I was just reading about Selina Solomons, president of the Votes for Women’s Club of San Francisco. During the 1911 woman suffrage campaign in California, Solomons reported that she had “numberless hand-to-hand encounters” with anti-suffragists who held “anti-diluvian arguments and theories . . . .the product of a certain wobbly structure of the brain cells, which neither logic nor fact could remedy.”
Banners, badges, buttons, balloons, posters, placards, ribbons, sashes, stamps, and trading cards were just a few of the items suffragists used in women’s worldwide fight for the vote. Onward into elective offices around the world.
Even when I’ve finished a book I keep an eye out for additional information: For example with my most recent book about Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, I keep a running record of epithets regarding women’s rights advocates. Recently I found a particular brain-numbing one: “‘main Guyesses’ of the woman suffrage bunch.” The woman under attack was a seventy-two-year old widow, Ellen Clark Sargent, a pioneering suffragist in California, who, in 1901, filed a test case demanding either the right to vote or a refund of her taxes. She and other suffragist attended the trial, while her son George presented her case. The epithet appeared in the caption of a masculinized caricature of her published in “The San Francisco Call,” March 30, 1901. Sargent founded a suffrage organization in 1869. She was a close friend of SBA and ECS. In 1878, her husband, the former U.S. Senator Aaron Sargent, introduced the 16th Amendment that eventually became the 19th in 1920, granting women the right to vote. Ellen Clark Sargent died shortly before women won the right to vote in California in 1911. Thousands gathered at a memorial service held at Union Square in San Francisco, the first ever held for a woman. Flags flew at half-mast.
On campaigning: In 1896, seventy-six-year old Susan B. Anthony spent 8 months campaigning for a woman suffrage amendment in California. (It was defeated.) Here’s her biographer’s account: “There was scarcely a day, including Sundays, that she did not make from one to three speeches, often having a long journey between them. She addressed great political rallies of thousands of people; church conventions of every denomination; Spiritualist and Freethinkers’ gatherings; Salvation Army meetings; African societies; Socialists; all kinds of labor organizations; granges; Army and Navy Leagues; Soldiers’ Homes and military encampments; women’s clubs and men’s clubs; Y.M.C. A’s and W.C.T.U.s. She spoke at farmers’ picnics on the mountaintops, and Bethel Mission in the cellars of San Francisco; at parlor meetings in the most elegant homes; and in pool-rooms where there was printed on the black board, ‘Welcome to Susan B. Anthony. . . .[She] visited also various towns throughout the central part of the State and along the coast, speaking in wigwams, halls, churches, schoolhouses, and the open air, taking trains at all hours, travelling through heat and dusk, wind and cold; and there was never a word of complaint during all the long campaign. She was always ready to go, always on time, always full of cheer and hope.” The photograph is from that campaign.
So happy to read this article in The New York Times. For all of you who took my courses in nonfiction literature at Queens College, CUNY or Teachers College, Columbia University, here’s another reminder of why I love nonfiction and the importance of it!!!
Happiness is unexpectedly discovering a used bookstore while on a research road trip! I’m trying to curb my book-buying appetite (running out of room, plus I have a book to write) but I succumbed to getting, “The Unknown Gertrude Jekyll,” a collection of writings by the great English garden designer. From nature, she once said: one learns the “importance of . . . directness of purpose.”
Although totally prepared to leave, we stayed with our plans to spend the Labor Day weekend at the Jersey Shore. We figured that our 12-year-old granddaughter’s prediction that Hermine wouldn’t come ashore and send us scurrying to safety was as good a forecast as any of the others we were hearing. Turned out, the weather was beautiful and the surf dramatic. The selfie-takers are the granddaughter’s parents: Jon and Kat.
My long-time, cherished friend, Mollie Hoben, the co-founder of BookWomenCenter for Feminist Reading, Minnesota Women’s Press, organizes and leads stimulating, life-enhancing book trips, “Reading on the Road,” in the U.S. and abroad from Iceland to Oaxaca, Mexico, to Sedona, AZ, and Coastal Maine. http://www.womenspress.com/main.asp?SectionID=10&SubSectionID=706&ArticleID=3534&TM=72771.3 Recently during a scouting trip to Ireland, Mollie viewed a display in the English Market in Cork featuring key women from the struggle for independence. “Everywhere around the country,” she wrote in an email to me, “there were lots of public displays about 1916, and of course most (almost all) were about the men of the time.” (2016 is the centennial year of the “Easter Rising, an event that reignited the fight for an independent Ireland.) Mollie sent me these two photos of the display titled: “women of the south: radicals and revolutionaries.” The top part of the poster is in Gaelic, which is translated to read: “This exhibition document the hidden stories of women who played a part in both Cumann Na mBan and the Franchise movement in Munster. We grew up without fully understanding the motivation of these women, or why politics and history downplayed and censored their contributions. This installation documents a portion of these women’s lives. It hopefully marks the beginning of a public conversation honouring the everyday stories of ‘Women of the South'”.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton (ECS) recalled in her autobiography that in 1840 she was in Dublin, Ireland, in the “midst of the excitement” that Parliament would pass the “Repeal of the Union,” severing the relationship between Great Britain and Ireland. One day she dined with an Irish leader, known as the “Great Liberator,” Daniel O’Connell. “I asked him,” she wrote, “if he hoped to carry that measure. “No,” he said, “but it is always good policy to claim the uttermost and then you will be sure to get something,” advice she would recall throughout her long fight for women’s rights, including woman suffrage. In 1882 during a visit to England, where her daughter Harriot lived, ECS heard Charles Stewart Parnell, the great Irish advocate for Home Rule, speak in the English Parliament. In 1890, in a speech to the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association, ECS cited Parnell, as a model for keeping an issue alive in a unresponsive governing body. That same year, she wrote an article defending Parnell who was under attack for an alleged affair. (In 1921 the British Parliament passed an act partitioned Ireland into Northern and Southern Ireland. In 1948 the last ties were severed between Southern Ireland, now known as Ireland, and Great Britain. Northern Ireland remains part of the United Kingdom.)
August 26th!! It’s Women’s Equality Day, established by Congress to celebrate the day in 1920 when the the Nineteenth Amendment was certified, thus officially added to the U.S. Constitution. The long, hard struggle against enormous resistance was over; women had won the right to vote!! “The vote is the emblem of your equality, women of America, the guaranty of your liberty . . . .,” declared Carrie Chapman Catt, a key leader, “PRIZE IT!” To which I add: “USE IT!”