Today, as some politicians would like to take away VOTING RIGHTS, it is good to reflect about how far we have come and that we never want to go back! Remember, it was not until 1920 that women WON the right to vote! (I hate it when it is referred to as "given" or "granted" the right to vote!) Voter registration remains one of my passions.
This is the story of OUR grandmothers and mothers who lived only 90 years ago.
On November 17, 1917, suffragists picketed the White House demanding the right to vote.
The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote. Thus unfolded "The Night Of Terror" when the Warden of Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote.
By the end of that night they were barely alive. Forty prison guards, wielding clubs with their Warden's blessing, went on a rampage against the thirty three women unjustly convicted of "obstructing sidewalk traffic".
Here are some of the heroines:
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.
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 that Lewis was dead, and Cosu suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting, and kicking the women.
When the leader Alice Paul embarked on a hunger strike, she was tied to a chair, had a tube forced down her throat, and had liquid poured into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out of prison and there was a public outcry about the treatment of the prisoners.
Pauline Adams pictured in the prison garb she wore while serving a sixty-day sentence.
For weeks, the only water for the women came from an open pail; their food was infested with worms.
Edith Ange of Jamestown, New York.
Every one of us should rent the movie Iron Jawed Angels. It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain of the polling booth and have my say!
HBO has released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history, social studies, and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum. I wish that it would be shown at political events, 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.
Suffragists conferring over ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution at the National Woman's Party Headquarters, Jackson Place, Washington, D.C.: L-R Mrs. Lawrence Lewis, Abby Scott Baker, Anita Pollitzer, Alice Paul, Florence Boeckel, and 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 but it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave and that didn't make her crazy.
The doctor admonished the men: "Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity".
Helen Hill Weed, of Norwalk, Connecticut, serving a 3-day sentence in a Washington D.C. prison for carrying a banner which read: "Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed."
Please pass this on to all the women you know. We need to register people to vote, we need to get out to vote, we need to encourage people to vote, and use the right for which these women so valiantly fought.
So, refresh my memory: you won't vote because: you have to go to work, you have to carpool, it's raining, you think your vote doesn't count, you don't want to be called for jury duty, etc.?
As my mother used to say: "Any excuse is better than none!"