WOMEN: To Oslo

3 minute read

Early last week President Roosevelt began a long-expected shakeup in the U. S. diplomatic corps. He sent the Minister to Finland to Costa Rica, the Minister to the Dominican Republic to Finland, the Minister to Bolivia to the Dominican Republic. He gave the Minister to Sweden and the Ambassador to Peru each other’s posts.

But this was only the beginning. Before the week was out he admitted to the Press that he had asked the Norwegian Government if it would accept a new Minister.* That Minister is to be Florence Jaffray (“Daisy”) Harriman, second U. S. female to have such an appointment.

Handsome Mrs. Harriman, long one of Washington’s favorite social warhorses, has done much in her 66 vivid years to merit this promotion. In 1913 Woodrow Wilson named her the only woman member of the Federal Industrial Relations Commission. The following year her husband, Manhattan Banker J. Borden Harriman, died. She settled down to a career in Washington. During the War she became chairman of the Committee on Women in Industry of the Council of National Defense. Then followed twelve long years of Republican regime.

In 1932 when opportunity came again, Daisy Harriman made a mistake. As Democratic National Committeewoman of the District of Columbia she was a member of the District’s delegation to the Convention in Chicago. The delegation was for Roosevelt but she unfortunately held out for Newton D. Baker or Melvin Traylor. After Roosevelt’s nomination she hastened to repair her mistake.

Ever an accomplished hostess, who had had many admirers—among them William Gibbs McAdoo and the late Senator Thomas J. Walsh—she turned her talents to entertaining. At her home, “Uplands” on Foxhall Road her Sunday night entertainments featured the political lions of Washington. There, on spring evenings, looking across the lawns towards the lights of the Potomac’s bridges and the distant dome of the Capitol, she has entertained nearly every Democratic Senator in the Capitol, all the important Ambassadors and many another bigwig, taking particular delight in pitting conservatives and liberals, such as Justice Roberts and Heywood Broun, or George Creel and David Lawrence.

Such entertaining she did against financial obstacles, for having lost most of her fortune during the Depression, she had to eke out her income by interior decorating and real estate. At times she rented her luxurious home to well-paying guests: to Otto Kahn during the Pecora investigation, to James A. Moffett while he was Federal Housing Administrator. Not till last summer did politics take a turn which promised to relieve her finances. As an ardent Roosevelt leader at the Philadelphia Convention, she undid the damage she had done herself at Chicago. The resignation of Minister Ruth Bryan Owen (now Mrs. Rohde) as Minister to Denmark also helped to make an opening for a woman in the diplomatic corps.

Unfortunately Denmark intimated rather strongly to the State Department that it did not want another woman minister. However, with W. Forbes Morgan, Treasurer of the Democratic National Committee, and Senate Leader Joseph T. Robinson as her sponsors, Mrs. Harriman’s cause was in good hands. Norway, the first nation to grant woman suffrage, was an obvious post for a woman diplomat. Last week Norway had only to say “yes” in order to have Daisy Harriman show the Scandinavians how entertaining should be done in a U. S. legation.

*The present Minister, swank, young Anthony J. Drexel (“Tony”) Biddle Jr., is expected to be transferred to Poland. *Sir Ronald Lindsay, British Ambassador.

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