Tag Archives: 19th Amendment

Celebrating the 19th Amendment: August 26, 2013

26 Aug

SufferageToday marks the 93rd Anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution.  After a very long and hard struggle for women to get the right to vote — fought by such heroes as Alice Paul and many  others — women were finally granted the right to vote.  Finally, in 1920 all women were being treated as full equals.

Oh but wait.  Sadly, this is far from true. While I am exceedingly grateful for the passing of the 19th Amendment, we still have a long way to go towards treating all women equitably.  Even more sad is that the recent Supreme Court ruling regarding the Voting Rights Act.  With this ruling, we now witness the very intentional disenfranchisement of targeted voters: poor women, women of color, and a large percentage of people of color.

Today is a great day for action.  Today we should be standing in solidarity with all women to celebrate the 19th Amendment but to also initiate respectful conversations around what populations are being kept from the polls and how we shore up the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. While five members of the Supreme Court may not remember history, there are many of us that do and are more than happy to offer a history lesson to prevent us from repeating our mistakes.

I would also like to celebrate the National Women’s History Project today, co-founded by Molly Murphy MacGregor. Today is Women’s Equality Day as proclaimed by the President of the United States.   Click here to find out more about the National Women’s History Project.

Happy Birthday, Elizabeth Cady Stanton

12 Nov

On this date in 1815, one of the most important figures in early women’s rights was born. Elizabeth Cady was born in Johnstown, NY. Her father, Daniel, was a prominent attorney who served one term in Congress and was a circuit court judge and New York Supreme Court Justice. Her mother, Margaret, was a tall, powerful woman who was energetic in her youth, but lost many children (six of her eleven); Elizabeth mainly remembered her as a sad, distant woman.

A youth spent browsing her father’s home law library fascinated Elizabeth. She also developed a realization of just how dramatically the law favored men over women in every particular. Although her family owned at least one slave — slavery was not abolished in New York until 1827 — early exposure to her abolitionist cousin Gerritt Smith helped form strong sentiments in Elizabeth. Elizabeth becomes an exceedingly strong voice in the abolitionist movement.

Unlike many women of her era, she was formally educated. She attended Johnstown Academy, where she studied until the age of 16. She enjoyed being in co-educational classes where she could compete intellectually and academically with boys her age and older. Since local Union College accepted only men, Stanton enrolled in the Troy Female Seminary, which was founded and run by Emma Willard. During her education she had unpleasant dealings with a local Calvinist preacher(imagine that, a male preacher mistreating a woman); as a result she rejected organized Christianity maintaining that logic and a humane sense of ethics were the best guides to both thought and behavior.

Elizabeth met Henry Brewster Stanton through her involvement in abolitionism. He was a journalist and anti-slavery orator who later became an attorney. They were married in 1840; Elizabeth instructed the minister to eliminate the promise to obey from the wedding vows, later observing, “I obstinately refused to obey one with whom I supposed I was entering into an equal relation.” She also assumed the name Elizabeth Cady Stanton, refusing to be subsumed as Mrs. Henry B. Stanton. She asserted that “[t]he custom of calling women Mrs. John This and Mrs. Tom That and colored men Sambo and Zip Coon, is founded on the principle that white men are lords of all.” Is it any wonder that I love our Elizabeth Cady Stanton?

She was an ardent suffragist as well as an abolitionist. Despite her large family (seven children), she maintained that she planned the birth of each child through “voluntary motherhood” and was a strong proponent of women’s reproductive and sexual rights. She and her husband shared many views but had lively discussions in which they often disagreed. They moved to Seneca Falls, NY for her husband’s health. It was there that her most famous work began.

In 1848, she and Lucretia Mott organized the first women’s rights convention, (The Seneca Falls Convention) attended by over 300 people. She delivered her Declaration of Sentiments at this conference, one of the most important early treatises on women’s rights. She went on to work with other reformers like Susan B. Anthony and Amelia Bloomer. She remained a powerful, often controversial figure throughout her life. Despite her work as an abolitionist, she initially opposed the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments, concerned that explicitly giving African American men the right to vote created a larger bloc that could oppose women’s suffrage. She later used the vague wording of the amendments to maintain that they had, in fact, created a right for women to vote, although that position never had legal support.

She wrote, published and spoke about women’s rights throughout her life. She died in 1902 at the age of 86. Sadly, she never did get to see the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920.

Bigot of the Week Award: September 14: Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson

14 Sep

Bigot of the Week

This week provided an embarrassment of riches on the Bigot front. It was tempting to honor Mitt Romney for his spectacular bile-infused smirkfest regarding the deaths in Libya, but given the damage he’s done to his campaign, we’ll let that rest. This week’s champ is Alabama minister and frequent Fox (Faux) News guest Jesse Lee Peterson.

Unchristian Rev. Peterson got some unwanted press this week for a sermon he delivered earlier this year. It was leaked to RawStory last Tuesday and it is impressive in its misogyny. The not-so-good Reverend makes the assertion that extending voting rights to women was “one of the greatest mistakes America made.” REALLY? Was this man hatched? Does he not have a mother? My, how deep his hatred of women runs. How is equality EVER a great mistake? Why don’t we let him explain for us.

These women are voting for the wrong people. They’re voting for people who are evil, who agree with them, who are gonna take us down the pathway of destruction […] They can’t handle stress. They can’t handle anything. You walk up to them with an issue, they freak out right away. Especially if they can’t get the problem resolved right away … they go nuts. They get mad. They get upset. Because it’s not in their nature. They don’t have patience. They don’t have love.

Seems like he’s an expert on going nuts and lacking love (In my best Doralee voice from 9 to 5 “Oh honey, this [man] has flipped out.”

Dishonorable mention goes to two people previously recognized on TSM for their lack of charm. Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall turned his attention from gay sex to abortion. He held a press conference to discuss defunding Planned Parenthood. Going the full Akin, he avoided science and decency by claiming that children with disabilities are God’s punishment on mothers who had abortions.  Is it me, or is this man criminally insane?

Meanwhile, serial lunatic Linda Harvey of Mission America found a special way to celebrate back-to-school time. Her organization is flogging a flyer for grade school and middle school kids that tells them how much God hates homosexuality. It’s a particularly nasty bit of homophobia disguised as education and religion which you can read here if you’ve got the stomach for it.  Yeah, Linda. That’s it–I caught being gay at school.  Honey, you need to load up on some Haldol along with your brothers Marshall and Akin.

Hero of the Week Award: August 19, Harry Burn

19 Aug

Hero of the Week

August 18, 2011 marks the 91st anniversary of the passing of the 19th amendment to the constitution, granting women the right to vote.  Tennessee’s Rep. Harry Burn was the deciding vote to help grant full Suffrage.  While TSM celebrates Burn, I would be remiss not to acknowledge Burn’s mother and all of the women who dedicated their lives to the Suffrage Movement.

Suffragists from all over the country knew it was coming down to the vote in Tennessee.  Carrie Chapman Catt and others went to Nashville to push for ratification.  Apparently, men wearing yellow roses in their lapels were for suffrage and the men wearing red roses were anti-suffrage.  It was clear from the number of red roses that it would be a close deciding margin.

Burn wore his red rose into the Capitol in Nashville. Upon receiving a telegram from his mother, Febb Ensminger Burn, urging him to “vote the right way” and support suffrage, Burn offered his “yea” instead of “nay,” thus giving women in the United States the right to vote. Burn immediately encountered a hostile mob of misogynistic men when he changed his vote. Burn escaped the angry men by climbing out of the third floor window and hiding in the attic of the state Capitol until the mob went home.

On a side note, Michele Bachmann and the other insane Teahaddists might do well to remember that the Constitution is a living document and evolves to enfranchise the citizens of the United States.  History lesson anyone?  I’m rather saddened by the pool of Republican candidates for President that seem to have no sense of history and who are currently working so hard to disenfranchise the LGBT community.  Regardless of how they feel about the LGBT community, they do not have the right to deny us our civil rights. TSM offers a sincere “Thank You” to the Harry Burnses of the 21st Century who stand up for rights for all citizens despite pressure from their peers.

Women’s History: February 15

15 Feb

Pioneer for Women's Rights

Happy Birthday, Susan B. Anthony.  Anthony is was one of the most visible and prominent voices in the Suffrage Movement. She and Elizabeth Cady Stanton worked tirelessly for women to gain the right to vote in the United States. Unfortunately, Anthony did not live long enough to see the passage of the 19th Amendment. Anthony, like many Quakers of her time, was also an outspoken abolitionist. Anthony’s work and friendship with Amelia Bloomer, (some credit with the creation of bloomers) led to a lifelong friendship and working partnership with Cady Stanton. To learn more about Susan B. Anthony, click here.

Happy Birthday, Sarah Fuller. Fuller was an advocate and educator for the deaf.

Women’s History: February 14

14 Feb

Honoring Anna Howard Shaw

Happy Birthday, Anna Howard Shaw. Shaw was the first female to be ordained as a Methodist Minister in 1880. Shaw was also a very strong voice in the Suffragist Movement and the Women’s Christian Temperance Movement.  In 1886 she received her M.D. and became an outspoken advocate of political rights for women. Carrie Chapman Catt succeeded Shaw as the President of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Unfortunately, Shaw died a year before the 19th Amendment was passed. Having served as head of the Women’s Committee of the United States Council of National Defense in WWI, Shaw was the first woman to earn the Distinguished Service Medal. In 2000, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

February 14, 1920 the League of Women Voters is founded.

Quote of the day:

    But long or short, the one sure thing is that, taking it all in all, the struggles, the discouragements, the failures, and the little victories, the fight has been, as Susan B. Anthony said in her last hours, “worth while.” Nothing bigger can come to a human being than to love a great Cause more than life itself, and to have the privilege throughout life of working for that Cause.–Anna Howard Shaw

Women’s History, February 7

7 Feb

Frances Willard: Suffragist

February 7, 1898, Frances Willard died. Willard was best known for her work as a suffragist and her work for the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), of which she served as president.  Her work with the WCTU was so impressive that she helped to influence the passage of the 18th Amendment; I read that while sipping my martini.  Unfortunately, she passed away before the passage of the 19th Amendment. In 1871 she became president of Evanston College for Ladies, which merged with Northwestern University in 1873. There is some speculation that Willard was lesbian and had a great love for a woman that eventually married her brother.

Happy Birthday, Ruth Sager. Sager pioneered the field of cytoplasmic genetics. Later in life, Sager focused her energies on investigating the roles of tumor suppressor genes for different cancers.

February 7, 1971, Women in Switzerland win the right to vote. Click here for full story.

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