No Ordinary Time at Lakeside

Step back in time to July 1940 when Eleanor Roosevelt delivered her "The Relationship of the Individual to the Community" speech to one of the largest crowds to ever gather at what is now Hoover Auditorium in Lakeside, Ohio.

In the summer of 1940, America’s eyes were turned toward Chicago in anticipation of what could be a historic Democratic convention. The effects of the Great Depression seemed to be diminishing, but war was raging in Europe and the Pacific. Would Franklin Roosevelt run for an unprecedented third term as president?

That question was also faced by Eleanor Roosevelt as she traveled to Lakeside to speak to the resort’s summer residents and the gathered assembly of the Lakeside Federation of Women’s Clubs on July 11, 1940. “I don’t interfere in my husband’s affairs,” Eleanor said when asked by a reporter if Franklin would run for a third term.

Eleanor Roosevelt’s speech, “The Relationship of the Individual to the Community,” was given to one of the largest crowds ever assembled at the Central Auditorium (now Hoover Auditorium, renamed in 1947 for A.L. Hoover, the longtime general manager of the Lakeside Association). An estimated 4,500 people heard Roosevelt talk about the potential role of America in what was shaping up to be another world war. “No one in this country that I know wants to go to war,” she said. “Neither do I know of anyone amongst us who desires to live under any other government than our own.

“What does democracy mean to us? What are we willing to sacrifice to keep it?”

Eleanor, like her husband, realized the world was changing — and not necessarily for the better. 

“I feel that our situation in the world is so completely changed that old methods and old approaches must be changed in order to meet it,” she wrote in her column, “My Day,” the next day.

It was a theme she would return to a week later, in a speech at Chicago Stadium, following her husband’s nomination for a third term as president. It was an extraordinary step, but as Eleanor Roosevelt told the crowd, “This is no ordinary time.”

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