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    Franklin Roosevelt: Typed Letter Signed as President.
    -January 3, 1940. Washington, D.C. One page. 7" x 9". On White House letterhead.
    -To: Mrs. Florence J. "Daisy" Harriman, Oslo, Norway.
    -Fold, light aging, paperclip stain, else good condition.

    FDR writes "I am perfectly enchanted with the miniature of Lafayette which Dr. Mohr sent to me through you. It will go into my own room in the new Library. I think it is a really lovely thing. This takes you my affectionate good wishes for the coming year." Daisy Harriman (July 21, 1870-August 31, 1967), political activist and diplomat, was appointed minister to Norway, becoming the second female head of an American diplomatic mission (Ruth Bryan Owen Rohde had served in Denmark from 1933 to 1936).

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    The extended description below was supplied by the consignor. We are making it available to our web bidders who are interested in more in-depth research and broader historical perspective. Please note that presentation (i.e. framing), lot divisions, and interpretations of condition and content may occasionally differ from our descriptions. Assertions of fact and subjective observations contained in this description represent the opinion of the consignor. These remarks have not been checked for accuracy by Heritage Auctions, and we assume no responsibility for their accuracy; they are offered purely to allow the bidder insight into the way the consignor has viewed the item(s) in question. No right of return or claim of lack of authenticity or provenance based upon this extended description will be granted.


    An interesting typed letter signed "Franklin D. Roosevelt," Washington, D.C., January 3, 1940, 8vo, on The White House Washington letterhead, to Mrs. Florence J. "Daisy" Harriman, American Minister to Norway, during a critical period directly before Norway's entry into the Second World War, in which FDR mentions his "new" Presidential Library. FDR writes: "Dear Daisy:/ I am perfectly enchanted with the miniature of Lafayette which Dr. Mohr sent to me through you. It will go into my own room in the new Library. I think it is a really lovely thing./ This takes you my affectionate good wishes for the coming year./ Always sincerely yours,/ Franklin D. Roosevelt." Daisy Harriman (July 21, 1870-August 31, 1967), political activist and diplomat, was born Florence Jaffray Hurst in New York City, the daughter of Francis William Jones Hurst, the head of a steamship company, and Caroline Elise Jaffray. Daisy, as she was always called, was three years old when her mother died. She grew up in the home of her grandfather Edward S. Jaffray, whose connections to British and American politicians inaugurated Daisy's political education. Her formal education was private and scanty. She married Jefferson Borden Harriman, a New York banker, in 1889; they had one daughter. Daisy Harriman, having a "notion that a woman should be able to do something in the workaday world," was appointed to her first political post in 1906 as manager of the New York State Reformatory for Women at Bedford, serving until 1918. In addition Harriman worked for improvements in children's health and welfare, particularly to provide pure, subsidized milk and to fight tuberculosis. Her husband's disapproval of women staying alone in hotels inspired her to found the Colony Club, New York's first women's social club, which opened in 1907 with Harriman as president, a position she held until 1916. She met Woodrow Wilson at that time, when, as President of Princeton University, he was invited to the opening. Through the club Harriman became involved in political activities. She helped to create a women's welfare committee in the National Civic Federation to lobby for better conditions for working women in stores, hotels, and factories. Through the NCF, Harriman toured cotton mills in the South to inspect child labor conditions and in 1911 wrote articles for Harper's Weekly about her findings ("the first money I had ever earned"). This earning power became not merely a source of pride but a necessity after her husband died in 1914. Harriman, like many reform-minded women at this time, became active in electoral politics. In 1912 she chaired the Women's National Wilson and Marshall Association (later the Women's Division of the Democratic National Committee) and in 1913 campaigned for John Mitchel as Mayor of New York City. In 1913 Wilson recognized her support by appointing her to the Federal Industrial Relations Commission, created during the Taft administration to investigate the overall causes of industrial unrest. Harriman was the first woman appointed to a Federal commission. Although supportive of labor generally, she took exception to the committee's final report, which was strongly prolabor, and contributed to a dissenting report more sympathetic to the "technical problems of production." During World War I, Samuel Gompers named her chairperson of the Committee of Women in Industry of the advisory committee of the Council of National Defense, and she reported on safeguards for women in the munitions mills. She also organized the Red Cross Motor Corps and served in France as assistant director of transportation in 1918. She was a delegate to the Inter-Allied Women's Council to consult with Peace Conference committees on matters of interest to women and children and a vigorous advocate of woman suffrage. Harriman published a book of memoirs, From Pinafores to Politics, in 1923. She worked throughout the 1920s to consolidate gains made by women and to rally the Democratic Party during a period of Republican supremacy. As Chairperson of the Campaign Committee of the Consumers League she fought the Equal Rights Amendment as a threat to protective legislation for women. She also worked for the League of Nations and the outlawry of war. In 1922 she cofounded the Women's National Democratic Club, serving as president 1923-1926, 1929-1931, and 1947-1949. From 1924 to 1936 she was Democratic committeewoman from Washington, D.C. Harriman's celebrated Sunday night suppers provided a forum for Democrats to meet the most stimulating of the capital's intelligentsia and were notable not only for the quality of conversation but also for the equal representation of women and men. Harriman, as a delegate to the 1932 Democratic National Convention, favored Wilson's Secretary of War, Newton D. Baker, a stance that rankled Franklin D. Roosevelt for four long years. She continued to network with New Deal adherents, most importantly, Frances Perkins, at her "tea cup chancellery," and campaigned for FDR in 1936. She even defended his controversial court-packing proposals and in 1937 was rewarded with an appointment as minister to Norway, the second woman head of a diplomatic mission (Ruth Bryan Owen Rohde had served in Denmark from 1933 to 1936). FDR had wanted a quiet post for Harriman, then a 67-year-old grandmother, but the war made Norway a crisis center. In November, 1939, just before FDR wrote this letter to Harriman, an American freighter, City of Flint, was seized by a German crew and brought to the Norwegian port of Bergen in violation of the laws of neutrality. Harriman located the ship before journalists did and negotiated with the German naval attaché to ensure that the City of Flint could sail for the United States. When the Germans invaded Norway in April, 1940, three months after this letter from FDR to Daisy, Harriman's was the first official report. She followed the government of King Haakon as it fled through the countryside; her military attaché was killed by shrapnel. She withdrew to Sweden and oversaw the evacuation of more than 800 Americans fleeing the region as well as Crown Princess Martha of Norway and her children. The party, including Harriman, sailed from Petsamo, Finland, in August, 1940.  Also in 1940 Harriman again campaigned for FDR and served as Vice Chairman of the White Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies. In 1941 she published an account of her assignment to Norway, Mission to the North. After the war she continued her political salon, rivaled only by that of Alice Roosevelt Longworth, and campaigned for home rule in the District of Columbia, leading a protest march in 1955 at the age of eighty-four. In 1942 she received the Great Cross of St. Olav, the highest honor of Norway, and in 1963 President John F. Kennedy awarded her the first Citation for Distinguished Service. She died in Washington, D.C. Daisy Harriman broke new ground for women in many different venues, from the Colony Club to industrial commissions, political campaigns, and the American Embassy in Norway. Always she demonstrated the qualities that made her a successful diplomat: an interest in social problems, a balanced point of view, and access to people in power. Unafraid to try new things, it was said that her only fear throughout her long life was boredom. A very interesting letter from FDR to Daisy Harriman on the brink of Norway's entry into World War II.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2008
    7th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 359

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