The National Federation of Republican Women (NFRW) is one of the largest and most influential women's political organizations in the United States. A grassroots organization, the NFRW recruits, trains, and elects candidates, advocates the GOP's philosophy and initiatives, and empowers women of all ages, ethnicity, and backgrounds in the political process. But how and when did the NFRW begin?
Believe it or not, Republican women began forming clubs before women were even allowed to vote and were inspired by the 1872 Republican Platform which stated,
"The Republican Party is mindful of its obligation to the loyal women of America for their noble devotion to the cause of Freedom ..."
The oldest Republican women's club on record was founded in Salt Lake City, Utah in the late 1800's, leading the way for hundreds of such clubs to form throughout the new few decades. By the late 1930's, the state of Indiana, alone, had over 140 clubs created by and for Republican women. But in 1938, Marion Martin, the assistant chairman of the Republican National Committee, decided it was time to organize the groups and clubs into a large national organization. Martin called a meeting at the Palmer House in Chicago and in attendance were delegates from every state that had at least 60% of their counties associated with a Republican women's club. The group adopted rules, elected Joyce Arneill of Denver as the first President, and established the NFRW to
"...foster and encourage loyalty to the Republican Party and the ideals for which it stands - to promote education along political lines - to encourage closer cooperation between independent groups and the regular party organization, which are working for the same objectives, namely sound government - to promote an interchange of ideas and experiences of various clubs to the end that the policies which have proven particularly effective in one state may be adopted in another - and to encourage a national attitude and national approach to the problems facing the Republican Party."
At the time of its founding, Maryland, Virginia, and Alabama had not yet granted women the right to vote. Franklin D. Roosevelt has been elected with only two states voting Republican. There were only six Republican governors 89 Congressmen, and 16 GOP Senators. Even so, the NFRW grew and gained momentum amongst women who were concerned with an ever growing government. By 1940, 34 states along with Washington D. C. were represented by NFRW.
The group took on the role as a lobbyist group in its earliest days, staying on top of important issues such as the Wagner Labor Relations Act, national debt, and foreign matters. Arneill urged all members of the club to contact their representatives about these matters and let them know that the women of the GOP were concerned about these issues.
Today, there are thousands of local NFRW clubs and members across the United States and even in some U.S. territories and their goals are all the same as the women who met to form the group over 70 years ago: to put Republicans in office, and to encourage women's involvement in politics, and to be sure the nation is aware of what is going on in our country. Members are ages 19-90 and include everyone from housewives to celebrities, first ladies to potential Presidential candidates, and they hold national conventions across the country, each year. Members not only help get the GOP in office, but they also benefit the communities with prorams such as the NFRW's Caring for American and literacy programs.
The current President of the NFRW is Shirley Sadler of Ohio and their newly renovated headquarters (pictured above) is located at 124 N. ALfred Street in Alexandria, VA.
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