Friday, September 12, 2008

Come on, girls -- VOTE!

It’s too easy to take our right to vote for granted. Like many privileges, women’s suffrage wasn’t simply given to our grandmothers. The battle for the right to vote was a long, hard road –- one that is too often overlooked.

It was not until 1920 that women were given the right to vote.On November 5th, 1917 a group of suffragettes picketed the White House, carrying signs asking for the right to vote. These women were arrested and jailed, and 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.”

Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror,' when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragettes imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote.

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 cellmate, 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.

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 liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

Woodrow Wilson and his cronies tried to persuade a psychiatrist 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."

I have not seen it, but I've heard HBO made a movie called Iron Jawed Angels. It is a depiction of the battle these women waged so that we could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have our say.

It's so easy to vote today. You can do it from the privacy of your own home by having a ballot sent to you. And even if you haven't made those arrangements, and you must got to the polls, isn't it our duty to vote?

Go ahead. Do it. Vote. It's our right and our responsibility.


Jan Parrish said...

Amen Megan. There is still time to register to vote. Oct 6th is the cut off for Colorado.

Kay Day said...

This is amazing. I don't really know much about this part of history.
In a day when there was still some chivalry it is surprising that women were treated this way. I guess in the men's minds they had forfeited the right to be treated like ladies by their "unladylike" behavior.