The Right to Vote

This is the story of our Grandmothers and Great-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 jailed for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking 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 raw eggs into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

A psychiatrist was pressured to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. The doctor refused. 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."

Thus unfolded the "Night of Terror" on November 14, 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.

Forty prison guards wielding clubs 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.

What is going to stop you from voting tomorrow?

Young children?
Carpool duties?
Your vote doesn't matter?
You're just too busy?

Read again what these courageous women went through to earn us, you and me, the right to vote.

What a privilege it is to live in such a time, in such a place.

(Mrs. Lawrence Lewis, Mrs. Abby Scott Baker, Anita Pollitzer, Alice Paul, Florence Boeckel, Mabel Vernon [standing])

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

Most of this information was actually taken from a chain email that was first circulated on the Internet in 2008. I verified the authenticity on snopes.com and made some edits after checking their sources: Alice Paul and the American Suffrage Campaign, From Equal Suffrage to Equal Rights, and Jailed for Freedom: American Women Win the Vote.


The Ballard's said...

What a tribute. Thanks for sharing.

Jenny said...

Well played, I'll get my butt there tomorrow.

Ryanne said...

Thanks Emily for voicing it so well. One day I'll have to share with you how Senneca got her name, you would appreciate it. I'll definitely be voting tomorrow.

blakeandcourt said...

Wow! I had no idea. What amazing women.

Molly said...

Dang... thanks for the history lesson! Very interesting. Now, I will really try to make it up to SL to vote (where i am registered)...

Lori said...

just so you know, you guilt-ed amanda into voting with this post. it was a topic of conversation last night on the phone. had to come check out the post myself. ha. good job. :)

Aneesa Bee said...

I can't believe I never learned that. Wow. I had no idea. Thank you so much for teaching me. You're the best cousin ever.

Lucinda said...

Thanks Emily, I love reading your blog. lucinda nielson