October 25, 2010

Election Day is Nov. 2nd

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 cell mate, 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 60 day sentence)

Last week, I went to 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)

My friend Wendy, 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.'

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/Bingo 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.

Conferring over ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution at National Woman's Party headquarters, Jackson Place , Washington , D.C.


Left to right: Mrs. Lawrence Lewis, Mrs. Abby Scott Baker, Anita Pollitzer, Alice Paul, Florence Boeckel, Mabel Vernon (standing, right))

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.'


Adams, Katherine H. and Michael L. Keene. Alice Paul and the American Suffrage Campaign.
University of Illinois Press, 2007. ISBN 0-252-07471-8.
Lunardini, Christine A. From Equal Suffrage to Equal Rights: Alice Paul and the National Woman's Party, 1910-1928.
New York University Press, 1986. ISBN 0-595-00055-X (pp. 104-122).
Stevens, Doris. Jailed for Freedom: American Women Win the Vote.
Troutdale, OR: NewSage Press, 1995. ISBN 0-939-16525-2.


Sarah said...

Hey hon, all the images are broken. :-(

Amazing story that you shared, which I was completely ignorant of. My home country (new Zealand) gave women the vote in 1893 - the first country to do so. It amazes me that there are still countries without universal suffrage.

Olivia said...

I don't think we have such a violent history in the suffragette movement here in Canada. My grandmother was one of the early suffragettes in this country. When women were given the vote, most of their husbands would still not permit their wives to vote so Granny (back in the horse and buggy days) would go to the womens' homes, dress them up heavily in widows' weeds and take them to the polling stations. Because they were heavily veiled, their faces were hidden and no one would ever ask a widow to lift her veil. Granny is in the history books for this - she was also one of the first women senators in Canada. I learned feminism from my brave Granny.

Nicole Marie said...

Incredible, isn't it??!! After you vote at the polls, make a commitment (pretty please) to vote every day with your dollar. In 2010 politics...it's the most powerful vote.

Nicole Marie said...

Incredible, isn't it? Such a short time ago. After voting at the polls...make a commitment to vote every day with your dollar. In 2010 politics, it's the most powerful way to vote.

weliveintheforest said...

Those women were indeed brave and amazing. However, I don't think their efforts and suffering mean I am obligated to vote. Yes, I do appreciate that I have the right, but I also have the right to do many other things that I choose not to do, and do not feel like I am letting anyone down.

The Kara said...

Thank you - this post is much appreciated.

Jenna Gayle said...

Wonderful post :) Sad to say that I was somewhat ignorant of all the happenings, too. Knew it was bad, but dang! I don't remember this being covered in school. I just found an old American History book from college yesterday... I believe I'll bury my nose in it later and see if I can find more!

Jenna Gayle said...

Wonderful post :) Sad to say that I was somewhat ignorant of all the happenings, too. Knew it was bad, but dang! I don't remember this being covered in school. I just found an old American History book from college yesterday... I believe I'll bury my nose in it later and see if I can find more!

Christine--RHP said...

ok, maybe I'm hormonal, but this made me cry. With your permission I would like to link this on Facebook.

THANK YOU for writing this. I'm sure many women have no idea.

Cage Free Family said...

@Christine - This is actually something that was forwarded to me by my grandmother, who is quite the activist. It tends to go around the email circuit this time each year.

I believe you can find the origin on Snopes.com



Thank you for posting.. I was shocked by the content. I am Australian, and had no idea of the violence of the suffragette movement in America.
I have reposted (thank you)!!!

Professor Mangrove said...

Does anyone know the name of the psychiatrist who is reported to have said:
“Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.”

Denise | Chez Danisse said...

It wasn't that long ago that we didn't have the right to vote. I was lucky enough to have been born after the fight. I've always understood what happened very generally and have never read such a haunting and graphic description. 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.' Wow.

Fine Art by Jennifer said...

Great post!