I am sure some of you have seen the email that has been floating around about why women should vote. If not, I will summarize what is says, along with some other information I have gleaned. It made me think and realize what a privileged it is for me as a woman to be able to vote. Even if you aren't a girl, I think you ought to exercise your right.
Women fought for equal rights as early (or maybe earlier) as 1776. In 1756 Lydia Chapin (Taft) was the first legal woman voter in colonial America. The town allowed her to vote in proxy for her deceased husband because he was so respected. Apparently it wasn't a common thing for women to vote, but I thought this was an interesting tidbit.
Women not only fought for the right to vote, but also to hold elective office, attend college, earn a living, own property, abolish slavery, and If married, make legal contracts, divorce an abusive husband or gain custody of their children. And probably some other things too, but I want to concentrate on voting.
Abigail Adams , wife of John Adams (who was attending the Continental Congress in Philadelphia) asked that he and the other men--who were at work on the Declaration of Independence--"Remember the Ladies." John responds with humor. The Declaration's wording specifies that "all men are created equal."
Women in New Jersey had the right to vote from 1776-1807.
The first woman's rights convention in the United States is held in Seneca Falls, New York.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony (pictured right) form the American Equal Rights Association, an organization for white and black women and men dedicated to the goal of universal suffrage. However,in 1869 the woman's rights movement was split because of disagreements and The American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) was formed.
Wyoming Territory granted women suffrage. When Wyoming was admitted into the Union in 1890, it became the first state to allow women to vote. Cool huh?
1870 to 1875:
Several women attempt to use the Fourteenth Amendment in the courts to secure the vote or the right to practice law.They were unsuccessful.
I thought this especially interesting- Susan B. Anthony is arrested and brought to trial for attempting to vote for Ulysses S. Grant in the presidential election. She refused to pay the fine and no one made her. Love that! At the same time, Sojourner Truth appears at a polling booth in Battle Creek, Michigan, demanding a ballot; she is turned away.
A Woman Suffrage Amendment is introduced in the United States Congress. The wording is unchanged in 1919, when the amendment finally passes both houses.
Congressional Union, changed to National Women's Party (1916) was formed. A massive womens suffrage parade was held. Lucy Burns ( a leader of the NAWSA) was arrested for chalking suffragist meeting notices on a sidewalk in D.C.
Jeannette Rankin of Montana, is the first American woman elected to represent her state in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Several arrests are made this year, about 170, of suffragists. Some were even attacked by bystanders without police intervention. Alice Paul, another suffragist leader, was arrested and sentenced to 7 months in the Occoquan Workhouse. In protest she went on a hunger strike and was subjected to force-feeding for several weeks before word was smuggled to the press. She was transferred to a psychiatric ward in an effort to intimidate and discredit her. She recalled that one of the women imprisoned with her "was one whose shrieks nightly filled the jail as the rats entered her cell".
The following is the one incident that had the most impact on me, inspiring me to write this blog.
November 15th - "Night of Terror" - members of the National Womens Party picketing the right to vote outside the White House are arrested and given a "lesson" in the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia. Fourty prison guards, with their wardens blessing, arrested 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic". Lucy Burns was beaten, chained with her hands above her head, and left hanging there for the night. Later, her clothing was removed and she was left with only a blanket for covering.
Dora Lewis was thrown into cell, smashing her head against an iron bed, knocking her unconscious. Thinking she was dead, her cellmate Alice Cosu suffered a heart attack. She was denied medical attention despite repeated request throughout the night.
May Nolan (73) with a lame leg, was dragged between two guards, despite her assertion that she would go willingly.
Dorothy Day was purposefully slammed down twice over the back of an iron bench.
Prison conditions were deplorable, even though the women were said to occupy "the best cells, each fitted with running water and bath facilities". The Occoquan was described as small and dark, with fetid air. The food infested with meal worms and the cells with a variety of animal life .
On November 27-28th due to political pressure, these suffrage prisoners were released.
These are some tenacious women, because they sure didn't give up. They kept up with their picketing and touring and several more were imprisoned. They lobbied for passage of the federal woman suffrage amendment in Senate.
Slowly States would allow their women to vote, but it wasn't until November 2, 1920 that all of the women across the United States were allowed to vote for the first time. Charlotte Woodward was the only original Suffragette to survive to see women get the vote. WOW! That was 72 years that these women fought for the right to vote! I just don't understand how after learning all this we don't use this awesome privileged, especially the women!
There is so much more I could write, encouraging men to vote too, but I am tired of writing and my internet is being dumb again. So GIRLS get out there and vote! Today ( October 5) is the last day to register to vote before the Presidential election in November. I think you can do it online too. If you miss the deadline for this presidential election, you can still exercise your privileged to vote in your next local election.