Thursday, September 18, 2008

Suffrage

Sometimes I take my right to vote for granted. Many times I feel the choices before me are so poor that it would make no difference if I voted or not.

Recently, I received an email reminding me of the crimes against the Women’s Suffrage movement which was not all that long ago. To put it in perspective for me, this was taking place when my grandmother was just a young girl. Let’s take a look at what happened during the Night of Terror, November 15, 1917, when thirty-three women picketed the White House and were arrested for “Obstructing Sidewalk Traffic”:

Dora Lewis (b 1862)
Dora was one of the more outspoken suffragists and therefore, received the most brutal treatment. She was hurled bodily into her cell, knocked unconscious and feared dead when she collided headfirst against the iron bed frame. Her cell mate, Alice Cosu, thought Dora was dead and suffered a heart attack.



Lucy Burns (July 28, 1879 – Dec 22, 1966)
Lucy’s hands were chained to the cell bars above her head and she was left hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.






Alice Paul (Jan 11, 1885 – July 9, 1977)
As one of the leaders, Alice went on a hunger strike. This led to her being placed in a psychiatric ward where she was tied to a chair, a tube forced down her throat and raw eggs poured into her. She, along with several others, received torture for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.



It’s hard to imagine in this day and age that anyone would be forced to endure such horrific treatment for carrying a picket sign in front of the White House. I am humbled and deeply thankful for the bravery of these women; otherwise, we might still be under complete male domination today.

Reading these accounts, I have to ask myself: if I had been born during that time, would I have joined this movement and rebelled against the system, even if it meant being beaten, jailed, chained, kicked, choked, and worse? Would I starve myself for the cause? Although I am normally questioning and rebellious by nature, would I go that far? I don’t know.

Inez Milholland, who was a lawyer, World War 1 correspondent, suffragist and public speaker, was known as the martyr of the Women’s Suffrage movement. She died in 1916 at the age of 30 before realizing victory. Her last public words were, "Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?"

Women were finally granted that liberty in 1920 as set forth in the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. Let’s honor the memory of those women who paved the way for us by casting our vote in this upcoming historical election.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow Gail! Getting some history on what those women went through, it DOES really make you feel honored, and compelled to use what they fought so hard to give us. Again, we so often take things for granted until we are reminded of why we shouldn't.
Great post!!!

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