I am super excited that tomorrow night Linda and I are going to a performance of “The Mother of Us All,” an opera (premiered in 1947) by Gertrude Stein (text) and Virgil Thomson (music) drawn from the life of Susan B. Anthony. The Manhattan School of Music Opera Theatre is performing it, and the conductor, Steven Osgood says, “We are fighting the same fights today as Susan B. once did. Change a couple of nouns and you are very much in 2013.” The image of SBA is the steel engraving in vol 1 of “History of Woman Suffrage.”
Today–Dec. 10th–in 1869 legislators in the territory of Wyoming passed a bill granting women the right to vote. Susan B. Anthony was in the gallery of the U. S. House of Representatives during the debate about whether or not to admit the Territory of Wyoming into the Union as a state with woman suffrage in its constitution. Here is an excerpt from my book: “Representative Joseph Washington from Tennessee was ‘unalterably opposed’ because woman suffrage would ‘only end in unsexing and degrading the womanhood of America.’ After haggling for three days, the representatives voted, and Susan finally had the ‘inexpressible pleasure’ of seeing the prosuffrage representative prevail. Next was the fight in the Senate. Senator John Reagan of Texas warned that woman suffrage in Wyoming would ‘make men of women.’ George Vest of Missouri declared it ‘a calamity . . . an absolute crime.’ Nonsense, replied the Wyoming legislators, who unequivocally declared in a telegram that they would ‘remain out of the Union a hundred years rather than come in without woman suffrage.’ That tipped the balance, and a majority of senators voted to admit Wyoming with woman suffrage intact.”
I recently wrote about visiting the museum in the Dominican Republic dedicated to the Mirabal sisters, fighters in the resistance against the dictator Trujillo. I saved a 200 peso with this powerful portrait of them–Patria, Minerva, Maria Teresa. Certainly U.S. bills could use female faces! Who would you like to see depicted? (Note: Martha Washington and Pocahontas briefly appeared on a U.S. bill in the 1800s.)
Thanksgiving has a godmother–Sarah Josepha Hale, an influential 19th century magazine editor who warranted her own chapter in my book, “Thanksgiving: The True Story”. Her 40-year campaign culminated in President Lincoln resuming the practice of declaring a national day of Thanksgiving, which was finally made official by an act of Congress in 1941. In my chapter, “Many Meanings, I quote Hale’s meaning: “All its associations are of the best kind. It reunites families and friends. It awakens kindly and generous sentiments. It promotes peace and good-will among our mixed populations.” Thanksgiving, I know, like all holidays, can be complicated, e.g., over the years Linda and I have experienced a house full of people to just the two of us(we freely cooked without regard to anyone else’s preferences). The historic marker is in Newport, NH. What are your meanings? I’d love to hear from you–
Tomorrow–Nov. 25th, is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, designated by the United Nations in 1999 in commemoration of the Mirabal sisters: Patria, Minerva, and Maria Teresa who were murdered on Nov. 25, 1960 because of their bold and fearless opposition to Rafael Trujillo, brutal dictator of the Dominican Republic (1930-1961). Just a few days ago, Linda and I visited friends in the Dominican Republic, who arranged a 10-hour road trip for us to visit the Casa Museo Hermanas Mirabal, a profound experience. The museum, in what was the sisters’ home at the time of their murder, was created by their surviving sister, Dede, to honor her sisters, who were known as las Mariposas, “the butterflies,” in the resistance movement. We viewed personal items, including a wedding dress, embroidery, teacup collection, and artifacts of their murder such as shoes, handbags, and the heartbreaking display–the long braid of hair that Dede cut from Maria Teresa’s head in the morgue. The sisters were survived by their husbands, (one of whom was later killed for his political activism), six young children (Minerva’s daughter is currently a congresswoman), and their mother. Linda took this picture of me looking at busts of Patria, Minerva, and Maria Teresa.
“Don’t be a grouch and waste life; don’t be disgruntled; don’t be a growler; don’t be a crank.” Wise words from Nellie Bly (born Elizabeth Cochrane Seaman), investigative journalist and around-the-world-record-settin
I had a stimulating time yesterday with the engaged & engaging readers in the SESCIL Book Group who had read my book, “Thanksgiving: The True Story.” Here is what Thanksgiving meant to Sarah Josepha Hale, the 19th century godmother of the holiday that we celebrate today: “It is a holiday especially worth of our people. All its associations and all its influences are of the best kind. It reunites families and friends. It awakens kindly and generous sentiments. It promotes peace and good-will among our mixed population.” What does it mean to you?
Happy Birthday to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, born today–Nov. 12–in 1815 in Johnstown, NY!!! On the day of her birthday in 1880, she began keeping a diary: “My philosophy,” she noted, “is to live one day at a time, neither to waste my force in apprehension of evils to come, nor regrets for the blunders of the past.” The image, which I included in my book, is ECS with her daughter Margaret and son Robert at the gala celebration for her 80th birthday.
Abigail Adams was born on this day–Nov. 11–in 1774 in Weymouth, MA. It was a bitterly cold day when I visited the Abigail Adams Park in Weymouth, a marvelous place with her words on plaques mounted on boulders that are scattered throughout the park. I slipped and slid along the ice-covered path to find the plaque with her famous warning to her husband, who, we all know, paid her no mind: “In the new Code of Laws, which I suppose, it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands.”
Abigail Adams to John Adams, March-April 1776
Tomorrow–Nov. 11th is Veterans Day and the 20th anniversary of the dedication of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial in Washington, DC. Women veterans came from all over, including Australia. Cheering people lined the parade route. It was too crowded for me to get a clear photograph of the memorial, so I returned the next morning and photographed this solemn scene of veterans reverently remembering and honoring the service of over 265,000 women, all volunteers. I was profoundly moved that day, and still am.