O’DAY, CAROLINE LOVE GOODWIN (22 June 1875(?), Perry, GA–4 January 1943, Rye, NY).
Caroline O’Day was New York’s congresswoman at large from 1935 until the day before her death on 4 January 1943. She was a close friend and associate of Eleanor Roosevelt, who as First Lady participated actively in O’Day’s initial congressional campaign in 1934, making speeches* on her behalf, as did President Franklin D. Roosevelt.* As an advocate of the social and economic betterment of working people, O’Day consistently supported major New Deal* measures. A dedicated pacifist, however, she broke with the Roosevelt administration prior to the entry of the United States into World War II,* hoping to keep this country out of the conflict. In 1939 she voted against portions of the Neutrality Act to allow arms sales to nations fighting against Nazi Germany and in 1940 against the Selective Training and Service Act, the first peacetime program of compulsory military service in the United States.
Born on a Georgia plantation to a prominent family that had been active in the Confederacy, she attended private schools and is known to have graduated in 1886 from the Lucy Cobb Institute in Athens, Georgia, which indicates her actual year of birth may have been 1869 rather than 1875, the date that she gave for her birth. After studying art brieflyin New York, she left for Europe to pursue artistic training, remaining there eight years and helping support herself as a magazine illustrator and costume designer.
In Europe she met Daniel T. O’Day, heir to a Standard Oil fortune. The couple married in 1901 after her return to the United States and settled in Rye, New York. They were the parents of three children, a daughter and two sons. Her husband supported her activities on behalf of the woman suffrage movement. After his death in 1916, she devoted