Sunday, October 31, 2010


The first suffrage picket line leaving the National Womans Party headquarters to march to the White House gates on January 10, 1917.
The first suffrage picket line leaving the National Woman's Party headquarters to march to the White House gates on January 10, 1917.
(The following written by Connie Schultz,
The Cleveland Plain Dealer)
This is the story of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers; they 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 innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote.
Lucy Burns
Lucy Burns
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, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head, and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.
Dora Lewis
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.
Thus unfolded the “Night of Terror” on Nov. 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.

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
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.
So, refresh my memory. Some women won’t vote this year because — why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work?
Our vote doesn’t matter? It’s raining?
Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO’s new movie Iron Jawed Angels. It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.
All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.
My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women’s history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry. She was — with herself. “One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,” she said. “What would those women think of the way I use, or don’t use, my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.” The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her “all over again.”
HBO released the movie on video and DVD. I wish all history, social studies, and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum. I want it shown on Bunco night, too, 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.
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. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. 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.”
Please, if you are so inclined, pass this on to all the women you know?
We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women.

If you have not seen the movie, Iron Jawed Angels, I urge you to
take the time to watch it.  It is on youtube, in 12 segments.
It is long but sooooo worth your time.
You will NEVER again pass up the chance to voice your opinion by VOTING!
See you in the booths on Tuesday!


Joining Mary at Little Red House for Mosaic Monday


  1. Absolutely wonderful post!!!! Well done!!! Incredible! Cathy

  2. Wonderful, important post. Well done! I love early voting!!!

  3. This should be spread around the globe. It wasn't until 1929 that women were declared 'persons' in Canada, and not their husbands' chattel. It's hard to think that when my mother was born she wasn't considered (by the government) to be a person. I vote whenever I'm given the opportunity and I'll definitely look for that film.

  4. Rhett! This is the most moving post I've read in a long, long time. I'm so glad you posted it. My great grandmother was a sufragette in the Deep South, and while she didn't meet the same fate as these ladies, she stood firm in her belief that women should vote. She also wrote a song for women's suffrage which didn't survive, only a copy of a letter from the head of the association in her state thanking her for submitting it.

    I cherish my right to vote, just as I cherish all of my rights. And I love the right of free speech and freedom of the press you have exercised here. We all need this reminder.


    Sheila (who just got back and is going to bed, but I am going to vote on Tuesday!)

  5. Wonderful post, Rett~ I'm guilty as charged, we did early vote this election, but I "reluctantly" stood in line to do so. Thanks for history & videos, I'm going to watch...

  6. Retta, I will go back to look at the videos, but I wanted to tell you that I was just discussing this topic with my daughters. I will be sending this post their way. It was brilliant. Thanks so much.

  7. Voting is compulsory here in Australia, but even if it weren't I would still be lining up whenever there is an election.

    I just don't understand why people choose NOT to vote ... why they opt out of choosing who should govern the country on their behalf. Mind-boggling.

    Fantastic post!

  8. Wonderful wonderful post! Those women sacrificed a lot - and all for future generations who they didn't even know. ::Jill

  9. What a wonderful post! Thank you!

  10. Thank you for an amazing post. I truly had no idea... But I have never taken my vote for granted and am proud to say that I have always voted. I will be linking to this post, if you don't mind.

  11. What a super fantastic post! Just so important, and you spread the message so well!

  12. I never have missed an opportunity to vote in all the years I've lived past voting age.

    I've seen some of this same information in an e-mail forward I got from a friend but I never heard of the movie Iron Jawed Angels --it sounds like a "must see" Retta..thanks!

  13. As Pondside mentioned, the Persons Act in 1929 in Canada meant for the first time that women were persons under the law. I just can't conceive of a time when women couldn't vote or own property. Voting is a privilege. I've not heard of this movie but you're right, it should be shown in classrooms everywhere.

  14. Rett, I did see this in an email from a friend recently, but haven't seen the videos. It is so true that we need to take our right to vote seriously. Thanks for sharing. ~ Sarah

  15. Excellent post! I am not American, but I sure would vote in this election if I were.

  16. Awesome post and a great reminder. I will be voting tomorrow.

  17. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful post! With so much at stake, and so many sacrifices freely given by those courageous women, I hope that we will all take advantage of those rights so painfully won!

  18. Hello, I came here from Vee's. This is such a wonderful post. I am doing my vote post tomorrow and I think I will just add your link there if you don't mind.

  19. Oh I vote, always do! Library, School budget, primaries, I am there. Remember in November!

  20. Rett, this is a magnificent post..I thank you.

    I voted on the very first day of early voting in Texas..:)
    I have NEVER missed voting in my life.
    xo bj

  21. Rett, I just spent the last hour+ watching this film. You're right. It was wonderful! Mr. Magpie wants to watch it, too, but he is going to watch tomorrow. Thanks for posting this...


    Sheila (who is still trying to play catch-up and is still sleepy!) :-)

  22. HI!!
    YES!!Everyone should GO VOTE!!ROCK IT!!
    And women for sure!!
    I voted early this year!!
    I knew I was helping a the republican rally Tuesday night and going downtown means leaving very early!!
    I cannot wait, it should be a PARTY LIKE NO OTHER!!!
    Wish you were here to go with me!!

  23. Wonderful post! We vote by mail where I am at so I had it off in the mail last week. This year so just seems so important, but then I guess they all are.

  24. Rett, I am so happy re: the news over your BIL. That is WONDERFUL. Praise the Lord! Sending hugs your way...


    Sheila :-)

  25. My grandmother was the first woman delegate from the state of TN to go to a Democrat National Convention. I always vote. Great post

  26. Oh yeah, Lucy Burns was from a town nearby where I live now. Our families have a connection that is too detailed to go into here.


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