Monday, November 3, 2008

Night of Terror and Your Vote

We elect a new president tomorrow. As I see it, this is one of the most important votes in recent history.

I did want to remind you of another important vote that took place in 1920. That was the year Congress ratified the 19th amendment, which finally gave women the right to vote. White American men have always had that right. Black men were given the right to vote by 1870.

Writing about abolitionist/suffragist Lucretia Mott for Women of the Bay State educated me a little more about the fight women waged for a right we take for granted today. Lucretia suffered horrible stress-related stomach pains throughout her life for the daily criticism she received-- not to mention the bodily harm she was threatened with at every turn. Others also suffered mightily for women's suffrage.

If you've never heard of the Night of Terror, you may want to go to the Library of Congress's website on the National Woman's Party. At the bottom of the page, you'll see a link to an essay about the NWP's last push for women's suffrage.

There's more history about the women's movement here:

Below is an editorial from the early press coverage of the women's voting rights movement: You can see more at:

Reading it reminds me that if I had lived back then, I'd have been in jail with the rest of the women suffragists.

Voting is the one place we are on equal footing with American celebrities, senators, rock stars, stock brokers, entrepreneurs, and the wealthy.

It's your vote -- and your voice.



Our Philadelphia ladies not only possess beauty, but they are celebrated for discretion, modesty, and unfeigned diffidence, as well as wit, vivacity, and good nature. Whoever heard of a Philadelphia lady setting up for a reformer, or standing out for woman's rights, or assisting to man the election grounds, raise a regiment, command a legion, or address a jury? Our ladies glow with a higher ambition. They soar to rule the hearts of their worshipers, and secure obedience by the sceptre of affection. The tenure of their power is a law of nature, not a law of man, and hence they fear no insurrection, and never experience the shock of a revolution in their dominions. But all women are not as reasonable as ours of Philadelphia. The Boston ladies contend for the rights of women. The New York girls aspire to mount the rostrum, to do all the voting, and, we suppose, all the fighting too. . . . Our Philadelphia girls object to fighting and to holding office. They prefer the baby-jumper to the study of Coke and Lyttleton, and the ball-room to the Palo Alto battle. They object to having a George Sand for President of the United States; a Corinna for Governor; a Fanny Wright for Mayor; or a Mrs. Partington for Postmaster. . . . Women have enough influence over human affairs without being politicians. Is not everything managed by female influence? Mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and sweethearts manage everything. Men have nothing to do but to listen and obey to the "of course, my dear, you will, and of course, my dear, you won't." Their rule is absolute; their power unbounded. Under such a system men have no claim to rights, especially "equal rights."

A woman is nobody. A wife is everything. A pretty girl is equal to ten thousand men, and a mother is, next to God, all powerful. . . . The women of Philadelphia, therefore, under the influence of the most serious "sober second thoughts," are resolved to maintain their rights as Wives, Belles, Virgins, and Mothers, and not as Women."—Philadelphia Ledger and Daily Transcript.

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