Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Cost of Women's Suffrage...

The following was received from a close friend and I felt it worthy of sharing.  While some of the facts may not be totally accurate (given that a film has been made and facts are sometimes made more interesting for the big screen) the truth is that this event did take place.  These were brave women who forged a path for todays women to not only take part in voting but to hold some of the highest offices in the land.  I firmly believe that the women of the United States of America should show our respect for them by taking the time to become acquainted with all the issues and candidates, by making our own decisions on them and by voicing those decisions at all upcoming elections.  'Of the People, By the People and For the People' and women, we are definitely part of the People of this great country.
History we need to remember.  Nothing we have to do is so important that we cannot take time to vote and to voice our opinions about the men and women who represent us at every level of government local, state or national.

This is the story of our Mothers and Grandmothers who lived only 90 years ago.     

 Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.


 The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote.   And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. 
Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing 
went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.' 

(Lucy Burns)
They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.

 (Dora Lewis) 
 They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her 
head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.  

 Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote. For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms. 

 (Alice Paul) 
 When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press. 

So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because - why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining? 
   (Mrs. Pauline Adams in the prison garb she wore while serving a sixty-day sentence.)

Last week, there was a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.
 (Miss Edith Ainge, of Jamestown, New York)
All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.
 (Berthe Arnold, CSU graduate)
A friend, who is my age and studied women's history, 
saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk 
about it, she looked angry. She was--with herself. 'One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,' she said. 'What would those women think of the way I use, or don't use, my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.' The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her 'all over again.'
 (Conferring over ratification [of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution] at [National Woman's Party] headquarters, Jackson Pl[ace] [Washington, D.C.]. L-R Mrs. Lawrence Lewis, Mrs. Abby Scott Baker, Anita Pollitzer, Alice Paul, Florence Boeckel, Mabel Vernon (standing, right))

  1.  HBO released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history, 
social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum I want it shown on Bunco night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order.
It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.

 The doctor admonished the men: 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.'

 Please, if you are so inclined, pass this on to all the women you know.  We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote.

   (Helena Hill Weed, Norwalk, Conn. Serving 3 day sentence in D.C. prison for carrying banner, 'Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.')
History is being made--AGAIN.


  1. good post..thank you... came by way of magpie tales... remember in mary poppins the mother was a suffragette always on the go...interesting how she was portrayed... thaz another story...

  2. I am such a strong (but mostly silent) advocate of women's rights...both in the US and around the world. Your blog posting is encouraging me to be more outspoken against the male dominance and restraints put upon us in the name of religion....and, of course, voting to pave the way for a better female representation. Thanks for sharing. Ann Stubenrauch

  3. Loved it. Car pool, picking up kids, raining. Oh boy! Time to sing 'Big Yellow Taxi' again. These hard won human rights are being threatened as they always were.
    Thank you thank you!

  4. Thanks for this post. We forget.
    I'm told we live in a post feminist world now...isnt that funny?


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