THE ICON: Hilda Phelps Hammond
THE LEGACY: When U.S. Sen. Huey Long fired Dock Board lawyer Arthur Hammond in 1930, it was intended both as a display of political power and a measure of payback to Hammond’s in-laws, who ran The Times-Picayune, a vocal opponent of the former governor. It ended up, however, earning Long an unexpected but determined nemesis in Hammond’s wife, Hilda Phelps Hammond. A socially active New Orleans housewife with an English degree from Newcomb and, apparently, little patience for bullies, she marshaled an army of like-minded women — organizing as the Women’s Committee of Louisiana — for what would become a relentless national public opinion campaign targeting what they characterized as the dangerous influence of a corrupt man. That fight, which earned Phelps national recognition, would end only with Long’s death in 1935, but her example would inspire a generation of New Orleans women to enter the political fray — and put the local political establishment on notice that the city’s women were no longer content to watch from the sidelines.
THE ARTIST: Maddie Stratton
THE INSPIRATION: “This is a national, not a state matter. It is a fight for decency in government and politics. … When a man is so powerful that he can stop investigations of fraud by the United States Senate, that man is a menace to the whole United States.” — Hilda Phelps Hammond, referring to then-Sen. Huey P. Long