It’s a great privilege for anyone to be able to have a say in who will lead their country, but American women in particular need to remember we didn’t always have that right.
It wasn’t until 1920 when Congress passed the 19th Amendment:
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Up until then women had no say in politics whatsoever. Unless you were an Abigail Adams whose husband valued your views (so rare), you forcibly were mute on the subject of government.
Hard to imagine isn’t it? In our lifetime it’s such a given to be able to pop in a school or union hall to pull that lever but let me say, our noble predecessors, who fought good and hard to change things, need to be remembered on Election Day.
Names like: Paulina Kellogg Wright Davis, Abbey K. Foster, Matilda Gage, Lucretia Mott Lynn Stone and Sojourner Truth to name a choice few who courageously led the charge.
They were referred to as suffragettes, women seeking the right to vote through organized protest. It sounds so peaceful and civilized doesn’t it? Truth be told it was anything but. Men along with the powers that be did not think we were smart enough to have a valid opinion in the way our country was run. Our place was in the home and only the home to do what we were told by our husbands and fathers.
My heart races like a Maserati even thinking about it.
Our campaign started as early as 1848 in Seneca Falls New York where a convention was held attended by 300 individuals, mostly women, but also by a few open-minded men like William Lloyd Garrison and Oliver Wendall Holmes, father of future U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendall Holmes Jr.
It was a great success in the sense that the cause was launched like a rocket across the country siring what was called The Women’s Suffragette Movement that spanned 72 years. It’s shocking to think it took a little under a century for us to have that simple, equal right.
There are 2 women I’ve yet to mention that are real heroes to me: Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
I purposely didn’t call them heroines since there should be no distinction between the two.
Ken Burns did a film about them called Not For Ourselves Alone that is quite worth watching. It’s part of his America series that your local library should carry.
Mrs. Stanton, famous for writing The Women’s Bible in a time when nothing like that remotely existed, teamed up with Miss Anthony relentlessly lobbying so we could humbly participate.
They were laughed at, insulted, not allowed in during conventions. Imagine Hilary Clinton being told you’re not welcome here. This is man’s business. Go home woman, where you belong.’
They’d have to carry her out in a straightjacket.
Since Mrs. Stanton was the mother of 8, it was left to the unwed Susan to travel the country promoting their cause. She’d then return to the Stanton home in Seneca Falls alongside her friend to prepare their next move. It must have been very frustrating for a woman with Elizabeth’s intellect to have to stay behind yet the two of them, accepting their roles, worked tirelessly together.
When I think both of these women after all their hard work never saw the vote in their lifetime, my heart breaks.
This is why I get up bright and early on Election Day, put on my best suit and proudly go to PS 6 where I’m a registered voter. It’s because of them and 100s of others that I have the honor of doing so.
Even if I’m not filled with enthusiasm for a candidate I still vote…I do it for them.
Here’s to you ladies, and thank you for being so boldly brave in a time when women were sadly very much on their own.