Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fearless Females: Right to Vote

In honor of Woman's History month I post the below.  I did not write it...I do not know who wrote it. I originally received it via e-mail just before the 2008 presidential election.  I've checked on and it's all true. 

Seems like many have an excuse for not voting - 'my candidate is not winning in the polls, so why bother?', 'no one stands for all the issues that I feel are important, so I'll not vote', 'my vote doesn't really count, the decision is made before I even have a chance to get to the polls!'  There are MANY excuses for NOT voting but lets all remember what our ancestors before us did to make voting a RIGHT, not an option or a chore as so many make it today....especially the woman's right to vote.


This is the story of our Grandmothers and Great-grandmothers; many of them lived less than a hundred 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.

voteAnd 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.'

They beat Lucy Burns (right), chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.

voteThey hurled Dora Lewis (left) 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' - November 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. 

voteFor weeks, the women only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms.

When one of the leaders, Alice Paul (right), 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 (and men) won't vote because- -why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? We have other things to do? It's raining? 

© copyright 2010, all rights reserved, Mary Post Warren

1 comment:

  1. Mary, this is the story behind one of my favorite movies. My daughter went to an all women's college, and she came home with the DVD and said "You HAVE TO watch this, Mum!" The movie is called "Iron Jawed Angels" and it stars Hillary Swank as Alice Paul. After the movie we had a long talk, and I told her all about the 1970s and the fight for the ERA (equal rights ammendment) and she told us how her professor's grandmother had been a Boston suffragette who chained herself to a fire hydrant. She was shocked that this wasn't discussed more in high school, and that her friends going to co-ed colleges weren't learning more about Alice Paul.