MARCH 6, 1940
WASHINGTON, Tuesday—Because I had to take a train at Raleigh, N. C., I arrived at the White House yesterday morning almost at the same time as did my guests, the Reverend and Mrs. Endicott Peabody, and Mrs. Louis Howe. I found my mother-in-law, and Mr. and Mrs. Frank Wilson from Hyde Park already there. We had a pleasant breakfast in the West Hall and at 9:30 I started on a busy day.
First I held a press conference to which I had invited Mrs. William Kittle, Chairman of the District of Columbia Minimum Wage Board. She represents the public on the District of Columbia board of three—one member represents the employees, one, the employers, and the third one, the public. She gave a very clear description of how the minimum wage law has affected women in the District of Columbia, and answered two questions which have always bothered me.
One is, does a minimum wage law throw a great many women out of work? Here in the District, in such occupations as are fairly well organized, the employment of women has increased since the law passed, but in a few of the badly organized occupations such as laundry, cafeteria and hotel workers, there has been a very slight decrease in employment. The other question which is often asked, is whether the minimum wage becomes the maximum wage and means that few people ever get better pay. Mrs. Kittle was able to show from studies made here that women who had formerly been receiving more than the minimum wage still receive higher pay, and a far greater percentage than ever before are receiving the amount set as the minimum wage, whereas formerly they had been receiving less than the present minimum wage.
It looks to me, therefore, as though this was working out very well in the District and should work equally well in other localities.
We all went at 10:30 to St. John's Church across Lafayette Square for the service which my husband always liked to have on the anniversary of his first inauguration day. One prayer which was read made a deep impression on me. I did not happen to know this prayer before, and I think it is one which many of us would be glad to say many times, so I am giving it to you here in full:
"Our Father, who hast set a restlessness in our hearts, and made us all seekers after that which we can never fully find; forbid us to be satisfied with what we make of life. Draw us from base content, and set our eyes on far-off goals. Keep us at tasks too hard for us, that we may be driven to Thee for strength. Deliver us from fretfulness and self-pity; make us sure of the goal we cannot see, and of the hidden good in the world. Open our eyes to simple beauty all around us, and our hearts to the loveliness men hide from us because we do not try enough to understand them. Save us from ourselves, and show us a vision of a world made new. May Thy spirit of peace and illumination so enlighten our minds that all life shall glow with new meaning and new purpose; through Jesus Christ Our Lord."