Tomlin Coggeshall, grandson of former Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins, delivered the 10th annual Deborah Pulliam Memorial Lecture, entitled “Molly Dewson and Frances Perkins: Two Powerful Women.” The lecture took place at the Delano Auditorium at Maine Maritime Academy, Castine.
Mr. Coggeshall is a founder of the Frances Perkins Center that honors her legacy. The Center shares her commitment to the principle that government should provide all its people with the best possible life by preserving the place that shaped her character. The Center convenes leaders and future leaders in public policy, labor and related fields to generate creative solutions to today’s social and economic problems and teaches students of all ages about a remarkable woman whose work continues to improve the lives of ordinary Americans.
Mr. Coggeshall discussed the friendship between Molly Dewson and Frances Perkins – a powerful combination of two powerful women. As head of the Womens’ Division of the Democratic Party, Molly Dewson worked hard to help get FDR elected President in 1932. Thanks to Dewson’s insistence, FDR invited Frances Perkins to become his Secretary of Labor even though this post had been traditionally occupied by a labor leader. It was not an easy choice to make but, once made, Frances Perkins and FDR worked tirelessly to craft and implement a New Deal and improve the lives of their fellow citizens. The story of Frances Perkins, Molly Dewson and FDR is an amazing story of perseverance, relationships and how Perkins used her power as the first woman cabinet member wisely and for the good of the nation’s people.
The Pulliam Lectures were established in 2009 to honor the memory and achievements of Ms. Pulliam, a longtime supporter of the Castine Historical Society.