legitimacy from the outgoing incumbent.

Political scientists claim a "widow effect" was "the single most important method of entrance into Congress for women."33 Historically, 44 percent of the women who served in the House of Representatives from 1917 to 1945, when Douglas began her first term, were widows of deceased congressmen.34 The advantage usually held by incumbents had a "spillover effect for widows." 35 As surrogates for their husbands, widows benefited from name recognition, credibility, and party support. Contrary to popular notions that widows simply inherited or were "tapped" to fill their husbands' seats, many instead faced vigorous elections that tested their mettle as politicians in their own right.36 Scholars now underscore both the issue of incumbent politics and a widow's skill in navigating these political waters.

How the term "widow" is defined complicates a study of the widow effect. Lisa Solowiej and Thomas Brunell use a strict definition of widowhood. Their definition is so narrow, however, that it excludes women like Leonor Sullivan, a congresswoman from Missouri, because she failed to receive her party's nomination in the special election following her husband's death. Instead, she won almost two years later in a regularly scheduled campaign. Unlike Solowiej and Brunell, Diane Kincaid includes Sullivan in her analysis of congressional widows, adopting a looser definition. Other scholars [End Page 148] apply an even broader understanding of the widow effect that includes a congressman's other female relatives or circumstances. Irwin Gertzog studies "widows" that not only include Sullivan, but Winnifred Huck of Illinois who succeeded her father. Yet he excludes women like Charlotte Reid of Illinois and Marilyn Lloyd of Tennessee who succeeded their husbands who were nominated but died before the general election.37

However these studies define congressional widowhood, clearly they are concerned about incumbent politics and the extension of a man's credibility to a female candidate; women won with the approval of incumbent men, benefiting from an "incumbent effect." Understood in this way, a new question emerges regarding how women gained this approval. Widows are the most obvious with their immediate and personal connections to the incumbent. But congressional daughters, stepdaughters, nieces, and other exceptions to a strict definition of widowhood also explain how many elected congresswomen transcended the gendered barrier from political outsider to insider. What about regularly elected women who won without obvious connections to politically prominent male relatives? In the case of Helen Gahagan Douglas, her recruitment and electoral victory was as intricately tied to the politics of incumbency as was that of the wife of a deceased congressman. Like congressional widows, she received an incumbent's political credibility, resources, and campaign management that made her first bid for the House of Representatives successful.

The incumbent who Douglas replaced, Thomas Ford, worked fervently behind the scenes to secure a like-minded Democrat to succeed him. He receives only marginal credit, however, for his instrumental part in Douglas's primary campaign. Scobie provides evidence of Ford's support, noting that his campaign staff was "passed on" to Douglas, but she keeps intact her view of Douglas as an extraordinary woman who was "the first to run on her own merits."38 Douglas herself recalls how Ford persuaded her to run for the good of the party. But like Scobie, she does not elaborate on her relationship with him.39 The author Greg Mitchell reinforces this view of Douglas's exceptionalism when he draws on Scobie and Douglas for his study of the Senate campaign in 1950.40 Yet Ford clearly played a significant role as the retiring incumbent still loved by the Democrats in his district. His evident commitment to Douglas gave her the advantage of an incumbent effect similar to that received by congressional widows.

Ford approached Douglas about running almost a year prior to his retirement. As he recalled in a letter to Sam Lindauer of the University Club in Los Angeles, "Last summer [1943] when we were home Mrs. Ford and I, after considering all possible candidates for Congress in the 14th district, decided that the one who would carry the most weight in the House was Helen Gahagan Douglas. We talked to her about it and finally secured a [End Page 149] tentative agreement from her to be a candidate."41 To Douglas he wrote that "this is a call to duty. You have unusual gifts and at this time you cannot conscientiously refuse the urgent request to use them where they will most benefit the people of the 14th District and of the entire nation." To remove any doubt, he assured her that "the Democrats of my district will give you the same hearty support they have accorded me."42

Ford worked to secure this support. To Sam Lindauer, whom Ford described as one of the "great stalwarts" in local politics, he stressed Douglas's elite connections: "as you know," he wrote, Helen "is a close friend of the President's and of Mrs. Roosevelt. When she comes to Washington she is their guest at the White House. She is well known here and has great influence with party leaders and with others of importance."43 Ford subsequently asked Lindauer to make public statements in support of Douglas, "I will appreciate it if you will go out and advocate drafting Helen. She would represent the district as well, or better, than any man so far mentioned." He asked Lindauer to "make a brief announcement at the Luncheon Club— that will get people talking." "I know you will be glad to help out in this," he wrote. "If we can nominate her," he asserted, "she is a cinch to elect."44

Douglas's impressive connection to the president and first lady came from her husband's role in the party's fortunes and her own work on migrant conditions. Melvyn helped Culbert Olson win the gubernatorial post in 1938, the first Democratic governor in forty-five years. Helen's migrant work, meanwhile, drew wide support when John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath was published in 1939. With pressing social problems, a new governor in the state, and a forthcoming presidential election, New Dealers in Washington D.C. were eager to work with the Hollywood couple. Douglas's friend Aubrey Williams, head of the New Deal's National Youth Authority, connected the Douglases to the Roosevelts, urging the president to tap Melvyn's talent, financial resources, and Hollywood connections. Once invited to the White House for dinner in November 1939, their friendship was sealed.45

Ford drew on these powerful connections to build momentum for Douglas and he promised in his letter to Lindauer that "the old Ford-Baumgartner jeep will start rolling." "When it does," he wrote, "those little eggs: Bennett, Kilpatrick, Hawkins, et al., will be put in their places."46 Ford was referring to Douglas's likely opponents in the primary campaign such as Vernon Bennett, a city councilman and chair of the Democratic County Central Committee, Vernon Kilpatrick, an assemblyman from the fifty-fifth Assembly district, and Augustus Hawkins, an assemblyman from the sixty-second Assembly district. Ford called politicians together to announce that he was "giving the nod to Miss Gahagan." His public endorsement was issued in a letter read by John Baumgartner who, as a local politician, had been expected to run for the congressional seat himself.47 His decision against [End Page 150] running potentially opened the seat for other men. But under Ford's direction, Baumgartner discouraged these men, urging them instead to throw their support behind Douglas. City Councilman Bennett nevertheless declared that he was "going to run regardless" of Ford's discouragement. "I'm not dropping out of the race," he told reporters who wrote that "there's a pretty good primary fight brewing in the 14th Congressional District among the Democrats."48 Without Ford's support, however, Bennett won but half the number of Democratic primary votes secured by Douglas.49

Rolling the "old Ford-Baumgartner jeep" not only put political heavies of the fourteenth district behind Douglas but also the expertise of Ford's political staff. Ford's campaign manager, Ed Lybeck, played a critical role with his intimate knowledge of the district. Apparently unimpressed with Douglas's celebrity status, he worked for her out of loyalty to Ford. Florence Reynolds, who ran Ford's Los Angeles district office, also shifted her energies to Douglas. Additional workers included Lybeck's wife, Ruth, and Florence (Susie) Clifton, a political strategist.50 Thus Ford's experienced and successful campaign staff now worked for Douglas. Douglas herself admitted that "Tom gave me his superb campaign team."51

Douglas recognized her dependency on Tom Ford. Campaign staffers reported that the "universal reply" from voters was "I'm for Tom Ford. Have voted for him each time and wish to continue to do so." Linking this popular sentiment to Douglas would win her the election. Douglas suggested to Ford that they circulate "placards with my name and picture with your endorsement" on it.52 Like widows, Douglas benefited from a "spillover effect" from the incumbent when voters saw her as his chosen successor. As one voter wrote Douglas, "On our fine Tom Ford's recommendation of course I was going to vote for you."53 By March, two months before the primary campaign in May, Ford had loyal voters and local leaders lined up behind Douglas.

There was just one glitch in Douglas's candidacy: she lived outside the congressional district. Rather than residing in the fourteenth district, she lived in the Hollywood Hills of the congressional fifteenth. Ford minimized this technicality, telling Douglas that "the entire Los Angeles area has the same interests; the Representative from the 14th is constantly called upon to work for the interests of the whole Metropolitan area. It makes no difference," he assured her, "whether you live in one spot or another."54 Ford further justified the situation by drawing on her status as the state party's national committeewoman. He reminded Douglas that in this capacity "you are known by Democrats in every district. Most especially are you known and valued in the 14th district, where so many party activities are centered."55 To Lindauer, he wrote that "while [Douglas] does not live in the 14th district, we think that the fact that she is Democratic national committee [End Page 151] woman and has been very active in the 14th will cause the voters to accept her."56 A few days later, he assured Lindauer that "Helen is known in the district better than anywhere else in the city."57 In a promotional letter to Dan Green, editor of the Independent Review of Los Angeles, Ford introduced Douglas as the national committeewoman who was recruited to run by his constituents, adding that "the 14th District needs Helen Gahagan Douglas."58 Contrary to Ford's claims, however, the congressional fourteenth had not warranted Douglas's attention when she was national committeewoman; it was already a reliable Roosevelt district and did not need organizing.59 Yet because Ford needed to justify her candidacy in his district, her status as national committeewoman became important, regardless of her actual efforts there.

Located in downtown Los Angeles, the congressional fourteenth ranged from the city's very poor to some of its wealthiest people. "I knew almost nothing about it beyond its boundaries and general composition," Douglas recalled.60 For insight, she leaned on the incumbent. Douglas kept the Fords apprised of her efforts, conferring with them about issues large and small. Plans for a political rally were circulated to the Fords: "The following is a proposed outline of the meeting which I wish you would O.K. or correct and return." When considering a film to start the meeting, Douglas wrote that "This is just a suggestion, and it isn't necessary to use it if you don't think it right. Let me know how you feel about this." Concern about a petition was also run by the Fords: "I agree with the pledge but is it a wise thing to go around signing pledges if you are running for election?" Even details of her campaign literature needed to be cleared by Ford; when a staffer said Lillian Ford wanted her to hold campaign materials until the night of a rally, Douglas wrote to Ford for clarification: "Are we correct in holding the literature back? Or should we begin to get it out?"61 The Fords were experienced and successful in the fourteenth district. Douglas depended upon them to guide her campaign.

In public Ford limited his role in Douglas's candidacy to one of an approving admirer. Minimizing his recruitment of Douglas, he wrote to the Independent Review that "Shortly after I announced that I would not be a candidate for reelection to Congress this year, voters of my district started a movement to draft Mrs. Helen Gahagan Douglas."62 Around the same time, an editor for the Democratic Commentator surmised that even though "Certain Democrats of the 15th Congressional District . . . have been looking for a Democrat to run . . . and may try to draft Helen Gahagan," a political movement from her own congressional district would come to naught, as "she will refuse to be drafted."63 Little did he know that Ford had spent a year behind the scenes to secure Douglas's nomination for the fourteenth. His wife, Lillian, had as well. When Douglas declared her intentions, Lillian [End Page 152] told her to "stage her announcement and not allow any residents outside the Fourteenth—specifically Hollywood types—to take an active part in the campaign" until she was safely on the ballot.64 Ready to retire from Congress, Tom Ford and his political forces gave Douglas the local advantages of incumbency that made her successful.

The Symbolic Value of Womanhood

The male establishment lined up behind Douglas in 1944 not only because she won Tom Ford's endorsement and proved reliably loyal to the party, but also because of her gender. The party accommodated Douglas because she had symbolic value as a woman.65 Strong female representation was needed to stand up against Republican women in a Congress that had become increasingly conservative. When Douglas went to Washington D.C. in 1945, she joined eight other congresswomen.66 As a celebrity, however, she was one of the most high-profile women. Republican Clare Boothe Luce of Connecticut, much derided by Ford, was another.

When Luce was elected to Congress in 1942, she created a political stir with her conservative views and charismatic presence. A journalist, editor, and playwright, she—like Douglas—had professional experience, intelligence, and glamour. After her first marriage ended in divorce, she worked for Vanity Fair, becoming managing editor in 1932. In 1935, she married Henry Luce, the founder and editor of Time and Life magazines. A year later she saw success for her play, The Women, which had a two-year run on Broadway, numerous international productions and enduring success as a film.67 In the early 1940s, Luce worked as a war correspondent for Life magazine, touring Asian, North African, and European countries, and she published Europe in the Spring which, admirers say, "is easily her best claim as a global thinker."68 By the time she ran for Congress, she had celebrity status as both an accomplished woman and wife of a conservative media magnate.

Luce's powerful connections through marriage made her a formidable foe. In 1941, her husband published the influential editorial, "The American Century," which advocated a forceful international role for the United States.69 Marking the shift from isolationism, Henry believed American power could modernize the world through aggressive advocacy of its founding principles, leadership in world trade, foreign aid, and exportation of technical skills and cultural values. Henry Wallace, Roosevelt's vice president in 1942, countered Luce with a call for a "Century of the Common Man." As Donald White points out, he wanted all advanced countries to help developing nations "begin the industrial process without military or economic imperialism." He believed modernization "had to be determined [End Page 153] by the peoples of developing countries, not by a preeminent foreign power." The differences between Henry Luce and Henry Wallace—between "aggressive nationalism" and "benign [global] participation"—informed "a domestic debate between Republican and Democrat, conservative and liberal, businessman and public servant about the manifestations of power."70 If Helen Gahagan Douglas represented the liberal Democratic side of the debate, Clare Boothe Luce stood for the other.

The Republican Party embraced Clare Luce for her ideology, persuasive rhetorical skills, and celebrity status as a woman. She campaigned for presidential candidate Wendell Willkie in 1940, and she made over a hundred speeches for her first congressional bid in 1942. Once elected, she went on a thirteen-state speaking tour to rally Republican women and purportedly received over three hundred speaking invitations from various groups each month. During her first term, she delivered fourteen substantive speeches to Congress and another eleven outside the House that were published in the Congressional Record.71 In 1943 she appeared in numerous magazines and in over fifty editions of the New York Times.72 Highly visible as a charismatic political woman, she used her platform to deride the leadership of Roosevelt, his bid for a fourth presidential term, his trust in a United Nations, and his conciliatory stance with the Soviet Union.

For Roosevelt supporters like Tom Ford, Luce was a menace. With few Democratic women in Congress, the party failed to match the out-spoken Republican women. As Ford complained in 1944, "The Republicans have six [women]," while the Democrats had only one.73 Mary Norton, "that grand lady from New Jersey," was not visible enough against the Republican women.74 He saw in Douglas the opportunity for Democrats to "take these women on, and thus balance the advantage the Republicans now possess."75 Particularly incensed by Luce, Ford confided to Lindauer that Douglas would be better able than a man to "take on la Luce."76 Douglas "could take Clare down the line and make a fool of her with ease," he wrote.77 "A man can't challenge Luce," he said, even though "That dame needs a good drubbing."78

Douglas, of whom the press said "really ought to run for Miss America," countered the "Beauty and the East" reviews of Luce.79 While Douglas rarely appeared in magazines in 1943, as a candidate in 1944 she was profiled in some of the same publications that had featured Luce. In the primary campaign, one of Douglas's opponents exploited this rivalry, suggesting that Douglas's motivation to run in a district "totally foreign to her Hollywood tastes" was to attain the social status of Luce. "It has been whispered," the pamphlet said, "that [Douglas] wants to match glamor with Claire Luce [sic] . . . who has not only the gift of beauty, but more than her share of brains and wit."80 When Luce became the first woman keynote speaker at the Republican [End Page 154] National Convention in 1944, Douglas became one of two major women speakers at the Democratic convention.81 As the election approached, the Independent Woman featured side-by-side columns on a "Get-Out-The-Vote Campaign" written by each woman.82 In the month of the election, Douglas appeared in the Woman's Home Companion with her portrait and an article entitled "Why I am for Franklin Delano Roosevelt," an effective rebuke to Luce's public stance against him.83 Although both women assiduously avoided a highly anticipated catfight, in a political culture that measured one woman against another, Douglas was the Democrats' answer to Luce.

Ford understood this gendered politics. Describing Luce as "just a wise-cracking nit wit," he feared that "a man can't take her on without being too rough."84 He fully expected that "Helen can do it," and thus manipulated his local connections to make sure that she could.85 "Incumbent's succession" secured his political interests; choosing a woman to replace him made practical sense in a political world still gendered by traditional norms of propriety. Only an assertive woman could challenge another assertive woman. Douglas, then, was important to the incumbent and the party for her symbolic value as a Democratic woman in Congress. In that political moment, the party accommodated Douglas because her femininity mattered.


For Douglas, party approval came at the cost of reinforcing gendered norms of propriety. She steered the state party's Women's Division away from local female leadership, aligning it squarely with the goals and approval of men in power, and her candidacy for Congress reinforced a belief that only a woman could politically confront another woman in Congress. This is not to say that Douglas herself believed she reinforced gendered norms, as in many ways she challenged traditions. But the incumbent she replaced acted upon his trust in Douglas as a stalwart follower of male party leadership and as a woman who could stand up to female opponents in ways that men properly could not. For this he dubbed her his successor, giving her the local advantages of incumbency not unlike that held by congressional widows.

As it turned out, the two celebrity congresswomen shared only one term together. Luce left Congress after serving two terms from 1943 to 1947. Douglas served three terms, from 1945 to 1951. She gave up her House seat to run for the U.S. Senate in 1950, but notoriously lost to Richard Nixon who aggressively discredited her with communist smears.86 Unlike Ford, who resisted taking on a female opponent, Nixon took his gloves off. Gendered norms of propriety did not temper his campaign. Indeed, Douglas not only lost the symbolic value of her status as a woman but her gender played a [End Page 155] role in her defeat.87 The opposition Douglas faced, however, was not limited to Nixon. In the primary contest, Douglas won only tepid support. As state party chair William Malone told her, she "was causing a rift in the party."88 Fierce party opposition came from the incumbent, conservative Democrat Sheridan Downey. When he withdrew from his re-election campaign due to ill health, Manchester Boddy took up the party mantle against her, using red-scare tactics later exploited by Nixon. Other party voices rang out against Douglas as well, including Nettie Jones. "The woman who was still bitter over my election as national committeewoman," Douglas recalled, campaigned against her.89 With only factional party support and some opposition from women amidst a growing conservative climate in 1950, Douglas was bound to lose.90

Douglas did not have the incumbent support for her Senate race that she had for her first congressional bid in 1944. In contrast to 1950, her first campaign reveals the significance of incumbent support and the accommodation required to get it. To win, Douglas garnered the incumbent's endorsement including his local political supporters, party resources, campaign expertise, and, importantly, his constituents. Winning this level of commitment from the incumbent without widowhood required a high degree of loyalty to Ford and other male party leaders. Douglas proved her loyalty at the cost of local female leadership such as Nettie Jones who had worked tirelessly with both separatist and integrationist strategies for party influence. For its part, the Democratic Party took the unusual step of supporting a woman for an open congressional seat traditionally held by a Democratic man; it accommodated a woman in a winnable district at the national level. In this case, gender mattered. The party made Douglas into Ford's surrogate because she could confront Republican congresswomen and symbolically reclaim the floor from them. Douglas's work with the practical politics of a male-dominated system of power thus deepens our understanding of women in elective politics beyond the history of women's separatist and integrationist politics for partisan influence. By accommodating male politicians at some cost to locally organized women, Douglas transcended the gendered barriers that kept most women out of elective office. How far these barriers have come down since 1944, of course, is another matter entirely.

Linda Van Ingen

Linda Van Ingen is associate professor of history and director of the women's and gender studies program at the University of Nebraska, Kearney. She teaches courses in twentieth century U.S. and women's history and is presently completing a book entitled Gendered Politics: California Women Running for Office, 1912 to 1970.


. I would like to thank Jacqueline R. Braitman, Melanie Gustafson, Lore Kuehnert, and the anonymous readers of the Journal of Women's History for their helpful comments and suggestions. [End Page 156]

1. Historians apply the concept of "accommodation," derived from the verb "to accommodate" meaning "to give consideration to" or "to adapt oneself" to another, to explain how minority groups confront a dominant system. Their understanding of the term includes strategies of cooperation, adjustment, or reconciliation between differing groups. Many American historians apply the term to Booker T. Washington's leadership as an African American in a white-dominated society. Pitting his accommodation politics against ideals of protest politics, they give an unsympathetic view of Washington and imbue the concept of accommodation with negative connotations. Robert Norrell, in contrast, places Washington's accommodation politics in the context of coercive white nationalism. His historicist approach challenges historians to reconsider Washington's work and to rethink the stigma attached to accommodation. In applying this concept to women's political history, this article employs a neutralized definition of the term to explore Douglas's experience as a woman in male-dominated politics. See Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster Inc., 2003), 8; Amos Megged, "Accommodation and Resistance of Elites in Transition: The Case of Chiapa in Early Colonial Mesoamerica," The Hispanic American Historical Review, 71, no.3 (August 1991), 477-500; Dru Gladney, "Islam in China: Accommodation or Separatism?" The China Quarterly 174 (June, 2003), 451-467; August Meier, "Toward a Reinterpretation of Booker T. Washington," Journal of Southern History 23, no. 2 (May 1957), 220-227; Louis R. Harlan, Booker T. Washington: The Wizard of Tuskegee (New York, 1983); Robert J. Norrell, Up From History: The Life of Booker T. Washington (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard, 2009).

2. Ingrid Scobie, Center Stage: Helen Gahagan Douglas, A Life (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 110; Scobie, "Helen Gahagan Douglas and the Roosevelt Connection," in Without Precedent: The Life and Career of Eleanor Roosevelt, eds., Joan Hoff-Wilson and Marjorie Lightman (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984); Scobie, "Helen Gahagan Douglas: Broadway Star as California Politician," California History 66, no. 4 (December 1987), 242-261.

3. Linda Witt, Karen Paget, and Glenna Matthews, Running as a Woman: Gender and Power in American Politics (New York: The Free Press, 1994), 36-37.

4. In a field of seven candidates vying for the Democratic Party nomination, Douglas won 14,719 out of 39,014 Democratic votes. She won the general election by a narrower margin of less than 4,000 votes. California Secretary of State, Statement of Vote (Sacramento, 1944).

5. Susan Ware, Beyond Suffrage: Women in the New Deal (Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 1981); Ware, Partner and I: Molly Dewson, Feminism, and New Deal Politics (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1987); Melanie Gustafson, Kristie Miller, and Elisabeth Israels Perry, eds., We Have Come to Stay: American Women and Political Parties, 1880-1960 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1999); Jo Freeman, A Room at a Time: How Women Entered Party Politics (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000); Melanie Gustafson, Women and the Republican Party, 1854-1924 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001); Catherine Rymph, Republican Women: Feminism and Conservatism from Suffrage through the Rise of the New Right (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006); Kimberly Brodkin, "'We are Neither Male nor Female Democrats:' Gender Difference and Women's Integration within the Democratic Party," Journal of Women's History 19, no. 2 (Summer 2007), 111-137. [End Page 157]

6. Kristi Andersen, After Suffrage: Women in Partisan and Electoral Politics before the New Deal (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996); Nancy Beck Young, "'Me for Ma': Miriam Ferguson and Texas Politics in the 1920s and 1930s," in We Have Come to Stay, 121-129; Glenna Matthews, "'There is No Sex in Citizenship': The Career of Congresswoman Florence Prag Kahn," in We Have Come to Stay, 131-140; Robyn Muncy, "'Women Demand Recognition': Women Candidates in Colorado's Election of 1912," in We Have Come to Stay, 175-186; Linda Van Ingen, "The Limits of State Suffrage for California Women Candidates in the Progressive Era," Pacific Historical Review 73, no. 1 (February 2004), 21-48; Heidi Osselaer, Winning Their Place: Arizona Women in Politics, 1883-1950 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2009).

7. The web of relationships between the national committeewoman and state party committees was complex. Like many states, California organized political parties with county and state central committees as well as a state convention and executive committee. Members of the county committees were elected in the primaries, while the state convention and state central committee were made up of convention delegates, appointees, and county chairmen. The state central committee named the members of the state executive committee. National party organizations, separate entities from state organizations, often had overlapping membership with state committees. Since the early 1920s, women had equal representation on both the Democratic and Republican national committee; each state and U.S. territory was required to have one man and one woman on this committee. In California, the national committeewoman, usually selected by the state delegation, also served as the statewide chair of her party's Women's Division and, like the national committeeman, she served on the party's state executive committee. The state party's Women's Division did not have an exclusive vote for the national committeewoman, but it ordinarily played a role in advancing the nomination of one of its members and it usually played a part in the selection of two regional women to serve as state vice presidents, one each for northern and southern California. Marguerite J. Fisher, "Women in the Political Parties," Annals of the American Academy of Political Science and Social Sciences 251 (May 1947), 87-93; Dean Cresap, Party Politics in the Golden State (Los Angeles: Haynes Foundation, 1954), 17, 19, 41, 65; Helen Gahagan Douglas, A Full Life (New York: Doubleday, 1982), 159, 160.

8. Mary Foy, "I have been a Democrat all my life," draft article, n.d. but circa 1957; Foy, "Woman's Democratic League," newspaper clipping, 25 January 1940, scrapbook, file 2, box 3, Mary Foy Papers, Huntington Library, San Marino, CA [hereafter MFP].

9. "Group of Women Interested in Politics," Los Angeles Times, 27 August 1922; "Mrs. Mattison Boyd Jones," Who's Who in the New Deal: California Edition, ed., V.E. Thurman (Los Angeles: New Deal Historical Society, 1940), 113.

10. Democratic Digest, (July 1936), 54.

11. Mary Foy, "Democratic Women's Study Clubs," newspaper clipping, 8 February 1940, scrapbook, MFP; Democratic Digest (August 1935), 24.

12. Democratic Digest (August 1935), 31; (October 1935), 24.

13. Democratic Digest (March 1936), 21. [End Page 158]

14. Jacqueline R. Braitman, "Legislated Parity: Mandating Integration of Women into California Political Parties, 1930s-1950s" in We Have Come to Stay, 177.

15. Long Beach Press-Telegram, 3 August 1938; Arcadia Tribune, 4 August 1938; Monrovia Journal, 4 August 1938; San Bernardino Sun, 10 August 1938; San Diego Tribune, 15 August 1938; news clippings in Gertrude Clark, Scrapbook 1938, Keyes-McIntire-Voorheis-Clark Family Papers, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

16. Clark won 3 percent of the Democratic vote. California Secretary of State, Statement of Vote (Sacramento, 1938).

17. Douglas, A Full Life, 157-158.

18. Clara Shirpser, Behind the Scenes in Politics: The Memoirs of Clara Shirpser (Portola Valley, CA: American Lives Endowment, 1981), 18-21.

19. Douglas, A Full Life, 158.

20. Ibid., 157.

21. Scobie, "Roosevelt Connection," 162-165.

22. William E. Leuchtenburg, Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, 1932-1940 (New York: Harper, 1963), 252.

23. Douglas, A Full Life, 157.

24. Leuchtenburg, Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, 117, 188.

25. Some women of the state delegation were recruited to support Douglas, including Elizabeth Snyder, a leader of the Young Democrats in 1940 and not involved in the Women's Division at that time. An alternate delegate at the convention, Snyder seconded the nomination of Douglas. She later advanced through party ranks to become state party chair in 1954. Although involved in the 1940 defeat of Jones, in 1956 she acknowledged Jones's contributions in a celebratory address honoring Jones and the fifty-fifty rule. Elizabeth Snyder, A Ride on the Political Merry-Go-Round:A Memoir (Los Angeles: Silverton Books, 1996), 8, 56; Norma H. Goodhue, "Need Seen for Women in Politics," Los Angeles Times, 18 June 1956; Jacqueline R. Braitman, "Elizabeth Snyder and the Role of Women in the Postwar Resurgence of California's Democratic Party," Pacific Historical Review 62, no. 2 (May 1993), 197-220.

26. Douglas, A Full Life, 159, 160.

27. Mrs. Willoughby Rodman to Culbert L. Olson, 22 July 1940; Culbert L. Olson to Mrs. Willoughby Rodman, 3 August 1940, Culbert Olson Papers, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

28. Opal Alexander to Helen Gahagan, 9 August 1940, folder 12, box 148, Helen Gahagan Douglas Papers, Carl Albert Center, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma [hereafter HGDP]. Douglas regularly used her maiden name until she campaigned for Congress when she used her full legal name. [End Page 159]

29. Congressman Harry Sheppard to Helen Gahagan, 25 February 1941, folder 6, box 147; Congressman John Tolan's office to Helen Gahagan, 20 February 1941, folder 5b, box 147, HGDP.

30. Margaret Gettys Hall to Helen Gahagan, 25 April 1941, folder 5b, box 147, HGDP.

31. This is not to say women were not organized. As Douglas states, nationally "The women's division proved itself . . . sending four new Democrats to Washington in 1944, all of them Roosevelt Democrats." Douglas, A Full Life, 198. The status and separatist influence of long-time leaders in the local Women's Division, however, was compromised.

32. Ford to Lindauer, 9 March 1944, folder 3, box 147, HGDP [emphasis in original].

33. Lisa Solowiej and Thomas L. Brunell, "The Entrance of Women to the U.S. Congress: The Widow Effect," Political Research Quarterly 56, no. 3 (September 2003), 283; Emmy Werner, "Women in Congress: 1917-1965," Western Political Quarterly 19, no. 1 (March 1966), 16-30.

34. Women in Congress, 1917-2006 (Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2006).

35. Solowiej and Brunell, "The Entrance of Women to the U.S. Congress," 284, 290.

36. Diane K. Kincaid, "Over His Dead Body: A Positive Perspective on Widows in the U.S. Congress," Western Political Quarterly 31, no. 1 (March 1978), 97.

37. Solowiej and Brunell, "The Entrance of Women to the U.S. Congress," 286; Kincaid, "Over His Dead Body," 96-104; Irwin N. Gertzog, "The Matrimonial Connection: The Nomination of Congressmen's Widows for the House of Representatives," Journal of Politics 42, no. 3 (August 1980), 820-833.

38. Scobie, Center Stage, 124; 149. Although Douglas was the first California woman to win Congress without the benefit of widowhood, she was not the first to run on her own merits; dozens of California women ran for Congress before 1944.

39. Douglas, A Full Life; Douglas, Helen Gahagan Douglas Project (1981), Regional Oral History Office, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

40. Greg Mitchell, Tricky Dick and the Pink Lady: Richard Nixon vs. Helen Gahagan Douglas— Sexual Politics and the Red Scare, 1950 (New York: Random House, 1998).

41. Ford to Samson Lindauer, 3 February 1944, folder 3, box 147, HGDP.

42. Ford to Helen Gahagan, 1 February 1944, folder 3, box 147, HGDP.

43. Ford to Lindauer, 9 March 1944; 3 February 1944, folder 3, box 147, HGDP.

44. Ford to Lindauer, 10 February 1944, folder 3, box 147, HGDP. [End Page 160]

45. Scobie, "Roosevelt Connection," 159, 163-164; Helen Gahagan Douglas, The Eleanor Roosevelt We Remember (New York: Hill and Wang, 1963).

46. Ford to Lindauer, 9 March 1944, folder 3, box 147, HGDP.

47. Baumgartner, described by Douglas as a "powerful Republican on the [Los Angeles] Board of Supervisors" and friend of Tom Ford's, became honorary chairman of Douglas's campaign. Douglas, A Full Life, 190.

48. Carl Greenberg, "Helen Gahagan Gets Ford Nod," newspaper clipping, n.d. but circa 1944, folder 3, box 147, HGDP.

49. Racism factored into the campaign. African American labor advocate Augustus Hawkins did not win Ford's support because Ford believed voters would more likely vote for a white celebrity woman than an African American assemblyman. Scobie, Center Stage, 145-146.

50. Ibid., 149.

51. Douglas, A Full Life, 190.

52. Gahagan to Tom and Lillian Ford, 16 March 1944, folder 3, box 147, HGDP.

53. "Candidates for 14th District," typed handbill with handwritten note to Douglas, folder 3, box 147, HGDP.

54. Ford to Gahagan, 1 February 1944, folder 3, box 147, HGDP.

55. Ibid.

56. Ford to Lindauer, 3 February 1944, folder 3, box 147, HGDP.

57. Ford to Lindauer, 10 February 1944, folder 3, box 147, HGDP.

58. Ford to Dan Green, 14 February 1944, folder 3, box 147, HGDP.

59. Scobie, Center Stage, 150.

60. Douglas, A Full Life, 189.

61. Gahagan to Tom and Lillian Ford, 16 March 1944, folder 3, box 147, HGDP.

62. Ford to Green, 14 February 1944, folder 3, box 147, HGDP.

63. The Democratic Commentator 1, no. 6 (February 1944), folder 3, box 147, HGDP.

64. Lillian Ford quoted in Scobie, Center Stage, 147.

65. Hanna Pitkin, The Concept of Representation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967); Virginia Sapiro, "Research Frontier Essays: When Are Interests Interesting? The Problem of Political Representation of Women," The American Political Science Review 75, no. 3 (September 1981), 701-716; Jane Mansbridge, "Should Blacks Represent Blacks and Women Represent Women? A Contingent 'Yes,'" The Journal of Politics 61, no. 3 (August 1999), 628-657. [End Page 161]

66. The eight congresswomen serving with Douglas in 1945 were Mary T. Norton (D-NJ); Edith Nourse Rogers (R-MA); Jessie Sumner (R-IL); Frances Payne Bolton (R-OH); Margaret Chase Smith (R-ME); Clare Boothe Luce (R-CT); Emily Taft Douglas (D-IL); Chase Going Woodhouse (D-CT). Women in Congress.

67. Ellen C. DuBois, "The Women, Then and Now: Remaking a Film and Recasting Roles," AHA Perspectives 47 no. 3 (March 2009), 43-44; Biographical Note, Clare Boothe Luce Collection, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Stephen Shadegg, Clare Boothe Luce: A Biography (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1970); Wilfrid Sheed, Clare Boothe Luce (New York: Dutton, 1982); Sylvia Jukes Morris, Rage for Fame: The Ascent of Clare Boothe Luce (New York: Random House, 1997).

68. Sheed, Clare Boothe Luce, 85.

69. First published in Life Magazine, the editorial was reprinted in the New York Times, Congressional Record, Reader's Digest, and in a monograph by Henry Luce. See Donald W. White, "The 'American Century' in World History," Journal of World History 3, no. 1 (Spring 1992), 115.

70. White, "The 'American Century' in World History," 115.

71. Mary Julianus McKee, "Congresswoman Clare Boothe Luce: Her Rhetoric Against Communism," (Ph.D. diss., University of Illinois, Urbana, 1962).

72. Time, 5 July 1943; Saturday Evening Post, 17 July 1943; New Republic, July 1943; Colliers, August 1943; Woman's Home Companion, November 1943; The New York Times Index— 1943, 894.

73. The Republican Congresswomen serving with Luce in 1944 were Edith Nourse Rogers (MA), Jessie Sumner (IL), Frances Payne Bolton (OH), Margaret Chase Smith (ME), Winifred Claire Stanley (NY). Women in Congress.

74. Ford to Lindauer, 10 February 1944, folder 3, box 147, HGDP. Norton was the first Democratic woman elected to Congress, serving from 1925 to 1951.

75. Ford to Green, 14 February 1944, folder 3, box 147, HGDP.

76. Ford to Lindauer, 9 March 1944, folder 3, box 147, HGDP.

77. Ford to Lindauer, 10 February 1944, folder 3, box 147, HGDP.

78. Ford to Lindauer, 9 March 1944, folder 3, box 147, HGDP.

79. New York PM, 21 July 1944; "Beauty and the East," Saturday Evening Post, 17 July 1943.

80. Spot News, n.d., folder 3, box 147, HGDP.

81. "Speech to Republican National Convention," New York Times, 28 June 1944; "Speech to Democratic National Convention," New York Times, 21 July 1944;

82. "Why a Get-Out-The Vote Campaign," Independent Woman, October 1944. [End Page 162]

83. Woman's Home Companion, November 1944.

84. Ford to Lindauer, 10 February 1944, folder 3, box 147, HGDP.

85. Ford to Lindauer, 9 March 1944, folder 3, box 147, HGDP.

86. Scobie, "Douglas v Nixon: A Campaign of the Conscience," History Today 42 (November 1992), 16-25; Scobie, "Helen Gahagan Douglas and Her 1950 Senate Race with Richard M. Nixon," Southern California Quarterly 58, no. 1 (1976), 113-126.

87. Mitchell, Tricky Dick and the Pink Lady, xviii.

88. Douglas, A Full Life, 291.

89. Ibid., 295.

90. Nixon defeated Douglas by a 59 to 40 percent margin. He "owed his victory to massive Democratic defections," as Republicans constituted only 37 percent of registered voters. Mitchell, Tricky Dick and the Pink Lady, 244. [End Page 163]

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