THIS DAY IN FEMINIST HISTORY (APRIL 1 – JUNE 30)

 


April 1, 1909 : Women-only cars on the Hudson and Manhattan Raliroad's "Hudson Tube" route through the McAdoo Tunnel from 23rd Street in Manhattan to Hoboken, New Jersey, are proving popular. Today's ridership is up by 50% (3,000 vs. 2,000) over yesterday's test run. Already being referred to by passengers as "Suffragette" cars (a derisive term local suffragists object to) or "Merry Widow" cars, they are the last in each train during rush hours, from 7 to 9 in the morning and 4:30 to 7:00 in the evening.

Whether the special cars will be adopted by the five-year-old Interborough Rapid Transit Company's subway system and be established on New York City routes is still open to question. Hearings were held two weeks ago and with the exception of the Women's Municipal League, which hosted the discussion, there was strong opposition.

Ida Husted Harper acknowledged that there were substantial problems for commuters : "It is an outrage for people to be subjected to what they have to endure in the way of transportation in New York." But she also said :

"I am opposed to the plan principally because by setting apart one car for women, men would consider that all the rest of the train belonged to them. Then, when the overflow from this segregated car tried to get into the others, the men would put up the cry that women were encroaching on their domain. We are hearing entirely too much nowadays about 'women's invasion.' "

Harper said that she was "constantly surprised at the number of men who do give up their seats and try to help women both in the subway and surface cars," and that the only hope is to rely on the "kindness and consideration" of the majority of men in the cars.

Lillie Devereux Blake, veteran suffragist and President of the Legislative League, said of the proposal :

"I am opposed to it. I don't think our New York men are such beasts that we can't sit in the same car with them. i like men. Of course, they don't give us all we want them to. They don't let us vote, for instance, but they will in good time, and even now they're pretty good to us. I think it would be most unpleasant if we had a car to ourselves."

Florence Kelley, Secretary of the National Consumers' League, testified : "The last thing in the world women want is to be segregated."

The experiment will continue to see if its popularity lasts.

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FOLLOW-UP : Though initially popular, the Hudson & Manhattan Raiiroad's women-only cars saw ridership decline, and the experiment lasted only until July 1st. They were never adopted by New York's subway system, though the Women's Municipal League tried to get the Public Service Commission to order them to do it. On August 3, 1909, the Public Service Commission voted 2-1 against ordering the Interborough Rapid Transit Company to have a special car for women on all express trains during rush hours, and cited the fact that they had not proven successful on the Hoboken run.

Commissioner Eustis, the one commission member who though the idea should at least be given a trial, admitted that the public was divided over the issue : "Almost an equal number of people (to those advocating women's cars) stated that men are the best protection that women have in a crowded car, and that they prefer to ride in cars where men and women are together. That while there are rare occasions where some brute will take advantage of the situation to insult a lady, on the other hand the gentlemen are the best protection the ladies want against such conduct."


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April 2, 1931 : Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig struck out today, felled by a teenager who needed only seven pitches to earn herself a place in baseball history. Jackie Mitchell, signed for the season on March 28th by Tennessee's "Chattanooga Lookouts," a Class AA minor league team, pitched her legendary "sinker" in an annual exhibition game with the New York Yankees, who are on their way home from Spring Training in Florida. The contest always attracts a good deal of attention in the local press, and comments made yesterday by the "Sultan of Swat" only increased the public's interest.

According to Ruth : "I don't know what's going to happen if they let women play in baseball. Of course, they never will make good. Why ? Because they are too delicate. It would kill them to play ball every day." Despite his confidence, he did seem concerned enough to ask a reporter : "By the way, how big is she ?" When told she was five feet eight inches tall, he simply said : "Well, I don't know what things are coming to." He found out today.

After the starting pitcher gave up a double and a run-scoring single, Mitchell was sent in just as it became Ruth's turn to bat. Her first pitch was a ball, but the next two were right on target. Though the Bambino gave them his best swings, it was to no avail. He then demanded that the umpire inspect the ball, which was found to be in perfectly legal condition, so whatever tricks it was playing on the Babe were due solely to the pitcher's skill.

Mitchell then shot another pitch, which Ruth apparently thought wasn't quite in the strike zone, and he ignored. But the umpire disagreed, called it a third strike, and the Home Run King, who hit 49 round-trippers last year and had a .359 batting average, got into an argument with the umpire, then flung away his bat, and trudged to the bench.

Next up was Lou Gehrig, who hit 41 home runs and batted .379 last year against the American League's best pitchers. But he proved no match for Mitchell. The "Iron Horse" went down swinging at all three pitches.

Taught to play ten years ago by neighbor Dazzy Vance, who now plays for the Brooklyn Dodgers, this wasn't Mitchell's first time pitching against males. Last year, when she was pitching for the Engelettes, a girls' team from Chattanooga, she had nine strike-outs in seven innings against a boys' team. Though she only pitched 2/3 of an inning today, relieved after letting Tony Lazzari walk, it was a great day for baseball fans - and for women in sports.

(Photo, from left : Gehrig, Ruth and Mitchell, earlier today as she was warming up.)

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FOLLOW-UP : Soon afterward, Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis voided her contract and justified his ruling by alleging that baseball was "too strenuous" for women. The ban would later become a formal rule of Major League Baseball from 1952 until 1992.

But Mitchell did manage to play ball for an independent male team known as the "House of David" that did exhibition games around the country. Though she chose not to come out of retirement to play for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in 1943, she always remained interested in the game, and in 1982, threw out the ceremonial first pitch for her old team, the Chattanooga Lookouts.

 

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April 3, 1920 : Over 88% of New York State's women earn less than the $ 16.13 a week the Federal Government considers the minimum income needed to cover basic living costs. Seventy-one percent receive less than $ 14 a week, while only 11.6% get $ 16 a week or more. Less than 5% earn $ 20 a week or more.

These facts were contained in a report made public today by the Consumers' League of New York, entitled "Women's Wages Today." They surveyed 500 women in various locations, and came up with a number of findings. Though they are distributed across a variety of industries, the largest group of women workers, 23%, are saleswomen or cashiers in department stores, with the clothing industry coming in next at 17%. They found that most work 48 to 54 hours a week, though 5% work more than 54 hours, while 6% work less than 44 hours, most of those clerical workers.

There is a popular notion that women work for 'pin money' and therefore should be paid less than men, but this was not supported by the data. Of the 500 women surveyed, 377 contribute their entire wages or a large part of them to the family income. Fifteen per cent do not live at home and are entirely dependent upon their own incomes. Of this group, ten receive $ 8 a week, twenty-one get $ 10, eleven receive $11 a week, seventeen get $ 12, seven earn $ 13, and ten get $ 15 a week.

Though it might be supposed that low wages are a reflection of youth and inexperience, this is not the case. Only 26.8% of those surveyed were under the age of 18, and 40% are twenty-one years of age or older. Even among those over age 30, a majority earned less than $ 14 a week. Wages have not even been keeping up with inflation. In 1919, 39% of women reported no increase in their pay, and there were few cases where wages kept up with the 14.5% increase in prices last year.

The gap between what women are paid and what they need results in undernourishment, unpaid bills, clothes bought on the installment plan, extra work at night or the acceptance of charity, according to the Consumers' League. It is because of facts like those presented today that it is calling for the establishment of a State Minimum Wage Commission.

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UPDATE : If "most work 48 to 54 hours a week," then using the weekly wage figures given, an average 51-hour week would work out to between 15.7 cents and 39.2 cents an hour, equal to between $ 1.80 and $ 4.48 an hour in 2013. The current minimum wage in New York State is $ 7.25 an hour, but will go to $ 8.00 an hour on December 31st.

$ 20 then = $ 228.73 now ; $ 16.13 = $ 184.47 ; $ 16 = $ 182.99 ; $ 15 = $ 171.55 ; $14 = $ 160.11 ; $ 13 = $ 148.68 ; $ 12 = $ 137.24 ; $ 11 = $ 125.80 ; $10 = $ 114.37 ; $ 8 = $ 91.49.

 

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April 4, 1907 : There was a packed house on hand this evening for a meeting of Harriot Stanton Blatch's "Equality League of Self-Supporting Women" at New York City's Cooper Union. The meeting was every bit as enthusiastic and ambitious as it was crowded. There were three main issues on the agenda, and the audience overwhelmingly endorsed taking strong action on all three.

Winning the vote is, of course, the organization's top priority, so a number of speakers called for woman suffrage. One of them, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, may have been the only man present who had been able to vote for equal suffrage in a State referendum. He did so while rabbi of Temple Beth Israel in Portland, Oregon, before recently returning to New York to found the Free Synagogue. He said that we would never have democracy in America until women in all States vote.

Rose Schneiderman, though primarily here to speak on the plight of women workers, offered an observation about the anti-suffragists :

"I found out while I was in Albany something that I had not known before, that you have such things as anti-suffragists. These fine ladies stand up there and say : 'Gentlemen, save us from ourselves. We don't want to vote. We have more womanly work to do. We have charity.' Charity ! I hate that word. They are the ones who live on charity - they never work. We who provide everything that they have are too nice about it."

Though it had been hoped to add Anne Cobden-Sanderson to the list of speakers who roused the crowd to their endorsement of woman suffrage, she was unable to attend due to still being in jail for her activities in England. But the gathering approved a cablegram of support to be sent to those jailed there for their militant actions on behalf of suffrage.

The next issue to be addressed was equal pay and unionization for teachers. Speakers demanded that women no longer be paid 30 or 40 percent less than men receive for the same work. After Linda Gano noted that despite the pay discrepancy, women are not given cheaper theater tickets or discount fares on public transit, Joseph Barondess spoke to the need for more assertiveness and unionization by teachers :

"It is not fair to expect women teachers to live on $ 22.50 per week, but at the same time we should not forget that there are 25,000 girls in this city who are ready to work long hours at anything that will pay them $ 5 a week.

"Women have the habit of asking too little. An employer said to me once that they were satisfied to take home a couple of dollars to buy a feather for their hats. The women teachers should do as they have done in Chicago, form an organization and get a charter from the Central Federated Union. Yet each time that we have tried to organize the teachers they were too proud to go in with the common men. The men said they were gentlemen. The women said nothing and did nothing. Organized labor would, I believe, rise to demand equal pay for women teachers."

With only one dissenting male voice, the equal-pay resolution for New York teachers was adopted.

The third issue was one of war and peace. Anna Garlin Spencer noted :

"The one great product that women have to nourish and protect is the human being. It costs something to produce human life, and all over the land at all times women are at the same old job at the same old stand. But the time has come when women are tired of producing cheap cannon food. No man has a right to speak for himself and a woman on the question of peace. He can speak for himself, but he must let the woman speak for herself."

The resolution giving the League's respects to the upcoming Peace Congress, and expressing the hope that women would have a voice in questions of peace and war was quickly adopted.

Harriot Stanton Blatch, the League's president, has good reason to be pleased with tonight's turnout and enthusiasm, and so more such meetings should be expected in the future.

(Photo : Harriot Stanton Blatch, daughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton.)

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Inflationary note : $22.50 in 1907 = $ 559.58 in 2013 ; $ 5.00 = $ 124.35.

 

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April 5, 1965 : The circumstances surrounding the estimated one million illegal abortions that take place in this country every year were forthrightly examined earlier tonight by Walter Cronkite in "CBS Reports : Abortion and the Law."

Though beginning with statistics, such as the estimate that 350,000 of the one million women who have these operations illegally each year suffer post-operative complications, and 5,000 die, he then put a face on the issue by talking to the women who had undergone these procedures. One woman was shown driving to a supermarket parking lot, where after finding a car of a certain description, she got in, exchanged code words with the driver, and was taken to an apartment for an abortion. Since patients are shooed out as quickly as possible afterward, she was back in the parking lot an hour later, then shown driving herself home.

Another woman told of an abortionist temporarily halting the procedure while he extorted her husband for more money. A third woman recalled developing a dangerously high fever after terminating her pregnancy herself with a coat hanger.

Reputable physicians talked of having to turn away patients, knowing that they would seek out some back alley quack who would perform the procedure under atrocious conditions. Illegal abortion is now the third largest racket in the U.S., because abortion laws today remain unchanged since they were first passed, between 1830 and the 1860s. Safe, legal abortions are available only under tightly controlled circumstances which require proof to a hospital board that the pregnancy substantially endangers the woman's survival, or, occasionally, for only the most extreme of psychiatric reasons.

The procedures for gaining approval are so complicated and expensive that only wealthy women can generally take advantage of them, and it's not even widely known that these few exceptions exist. Rich women also have the option of going overseas to a few countries where abortions are easier to get legally, while middle-class women can choose Puerto Rico or Mexico, where airport cab drivers give referrals.

Though attempts are being made to liberalize state laws, none have yet been successful. In California, State Senator Anthony Beilenson has been trying to reform that state's law along the lines suggested by the American Law Institute in 1959. Their guidelines would allow abortions in case of physical or mental health endangerment to the woman, fetal deformity, or if the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest, but so far no state has reformed its law to allow even these exceptions.

When opening the program, Cronkite explained : "The illegal termination of pregnancy has reached epidemic proportions in this country. The laws which govern abortion are broken an estimated one million times a year," and "as long as the abortion laws remain unchanged, abortion will continue to be a critical problem."

In closing the hour-long show, he noted : "While men of science and law and theology talk about medicine and legality and morals, hundreds of thousands of pregnant women, unmindful of what may happen to them, secretly and fearfully seek abortions. For them there is a wide gulf between what the law commands and what they feel they must do."

Resolving this issue among all the competing viewpoints will not be easy, but C.B.S. has aired a unique, graphic and long-overdue look at what the situation really is so that needed changes can be made. This is not the first time C.B.S. has addressed the issue. Three years ago this month, on April 28, 1962, an episode of "The Defenders" was built around a doctor who crusaded for legalization and why he believed such reform was needed. All the sponsors dropped out, and only at the last minute did Speidel agree to advertise its wristbands for watches on the broadcast. C.B.S. has taken a courageous stand to air programs on this issue and should be commended.

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FOLLOW-UP : You can - and should - see this timely reminder of the world to which the antiabortion movement is fervently determined to return us :

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=3204142n

 

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April 6, 1917 : Jeannette Rankin's "No" vote at 3 a.m. this morning on the U.S. declaration of war against the Imperial German Government was defended today by suffrage leaders - even those who would have voted differently had they been in the House. It was clearly a difficult decision for the only woman ever to serve in Congress, and who was sworn in only four days ago.

 

She was one of less than 12 House members who did not vote on the first roll call. But on the second call she rose to her feet and said : "I want to stand by my country, but I cannot vote for war." Though 49 men also voted against the resolution, the fact that she was the only woman to vote on it focused attention on her, and her fellow suffragists as well.

 

Carrie Chapman Catt, president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association summed up the feelings of most. When asked if she thought Rankin missed an opportunity to further the suffrage cause by voting as she did, Catt replied :

 

"I do not believe Miss Rankin was guided by any such consideration. You must remember that Miss Rankin was not voting for the suffragists of the nation ; she represents Montana. But I do not think any higher tribute could be paid to a person in public office than to say that he voted as he thought he should vote. Miss Rankin has done nothing to be ashamed of, far from it, and she can be counted upon to do nothing that she need be ashamed of. She did her duty as her duty appeared to her. It was not for any one else to make her decision for her ..... I predicted two weeks ago that no matter how Miss Rankin voted she would be criticized. If she voted for war, she would offend the pacifists ; if she voted against it, she would offend the militarists."

 

Suffrage leader Harriet Burton Laidlaw, a personal friend of Rankin's who was present in the House gallery said : "While I should have liked for her to vote differently, she did her duty as she saw it after one of the most terrible mental struggles any woman ever had." But she also wanted to set the record straight about Rankin's demeanor during the vote : "It is not true that Miss Rankin wept, fainted, or had to be carried from her seat. She was perfectly composed. She had been asked by so many of her friends to vote for the resolution ; at the same time she was gripped by a desire to express a woman's horror of war and her principles against it. When she finally voted, she voted with intense sincerity, knowing that she was not doing the popular thing, but refusing to allow herself to be governed by motives of expediency. She just couldn't vote for war."

 

On February 25th, National American Woman Suffrage Association leaders pledged their support and services to the Government in case of war. Today they are also showing loyalty to a fellow suffragist and to the idea of voting for principle, not popularity.

 

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April 6, 1921 : There is great optimism being expressed today at National Woman's Party headquarters that the rest of the fight for women's equality may be much shorter and easier than the 72-year struggle for the vote, which ended on August 26th of last year.

Led by Elsie Hill, sixty members of the N.W.P. met with President Harding today at the White House, and came away feeling confident that the new Chief Executive was on their side, and that the Republican Party would continue its longstanding leadership role in regard to women's rights. This tradition goes back so far that when Susan B. Anthony voted "illegally" in the 1872 election, she wrote to Elizabeth Cady Stanton that night : "Well, I have been & gone & done it ! -- positively voted the Republican ticket -- strait -- this a.m. at 7 O'clock ...."

The Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment itself was first introduced into Congress by Senator A.A. Sargent (Republican of California) in 1878, and the first woman in Congress was Jeannette Rankin, Republican of Montana, elected for one term in November, 1916. There is presently one woman in Congress, Representative Alice Mae Robertson, Republican of Oklahoma.

The Woman's Party's principal goal at the moment is the Equal Rights Bill, which would eliminate all forms of sex discrimination in the Federal Government and equalize all Federal laws. Senator Charles Curtis, Republican of Kansas, has agreed to introduce and lobby for it. Hill described today's meeting with the President :

"We believe, after hearing the President's response, that he is at one with us on this matter. He assured us that every promise made to women during the campaign was meant sincerely and that one of the matters occupying his attention is the bringing of women into the business of Government. We received assurance that the legislation which the Woman's Party asks will be brought to the attention of the proper authorities in Congress, and that the President desires, as do the women of the country, the fulfillment of the 19th Amendment. There is no reason, therefore, why speedy action should not follow."

It was just two months ago that the National Woman's Party held its first convention since last year's successful ratification of the Susan B. Anthony (19th) Amendment. Though this accomplishment fulfilled the party's original purpose, the delegates were overwhelmingly and enthusiastically in favor of keeping the party intact, and are ready to work just as hard for the goal of "absolute equality" for women in all areas of American life as they did for equal suffrage.

The Equal Rights Bill will be an important first step in that process, though there is talk of a 20th Amendment, which would be a logical companion to the 19th, and put equal rights for women in the Constitution itself.

The fact that Republicans control the White House as well as both Senate and House also bodes well for rapid progress for women. It was only when Republicans got control of Congress in 1919, following the midterm elections on November 5, 1918, that the Susan B. Anthony Amendment was finally passed, over the vehement and long-standing objections of Southern Democrats. In addition to whatever traditional ideas they may have had about the role of women, Southern Democrats also objected to the fact that the Anthony Amendment gave enforcement power to Congress, not just the individual States, and that it was race-neutral, and therefore perceived as a potential "threat" to "White Rule."

When the House passed the Anthony Amendment on May 21, 1919, the vote was 104 Democrats in favor and 70 opposed, with 200 Republicans in favor and 19 opposed. In the Senate, on June 4, 1919, it was 20 Democrats in favor and 17 opposed, with 36 Republicans in favor and 8 against.

Once sent to the States for ratification, 26 of the 36 State Legislatures that ratified were controlled by Republicans, 7 by Democrats, and three had one party in the majority in the Senate, and the other in the House. Eight of the nine State Legislatures that rejected the Anthony Amendment were Democratic. Of course, it was a Democratic governor who called a Democratic Legislature into session in Tennessee, which provided the all-important 36th and final ratification needed, while Republican governors in Vermont, Delaware and Connecticut refused to take similar actions. However, it should also be noted that it was a young Republican named Harry Burn who provided the last, tie-breaking vote needed for Tennessee to ratify.

This is truly an exciting time to be a feminist. The battle for the vote stirred millions into action, and though some have retired from the battlefield after having accomplished the goal of politically empowering women, many others are combining the skills they learned during the suffrage struggle with their newly won power at the ballot box to finish the fight for equality begun in Seneca Falls in 1848.

The League of Women Voters was launched by the National American Woman Suffrage Association even before the "Votes for Women" struggle was won, and is already well-established nationally. Other groups, such as the National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs, established two years ago, and the National Council of Jewish Women, founded in 1893, continue their good work.

The National Woman's Party has now committed itself to the same kind of uncompromising demand for equality, and vigorous action in pursuit of that goal, which marked their struggle for the vote. So, it should not be long before the last vestiges of discrimination based on sex are swept away, and the injustices, indignities, and waste of so many women's talents which have gone on for so many centuries become unimaginable to future generations.

 

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April 7, 1913 : Just five weeks after overcoming the riotous conditions which beset their parade and pageant on March 3rd, suffragists from all around the nation were back in Washington, D.C. today, to stage another impressive event calling for a Constitutional amendment enfranchising women nationwide.

This event was smaller, of course, consisting of only 531 "Votes for Women" advocates, but that number was appropriate to the event's purpose. There were two marchers from each of the 48 States and one from each of the 435 Congressional Districts. At the end of the march they dropped off petitions, one for each individual member of the House and Senate. It was the largest delegation of suffragists ever to call on Congress.

After being given a welcoming speech on the Capitol steps by a member of the Senate, they entered the Capitol, where they were greeted by Representative James W. Bryan, Progressive Party, of Washington State. Bryan said that "there were enough men in the Senate and House to make it certain that the flag of woman suffrage never would be pulled down in the United States."

They then filed into the Rotunda, where 9 Senators and an equal number of Representatives from the 9 States where women already vote received them. Those members of Congress then shook hands with each of the women as they dropped their petitions into a box specially prepared for the occasion. The women then went to the galleries, where they could see the suffrage amendment resolutions introduced on the floor by Senator George Chamberlain, Democrat of Oregon, and Representative Frank Mondell, Republican of Wyoming.

The day began with a large meeting in the Columbia Theater, in which rousing speeches were made by well-known suffragists such as Alice Paul, Harriet Burton Laidlaw, Beatrice Forbes-Robertson Hale, and Janet Richards. The event, organized by Alice Paul and her National American Woman Suffrage Association Congressional Committee, then took to the streets. Led by two marching bands, there was no trouble this time as they made their way from the theater to the Capitol with adequate police protection, something totally lacking 35 days ago.

 

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April 8, 1931 : Even for Amelia Earhart, this was quite an adventurous day. Not only did she set an altitude record that was until now held by a man, she broke her own record a few hours later, and did it all in an unusual type of aircraft. No one had ever taken an autogyro to 18,000 feet, but today she did so twice, the second time soaring to 18,415 feet.

Though fixed-wing aircraft have been around for almost 30 years, this new type was only invented in 1923. It uses a standard engine and propeller on the front for forward thrust, but instead of just two wings on the side, it also has four unpowered wings above, which rotate to provide lift as the craft moves forward through the air.

Earhart arrived at Pitcairn Aviation Field, near Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, this morning with George Palmer Putnam, her husband of just under eight weeks, and Major Luke Christopher, representing the National Aeronautical Association. Christopher would be an official witness to any record she might set.

She first went aloft at 12:03, slowly gaining altitude for an hour and a half. When she knew she could go no higher, she cut the engine, then descended using only the power of the rotating blades overhead to slow her fall. She described the quiet descent as a "novel sensation."

Though one record-setting flight would have been enough to make most pilots call it a day, Earhart seemed unsatisfied with the aircraft's performance, due to a problem with the gas feed line. She told the crowd of 500 : "I think I can do better than that in this plane and I'm going to try some time in the near future."

The future turned out to be quite near, and she went up again at 4:20, this time going almost 500 feet higher, according to the barograph she carried. This instrument measures air pressure, and can therefore give an accurate reading of altitude since air pressure decreases with height.

The previous autogyro record was set by Jim Faulkner, a test pilot for Pitcairn Aviation, Incorporated. The altitude record for women in conventional aircraft is 28,773 feet, set by Ruth Nichols last month. The highest any airplane has ever flown is 43,168 feet, that record set by Lt. Apollo Soucek on June 4, 1930, though Captain Hawthorne C. Gray achieved 43,380 feet in a helium balloon on November 4, 1927.

Earhart set her first women's altitude record in 1922, just a year after learning to fly, was the first woman to cross the Atlantic, which she did as a passenger in 1928, became the first woman to fly a plane across the country later that year, and set a woman's speed record of 181 miles per hour last July.

Since she's always eager to try new things, and is never satisfied until she gets the maximum performance out of any aircraft she flies, there should be many more records and adventures in her future.

 

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April 9, 1975 : Public support for the Equal Rights Amendment remains overwhelming, according to a Gallup Poll released today. Fifty-eight per cent of the 1,542 respondents polled between March 7th and 10th said they favored the Constitutional Amendment which would ban all forms of sex discrimination, while just 24% were opposed, and 18% had no opinion.

Support for the E.R.A. was strongest among those under 30 and those in the East (both 67%). Men were actually more supportive of it (63%) than women (54%) though majorities of both sexes still favor it. Opposition was greatest among women over 50, only 46% of whom supported it, and in the South, though even there, 52% were in favor.

The E.R.A., written by Alice Paul, was introduced into Congress on December 10, 1923, by Senator Charles Curtis and Representative Daniel Anthony (nephew of Susan B.), both Republicans from Kansas. It has had the support of the Republican Party since 1940 and the Democrats since 1944. It was passed in the House by a vote of 354-23 on October 12, 1971 and by 84-8 in the Senate on March 22, 1972, and given until March 22, 1979 to gain the approval of 3/4 (38) of the 50 State Legislatures.

Twenty-two states approved it in 1972. Eight more joined them in 1973, and three more in 1974. North Dakota approved it on February 3rd, bringing the total to thirty-four. Three are expected to consider it this year : Florida, North Carolina and Missouri.

The Equal Rights Amendment is needed because the Supreme Court has never ruled that laws which discriminate on the basis of sex should be subject to the same "strict scrutiny" standard that is used to judge laws which discriminate on the basis of race or religion. Gender bias should be explicitly and permanently banned by the Constitution, and laws that discriminate against women or men should not be upheld or overturned according to some uncertain standard which changes with every new Supreme Court appointment.

The E.R.A. has three sections. Section One : "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex." Section Two : "The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article." Section Three : "This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification." There is nothing in the amendment itself about a deadline.

The pollsters also asked women : "All things considered, who has a better life in this nation, men or women ?" Three years ago, 34% of women thought they had life better. This year only 26% thought so. If this growing dissatisfaction can be translated into action on the E.R.A., those four more states can be won !

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UPDATE : Had just 7 State Senators (3 in Nevada in 1975, 2 in North Carolina in 1977 and 2 in Florida in 1979) switched their votes from "no" to "yes," the Equal Rights Amendment would have achieved ratification by the required 38 states on May 24, 1979, not stalled at 35. Public support for the E.R.A. stayed strong all through the first campaign, which ended on June 30, 1982, when the extended deadline expired. But there can never be a deadline on seeking equality, so the battle goes on, and we can still take an active part in bringing about this long-overdue victory.

On March 5, 2013, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and 10 Democratic co-sponsors introduced Senate Joint Resolution 10, the Equal Rights Amendment, to the 113th Congress, where it was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. This Committee is chaired by Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), and consists of himself plus 9 Democrats and 8 Republicans. The S.J.C.'s Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments is chaired by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), and consists of himself, 4 Democrats and 4 Republicans. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), will be introducing a companion resolution in the House.

An alternate plan for ratification, known as the "Three State Strategy" has been championed in Congress by Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) and Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ). This attempts to get a simple majority of both House and Senate to pass a resolution declaring that the time limit set by the 92nd Congress and extended by the 95th Congress is removed, the 35 ratifications achieved between 1972 and 1977 are recognized, invalidates any rescissions, and thus means that Congress will consider the E.R.A. ratified when three more states pass ratification resolutions.

Unfortunately, this plan received a severe setback on February 8th, when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was asked about it in a question-and-answer session following a speech. The lifelong feminist and strong supporter of the E.R.A. replied : "It's too late. We should start over." Without the strong support and vigorous advocacy of Justice Ginsburg, it is extremely difficult to see where five votes on the High Court to affirm E.R.A.'s ratification would come from if it were ratified in this manner, and then had its validity challenged.

But regardless of the approach taken, there are many things that can be done to promote the E.R.A., and many groups are presently doing just that. Efforts to ratify in several of the 15 unratified states are underway, and ratification in even one would certainly be proof that this is still a "live" issue and that things have changed since the 1970s. Those who live in the 35 states that originally ratified can ask their legislatures to petition Congress to submit a new E.R.A. for their approval, and/or reaffirm their original ratification.

Public support for the E.R.A. has never been higher. A poll taken in April, 2012 showed that 91% of Americans thought there should be a guarantee of legal equality for men and women in the Constitution, with only 4% opposed. Nearly 3/4 thought there already was such a Constitutional protection.

But the 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868, was never intended to bar discrimination based on sex. It wasn't until 1971 that the Supreme Court first used it to strike down a law that blatantly discriminated against women. The Court still does not subject laws that discriminate on the basis of sex to the same degree of scrutiny as those dealing with racial or religious discrimination. On September 17, 2010, Justice Antonin Scalia told an audience of law school students that there was nothing in the Constitution which bars sex discrimination and that : "If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, you have legislatures."

The current "War on Women" makes the need for an explicit and permanent statement of gender equality in the basic law of the land more obvious than ever. The feminist movement, which in 1972 was still in the early years of its "Second Wave," is vastly more powerful and widespread today,and its major goals - certainly this one - are now considered "mainstream." Arguments used by E.R.A. opponents 40 years ago would now seem like something out of the Dark Ages or a "Saturday Night Live" parody to most Americans.

Democrats renewed their support of the E.R.A. at their 2012 convention. President Obama has favored it since he was an Illinois State Senator, so all that's needed there is for rank-and-file Democrats to make sure the Party sees this as a priority issue, not something to be ritually introduced every two years then forgotten.

Republicans now seem to finally be recognizing that what worked in the 1980s isn't working in 2013. They are becoming painfully aware that almost twice as many Americans have a negative view of their party as a positive one, and that the "gender gap" at the polls is a real, and continuing phenomenon. With women now a majority of voters, the "gender gap" needs to be closed if the G.O.P. is to remain viable. There could be no better way to begin shrinking that gap than by agreeing to support - or at least not stand in the way of - a measure that is both the ultimate symbol of equality for women and the most powerful tool available for bringing it about.

It was Republicans who provided the vast majority of the votes needed to pass the 19th (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment in the House, Senate and state legislatures. Two Republicans introduced the E.R.A. into Congress in 1923, and the G.O.P. endorsed it first in 1940. Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon and Ford personally favored it, so it's time for that party to return to one of its true "traditional values."

On July 21, 1923, the National Woman's Party launched the first campaign for the E.R.A. Ninety years is far too long to wait for a basic guarantee of equality, so 2013 seems like an appropriate time to re-launch and re-invigorate the drive. Needless to say, there will be opposition to a renewed, high-profile E.R.A. campaign. But as with the issue of marriage, the tide of history is strongly rising in support of those who favor equality, so it's only a question of "when" and "how," not "if" we'll win.

 

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April 10, 1882 : An abused wife has a right to sue her husband, according to an opinion issued today by Justice John R. Brady of the New York State Supreme Court, writing for the majority. This bold departure from common law tradition is based on his interpretation of New York’s “Married Women’s Property Act,” passed in 1860 and revised in 1862. Though on the books for two decades, it has never before been cited as giving married women such independent – even equal - standing in a court of law.

The case was initiated by Theresa Schultz against her husband, Theodore. She obtained an order of arrest against him for assault and battery, and also wishes to sue him for her injuries. He tried to have the arrest order vacated on the ground that a wife can not initiate legal actions against her husband. But his attempt failed in a lower court, and today the General Term of the State Supreme Court sustained the arrest order, and in the process made it clear that the rest of the suit can proceed.

According to Justice Brady, the Legislature did intend to change the common law rule prohibiting wives from suing husbands when in 1860 and 1862 it revised the laws that pertain to married women. Though there have been previous decisions by other judges which reject this view, and who have claimed that to give wives a right to sue husbands would disturb the domestic tranquility of marriage, Brady notes :

“To allow the right [to sue] in an action of this character, in accordance with the language of the statute, would be to promote greater harmony, by enlarging the rights of the married woman and increasing the obligations of husbands, by affording greater protection to the former, and by enforcing greater restraint upon the latter in the indulgence of their evil passions.

“The declaration of such a rule is not against the policy of the law. It is in harmony with it, and calculated to preserve peace and, in a great measure, prevent barbarous acts, acts of cruelty, regarded by mankind as inexcusable, contemptible, detestable.

“It is neither too early nor too late to promulgate the doctrine that if a husband commits an assault and battery upon his wife he may be held responsible civilly and criminally for the act, which is not only committed in violation of the laws of God and man, but in direct antagonism to the contract of marriage, its obligations, duties, responsibilities, and the very basis on which it rests.

“The rules of the common law on this subject have been dispelled, routed and justly so by the acts of 1860 and 1862. They are things of the past which have succumbed to more liberal and just views, like many other doctrines of common law which could not stand the scrutiny and analysis of modern civilization.”

Justice Daniels concurred in the opinion, but Justice Noah Davis dissented, writing :

“I heartily concur in the unbounded detestation of wife-beaters which my brother Brady has so forcibly expressed ; and I think the Legislature might well provide a carefully prepared statute giving direct personal remedies by suit in such cases ; but the courts have decided that that has not yet been done, and the doctrine 'stare decisis' requires us to leave to the Court of Appeals or to the Legislature the gallant duty of setting the law free to redress by civil actions all the domestic disputes of husband and wife, whether committed by unbridled tongues or angry blows.”

Despite its name, the “Supreme Court” is not truly supreme, and the Court of Appeals, which has the final word in New York State, may rule differently. But simply the fact that such a prestigious jurist has written this strong and eloquent ruling means that the day when a married woman is considered a legally invisible appendage of her husband is either at an end, or at least drawing to a close.

 

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April 10, 1923 : Loosening the Empire State's anti-birth-control law was the subject of a hearing before a joint session of the New York State Senate and Assembly Codes Committees today. A bill sponsored by Assembly Member Samuel irving Rosenman (Democrat, 11th District), would permit physicians to freely give information on birth control to their married patients by modifying Section 1142 of the New York State Penal Code, which makes it a criminal offense for anyone to disseminate information on contraception or birth control devices themselves.

The exact legal status of birth control in the State is unclear. In a State Appeals Court decision in 1918 (People v. Sanger, 222 NY 192 ; 118 N.E. 637), the judge cited another section of the Penal Code in rendering his opinion, and allowed for a narrow exception to Section 1142 by upholding the right of doctors to give advice about, and prescriptions for, contraception to their married patients - but only when necessary for the prevention or cure of disease.

Since the burden of proof is still on the doctor to show what specific medical condition requires birth control in order to be "cured" or "prevented," and the penalties for violating the law can be quite severe (up to one year in prison), few physicians have taken advantage of Judge Crane's ruling. An explicit legal exception in Section 1142 granting doctors the right to discuss birth control would alleviate any concerns by physicians, and elevate the status of birth control itself considerably by having it distinguished from the obscene materials targeted by other sections of the statute.

A large number of the bill's supporters were in the audience as Margaret Sanger testified for half an hour in its favor. She spoke of getting thousands of letters from mothers of five, seven and ten children urging that they be allowed to receive birth control information. "Hundreds of thousands of women are being bent, bowed and broken on the wheel of maternity," she noted.

Other speakers for the bill were introduced by Mrs. Leslie Tompkins of the League of Women Voters. Rabbi Sidney E. Goldstein of New York City denied that birth control would lead to immorality, and said access to contraceptive information would save children and preserve mothers. Dr. L.E. Holt insisted that birth control was needed to "insure justice and a square deal for children."

Only three witnesses testified in opposition. Dr. James F. Rooney, president of the New York State Medical Society said that even though his group was officially neutral on the bill, he was certain that a majority of doctors were against it. Alden A. Stewart, claiming to speak for law students and businessmen, claimed that passage and implementation of the bill would increase immorality.

The final speaker, Assembly Member Louis A. Cuvillier (Democrat, 20th District), made it clear just how vehement the opposition is, and how much work lies ahead before contraception is fully decriminalized. He called birth control advocates "blasphemers" and said that any one who advocated change in the "Law of God" ought to be "swept from the face of the Earth."

Unfortunately, Cuvillier's anti-birth-control views prevailed today as members of both committees were reported to be unanimously opposed to the bill, and in an executive meeting after the hearings, the Assembly Codes Committee quickly voted to kill the proposal.

 

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April 11, 1915 : Though the date of New York's suffrage referendum is almost seven months in the future, anyone visiting the Suffrage Shop would think it was this coming Tuesday. Run by the Women's Political Union, it's at 663 Fifth Avenue, and there is always some sort of activity going on while suffrage items are being sold. Even those basic items are now more numerous and imaginative. One of the newest offerings is "suffrage soap." In addition to its practical use, it promotes the cause by including a small suffrage tract with each bar which says in green and purple colors : "Votes for Women. Equal Suffrage Means Clean Politics. Use This Soap and Do Justice to Women. Women's Political Union, 25 West Forty-fifth Street, New York City."

 

An efficient way of absorbing antisuffragist arguments is also offered in the form of blotters. But getting people to go into the shop is still a critical first step to purchasing items, so each day there is a theme. Today's theme was "Roman Catholic Day" and its purpose was to show "that the Roman Catholic Church, as a church is not against woman suffrage."

 

Joseph T. Ryan, Secretary of the Catholic Club presided, and Controller William Prendergast, who is Catholic, also attended to show his support. Father John L. Belford got a good reaction from the mostly female audience when he said :

 

"I have looked for some good reason why women should not vote and I have been unable to find one. One of the best arguments against woman suffrage that has ever been presented to me was a long editorial that appeared in the New York Times on Feb. 7. I read the editorial carefully and became convinced that the writer had given much time and thought to its composition, but he said nothing convincing. I was talking with Controller Prendergast about the editorial just now and Mr. Prendergast said that it seemed to him that the writer had written the editorial fifty years ago, and then gone to sleep and waked up on Feb. 6. I think Mr. Prendergast was kind to the writer. It seems to me that he has never waked up. I'm not sure he didn't write the editorial in his sleep.

 

The whole trend of the editorial was that if women were let loose in politics they would be a danger to our government. But would they ? Let us look at this government man has made and which he is afraid women will injure. If we are honest we must admit that in the City and State of New York the political situation is pitiful. We have a legislature in Albany that seems to be the most grossly incompetent body the Lord ever let assemble ..... Would women do any harm to this government men have established ? I am in a position to know that women would take into politics a certain amount of uprightness, a certain amount of public conscience, that would inevitably be beneficial. Honest men certainly have nothing to fear from them."

 

He then noted that there was nothing in Catholic doctrine or any decree of the Pope that would restrict the right of woman to better herself and society, and that woman suffrage would better both women and society. There are other guest speakers scheduled for each day of the week, and an "Artists' Day" is scheduled for day after tomorrow.

 

Close attention is also being paid to the Constitutional Convention meeting in Albany, and each day that it is in session each member will be presented with a different argument for suffrage. Rev. Anna Howard Shaw has just sent word that she will contribute 30 speeches to the suffrage campaign in the four States where the issue will be voted on this fall : New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

 

Two experienced women speakers from California, where women won the vote in 1911, will be arriving soon to work full-time in the four-State campaign. The anti-suffragists are busy as well, however. At a meeting attended by representatives from ten of the State's largest cities they met at the headquarters of the New York State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage to plan their work against "the proposed suffrage amendment to the State Constitution that would force the franchise on all women of the State." Their plan for victory is to convince the male voters of New York that Socialism of the kind which "the American Republic repudiates and is trying to hold in check" is behind the campaign for woman suffrage. Time will tell which group's philosophy and campaign methods will eventually win out.

 

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April 11, 1970 : Today marked the biggest victory yet for abortion rights advocates, as New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller signed a bill replacing one of America's oldest and strictest abortion prohibitions with a new law that on July 1st will make the decision of whether to terminate a pregnancy something solely between a woman and her doctor during the first 24 weeks. For 140 years, abortion has been a criminal offense in the State of New York, and has been vigorously prosecuted unless it could be proven that the procedure was necessary to save the life of the woman.

The campaign to reform the law was initiated in 1966 by Democratic Assembly Member Albert Blumenthal, with support for his bill growing steadily every year as other states reformed their laws. The first to do so was Colorado, which in 1967 passed a law allowing abortions under certain specific circumstances, such as a threat to the mental or physical health of the woman, severe fetal deformity, or if the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest. California and North Carolina eased their laws along similar lines that same year, and seven more states followed suit during 1968 and 1969.

But this year has been one of unprecedented actions. Hawaii went beyond reform by repealing its old law on March 11th, and now only requires that abortions be performed by licensed physicians in an accredited hospital. New York has not only removed all restrictions through the 24th week, but unlike Hawaii, has imposed no residency requirement. So after July 1st, any woman, in any state, who can afford to get here and pay for the procedure can have a legal abortion performed under sanitary conditions by a competent physician.

The need for reform has been acute for a long time, because abortion prohibition never stopped abortions, it just stopped them from being performed legally and safely. It has been estimated that there were 80,000 illegal abortions performed in New York City during the year of 1910, and in 1935 the Medical Examiner for the New York City Board of Health estimated that the figure for the city had increased to 190,000 annually. At that time, a quarter of the patients admitted to Bellevue Hospital obstetric wards were there due to poorly-performed illegal abortions. In 1936, Dr. Frederic Joseph Taussig did a landmark study, and calculated that there were almost 700,000 abortions performed in the U.S. every year, resulting in the deaths of 8,000 women.

Though individuals have spoken out on the toll taken by illegal abortions, and there has even been some discussion of the issue in the media over the years, the organized struggle to regain the right to abortion - a right lost between the 1830's and 1860s - is relatively recent. Not until 1959 did the American Law Institute suggest modest guidelines for reform, and it was only in 1965 that the first high-profile national organization - the A.C.L.U. - took a stand in favor of legalization. Early abortion-rights groups such as the Association to Repeal Abortion Laws in California were formed the next year.

The momentum for reform - and even outright repeal - has grown exponentially, and last year the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws was formed to work specifically on this issue on a nationwide basis.

The battle in New York this year was a bit different than in previous sessions of the Legislature. Knowing that most of those opposed to legalizing abortion were Republicans, supporters decided that the bill should be sponsored and lobbied by Republicans rather than Democrats. The strategy worked, and special thanks should go to Assembly Member Constance Cook, who convinced enough previously opposed members of her party to support the bill to put it over the top.

Credit must be shared with many others, of course. Though not its sponsor this year, Assembly Member Blumenthal spoke for it as eloquently as in any year previously, and his persistence in keeping the bill before the Legislature year after year when it had far less support is to be commended.

Democratic Assembly Member George M. Michaels also deserves special recognition. Despite vehement opposition to the bill expressed by local Democratic Party officials in his District, as well as concerns about widespread anti-abortion sentiments among his constituents, it was his vote that enabled the bill to pass the Assembly. Just as the clerk was about to announce that the bill had failed to pass, he rose to speak and said, with great emotion : "I realize, Mr. Speaker, that I am terminating my political career, but I cannot in good conscience sit here and allow my vote to be the one that defeats this bill - I ask that my vote be changed from 'no' to 'yes.' "

Governor Rockefeller has also shown great courage in signing the bill, despite Cardinal Cooke heavily lobbying him to veto it, and opposition from some very powerful members of his own Republican Party.

Though he said nothing at the official signing, Rockefeller did tell a group of reporters earlier today that "Women's liberation played an important part in the passage of this bill," as did calls to him from the wives of many Senate and Assembly members.

This is a major victory, but it's by no means the end of the battle. Abortion remains as illegal in most states today as it was a century ago. Illegal abortion mills still flourish, and women continue to turn up in hospitals and morgues following botched procedures by quacks, or self-abortions. Even in states which have "reformed" their laws, women must ask permission from hospital abortion committees, overwhelmingly composed of male doctors.

But though many 19th Century abortion laws still stand, they are no longer going unchallenged. A number of cases are working their way through the state and Federal courts, and many favorable decisions may be expected in regard to overturning such clearly unjust statutes. Public support for reform is growing, and whether through ballot referenda or lobbying of legislators, New York is not likely to to be the last state where feminists will be successful in achieving meaningful reform or outright repeal.

Though exactly how or when the struggle to re-legalize abortion will be won is uncertain, the fight so far has made two things clear : Victory will eventually come, but when it does, the fight to defend women's reproductive rights will be just as hard as the campaign to win them.

 

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April 12, 1973 : Credit abuses against women, such as a rule requiring a married woman who wants a loan to produce a doctor's certificate stating she is either using "accepted methods of contraception" or is unable to have children, may soon be illegal in New Jersey. By a unanimous vote, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act passed the State Assembly today, and now goes to the Senate. If passed there and signed into law, it would prohibit discrimination in credit on the basis of sex or marital status.

According to the bill's sponsors, four men and two women : "There is an assumption in the business community that women are poor credit risks. This assumption is false. To the contrary, available relevant studies indicate that women are better credit risks than men."

Additional examples of the kinds of bias women still encounter are as numerous as they are offensive. Banks can refuse to issue a credit card to a married woman in her own name instead of her husband's. They can require a cosigner for a woman when one would not be required for a man submitting an identical application, apply more stringent standards to women when seeking personal loans, refuse to count child support payments or alimony as income, and not count the salary of a wife when a married couple makes a mortgage loan application.

The case that sparked the legislation is that of attorney Cynthia M. Jacob of Kingston, who applied for an automobile loan with the Franklin National Bank. They refused the loan because the application lacked her husband's signature. Her complaint was heard by the Senate Division on Equal Rights, and while it is still deciding whether to act, the Assembly has taken quick action.

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UPDATE : On October 28, 1974, President Ford signed the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, outlawing credit discrimination based on gender or marital status in all 50 states. Cynthia M. Jacob is still a practicing lawyer who specializes in fighting employment discrimination and has been listed in "The Best Lawyers In America" since 1995.

 

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April 13, 1970 : Grove Press became the third media target of feminists in the past month as activists led by Robin Morgan staged a sit-in today to protest Grove's sexual exploitation of women in its publications, as well as its union-busting policies.

Emily Goodman, lawyer for the Women's Liberation Front, which called the action, said it was the dismissal of eight employees, six of them women, soon after they attended a union rally and took out union cards on April 5th, that was the final trigger for today's takeover : "Grove Press won't let women be anything but secretaries, scrub women and sex symbols," she said.

The demonstration began at 8 a.m., and after the firm's executive offices were seized, a banner reading "Grove liberated by women for women" was hung from the window. Coincidentally, a union group was holding a street protest over the firings as well, so the two groups exchanged shouts of support.

Among the demands made were that Grove establish child-care centers for its employees, and Grove's profits from "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" be turned over to the Black community. And because Grove "earned millions off the basic theme of humiliating, degrading and dehumanizing women through sado-masochistic literature and pornographic films," the protesters demanded that profits from Grove's erotica go to help women who are victimized by the images it shows, suggesting donations to programs that help women who have been raped, or a defense fund for prostitutes, as examples.

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April 14, 1910 : President Taft discovered today that suffragists can sometimes be a tough audience. He came to greet the delegates to the National American Woman Suffrage Association convention, and though he was given a standing ovation as he entered the room, as well as at the end of his speech, the President was hissed at one point by some of the delegates.

Taft said that he had been a bit unsure about whether to come to the convention, since his views are not entirely in harmony with those of N.A.W.S.A., "but I consider that the movement represents a sufficient part of the intelligence of the community to justify my coming here and welcoming you to Washington." He said that he was "always more impatient with those who go only half way with me than those who oppose me," so he must have known that there might be a rough spot ahead.

He said that he was a strong and "orthodox" advocate of woman suffrage when he was in high school, and that his father had favored it as well. Needless to say, this caused great cheers from the audience, accompanied by the waving of white handkerchiefs. But next he did something odd for a politician, by telling his audience something different from what he knew they would want to hear. He said that actual experience had modified his enthusiasm. Though woman suffrage seemed to work reasonably well in sparsely populated Western States, that might not be the case if it was won in densely-populated Eastern States :

"If I could be sure that women as a class would exercise the franchise, I would be in favor of it. At present time there exists in my mind considerable doubt."

He said his hesitation about endorsing universal woman suffrage had to do with the possibility that the vote would not be exercised by the vast majority of women, but used only by "that part of the class least desirable as political constituents and may be neglected by many of those who are intelligent and patriotic and would be most desirable as members of the electorate."

That brought out the hisses, and a retort by the President : "Now, my dear ladies, you must show yourselves equal to self-government by exercising in listening to opposing arguments that degree of restraint without which successful self-government is impossible."

The rest of the speech went smoothly, and after being given a hearty round of applause as he finished speaking, he assured a somewhat embarrassed Rev. Anna Howard Shaw, President of N.A.W.S.A., that his feelings had not been injured in the least by the brief incident of hissing.

Senator Robert Owen, Democrat of Oklahoma, America's newest and 46th State, followed the President. His remarks were enthusiastically received by the audience. He endorsed the suffrage movement "without apology," and told the cheering crowd : "I face the prejudice of men of ten thousand years in advocating suffrage for women. Even if the entire race of men contradicts me, I still assert that woman is entitled to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness."

Following the speeches, Dr. Shaw announced that there would be an open-air suffrage demonstration tomorrow, with Harriot Stanton Blatch in charge. Considering the large number of delegates who are here at the convention from all around the country, it should certainly impress upon Congress the growing power and new militance of this almost 62-year-old movement.


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April 15, 1929 : The Birth Control Clinical Research Bureau's clinic was raided this morning by New York City police, who arrested two doctors and three nurses, then confiscated massive amounts of "evidence," including private patient records.

Dr. Hannah Mayer Stone, medical director, Dr. Elizabeth Pissoort, assistant director, and nurses Antoinette Field, Sigrid H. Brestwell, and Marcella Sideri were charged with violation of Section 1142 of the New York State Penal Code, which classifies birth control devices and contraceptive information as obscenity.

The raid was as surprising as it was outrageous, because it has been 11 years since State Appeals Court Judge Frederick Crane ruled that though New York State's ban on birth control and the dispensing of birth control information was valid, an exception must be made for doctors prescribing contraception to their married, adult patients "for the cure or prevention of disease."

The clinic has operated since 1923, and was the first legal provider of birth control in the United States. Sanger's original 1916 clinic was repeatedly raided and shut down. This clinic was operated in such a way as to specifically conform to the law, as interpreted in 1918 by Judge Crane, in that only licensed physicians dispensed birth control and only to married women whose health would be put at risk by a pregnancy.

In an ironic note, just moments before the raid occurred, a visiting out-of-State physician was talking to one of the members of the staff, and asked if they had any trouble with the authorities. He was told : "No, those days have passed."

But almost immediately after that conversation, eight police officers came in, pushed the clinic's many women patients and their children out into the street, took their names, then began arresting the doctors and nurses, while confiscating practically everything in sight, from forceps used to handle instruments being sterilized to confidential patient files.

Margaret Sanger herself was not arrested, as she was at home at the time of the raid. But after being summoned to the clinic, she had some choice words to say about the disorganized raid : "The police were rather nasty, but what can you expect ? They didn't even know how to make a raid. I've had so much experience with raids I could have taught them something."

Sanger did her best to protect the confidentiality of the patients, telling police officer Mary Sullivan : "You have no right to touch those files. Not even the nurses ever see them. They are the private property of the doctors ; and if you take them you will get into trouble." Sullivan then said : "Trouble ?" I get into trouble ? What about the trouble you're in ?" Sanger then said : "I wouldn't change mine for yours." Sullivan then remarked : "Well, this is my party. You keep out." Needless to say, Sanger did not take that advice and accompanied her staff to the police station where they were booked, then released on bail until their trials.

 

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April 16, 1927 : It was announced today that a list of New York City law firms which hire women is being prepared by Kappa Beta Pi, a legal sorority, so that female graduates of the law schools which admit women will not have to waste their time applying to local firms that will automatically reject their applications.

Emily Marx, Secretary of the sorority's New York Chapter said : "We are cataloging the city's law firms where embryo Portias are welcome on the same terms as their fellows. It is hoped that graduates with good scholastic records will thus be saved weeks of weary job hunting."

Marx's project will be extremely valuable to the new graduates, who won't have to repeat her experience. When she canvassed 175 law firms looking for a job after graduation, all but 25 said they didn't want a woman lawyer in the office, and though the rest held out some hope, they had no vacancy.

Her first interview was with the somewhat bemused senior partner of a well-known law firm who was quite astonished to see a woman applying for a job. But she was still quite encouraged when he said that he would never want to be accused of turning down a Yale graduate who was a member of the Law Review just because she was a woman. After consulting with the other senior partner, however, he came back and told her : "No girls."

After weeks of similar rejections, Marx did find a firm that would hire her, and says that there are more such open-minded law offices in New York, but women need to know which ones they are.

There are about 35 chapters of Kappa Beta Pi, mostly in the West, because many Eastern law schools do not admit women. About 250 members now hold positions in New York City law firms, but the problem is to find jobs for 100 new graduates who come to the city looking for work each year. Kappa Beta Pi was the first legal sorority, founded in 1908 at the Chicago-Kent College of Law to promote high standards among women law students and practicing attorneys.

The number of women lawyers has been increasing rapidly, though they still constitute a small percentage of the profession. According to the 1870 Census, only five women were actively practicing at that time. By 1900 that number had increased to 1,010, and stood at 1,738 as of the latest Census in 1920. Women comprised 1.1% of the profession in 1900, and 1.4% in 1920. Hopefully, projects similar to the one outlined today will be tried in other cities as well, and that percentage can be increased.

 

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April 17, 1894 : Victory for the woman suffrage campaign - and equal pay for equal work - must be rapidly approaching if today is any example of the momentum that's now being generated in their favor. There were three suffrage meetings held in the New York City area, with enthusiasm running high at all three.

The largest meeting was held at the home of Dr. Egbert Guernsey, 528 Fifth Avenue, with Lillie Devereux Blake as the principal speaker. She sees a direct connection between unequal pay and political inequality, and believes that women must become more militant on both fronts : "Woman is the great unpaid laborer .... men would be running over each other to see that women had equal pay if they had the privilege of voting."

Blake then noted that "women should be companions for men," and couples should discuss the important legislation of the day together. Especially critical are those bills that pertain to household issues : "Give us reason to be interested in these things and you will see that we understand them." She has been quoted previously as saying that woman suffrage is a logical next step, because as our county has become less barbaric, it first removed property qualifications for voters, then racial restrictions, and the last vestige of prejudice in the New York State Constitution - the word "male" in regard to who is qualified to vote - should now be removed as well.

John D. Townsend gave personal testimony that the suffrage campaign is being fought with all the vigor that its supporters could hope for : "There is no doubt that woman will succeed in obtaining the amendment to the State Constitution which she seeks. You cannot go anywhere now but someone meets you with a woman suffrage petition and asks you to sign it - and every one does sign."

However, Townsend called for tact in regard to lobbying the men who can put a suffrage referendum on the November 6th ballot along with a number of other Constitutional reforms : "I would suggest to the women that they deal very gently with the men who are going to the Constitutional Convention. Treat them well and feed them well. They will do everything in the way of right laws ; if they do not, then will be the time to speak."

Theodore Sutro received a warm round of applause when he said : "That women do not have the privilege of the ballot seems to me contrary to all ideas of justice in this free country. It is only in accordance with principles of logic - and I might say grammar - that the word 'male' should be stricken from the Constitution."

The Brooklyn Woman Suffrage Association also held a well-attended meeting, and there was a pro-suffrage gathering at the home of the Torries, at 64 West 55th Street.

After nearly 46 years of continuous struggle since the first Women's Rights Convention at Seneca Falls, woman suffrage - at least in New York State - could be only seven months away. With such a victory in the nation's most populous State, others should soon follow suit, with a Federal Constitutional Amendment assuring nationwide woman suffrage the next and final step.

With the ballot guaranteeing women's political equality, equal opportunity and equal pay in all professions should logically follow. So though long overdue, the end of political, legal and economic inequality for women appears to be within sight, but certainly not attainable without a good deal more work, and the same level of dedication to equality that has brought the movement so far in less than half a century.

 

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April 17, 1943 : While asking for even greater involvement and sacrifice by women in our war effort, President Roosevelt noted today that women have more reason than most Americans to want to defeat the misogynists of the Axis powers. He said that :

 

"In a profound sense, it is a women's war. It is a woman's war, first, because we have never before faced an enemy whose pronounced policy has been the degradation of womanhood, whose ultimate design is to build a world where women everywhere will be slaves. In shops and offices, in factories and farms, women are doing men's jobs, that men may be free to do the supreme job of beating the Axis. Women have played heroic roles in every crisis of our history, but no other crisis has so deeply threatened their freedom, or so urgently demanded their strength."

 

He received an enthusiastic response from the congress of the Daughters of the American Revolution, now meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio.

 

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April 18, 1910 : Today was a busy one for the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Before the morning was over, convention delegates re-elected Rev. Anna Howard Shaw as their leader, and had begun a procession of almost 50 automobiles to Capitol Hill. The motorized parade was bearing petitions signed by over 404,000 citizens who want the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment passed by Congress, then sent to the States for ratification.

The caravan got off to a bit of a late start, however, due to a change of plans. Originally, the petitions were all together in one huge and quite impressive roll in a large express wagon. But at the last minute it was decided to unroll them and divide them up so that each State leader could arrive with the petitions from their State. It took about a half hour to do this, but once that was accomplished, a wonderfully colorful procession of automobiles and taxicabs began to roll down Pennsylvania Avenue, each carrying a banner from one of the 46 States, plus cars for NAWSA officers.

After being given a warm reception at the Capitol Steps, the petitioners then descended on Congress, making sure that each member was given a petition from his District or State, and then they were urged to officially present the petitions to Congress. Everyone went into the galleries to see who would follow through on their request. A number of members of both House and Senate did as they had been asked, but the enthusiastic reaction to the speeches presenting the petitions almost got the NAWSA members booted out of the Senate.

The most popular presentation was made by Senator Robert "Fighting Bob" LaFollette, Republican of Wisconsin, who said that he hoped Congress would bring the ballot "into the hands of an intelligent part of our citizenship that should have received it long ago." This caused an understandable burst of cheers from the gallery, and Senator John Kean, Republican of New Jersey, who was presiding, called for order.

Decorum lasted until Senator Moses Clapp, Republican of Minnesota, made his presentation. His speech sparked a well-deserved round of applause, to which Senator Kean responded : "No applause allowed in the United States Senate." Three applauders laughed, and now Senator Kean said : "If there is a repetition, the Sergeant-At-Arms will be ordered to clear the galleries." Not wanting to miss any of the kind words of supportive Senators, everyone in the galleries then quietly enjoyed hearing the cause promoted on the Senate floor.

In the House, no speeches were permitted during the presentation of petitions, but visitors were allowed to applaud as each pro-suffrage member went up to the Speaker's desk and deposited his petitions. The largest number of signatures, 72,000, was from New York, with Utah, an equal-suffrage State, contributing the next-highest total of 40,000.

Today was the culmination of a year-long effort to gather signatures by NAWSA's State chapters. Some of the more prosperous ones would rent out booth space at county fairs and other events, while in other States, NAWSA members would simply walk around soliciting signatures from crowds at various public events.

It is hoped that this presentation will be enough to get the Anthony Amendment out of Congressional Committees, where it has been bottled up for the past fourteen years. Tomorrow, "Votes for Women" advocates will appear before the Senate Committee on Woman Suffrage and the House Committee on the Judiciary to make the case for nationwide woman suffrage.

 

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April 19, 1929 : Outrageous as the April 15th raid on the Birth Control Clinical Research Bureau may have been, it was quite gratifying to see that it caused 500 people to come to Manhattan's Jefferson Market Courthouse this morning to show their support for the two doctors and three nurses who were arrested.

Defense committees composed of prominent individuals have been formed in both New York and New Jersey, and the sight of so many well-known and well-respected individuals filling the seats in the courtroom shows how far the movement to legalize birth control has come in just over a decade and a half, and that kind of outpouring of support certainly bodes well for the future.

Today's preliminary hearing was quite brief, lasting only about 40 minutes. But it was long enough to hear from police officer Anna K. McNamara, who gathered the "evidence" for the arrests. McNamara testified that on orders from Mary Sullivan, director of the New York Police Department's Women's Bureau, she made three visits to the clinic seeking information on birth control. She admitted that she gave the clinic personnel a false story so they would believe she could legally be given such advice. That belief was based on a decision by Judge Frederick Crane in 1918. Though he upheld New York State's law banning distribution of birth control devices and contraceptive information, he said that the law must make an exception for licensed physicians giving contraceptive advice to their married patients "for the cure or prevention of disease."

As Morris L. Ernst, attorney for the five women put it : "If the doctor is acting in good faith with the thought that the birth control information will prevent disease, that is all we have to prove. It is the burden of the prosecution to prove bad faith of the doctor."

Though a crowded calendar prevented him from having time to hear more witnesses today, Magistrate Rosenbluth indicated great interest in the case, especially in regard to carefully examining the legality of all the warrants issued and hearing more about the overzealous methods used in the raid. He seemed especially troubled by the confiscation of patient records. Assistant District Attorney John Hogan seemed aware that this violation of privacy was totally out of line, and promised that all the records would be returned to the clinic. Everyone is eager to hear from Annie Sullivan, not present today, to find out whether the undercover operation and raid were actions that she initiated on her own, or if she was only following orders from someone higher up.

The reason for the raid is still a mystery. The Birth Control Clinical Research Bureau has been operating legally and openly - though quietly - since 1923, and has always been very careful to have reputable, licensed physicians give contraceptive advice only to married women whose health could be endangered without it. It has been a decade since entrapment, raids and jail sentences were commonly used against birth control advocates, so some as yet unknown factor triggered this assault. It is hoped that five days from now, when the trial begins, vigorous questioning by defense attorneys of everyone involved will bring out the raid's true instigators and their motives, followed by a quick acquittal of all defendants.

 

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April 19, 1967 : Though they had to do it illegally, women have now run in the Boston Marathon ! Kathrine Switzer and Roberta Gibb ran today despite the race having been strictly limited to male athletes since its inception in 1897, and the determination of officials to keep it that way.

Reporters spotted her a few miles from the start, accompanied by two male college classmate runners. Because her hair was flying and she was no longer trying to remain inconspicuous, members of the press began making some remarks in the presence of race officials sharing the bus about there being “a girl in the race.”

Race Directors Will Cloney and Jock Semple ordered the driver to stop the bus, then ran toward Switzer, with Jock trying to grab her, yelling : “Get the hell out of my race, and give me that race number !” (She got a number because her coach filed a health certificate for her as "K. Switzer," so she did not need to take the pre-race physical exam and officials assumed she was male.) Semple briefly gripped her sweatshirt, but immediately one of the runners with her - who was also her 235-pound boyfriend - used a body block on Semple that sent him flying. That seemed to discourage the officials sufficiently to prevent any future attacks.

Gibb, the other female runner, apparently managed to run the race without being noticed until just before the finish line when an official stepped in front of her, blocking her path. Had she finished, her time would have been 3:27:17 and she would have been 266th. Gibb says that she snuck into the race last year, and ran without any official noticing that she was a woman.

Switzer says she finished in 4 hours and 20 minutes, and that "This was my first marathon, and I wanted mostly to finish, so I wasn't concerned about time and I jogged through." When asked about the international rule that bars track competition between men and women, and the Amateur Athletic Union rule in the U.S. that limits women to racing only up to 1.5 miles, she said : "Gee, I didn't know about those rules. But I think it's time to change the rules. They are archaic. Women can run, and they can still be women and look like women. I think the A.A.U. will begin to realize this and put in longer races for women ... A lot of people said women couldn't run a marathon. But I'm glad I ran - you know, equal rights and all that kind of business."

Will Cloney feels differently, of course : "Women can't run in the marathon because the rules forbid it. Unless we have rules, society will be in chaos. I don't make the rules, but I try to carry them out. We have no place in the marathon for any unauthorized person, even a man. If that girl were my daughter, I would spank her."

It’s been said that “an ounce of experience is better than a ton of theory,” so now that today's experience has clearly disproved the theory that women lack the stamina for marathons, the burden of proof now shifts to race officials around the country to justify why women should still be prohibited from running the long races, and if they can't come up with a new, and much better excuse, admit them immediately.

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April 20, 1912 : There is great excitement and activity today at two New York City suffrage offices, as the day of the big parade approaches. May 4th is just two weeks away, with anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 marchers expected for what should be by far the largest and most elaborate suffrage pageant ever presented.

Suffrage parades began four years ago, when about two dozen brave women defied custom - and the police - by marching a few blocks on February 16, 1908. In 1910 the idea was tried again, with the number of marchers increased to four hundred, and last year there were three thousand. Thanks to annual repetition, favorable publicity, and official city permission making the idea seem less radical, more and more people are taking part. The big victory in California on October 10th has also helped to re-energize the suffrage movement, so there's really no telling how large this year's parade may turn out to be.

Today the Women's Political Union was not only open - unusual for a Saturday afternoon - but packed with women in white suits, tri-color sashes and the new 39-cent "Votes for Women" parade hats they'll all be wearing. Well, almost all. Harriot Stanton Blatch, daughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, president of Vassar's Class of 1878, and W.P.U. president, will be wearing a mortar board and college gown when she leads the parade, and several other officers will be doing the same.

Meanwhile, at the Woman Suffrage Party's new headquarters, up to 50 women have been hard at work making "five dollar banners" for thirty-seven and a half cents. Sixty-three banners are in production, one for each Assembly District in the city. Large black letters are being cut out, then sewn on to "suffrage yellow" banners.

The work commenced very early this morning, and only now, at 6:00, does it seem to be finishing up. The W.S.P.'s new and much bigger headquarters certainly comes in handy for occasions like this, and each of the seven rooms and ten closets is being fully utilized.

As the date of the parade gets closer, volunteers are especially needed by the Women's Political Union, 46 East 29th Street (Telephone : Madison Square 9880), and the Woman Suffrage Party, 30 East 34th Street, so drop in if you can. There is a wonderfully friendly, optimistic atmosphere in both locations, and if the parade gets the kind of unprecedented turnout that's hoped for, volunteers can not only tell their grandchildren that they marched, but that they had the opportunity to meet many well-known suffrage leaders, and did the hard work that helped make this landmark event such a success.

 

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April 21, 1913 : This certainly has been a newsworthy day for woman suffrage ! The main event was in Washington, D.C., where many Senators and Representatives from States in which women already vote argued in favor of the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment at hearings before the Senate Committee on Woman Suffrage.

Senator George Chamberlain, Democrat of Oregon, where women won the vote in a suffrage referendum on November 5th, said : "I expect to see conditions in my State bettered, if they can be bettered, now that women have a vote. I expect Oregon to teach a lesson to the 'effete East' in legislation for the good of her citizens. The women are instinctively on the side of moral right."

Harry Lane, Oregon's other Democratic Senator, declared : "Woman is the full partner of man through life. I am a physician, and I give my testimony to this fact. It I had my way I would give the women of the country the ballot on a silver salver [tray] with apologies for giving it so late." He noted that in his battles against the liquor interests women had always given him great support. Republican Representative Burton French said that in his State of Idaho, where women have had the vote since 1896, women vote in the same numbers as men, thus showing that women do want the vote.

Meanwhile, Alva Belmont is preparing to go to the upcoming International Woman Suffrage Conference in Budapest, which opens June 15th. She said today that on her journey she will stop in Britain to see the Pankhursts, and learn something of their militant methods. Though she hopes New York will pass a suffrage referendum in 1915, Tammany Hall Democrats are unfriendly, and liquor interests are very strong, so if the effort is unsuccessful, she believes it will then be time to use English-style tactics :

"It is not pleasant to go out and smash windows. You wouldn't like it and I would not like to, but it is the only thing to be done."

On a more peaceful note, she said that she's collecting the statements of anti-suffragists, and will put them in a book some day, "and they will not be proud of them" when equal suffrage is taken for granted as simple, basic justice.

Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore may have given Belmont an entry for her book today. When Inez Milholland recently charged that the Catholic Church was opposed to woman suffrage and trying to keep Catholic women from reading suffrage literature, Gibbons said that though he is vehemently opposed to woman suffrage, the Church is neutral. He feels that a woman is :

"... the queen of the domestic kingdom, and her proper sphere is the home. If she were to embark on the ocean of political life, it is very much to be feared that her dignity would be impaired, if not jeopardized ... As soon as women seek to enter the arena of politics they may expect to be soiled by its dust. And the grace and charm inherent in woman would be very seriously impaired by her rude contact with men in political life.

"The wife who absents herself from her home invariably neglects her children and causes her husband to suffer by her absence ... Although women may not now exercise suffrage, the finest among them are voting by proxy. Their power is incalculable. We cannot exaggerate the influence of a good woman on the men of her circle. What would be the value to our National life of votes obtained by the ragtag tactics that disgrace the name of womanhood ?"

Unfortunately, the male voters of Michigan seem to feel the same way as the Maryland Cardinal. The results of the April 7th suffrage referendum have now been fully tallied, and it has gone down to defeat. It had been hoped that the rural counties which had adopted alcohol prohibition would also be supportive enough of woman suffrage to offset the votes in big cities where saloons still operate freely and the liquor industry has great power. But unlike California in 1911, where farm, ranch and small town votes saved the day, this time there was no difference between the country and city vote, and the measure went down by about 100,000.

So, equal suffrage today still remains a phenomenon exclusive to the West. But with November's victory in Oregon, all West Coast women now have the vote, and the newly-enfranchised women of Kansas have brought equality to within 240 miles of the Mississippi River. Once that barrier is breached, many new States in the East can be won, because the way suffrage has spread throughout nine Western States is by winning campaigns in States next to those where women already vote, and residents can see that it benefits, not harms their neighbors.

 

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April 22, 1919 : Pennsylvania suffragists have never lacked determination, and today their persistence paid off, as the House passed a bill, by an almost two-to-one margin, to put a suffrage referendum on the State ballot in 1921. "Votes for Women" advocates in the Keystone State never gave up after the 1915 suffrage referendum went down to defeat, along with referenda in three other big Eastern States that Fall. They have been hard at work ever since, and have greatly increased public support for suffrage in Pennsylvania, so once the Senate has passed the bill and the Governor has signed it, the referendum should easily pass.

But the proposed Pennsylvania Suffrage Referendum of 1921 is just one small part of the reason why optimism now abounds among suffragists. Just yesterday, Iowa became the eighth State in three months whose legislatures have passed bills enabling women to vote for President. Though only partial victories, in that women do not yet have full voting rights in these newly won States, the fact that women can now vote for President in 27 States, which have a combined total of 302 Electoral Votes, means that regardless of whether the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment is passed in time to assure full voting rights for women in all States in the 1920 election, women's votes will be crucial to Presidential candidates in that - and all future - elections.

Leaders of the National American Woman Suffrage Association are confident that the addition of Iowa, Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Wisconsin and Tennessee as Presidential suffrage States (with Vermont's status in question while the Governor's veto of the legislation is being challenged) will be enough to pressure Congress into passing the Anthony Amendment. The members of the new Congress will represent 15 States in which women vote on the same basis as men, 12 in which they have Presidential suffrage, and 29 States in which women have some form of local suffrage (some of which are the same States in which they have Presidential suffrage) and two in which women can vote in party primaries.

There are now about 15,500,000 women eligible to vote for the next President - a number just 2,000,000 less than the total number of votes actually cast for the two major party candidates in the 1916 Presidential election. The West has only one State - New Mexico - where women cannot vote for President, and even the "Solid South" has cracked a bit, as Tennessee women will be able to help elect the next President.

The 66th Congress will be back in session on May 19th, and it is expected that the House will once again pass the Anthony Amendment almost immediately. Though polls from various suffrage groups show uncertainty over whether there are precisely enough votes in the Senate, or whether one vote is still lacking for the required 2/3 majority, the sudden rush of support for Presidential suffrage by the legislatures of so many States can only add to the pressure on Senators to vote in favor of the Amendment. Then it's on to the States, where 36 of 48 are required to ratify, and though there is no deadline for ratification, every effort will be made to achieve it in time for women to register for the 1920 election.

 

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April 23, 1963 : A major advance today in the fight for birth control, as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists officially endorsed giving contraceptive information to those who want it. The national battle over birth control has been raging for half a century now, and it was said today that the long delay in the twelve year old group's endorsement was caused by the fact that so many ACOG members who are Catholic (presently about a quarter) oppose making birth control information available, and the other members didn't feel strongly enough about the issue to push the resolution through until now.

Today, however, an endorsement not only passed, but apparently did so without dissent in the closed-door meeting. The group's president, Dr. George E. Judd, of Los Angeles, said the "emotionalism" surrounding the issue in the past seemed to have died down. So, times have clearly changed. Some ACOG members said after the vote that this resolution had been "ridiculously" delayed.

Planned Parenthood Medical Director Dr. Mary Calderone expressed her delight at the resolution, and said : "We have reached a turning point." She referred not only to the ACOG resolution, but the National Academy of Sciences report on population published this week, and the fact that the Federal Government has just reversed its previous stand and will now give birth control information on request to those participating in foreign aid programs.

For many decades, both Federal law (the 1873 "Comstock Act") and the State laws which were passed soon afterward, classified birth control devices, as well as information about contraception, as "obscenity," with harsh criminal penalties for those who defied the prohibition. But hard work in the form of taking the case for birth control to the public in various forums, legislative lobbying and legal challenges have brought progress. In 1918, Judge Frederick Crane ruled that in New York State, an exception must be made to Section 1142 of the State Penal Code so that physicians could prescribe birth control to their married patients for the "cure and prevention of disease." In 1936, Federal Judge Augustus Hand exempted physicians from the Comstock Act's ban on contraceptive devices and birth control information.

Today, restrictions vary among the States, but only two - Massachusetts and Connecticut - still have absolute bans on birth control. Connecticut's law is under challenge. Estelle Griswold and Dr. C. Lee Buxton opened a birth control clinic in New Haven in November, 1961, and were soon arrested and convicted of violating the State's 1879 law. Their case is now on appeal, and a favorable ruling by the Supreme Court could end the battle over birth control by fully legalizing it nationwide.

The ACOG resolution reads : "The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists believes scientific research should be greatly expanded on (a) all aspects of human fertility and (b) the interplay of biologic, psychologic, and socio-economic factors influencing population changes ; and that full freedom should be extended to all population groups for the selection and such use of methods for the regulation of family size as are consistent with the creed and mores of the individuals concerned."

 

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April 24, 1929 : A new flight endurance record for women was set today, as 17-year-old Elinor Smith stayed in the air for an incredible 26 hours, 21 minutes and 32 seconds. She is the first woman to fly over 24 hours, eclipsing the old mark set by Louise McPhetridge by four hours and eighteen minutes. Not only did she set the record, she flew the last couple of hours with a faulty stabilizer control.

Despite her age, she has a good deal of flying experience. She took her first plane ride at age six, and began taking flying lessons at ten, though she had to sit on a pillow and her instructor had to tie blocks to the rudder pedals so her feet could reach. She soloed for the first time at the age of fifteen, and set an official altitude record for a light plane of 11,889 feet three months later. Orville Wright finalized her license from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale, and in September of 1927 she became the youngest U.S. Government licensed pilot on record, just a few weeks after her 16th birthday. Today she is one of just 117 licensed women pilots in the country.

She has been well known to New Yorkers since last October 21st, when she flew under all four East River Bridges (Queensboro, Williamsburg, Manhattan and Brooklyn), dodging several ships as she did so, and earning the nickname "The Flying Flapper." Her feat today was enough to rate a telegram from Amelia Earhart saying : "Congratulations. You're famous," and a visit from the designer of her Bellanca monoplane, when Mr. Bellanca flew in from New Castle, Delaware, to greet her.

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FOLLOW-UP : Her career in aviation would turn out to be a very long and exciting one. While still 18, she was hired by the Irving Air Chute Company for their promotional tour, and at one stop, she piloted the plane while an unprecedented 7 parachutists jumped. At 19 she became a test pilot for Fairchild Aviation Corporation and Bellanca Aircraft.

While still a teenager, she beat out Amelia Earhart when named "Best Female Pilot of 1930" by her fellow aviators. In 1931 she set a women's altitude record of 34,500 feet. By 1934 she was so well known and respected that she became the first woman whose picture was featured on a Wheaties box. She endorsed several commercial products, and NBC radio hired her as a commentator when covering aviation events.

Though she temporarily retired from aviation at the age of 29 to concentrate on raising her family, she returned to the air in 1956. In 2000, she successfully completed a simulated landing of the Space Shuttle, becoming the oldest pilot - male or female - to do so. She continued flying until April, 2001. She lived until March 19, 2010, and was able to see her younger self portrayed in a 2009 film about Amelia Earhart.

 

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April 24, 1934 : Today the National League of Women Voters called for full mobilization to fight against attacks on married women who hold paying positions outside the home. They urged all their members to vigorously support the Celler Bill, which was introduced into the House last week at the L.W.V.’s request. It would repeal Section 213 of the National Economy Act of 1932. This provision requires that if there are to be personnel reductions in a government department, those who have a spouse working in government service must be dismissed first :

“In any reduction of personnel in any branch or service of the United States Government or the District of Columbia, married persons (living with husband or wife) employed in the class to be reduced shall be dismissed before any other persons employed in such class are dismissed, if such husband or wife is also in the service of the United States, or the District of Columbia.”

Though seemingly sex-neutral, it’s really a “fire the wives” provision. Since men have access to more occupational categories, especially the higher-paying ones, and are promoted more rapidly, husbands virtually always earn more than wives. So it’s going to be the wife who must sacrifice her lower-paying, often dead-end job in order to keep the family income as high as possible if they have to get along on one salary. Experience also shows that if neither spouse “voluntarily” resigns, women are the ones targeted for dismissal, not men.

Though not as overt a form of discrimination as some private employers who have publicly declared their intention to fire wives, or now openly refuse to hire married women, or school boards which have traditionally employed only single women as teachers, the fact that this is the same Government which gives wives an “equal opportunity” to pay taxes and suffer penalties for breaking its laws makes this policy especially offensive.

The alleged motive for this practice is to spread scarce jobs around among families, but if that were the true goal, there would be a ban on employment by any two family members who lived in the same household (parent and child, brother and sister, etc.), but Section 213 is worded in such a way that married women are clearly its intended victims.

According to Marguerite Wells, who heads the L.W.V.'s Legislative Committee, and is also a candidate for L.W.V. President this year : "Women fully qualified for specific work have been dismissed for the sole reason they were married. We believe that merit is the principal qualification for appointment to government service, and that marital status should have no weight in the dismissal of persons from the service.

"In supporting the measure, the league is not moved by sentimental appeal. It is concerned only with justice for the woman wage-earner, and likewise the maintenance of efficient personnel in the public service."

The L.W.V. has been quite effective at lobbying. Last year, 50% of the measures supported by its State chapters were passed, and 80% of those it opposed were defeated. If they can be as effective at a national level, the Celler Bill (proposed by Rep. Emanuel Celler, Democrat of New York) might finally reverse an unjust policy imposed two years ago during the final months of the Hoover Administration.

 

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April 25, 1910 : Clara Shortridge Foltz was sworn in today in Los Angeles, California, as the first female Deputy District Attorney in U.S. history.

Her road to the prosecutor's office has been a long one. When left to raise her five children alone in San Jose, she also wanted to study law with one of the local attorneys. But she met with a series of rejections, such as one that said :

"My high regard for your parents, and for you, who seem to have no right understanding of what you say you want to undertake, forbid encouraging you in so foolish a pursuit, wherein you would invite nothing but ridicule if not contempt. A woman's place is at home, unless it be as a teacher. If you would like a position in our public schools I will be glad to recommend you, for I think you are well qualified."

Eventually she did succeed in being allowed to study law in a local attorney's office, and after a while felt prepared to take the bar exam. But the California Bar admitted only qualified "white male citizens" at the time, so she drew up a bill that would change that to admit any qualified "citizen or person," and found a sympathetic State Senator to introduce it. The removal of the racial restriction caused little controversy, but allowing women to practice law was seen as a quite radical step. As she recalls it :

"The bill met with a storm of opposition such as had never been witnessed upon the floor of a California Senate. Narrow-gauge statesmen grew as red as turkey gobblers mouthing their ignorance against the bill, and staid old grangers who had never seen the inside of a courthouse seem to have been given the gift of tongues and they delivered themselves of maiden speeches pregnant with eloquent nonsense."

Thanks to her lobbying, Senate Bill 66 survived a vigorous debate in both houses of the Legislature, as well as the Governor's reluctance to sign it. On September 5, 1878 she became the first woman admitted to the California Bar.

But she knew that informal study of the law was not equal to a formal college education, so she applied to the Hastings College of Law, which had no specific ban on women. This seems to have been because the school's founders had never considered the possibility that a woman might apply. The school "conditionally" admitted her, but this was just the beginning of the battle. She encountered hostility from the start :

"The first day I had a bad cold and was forced to cough. To my astonishment every young man in the class was seized with a violent fit of coughing. You would have thought the whooping cough was a raging epidemic among the little fellows. If I turned over a leaf in my note book every student in the class did likewise. If I moved my chair -- hitch went every chair in the room. I don't know what ever became of the members of that class. They must have been an inferior lot, for certain it is, I have never seen nor heard tell of one of them from that day to this."

The next day the school's Board of Directors voted unanimously against having women students, formally rejecting her application and that of Laura de Force Gordon as well. They sued, Foltz argued the case herself, and won.

In a speech at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, Foltz launched her fight for "Public Defenders," whose full-time job will be to defend the rights of those who are accused of a crime and cannot afford to hire a lawyer. Indigent defendants presently get court-appointed private counsel - usually the youngest and most inexperienced - who see this as an inconvenience, and have few resources to conduct a thorough investigation even if they want to do so. Though not yet adopted anywhere, many States and Counties have expressed an interest in this excellent idea. Foltz also came up with another novel innovation, this one accepted and implemented in California almost two decades ago : a parole system.

Clara Shortridge Foltz has been an active suffragist for over thirty years. She was an early president of the California Woman Suffrage Association, and shortly after moving to this city in 1906 was elected president of one of the most active and vocal suffrage groups, the Los Angeles Votes for Women Club.

She has long criticized District Attorneys' offices in general for overzealous prosecutions due to a system that rewards prosecutors for convictions, regardless of how they are obtained. But her goal will be justice, not public acclaim. Though it is assumed she will be assigned cases dealing with women and children, she says that she is perfectly willing to take up cases involving men if the District Attorney assigns them to her, and that she can successfully make the transition from defense attorney to prosecutor :

"I believe that it is true that a woman can better find out the truth when unfortunate women or girls get into trouble. There are times where there is a real good excuse for them being in trouble and if they do not deserve punishment it will be my duty to look into such cases as these and find if they are worthy of sympathy and lenience. I say spare the innocent, but prosecute the guilty. I do not believe that because a woman is a woman she should not be amenable to the laws ... If I find a woman who should pay the penalty for her acts, you will find that I will be a vigorous prosecutor."

Today marks an advance for the rights of women and an improvement in the local criminal justice system as well. District Attorney Fredericks should be applauded for his appointment of a highly qualified, dedicated, and uniquely experienced attorney as a Deputy D.A., and her example should pave the way for many more women with similar legal ambitions.

 

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April 26, 1905 : The road to woman suffrage in New York State still looks like a long and bumpy one, almost fifty-seven years into the journey. Despite the best efforts of Republican John Raines, State Senate President, a modest but meaningful advance in women's rights was blocked today. His bill would have authorized married women to vote on tax propositions in third class cities, which are defined as those with populations under 50,000.

Though the Assembly passed an identical measure sponsored by Republican Assembly Member Louis Bedell today, the Senate Cities Committee decided by an overwhelming 11 to 1 vote not to report Raines' bill to the full Senate. The head of the committee, Republican Senator Horace White, said : "This bill is the entering wedge to general suffrage for women. The mothers of the State are all against it." Another opponent, Democratic Senator Patrick H. "Sugar Trust" McCarren, said : "If I had my way, I wouldn't permit a woman to vote under any circumstances. The feminine woman doesn't want to vote. The good wife and mother has no time for politics."

Democratic Senator Thomas "Silver Tongue" Grady reached his usual heights of rhetoric by claiming : "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world, and the way that power is exercised is by presiding over the home and not voting. The womanly woman would be dragged from the pedestal she now occupies if she were brought into politics."

Four decades ago, young Captain Raines, commander of Company "G," 85th New York Volunteer Infantry, was never one to just give up when encountering fierce opposition, and he proved himself just as determined today as he was during the Civil War. With one path to his objective blocked, Senator Raines rallied his forces and led another charge. This time he tried to get the full Senate to take the bill out of the committee's hands and vote on it. But that motion was defeated 26 to 11, ending any action on it for this session.

Discouraging as the Cities Committee vote and the Senators' "reasoning" for their opposition may be, Raines' bill will certainly be introduced again in future years until it's passed as a first step to full suffrage. And though it may take a while, no suffragist here today doubts that New York will eventually join Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and Idaho as a full-fledged "equal suffrage" State.

 

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April 27, 1904 : A victory today for women's rights, and in particular for female teachers who wish to marry. The New York Board of Education has just voted to reinstate Jennie Patterson Vandewater after she was dismissed from her teaching position at P.S. 58 in Queens, on December 23rd, as a result of her marriage. The Board concluded it is now useless to try to enforce its prohibition on married women teachers due to a recent Court of Appeals decision (Murphy v. Maxwell, 177 N.Y. 494) and growing public opposition to the rule.

The by-law read : "No woman Principal, head of department, or member of the teaching or supervising staff shall marry while in the employ of the Board of Education, which may direct that charges be preferred against such a teacher by reason of such marriage." Though the portion of the rule authorizing charges to be brought has been stricken, the part prohibiting marriage by women teachers remains.

But M. Dwight Collier, a member of the Committee on Elementary Schools said : "We will take no action against such women teachers as marry. We are tired of fighting over this matter in the courts, and the public is in favor of retaining married teachers." However, he warned : "I think our action will lead to scandal. I think that the public will regret that married teachers are permitted to teach."

Interestingly, the Court of Appeals decision was not an objection to the idea behind the ban itself. The problem was that Section 1117 of the Greater New York Charter provides that teachers can only be dismissed for specific reasons : gross misconduct, insubordination, neglect of duty, or general inefficiency. Since marriage is not included, the judges ruled that this cannot be the sole reason for dismissal.

A lower court believed that the rule was both valid and justified. One judge opined that the duties of wife and mother were so extensive that they could not help but interfere with those of a teacher. Another judge said of a woman : "While single, her services belong to herself. When married, they belong to her husband," so therefore a married woman could not complain about being unable to make a contract for her services with the School Board because she had chosen to make herself ineligible to make such a contract.

The issue of firing married female teachers has been taken up by many women's groups, prominent among them the New York Legislative League. At a meeting on December 3rd, presided over by Lillie Devereux Blake, the League passed the following resolution in support of Vandewater :

"Resolved : That we would respectfully remind the Board of Education that it nowhere appears in any section of the Criminal Code that it is a crime to be a woman, nor do any of the statutes enact that it is reprehensible or in violation of any law for a woman to marry, and ;

"Resolved, That in view of these facts we protest against the attempt on the part of the Board of Education to force out of the service of the schools an admirable teacher, as a violation of all the rules of common sense, as well as an encroachment on the right of a citizen to earn an honest living and do a valuable work ; and

"Resolved, That we urge the Board of Education to continue the aforesaid teacher in her position and to pay her arrears of salary which have been unjustly withheld from her."

Though a good deal of prejudice still remains against women in the workforce - especially those who are married - today marks a meaningful advance toward equal opportunity, and bodes well for unprecedented progress in this new century.

 

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April 28, 1962 : Earlier this evening, CBS took a brave and unprecedented step by presenting an episode of "The Defenders" which clearly advocated a long-overdue reform of our 19th Century abortion laws. It not only dealt with a normally taboo topic, but was unique in portraying the doctor who performed the procedures and the women receiving them in a sympathetic light.

The show faced many roadblocks along the way due to its subject matter. All three of the show's regular sponsors (Lever Brothers. Kimberly Clark and Brown & Williamson Tobacco) pulled their ads. A spokesperson said :

"We have a moral obligation to turn down anything which might embarrass our viewers. Abortion has been covered on the air before, but in each case the abortionist was a 'heavy.' Here is a sympathetic character, who makes no bones about crusading for legalized abortion. Abortion is illegal in every state, and it's against a lot of religious beliefs. We just don't think this is the kind of drama to be introduced into the living room for the entire family in the early evening where teenagers as well as adults may be there."

But CBS was determined to go ahead with the show even if it was unsponsored. Finally, at the last minute, Speidel watch bands bought the whole hour's advertising spots. There were defections among local stations as well. Ten of the network's 180 affiliates refused to run tonight's episode, among them those in Boston, New Orleans, and Milwaukee. Canada's CBC also refused it. Some other stations delayed airing it until after their late news instead of at its usual 8:30 to 9:30 time slot. But where it did run, viewers got to see a new kind of show about lawyers, that now, seven months after its premiere, seems ready to go beyond the usual formula of courtroom theatrics about standard types of cases, and will explore controversial issues.

In tonight's episode, entitled "The Benefactor," a doctor (Robert F. Simon) is put on trial for performing an abortion. Among those who are called to testify is the woman (Collin Wilcox) who was on the operating table at the time of the doctor's arrest. She had been impregnated as a result of rape, but unlike so many who wind up at illegal abortion mills run by quacks and predators, she found a competent and compassionate physician who was willing to run the risk of imprisonment to help her.

Another witness (Kathleen Widdoes) is shown being slapped by her father (Will Hare) when he learns of her abortion. The father is then scolded by Lawrence Preston (E.G. Marshall), the firm's senior partner, for his lack of understanding of his daughter's plight and decision.

By adopting a strategy of putting the abortion law itself on trial, the attorneys were able to bring out real-life statistics, examples, and arguments when presenting their case. Though the fictional defendant was found guilty, the eloquent defense arguments presented tonight should certainly help persuade the far more important court of public opinion to push for liberalizing laws that have been essentially unchanged since they were passed between the 1830s and 1860s.

CBS President William S. Paley deserves praise for his decision to air the show with or without sponsors, as does Speidel for sponsoring it, and Reginald Rose for his compelling script.

 

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April 29, 1905 : "Equal pay for equal work" is the demand of an insurgent group of women teachers led by Anna Louise Goessling of P.S. 44 in Brooklyn, NY. She and some of her fellow members of the Class Teachers' Association have printed up and sent out a circular to all the women teachers of New York saying :

 

"The time is ripe to establish the principle of equal pay for equal work." They ask : "Why should a woman's minimum annual salary be $ 300 less than a man's, and why should her maximum salary be $ 960 less than a man's ? The women teachers do the same work, are exempt from no rules or duties, and most of them have fathers, mothers, sisters, or brothers dependent upon them. Why, then, should women not receive the same salaries ? Let us make a strong, united effort to bring about a consummation of what is so manifestly just."

 

Of course, the first task of the C.T.A. women is to replace the male president of their group, who does not support their goal, with a woman who does. Fortunately, an election is scheduled for May 9th, and since women outnumber men in the group by 30 to 1, as the only woman running, Goessling's chances of winning are quite good.

 

The present C.T.A. President, George Cottrell, was less than enthusiastic about today's development. Upon being presented with a copy of the circular, which came as a surprise to him, he said : "I consider this an insult. It implies that I have not done my work properly." But the rebel delegation which called upon him today reminded him that when the "equal pay" proposition had been suggested last Fall, he "frowned upon it" and said that it would only result in the lowering of the men's salaries. So, after due deliberation, the insurgents have now taken matters into their own hands. With this kind of determination behind their cause, and both logic and justice on their side, it surely will not be long until women win equal pay as well as equal suffrage.

 

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April 29, 1929 : Mary Ware Dennett was sentenced today for violating the Comstock Act by sending a sex education pamphlet through the mail. The booklet, entitled "The Sex Side of Life," was originally a manuscript she wrote in 1915 for her own sons, then aged 10 and 14, because what few materials on the subject she could find contained inaccurate information, and were clearly intended to induce shame and fear about human sexuality.

Her essay was so well-written that her friends with adolescent children asked to borrow it, and eventually it was reprinted in the prestigious "Medical Review of Reviews," in February, 1918. She then turned it into a 24-page pamphlet, and began distributing it more widely, with organizations such as the Y.M.C.A. purchasing numerous copies. It has been estimated that 35,000 booklets have been distributed.

On September 2, 1922, the Post Office Department informed her that her literature was "obscene" as defined by the Comstock Act, and therefore unmailable - though they refused to say precisely what they found offensive. She persisted in sending out her booklets, noting over the years that substantial numbers of empty envelopes wound up being delivered. Whether this reflected a policy of harassment by the Post Office, or a need for sex education info by postal employees is, of course, uncertain.

Last year she was indicted under the Comstock Act, convicted six days ago, and today fined $ 300. She faced a maximum sentence of five years in jail and a fine of $ 5,000. Like Susan B. Anthony, who was convicted of "illegally voting" in the 1872 election, Dennett has pledged not to pay a penny of this unjust fine, and she is willing to serve the 300-day alternative sentence if necessary : "I shall pay no fines, no matter how small, nor will I let anyone else pay them for me. If I go to jail for the work I have done in behalf of the young people of the country, the disgrace will be on the government."

Dennett has been assisted in her battle by Morris L. Ernst, who has been serving as her attorney, and will continue to represent her without charge while carrying on her appeal. A Mary Ware Dennett Defense Committee, composed of attorneys, physicians, educators and members of the clergy has now been formed, and will help her take her appeal as high as needed. Among the committee's first actions will be to send a copy of the pamphlet to President Hoover to enlist his support, despite a warning from Assistant United States Attorney J. F. Wilkinson, who prosecuted this case, that they would be in violation of the same statute under which Dennett has just been convicted.

Before sentence was passed, Dennett had a chance to address the judge, and said : "Thousands of intelligent, decent citizens have endorsed my pamphlet during the eleven years it has been distributed. Of the many editorials concerning it that have come to me, not one contains adverse criticism. Surely the press and these thousands of citizens cannot all be wrong. The pamphlet is being sold now in every state of the Union."

After court, she had more to say : "If boys can't learn about sex from books, written by people of decent thoughts and idealism, they will learn about it from other sources. They shouldn't have to go to the gutter for what they have a right to know.

"I consider my trial was unjust because we were not permitted to use as witnesses some of the leading social workers and teachers who have been using the volume for years.

"I believe that the men who served on the jury - one of them slept during the entire trial - were themselves victims of unintelligent sex training. I should be willing to venture that most of them had irreparable harm done to their own minds in childhood by nasty concepts of sex - and any reminder of it is unwholesome to them.

"It is because of this lack of sex education, this lack of scientific information on the subject, that I wrote the pamphlet for my own children. I do not blame the jurymen, but I do protest against the idiocy of laws which make truth criminal. I am against a system of censorship which puts the opinion of one prejudiced person or group or persons against that of the educated and advanced people of this country.

"If it is criminal to tell the truth, then I am willing and anxious to go to jail for my principles."

The Executive Committee of the American Civil Liberties Union, which organized her defense committee, issued a statement of support today :

"We condemn the prosecution of Mrs. Dennett as evidence of an intolerant and unenlightened attitude toward the serious discussion of the fact of sex. Obscenity should not be defined in the law or in fact as governing the instruction of youth in matters of vital concern to wholesome living."

But opponents are encouraged by the conviction, and John S. Sumner, president of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, founded by Anthony Comstock in 1873, said today that if he received reports of her booklet being sold by a bookseller, he would take action.

Like the battle for birth control - in which Dennett is also actively involved - the fight for access to accurate and objective information about human sexuality will go on in many different forums, from the courts to the legislatures to the press. Fortunately, both of these related causes have many courageous individuals prepared to do whatever is necessary to repeal 19th Century laws that continue to do great harm in these modern times.

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FOLLOW-UP : In 1930, her conviction would be overturned by an Appeals Court, which ruled that her pamphlet was so obviously not obscene that "no case was made for submission to a jury."

 

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April 30, 1915 : There was a quite frustrating and somewhat heated exchange of views this afternoon in Washington, D.C., as Inez Milholland Boissevain, Doris Stevens and several other members of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage met with U.S. Senator James O'Gorman, Democrat of New York. Despite their best arguments on behalf of the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment, the Senator still remains opposed, saying : "I will not vote for this or any other woman suffrage amendment."

At one point in the debate, he actually asked : "Aren't you women going too hastily ?" Noting that the Anthony Amendment had first been introduced into Congress in 1878, one woman retorted : "Too quickly ? After forty years ?" She was immediately seconded by Boissevain, who asked : "Can freedom come too quickly ?" The Senator then politely insisted that women already have a great deal of influence and don't need an amendment. As the laughter died down, someone said : "It is too late to say anything like that to us now !"

O'Gorman was reminded that there are already a number of States in which women can vote, and it was only a question of time until they would be powerful enough to force the issue nationwide. He replied that there are only 8 million people in all eleven full-suffrage States, not much more than the population of New York City, and that in one suffrage State there were more square miles than people. "What is good for Utah and Colorado may not be good for New York," he cautioned.

Mary Prendergast noted how unfair and illogical it was that the President must listen to women in States where they can vote, while freely ignoring those in the rest of the nation. Then the difficulty and indignity of the burden women face in winning the vote was brought up by her as well :

"Our country ought to be too big and magnanimous to stand by and see the flower of its womanhood spending itself in this hard struggle to which it has consecrated itself and which it is determined never to relinquish until it is won, when with one single act of justice it can place its women, who have never failed it in time of need, in a position of dignity which they surely merit and which they will always cherish."

Doris Stevens added : "The slow, tedious process of converting the male electorate of half the country is a task that we feel is too wasteful. It is too humiliating and unjust, and that is the reason we women have come to Congress in such numbers the last two years to ask for a Federal Amendment."

But O'Gorman took a "States Rights" stance, and said : "States that want woman suffrage can bestow it now as freely and effectively as the Federal Government could if the Federal Constitution were amended for that purpose. The sole purpose of the proposed amendment seems to be to force woman suffrage on the States that are opposed to it." But his early and enthusiastic support for recently passed Constitutional Amendments such as the 16th, which provides for a National income tax, and the 17th, which mandates direct election of Senators by the voters, would seem to call into question his reluctance to amend the Constitution.

Eventually the meeting ended with both sides unmoved, and equally committed to their respective stands. Doris Stevens made the best of it : "Well, he has declared himself clearly. That was what we wanted and it was worth coming for."

 

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May 1, 1895 : A special New York State Assembly Committee report investigating conditions of female and child labor in New York City was submitted today, and it paints a bleak portrait of working conditions for those who earn their living at department store counters, in factories, or through home work.

The typical working day in New York City's large mercantile establishments is 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with 30 to 45 minutes for lunch Monday through Saturday, though in some stores employes work later on Saturdays, often until 9 or 10 p.m.

In one of the small stores surveyed, the hours were 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and until 11 p.m. or midnight on Saturdays, with some employes working 8 a.m. until noon on Sundays, though they receive extra compensation for their Sunday work.

Large numbers of girls 14 to 16 years of age are employed at $ 1.50 a week and up. The insufficient number of truant officers employed by the Board of Education means they can rarely do personal inspections of these establishments looking for school-age workers, and tend to take the word of the owners that they do not employ children under 14. Employment of children even under that age is not barred under all circumstances by State law at present. Impoverished parents also seem willing to fill out certificates stating that their children are old enough to work, even if this is not the case. These factors enable "sweat shop" operators to employ young children for at least 60 hours a week in return for $ 1.75 to $ 2.00 pay.

The law passed seven years ago requiring employers to provide seats for female workers has not been generally observed, and is in need of amendment to make it better enforced. Though only the clothing industry has been carefully examined so far, there is a "general and constant violation" of the factory laws, and of the regulations of the Board of Health by those who employ labor in shops and tenements.

In one example of the present risks to public health, an employer's child became sick with Scarlet Fever, and the Health Inspector only ordered the employer to close the door between his living room and the workshops, but not shut down, a choice the inspector is permitted to make. Later, a Factory Inspector finally ordered him to stop work, but the infected coats had already been sent to the wholesaler without being tagged (as is required for tax purposes.) It was not until nine days after the initial report of the child's illness was made to the Health Department by the family physician that the infected clothing was tracked down and fumigated, clear proof that the system isn't working well in the tenements.

Though the committee was able to give an interim report today, further study is needed, especially since there is a great reluctance on the part of employes to testify about working conditions until they can do so in private executive sessions where no employers are present. Hopefully the full report, when it's completed, will help bring about sufficient outrage over current working conditions that they will be improved in the future through both labor union activism and legislation.

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INFLATIONARY NOTE : $ 1.50 in 1895 = $ 41.88
today ; $ 1.75 = $ 48.85 ; $ 2.00 = $ 55.83.

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May 2, 1913 : Theodore Roosevelt joined the ranks of suffrage speakers tonight, and left no doubt that he will bring the same enthusiasm and stirring oratory to the "Votes for Women" battle that he shows for everything else he supports. Ten suffrage organizations combined to present a program at New York's Metropolitan Opera House to accompany the former President's first suffrage speech, and not only was every seat and box sold out, but the aisles were packed with those grateful for the opportunity to listen, even if they had to stand for the entire length of the program.

When the curtain went up there was a loud burst of applause and waving of both American and suffrage flags as the audience spotted Col. Roosevelt next to Rev. Anna Howard Shaw, president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Dr. Shaw opened the program by reminding the audience of some recent victories - and one defeat. The Colonel enthusiastically nodded and clapped when Dr. Shaw talked of how what should have been a suffrage victory in Michigan had been "stolen."

In November, a suffrage referendum in Michigan came within 760 votes of victory out of almost a half-million ballots cast, but charges of fraud favoring the anti-suffrage forces were so widespread that a new referendum was put on the ballot on April 7th. This time, the liquor interests waged an open, all-out, extremely well-funded campaign against suffrage, and it was defeated again.

After Dr. Shaw finished bringing the audience up to date on other late developments in the suffrage campaign, she proceeded to the main business of the night and introduced Col. Roosevelt to an audience that gave him a two-minute standing ovation.

As usual, Roosevelt gave his listeners what they came for. In an hour-long speech he addressed and refuted very objection to woman suffrage and gave positive reasons for advancing the cause as well.

To those who would oppose woman suffrage in America because of the violent actions of some British militants, he said : "It is an utter absurdity, it is wicked to condemn a great law-abiding movement because there are a few elsewhere who do foolish and wicked things. As Dr. Shaw said, apply to men that rule that none are worthy of the vote because some of them are not and there will not be one of us permitted to vote."

He attacked the idea of male supremacy directly, noting that things had changed greatly since that first women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848 : "At that time you would have found a great number of worthy people, including the very orthodox people, who insisted that the foundation of the family would have been ruined if it didn't rest on the masterful headship of a man. But now we have advanced to a far better ideal, the ideal of equal partnership between man and woman ...

"Conservative friends tell me that woman's duty is the home. Certainly. So is man's. The duty of the woman to the home isn't any more than the man's. If any married man doesn't know that the woman pulls a little more than her share in the home he needs education. If the average man has more leisure to think of public matters than the average woman has, then it's a frightful reflection on him. If the average man tells you the average woman hasn't the time to think of these questions, tell him to go home and do his duty. The average woman needs fifteen minutes to vote, and I want to point out to the alarmist that she will have left 364 days, twenty-three hours, and forty five minutes."

He said that not only had the predictions of disaster made by opponents of woman suffrage been proven false, but that each new suffrage State had benefited from this reform :

"Mind you, I don't believe that getting votes for women will cure all our ills or ailments, but I give it as my deliberate and careful judgment that in every State where suffrage has been tried, there has been, as far as I know, no single instance where it has produced damage. And there has been case after case where it has worked for the universal betterment of social and civil conditions ... In every community where women have received the vote it has meant so much loss of power to the underworld ....

'Every disbeliever in decency will oppose this movement. And when you see men who make a business of that which is foul and base rallying against a cause you may be convinced that it is pretty good common sense to stand for that cause."

He then noted that when he was in Michigan campaigning for President last year, he saw "Vote Against Woman Suffrage" signs outside of every saloon in the State, making it clear where much of the opposition comes from.

He exclaimed near the end of his presentation that : "There is no surer sign of advancing civilization than the advanced respect paid to a woman, who is neither a doll nor a drudge." He then handed the meeting back to Dr. Shaw, who, as might be expected after such a speech, had a most successful call for contributions to the cause. This was followed by an elaborate and beautiful pageant involving women who represented "Hope," "Truth," "Woman," "Justice" and "Columbia," put on by the combined efforts of nine different suffrage groups.

The pageant ended with a procession of women representing equal suffrage States, and the singing of the "Star Spangled Banner" to close the evening. Like the huge parades of last May in New York and on March 3rd in Washington, D.C., the addition of Col. Roosevelt as an active supporter of the cause offers still more proof that this is a new era for the suffrage movement, and that its final victory can no longer be doubted, or be far off.

 

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May 3, 1913 : "Heat" may now be added to the list of things which do not discourage New York suffragists from marching. Despite the temperature reaching a humid 87 degrees as marchers stepped off this afternoon, a parade of "Votes for Women" advocates so long that it took nearly two hours to pass went off as scheduled, and was a success from every possible point of view.

Watching the cheering crowds, and seeing the long lines of marchers receive salutes from a reviewing stand packed with city and State officials, plus other dignitaries, it's hard to believe that just five years ago a suffrage march was considered a "radical" idea. When 23 women defied custom - and the police - to stage the first one on February 16, 1908, it was front page news, a subject of great controversy by the public, and its wisdom was hotly debated by other suffrage groups for weeks. But having been repeated every year since 1910, each time with far greater participation than ever before, plus growing support from mainstream suffrage organizations and well-known individuals, annual suffrage parades have now become an established city tradition.

The fact that over a thousand police officers were present to protect the marchers, and that they were quite attentive to their duty, is a tribute to the prestige of the suffrage movement. Of course, avoiding the acute embarrassment Washington, D.C., suffered on March 3rd, when adequate security for a major suffrage march and pageant was clearly lacking, may also have contributed to the size of the detail assigned.

The well-disciplined suffrage army was led down Fifth Avenue by equestrian Inez Milholland, with eight women dressed in blue, holding silken flags bearing the name of the pageant's co-sponsoring groups right behind her. They were followed by two women in "suffrage yellow" carrying a huge map showing the nine Western States in which women have already won equal suffrage. Then came the main body of marchers, representing every imaginable age, ethnic group and profession, vividly demonstrating the wide support that woman suffrage now enjoys. The vast majority of marchers did well in following their orders : "Eyes to the front. Heads erect. Shoulders back. Dignity and silence."

"General" Rosalie Jones and other veterans of February's long suffrage trek from Newark, New Jersey, to Washington, D.C., were once again in their old hiking outfits, carrying their walking sticks, and given especially big cheers by the crowd as they marched behind a brass band and a troop of Boy Scouts proudly escorting them.

Behind Jones' "Army of the Hudson" came contingents grouped according to occupation. As might be expected, teachers were extremely well represented, but every job from social worker to sculptor had its practitioners proclaiming their support for "Votes for Women" today.

Organized labor recognizes that woman suffrage will be of great help in achieving their goal of dignity, safety and fair wages for all workers, so many unions were here today marching behind a big banner proclaiming : "In Union There Is Strength."

The Political Equality Association was represented by a thousand women dressed in the now-traditional white, marching behind banners whose messages, along with the fifty new banners carried by the Women's Political Union, could easily be seen and understood by the bystanders. Just a small sample read : "Let The People Rule : Women Are People" ; "Government Is Housekeeping and Homekeeping" ; "Politics Govern Even The Purity Of The Milk Supply. It Is Not 'Outside The Home,' But 'Inside The Baby.' " The persistence of suffrage advocates was shown by one elderly woman carrying a banner that said : "Getting There After Fighting Forty Years."

Another thousand marchers were composed of college women, divided into groups, each with a banner denoting their school, with the "Seven Sisters" of Vassar, Wellesley, Smith, Barnard, Mt. Holyoke, Bryn Mawr and Radcliffe especially well represented.

But the parade was not composed of women only. One of the eight sponsoring groups was the Men's League for Woman Suffrage, whose members marched under banners from many different States, proving that enthusiastic support for suffrage was not limited to women, plus just a few men from New York City. A contingent of pro-suffrage newsboys followed behind the men, and though briefly distracted when they eagerly scrambled to pick up coins tossed at them from bystanders, their presence was still appreciated.

Music was everywhere, courtesy of approximately 40 marching bands, and though there were somewhat fewer renditions of "Turkey Trot" tunes this year than last, singing of the "Women's Marseillaise" was strongly encouraged, with the new words for an old tune now becoming quite familiar to those who attend suffrage events.

Today's parade, and the two rallies that followed, were celebrations of a victory and the kickoff of a campaign. Both houses of the New York State Legislature have passed a bill calling for a suffrage referendum in 1915, and though they must do so again, the bill should pass for the required second time.

Never have the (male) citizens of New York State had the opportunity to vote on woman suffrage, and never before has the time seemed more ripe for a victory at the polls. If the support and enthusiasm shown today can be kept up - and hopefully even increased - over the next two years, the nation's most populous State could become the country's largest equal suffrage State on November 2, 1915.

 

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May 3, 1945 : The Equal Rights Amendment was introduced into the Senate again today, with sponsorship by 24 Senators from 18 States, and a strong endorsement by its chief sponsor, Senator George Radcliffe, Democrat of Maryland. He said : "The same opponents with the same arguments are lined up against the Equal Rights Amendment as were lined up against suffrage, and twenty-five years from now their opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment will seem as ridiculous as their opposition to woman suffrage now seems."

 

Support for the E.R.A. has increased considerably since its first introduction to Congress in 1923. At that time only the National Woman's Party supported it, but now over thirty national organizations of women favor it, as do the platforms of both major parties, the Republicans endorsing it on June 26, 1940, the Democrats on July 20, 1944.

 

At the last session of Congress the Senate Judiciary Committee gave it a favorable recommendation, and the House Judiciary Committee has already reported it favorably in this session on April 24th. The outlook for the E.R.A. seems especially favorable now due to women's extraordinary service in our current war effort. The amendment reads : "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."

 

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May 4, 1912 : What a great day this has been for "Votes for Women" advocates ! There has never been a suffrage parade to compare to the one this afternoon, and in the opinion of some observers, New York City has never seen a spectacle equal to this one on any occasion. Not even the crowds that greeted Theodore Roosevelt upon his homecoming two years ago approached the numbers of those on hand today.

But it wasn't just the size of the crowd or the number of official marchers that was enough to impress some of even the most cynical of suffrage skeptics. Those who represented woman suffrage today clearly did not just casually show up in response to one of the many leaflets and posters that have been distributed around the city, nor did they walk the route in a random manner. All participants were carefully and colorfully outfitted, and came to march as part of a specific contingent with which they shared some characteristic, walking behind elaborate banners emblematic of their group to show just how far pro-suffrage sentiment has penetrated into all segments of society.

There were teachers, students, doctors, lawyers, homemakers, nurses, musicians, industrial workers, clerks, stenographers, and every other imaginable occupation represented. They were led by fifty-two women riders on horseback, and accompanied by numerous marching bands. The age spectrum was so wide that not all participants could march. Infants were carried, or pushed along in strollers, while carriages transported 86-year-old Rev. Antoinette Brown Blackwell and a few others among the eldest of the suffragists. The pioneers can remember being criticized by those who thought it was excessively bold for a woman to speak to even a small indoor audience. But today they were a conspicuous part of the fifteen thousand who took over Fifth Avenue for several hours to promote the cause.

There was also a delegation of several hundred men. Some of them had gray hair, some wore silk hats, while the college students among them marched behind banners denoting prestigious schools such as Yale, Harvard, Columbia and Princeton. Despite some provocations from certain hooligans on the sidewalk, none in this group lost their dignity or temper.

From the parade's beginning at the Washington Arch at 5:00 p.m., until the parade ended in torchlight at Carnegie Hall, suffrage supporters owned the street. Even the weather cooperated. It was one of those warm May Saturdays with plenty of late afternoon sunshine and a cool breeze when needed.

Just four years ago it was considered quite noteworthy and controversial when twenty-three members of the Progressive Woman Suffrage Union boldly - and illegally - held a march down Broadway. Two years ago, four hundred women, led by Harriot Stanton Blatch of the Equality League of Self-Supporting Women marched down Fifth Avenue. Despite being warned by a number of fellow suffragists that such a spectacle "would set suffrage back fifty years," it was such a success that it became an annual event, with the new route used ever since. Last year 3,000 marched, with floats and bands included for the first time.

But impressive as it was, last year's parade pales in comparison to this year's, and it seems clear that some new plateau of respect and recognition has been reached by the suffrage movement. Certainly the victory in California on October 10th, in which the Golden State became the sixth to enact equal suffrage, and thereby doubled the number of women voters overnight, has played a part in generating renewed momentum nationwide.

But it was clearly Harriot Stanton Blatch and her renamed Women's Political Union that deserve most of the credit for putting together this landmark event, and enabling it to send such a powerful message. Marchers gave notice to the State Legislature, whose failure to put a suffrage referendum on the ballot was a primary focus of this year's march, that "Votes for Women" is an issue which needs to be addressed by the electorate in a Statewide referendum. They also told the journalistic community that woman suffrage advocates are no longer to be ridiculed or ignored, but should be covered in a style befitting a large and growing mass movement.

One banner, carried by supporters of Wisconsin Senator Robert "Fighting Bob" La Follette, spoke to the "antis" and seemed to sum up the confidence felt by all today : "Woman suffrage has passed the stage of argument. You could not stop it if you would, and in a few years you will be ashamed that you ever opposed it."

But the main message sent today was to those who instinctively feel that woman suffrage is right, but who have not yet acted to bring it about. They were reminded that the denial of the vote to half the population is not simply unjust, it is a waste of ability and wisdom that the country can ill afford to do without as it confronts the new challenges of the 20th Century. So now is the time to join the battle, and help bring us one step closer to the goal of full equality, economic and social justice, and true democracy for all.

 

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May 5, 1916 : Rose Pastor Stokes caused a sensation earlier this evening at Carnegie Hall by distributing small slips of paper containing birth control information. This action was in direct defiance of Section 1142 of the New York State Penal Code. The mass meeting had been called to celebrate Emma Goldman's release from prison, where she had just served two weeks in the workhouse after refusing to pay a $ 100 fine for distributing information about contraception.

Though the main event of the evening was supposed to be Goldman's speech, it was eclipsed by the pandemonium set off when those in the audience stormed the stage to obtain knowledge criminalized by the State of New York, and classed by the U.S. Government as "obscenity" under the Comstock Act of 1873.

During part of her speech, Stokes spoke directly to those whose job it is to enforce sexual ignorance :

"You, gentlemen, who earn your living by hunting down the victims of a maladjusted society, and you, gentlemen of the club, if you are here to interfere with, or arrest, or provide the authorities with evidence against anyone ignoring this unjust section of the law, I address myself to you. I should be truly sorry to place you under so mean an obligation, for I know your hearts well enough to know that you do not always relish the job your economic insecurity forces you to hold on to. But I cannot do other than again take the opportunity afforded me here of passing out information to wives and mothers in need.

"I do not, of course, want to go to jail, and, again, I am not bidding for arrest. I wish to be saved all that, naturally. But I am not afraid. Capitalist society has not succeeded in making me bitter, but it has succeeded in making me unafraid. Therefore, be the penalty what it may, I here frankly offer to give out these slips with the forbidden information to those needy wives and mothers who will come and frankly take them."

At the conclusion of the evening's speeches, many audience members rushed forward and scrambled for the slips that she had promised to distribute. Stokes found herself quickly surrounded and besieged as private security officers tried unsuccessfully to maintain order. A false report then began to spread that Stokes was being arrested, but Max Eastman, in charge of the meeting, stood on one of the few unoverturned chairs and reassured the audience that the clamor on stage was not the result of an arrest, but only because of so many people trying to obtain the slips at once, and resentment by a few men and boys that only women were being given the information.

After a substantial number of slips had been distributed, some of the other speakers (Ben Reitman, Arturo Giovanitti, Leonard Abbott and Max Eastman) pushed their way through the crowd and escorted Stokes off the stage, enabling her to escape the chaos. After resting for a few minutes she left the hall, saying : "I expect to be arrested," though no attempt was made to do so tonight.

This isn't the first time Stokes has publicly defied the law. On April 19th, at a dinner put on by birth control advocates at the Hotel Brevoort, she went among the guests quietly whispering some banned knowledge to a number of them, and giving out small slips of paper with similar information for some of the diners to take home.

Though she was not arrested that night either, the risk is real. Last September 10th, William Sanger was convicted of giving out a single pamphlet, entitled "Family Limitation" to Charles Bamberger, an agent of Anthony Comstock's "New York Society for the Suppression Of Vice." The man pretended to be a birth control advocate and friend of William's wife, Margaret Sanger, who was away in Europe at the time. Bamberger hounded Sanger until he finally found a copy of the booklet and gave it to him. Sanger served 30 days in prison after refusing to pay a $ 150 fine.

Margaret Sanger's magazine, "The Woman Rebel" was declared unmailable by the Post Office in April, 1914, because it contained an article on birth control, and she was Federally indicted in August of that year on multiple counts for her issues of March, May and July. But apparently public support for birth control is increasing, because in February of this year the charges were dropped without explanation. However, the Comstock Act of 1873, which declares that information about birth control and birth control devices themselves are "obscene" still stands, as does Section 1142 of the New York State Penal Code. Typical of "Little Comstock Laws" passed by many States, Section 1142 prescribes fines and/or imprisonment for anyone convicted of giving out information on birth control or the devices themselves.

The battle to legalize contraceptive information and birth control devices will undoubtedly be a lengthy one, but this long-overdue fight has clearly been launched, and will only increase in intensity. Victory will require many different approaches, from speaking at various forums, to lobbying legislators, to challenging unjust laws in court. It will certainly require a good deal of courage on the part of advocates who must sometimes openly break these unjust laws to fight them.

Tonight was a welcome reassurance that there are those who are willing to step forward and do whatever is necessary to point out the absurdity and harm of anti-birth-control laws. But though the forces determined to use repressive measures to defend the "values" of reproductive ignorance and sexual shame may eventually be overcome, they won't go away, so this could be just the first stage of a permanent battle. It is hoped that those who grow up in a future society where birth control, and accurate, explicit information about sexuality are legally available, will not take these hard-won rights for granted, and will be as zealous in defending them as today's advocates are in establishing them.

 

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May 6, 1911 : Anyone who still doubts that the woman suffrage movement is gaining support exponentially must have been a long way from New York's Fifth Avenue today. The turnout for this year's annual suffrage parade was unprecedented, with at least 3,000 marching from 57th Street to Union Square. That's nearly eight marchers for every one last year. At the end of the parade, speakers then addressed a friendly crowd of about 10,000, an equally stunning turnout.

The eldest participants today were a 90-year-old great-grandmother who came all the way from Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts to participate, and Rev. Antoinette Brown Blackwell, 85 years old, the first woman in America to be ordained a minister. The youngest suffragist was Sarjo Martina, one year old, a member of the "Future Voters" delegation, who was pushed in a stroller.

The procession was headed by Inez Milholland and two other women carrying a banner inscribed : "Forward out of error, Leave behind the night ; Forward through the darkness, Forward into light," from the hymn "Forward ! Be Our Watchword." They were followed by Scotch bagpipers, the first of the parade's many musicians, then several floats (a new innovation this year), and women representing various occupations and other groups.

The National College Equal Suffrage League delegation was led by Rev. Anna Howard Shaw, who has been President of the National American Woman Suffrage Association since 1904. These marchers were among the most colorful, with all members in caps and gowns.

The marchers received a good deal of applause along the route, and large "Votes for Women" banners could be seen as the parade passed the headquarters of Alva Belmont's Political Equality Association at 505 Fifth Avenue, with Belmont herself seen smiling as she observed the parade. The Women's Trade Union League carried a banner saying "Women Need Votes to End Sweat Shops," and the Shirtwaist Makers behind them trimmed their banner in black in memory of the victims of the recent Triangle fire.

The Woman Suffrage Party was well represented, and as a sign that spectacles such as this are no longer considered radical or militant, Maud Nathan, one of its most influential members, gave the event her blessing. She had strenuously objected to the two previous and much smaller parades. In 1908 twenty-three members of the Progressive Woman Suffrage Union marched despite being refused a parade permit, and in 1910 four hundred marched legally. But Nathan was among the participants today, and happily accepted a bouquet of flowers tossed to her by a male spectator.

Harriot Stanton Blatch's Women's Political Union, which organized the parade, had a huge turnout, and their colors of purple, green and white could be seen throughout the parade in many delegations. The march ended at Union Square, with the biggest ovation reserved for the Men's League for Woman Suffrage, whose members required the most courage to march. Many of the women's delegations ran out to greet them waving banners and clapping loudly as the men arrived.

Union Square was packed with those waiting to hear what the suffragists had to say. After the "Woman Suffrage March" was sung, speeches began from locations all around the square, orators getting on top of anything they could improvise to address their audiences. It was proudly noted that Washington State voters had approved a woman suffrage referendum on November 8th by an almost two-to-one margin, and that though it had been 14 years since any previous victory, the drought was now over.

The New York State Legislature will be under siege to put a similar measure on the ballot here, and an all-out effort will be made in California to pass a suffrage amendment to their State Constitution at a special election on October 10th. Despite feeling exhausted after all of today's activities, everyone feels that it was well worth all the time and effort necessary, and that next year's parade will be even more spectacular - and have another victory to celebrate.

 

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May 7, 1894 : A lively and very well attended mass meeting at New York City's Cooper Union earlier this evening was aimed at arousing public sentiment to remove a single word from the New York State Constitution, which grants the right to vote to "male" citizens.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was given a rousing ovation before she even began speaking, and deservedly so, considering her nearly 46 years of work for suffrage since that first women's rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York on July 19th and 20th, 1848. She noted just how basic a right voting should be, and the injustice of arbitrarily withholding it from entire groups :

"The State has no right to abolish the suffrage for any class of people. I remember when the enfranchisement of the Negro was the vital question of the hour. In one of the debates on the floor of the Senate, Charles Sumner said : 'Do you tell me suffrage is a privilege ? Allow that sentiment to crystallize in the hearts of the people and we have rung the death knell of American liberty.' "

She then addressed a common opposition argument, that only those who may be called to serve on the battlefield should have a vote : "They talk of fighting. It seems to me those who have been able to meet persecution, ridicule and tears have done the best kind of fighting."

Her daughter, Harriot Stanton Blatch, spoke next, elaborating on that point :

"It was twenty years ago, and a gentleman was talking about this same question of suffrage to my mother. 'But Mrs. Stanton,' he said, 'if you have the franchise you could not protect it. You cannot fight !' 'Yes, I can,' she replied. 'I should fight just as you did. I should hire someone to go in my place.' "

The meeting had a surprisingly wide spectrum of speakers. It was presided over by John Milton Cornell, of the Cornell Iron Works, who at one point in the program introduced American Federation of Labor president and fellow suffragist Samuel Gompers. Cornell remarked : "What men have failed to do woman has accomplished with a wave of her hand. She has brought capital and labor together on the same platform."

Woman suffrage petitions to the State Constitutional Convention in Albany were available for signing at numerous tables, and a suffrage resolution to the Convention was presented, then unanimously adopted by all present. It was then announced that the suffrage headquarters at 10 West 14th Street would be open all summer, and the gathering concluded with the names of those willing to have parlor meetings in their homes being taken.

The enthusiasm and widespread support shown for suffrage tonight certainly gave everyone here hope that there will soon be a woman suffrage amendment on the Statewide ballot along with the rest of the proposed constitutional changes. If submitted and passed, the addition of New York as an "equal suffrage" State would be a huge victory. Presently, women have full voting rights in only the States of Wyoming and Colorado, though women in Utah Territory could vote from 1870 until 1887, when Congress revoked that right as part of the Edmunds-Tucker (anti-polygamy) Act.

 

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May 8, 1915 : Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. Jeannette Rankin, who was a Field Secretary for the National American Woman Suffrage Association before returning to her home State of Montana last year to work full-time for passage of a suffrage referendum, came up with a novel suggestion recently. Rev. Anna Howard Shaw, NAWSA President, embraced it immediately, and today their enthusiasm proved justified and it's a great success.

Huge numbers of visitors from the East, where no State has equal suffrage, are visiting the Panama-Pacific Exposition here in San Francisco. It's being held to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal last August, as well as to showcase the city's remarkable recovery from the earthquake nine years ago. Since women in California (as well as those in 10 other Western States) can vote on the same basis as men, Rankin wondered if this visit to "suffrage country" by all those Easterners could provide a way to get them comfortable with the idea of women as voters. Having thousands of women milling about the fair grounds wearing "I'M A VOTER" buttons came to her as the perfect strategy.

Those buttons are seen everywhere today, and it's proving an educational experience for Eastern men who may never have seen or talked to a woman voter before. Many are pleasantly surprised to see that voting women - and even active suffragists - are not as anti-suffragists portray them.

Of course, one of the women who can't wear the button is Rev. Shaw herself. Though Jeannette Rankin is a voter, having played a major role in winning woman suffrage in Montana on November 3rd, Shaw is from Pennsylvania, which along with New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey, will be voting on woman suffrage this Fall.

But Shaw hopes to be wearing her "I'M A VOTER" button six months from now : "I have saved a button in the hope that the men of Pennsylvania will be just as sensible as the Western men who have enfranchised 10,000,000 women and seem to be glad of it," she says.

 

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May 9, 1913 : Helen Ring Robinson, the highest-ranking woman politician in the country by virtue of being the only female State Senator presently serving (and only the second ever elected to such a high office) told the Equal Suffrage League today that reports of dissatisfaction with woman suffrage in the West are nonsense. "There is just as much truth in their trying to take the franchise from the women as that they are trying to take it from men because they are bald-headed or wear side whiskers."

She blamed defeated male candidates for such rumors, and denounced slanders against women voters : "Those stories of the women voters making themselves up in the image of men are not true. Neither do the women who vote or the office holders have faces like vinegar jugs. And we do not spend our time drinking cocktails and highballs or stuffing ballot boxes."

She then talked about her reasons for going into politics. "I represent the industries of the wife and mother ... This is the first time that the homemaker has been represented in the Government." She then said : "I have no patience with the people who say that woman's place is in the home and not in politics." She gave an example of the connection between the family and politics in relation to the critical matter of food regulation, then said : "There is not a tiny arch of the home circle that is not touched with politics. To keep the home inviolate you must go into politics."

She then discussed her personal experiences in the Colorado State Senate. None of the male Senators have ever been antagonistic to her because she was a woman, and she noted : " ...when certain bills come up they turn instinctively to me to see if I consider them good measures." She ridiculed anti-suffragists and the idea that women have "virtual representation" in government through the men of their family. "I don't believe in what they call 'virtual representation.' That is a fool of a phrase. It was Robert Louis Stevenson, wasn't it, who said 'Man does not live by bread alone, but by catch phrases ?' I have been reading some anti-suffrage literature, and I think so, too. There are also phrases that are neurotic and tommyrotic as we say in Colorado."

The audience at New York's Hotel Astor gave her a well-earned round of applause for her reassurance that none of the Western suffrage victories were in any real danger of being lost, and for her fine work in a State that will celebrate 20 years of woman suffrage on November 7th.

 

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May 9, 1945 : Though it's been barely 24 hours since nationwide celebrations greeted President Truman's announcement at 9 a.m. Eastern War Time yesterday of Germany's unconditional surrender, today brought a reminder that the battles in the Pacific are far from over, and Army Nurses are as vital to our war effort as ever.

The Office of War Information said today that the Army had an immediate need for 9,000 more nurses so that its Nurse Corps can reach its maximum authorized strength of 60,000 by June 1st. Several reasons were given to explain why the numbers need to be rapidly increased despite victory in Europe.

Many of the troops who fought their way from the D-Day landings to the heart of Germany, or were shot down while flying missions over enemy targets are still recovering from their wounds. Substantial numbers of civilians who were recently liberated from Nazi rule are in need of medical care in countries whose infrastructures - including hospitals, clinics and doctors' offices - were devastated by the fierce fighting. Now that the war has ended in Europe, there must obviously be a massive redeployment of Allied forces to the Pacific, where sickness rates among the troops as well as attrition rates among the nurses will be higher.

It is estimated that 4,000 of the 9,000 nurses needed will come from those already registered with the armed services, and need only be called to serve, plus those about to finish their training with the United States Cadet Nurse Corps. But that still leaves the Army 5,000 nurses short of its goal, so that many must enlist within the next three weeks. Once the goal of 60,000 has been reached, the Army plans to begin rotating those who have served long tours of duty overseas back to the U.S., and will still keep recruiting, so that even with attrition, new recruits can keep the Army Nurse Corps at its maximum strength through the end of the war plus six months.

Army Nurses have been in the war since the moment America first entered it. On December 7, 1941, there were less than 1,000 Army nurses, but 82 of them were stationed at Pearl Harbor. Many nurses distinguished themselves by going above and beyond the call of duty that day. One was Annie Fox, Chief Nurse at Hickam Field, who became the first woman to be awarded a Purple Heart, because "her fine example of calmness, courage and leadership was of great benefit to the morale of all with whom she came in contact." Though her award was changed to a Bronze Star last year when it was decided that only those who were wounded could qualify for a Purple Heart, her actions on that first day still serve as an example of the bravery and professionalism of America's nurses.

The Army Nurse Corps was officially established in 1901, with the Navy following suit in 1908. But many nurses were serving in military hospitals during the Civil War, with Dorothea Dix appointed Superintendent of Nurses for the Union forces on June 10, 1861, just two months after the conflict started. The Government hired 1,500 civilian nurses to serve during the Spanish-American War in 1898.

During the First World War, 21,460 nurses were recruited by the military, about half of them sent overseas. Though not assigned to combat duty, they worked in environments that were the most vulnerable to the spread of influenza, and over 200 died during that epidemic.

Army nurses have been captured as prisoners of war, subject to air raids, and practiced their profession while under fire, so they are entitled to the same respect as any other member of our armed forces. In recognition of this, both Army and Navy Nurses were granted full military status and rank on February 26, 1944.

Though many tough battles are sure to lie ahead in the Pacific this summer, and the worst fighting of the entire war is likely to occur during the invasion of Japan itself, planned to begin late this Fall, there is no doubt that these women will serve their country as well in the future as they have in the past. They therefore deserve our commendation for services already rendered, as well as our thanks in advance for their upcoming sacrifices in the drive for final victory.

 

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May 10, 1942 : Freedom and equality for women now - not after the war - was demanded of the Allies today by Alice Paul and the World Woman's Party for Equal Rights. Four months after representatives of 26 countries met and pledged to fight alongside each other until all the Axis powers surrender unconditionally, these "United Nations" have been asked to liberate their own female citizens now. The message sent today says :

"The members of the United Nations Council have declared their object to be freedom for the whole world. We, representing the World Woman's Party for Equal Rights, desire to lay before the United Nations Council the fact that freedom for women is one freedom that could and should be established now in the territory of the United Nations without waiting for the conclusion of the war.

"We ask for equality for women under the law. We ask power for women, equal with the power of men, in directing our national and international life. We urge the United Nations Council, meeting in Washington, to take immediate action to bring this freedom to half their own peoples not having it, women - not as a post-war program but today.

"Women have always made and are making today a magnificent contribution to society, in spite of inequalities and restrictions. No one knows what women could make and will make when these inequalities and restrictions are removed. For the sake of a new and better world, as well as in justice to women themselves, we call upon the United Nations to establish freedom for women in all territory under their jurisdiction."

It was on January first of this year that 26 Allied powers issued the "Declaration of the United Nations" stating their war aims, and adopting President Roosevelt's suggestion of "United Nations" as the formal name for those countries taking part in the Allied effort.

The United Nations are : The United States, United Kingdom, Soviet Union, China, Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Cuba, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and the Governments In Exile of Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Yugoslavia.

The World Woman's Party for Equal Rights was formed in 1938, and has the same aim on a global scale as the National Woman's Party has in the United States : total equality for women.

 

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May 11, 1886 : A victory in Pennsylvania and a setback in New York today in the continuing struggle of women in the field of law. Carrie B. Kilgore, Pennsylvania's first female lawyer, has been trying to win the right to practice before the Keystone State's courts for over 12 years. Today, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court accredited her as an attorney permitted to argue cases before it, and according to a new State law, this automatically entitles her to practice in all the State's other courts as well. Until now, she had only been able to practice in the Courts of Common Pleas of Delaware and Northampton Counties, and the Orphans' Court in Philadelphia County, while the other Courts of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County have barred her solely because of her sex.

New York's Supreme Court was not equally progressive today. Kate Stoneman's attempt to be admitted to the bar was rejected because, in the opinion of Justice Landon, writing for the majority : "The statute, Code of Civil Procedure, Section 56, prescribes regulations and provides for rules to be observed in the case of 'a male citizen of the State, of full age, hereafter applying to be admitted to practice as an attorney and in the courts of record of the State.' The expression 'male citizen' implies the legislative exclusion of the female citizen from this office."

He then noted that while those who originally drafted the statute in 1846 had probably used the word "male" simply "as a matter of course" without considering the possibility that a woman might ever want to practice law, those who revised the State Constitution in 1871 and 1876 would have considered - and clearly rejected - such a possibility. They would have been aware of Iowa admitting Arabella Mansfield to the bar in 1869, so their choice of the word "male" was meant to preclude women from being permitted to practice law in New York State.

Stoneman and her supporters are disappointed in the ruling, but are by no means ready to give up the fight. In fact, they have now intensified their efforts, begun in January, to have the law changed by the State Legislature.

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UPDATE : Stoneman didn't have to wait long for victory. Four months of intense lobbying was about to pay off, and a bill to change the statute which limited the practice of law to men was soon passed, and signed by the Governor. New legislation in hand, she re-petitioned to be admitted to the bar, was approved, and became New York State's first female attorney on May 20, 1886, just nine days after losing at the State Supreme Court.

 

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May 12, 1942 : The proposed Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) got final Congressional approval today with a Senate vote of 38 to 27, and Rep. Edith Nourse Rogers' bill now goes to President Roosevelt for his signature. Under the provisions of the bill, the WAAC will enlist up to 150,000 members who may serve anywhere in the world they're needed, will receive Army pay, be subject to military control, and live on Army posts.

The two-hour debate prior to the vote was intense at times, as Senators Francis Maloney, Democrat of Connecticut, and John Danaher, Republican of Connecticut, led those arguing against the bill. In addition to failing to defeat the bill, Maloney was also thwarted in an attempt to pass an amendment to confine the WAAC to service "within the boundaries of the United States." His proposal was defeated by a vote of 37 to 26, with Senator Hattie Caraway, Democrat of Arkansas, the only woman in the Senate, voting in favor of the Rogers Bill, and against the Maloney Amendment. Senator Maloney seems opposed to women in any military capacity, and claimed that this measure "casts a shadow on the sanctity of the home."

Another controversy involved the issue of racial discrimination. Three amendments were proposed which would have specifically banned racial bias in the WAAC. But if amended in any way, the bill would have had to go back to the House for re-approval, and this would have delayed, for an unknown amount of time, the establishment of the WAAC.

Though under normal circumstances the bill's chief Senate sponsor, Senator Warren Austin, Republican of Vermont, would have endorsed an anti-racial-bias amendment, he said that the need for immediate passage of the bill, and the assurance of the War Department that it would not discriminate on the basis of race in the WAAC caused him to oppose the amendments. Two amendments were withdrawn, and the third, by Senator James Hughes, Democrat of Delaware, was rejected by a voice vote. According to Senator Austin there is "nothing in the bill which would lead to discrimination."

As soon as President Roosevelt signs the bill, the War Department will give specific details on plans to implement it, and Secretary of War Stimson will name a director for the corps. The Women's Army Auxiliary Corps will be open to women between the ages of 21 and 45, and should soon provide a major boost to our defense effort at just the time it is needed most.

 

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May 13, 1909 : Clearly not reluctant to venture into hostile territory in search of converts, Edith Bailey, Harriot Stanton Blatch, and several other suffragists held a rally today just outside the church of militant anti-suffragist Rev. Dr. Charles Henry Parkhurst in New York City's Madison Square.

At 12:30, a big red automobile carrying the speakers drove up, was turned into a rostrum immediately after being parked, then after a large yellow "Votes for Women" banner was unfurled, the rally began. The speakers, all prominent members of the Equal Franchise League, were there strictly as individuals. But though this was not an officially sanctioned rally, the arguments in favor of woman suffrage were as effective as those at any well-planned, fully authorized meeting.

Blatch first explained why the open-air forum was chosen : "You men are so shy that you will not come to a hall to hear us speak and we must come to you." She then expounded on one of every suffrage speaker's pet peeves, the question of why they aren't at home taking care of their children :

"You never think to ask the actress who amuses you why she doesn't stay at home and mind the kids, or the factory girl, who makes your hats, why she doesn't. You do not ask either if the woman speaker may not be a grandmother, as I am, whose 'kids' have all left her, or if she may not be an unmarried woman."

Blatch then introduced Edith Bailey, who, she noted, "has kids to mind, but who is a better mother for having something outside her four walls to think of." Bailey, author of a suffrage tract entitled "Some Ideals of Suffrage," which was being enthusiastically distributed to the crowd by poet Rosalie Jones, said that women who are suffragists were simply housekeepers who "do not want to confine our housekeeping to our own homes. We feel that there is housekeeping for us in the streets, in the prisons, and on the School Boards. There are old and young bachelors on the School Boards and there ought to be a mother or two."

Bailey noted that "it used to be considered unwomanly for women to get equal pay with men," indicating that some progress has been made in that area. However, she thinks there are still too many men like Secretary of State Elihu Root who believe "women should be protected by their husbands and brothers," but who fail to provide them with either. "Women must have the right to take care of themselves, and then there will always be some one out to see that they are protected."

Josephine Casey, a factory worker, challenged the double standard which presumes that women, but not men, need to justify leaving the home and/or voting :

"I protest against giving reasons for wanting to vote. If you were going out of your house you would not have any one stop you and say 'Are you going shopping, or are you going to the matinee ? Why are you going out ?' I leave the house because I wish to, and that is the reason for my asking for the vote."

There were definite indications that the arguments presented today were effective. Near the end of the rally, Harriot Stanton Blatch said : "A good way for you to show that you believe in 'Votes for Women' is to give something to the cause." Immediately two men volunteered their hats to be passed around, and funds were successfully collected from the crowd. Blatch then asked : "Is there any reason why women should not vote ?" and the men surrounding the four-wheeled speakers' platform enthusiastically shouted "No ! No !"

The day's final encouragement was given by a working man, just coming down the street as the meeting ended. After asking what the gathering was about, he was told that it was put on by women who wanted to vote. He then replied : "Well, I don't know why they shouldn't." The speakers then departed as quickly as they came, and are now on their way to lunch at the Colony Club, where they will celebrate today's success, and plan similar actions for the future.

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May 14, 1929 : A victory for birth control advocates today, as charges were dismissed against all five defendants arrested on April 15th for distributing contraceptive information, a violation of Section 1142 of the New York State Penal Code.

The doctors and nurses never disputed that they gave contraceptive information and advice to an undercover detective. But according to Magistrate Abraham Rosenbluth, the prosecution failed to present any evidence to contradict the assertion of the examining physician that the patient did, in fact, have a serious medical condition which would authorize the distribution of birth control information and devices to her "for the protection of her physical health and welfare."

Rosenbluth's decision was based on a 1918 ruling by Judge Frederick Crane of the New York State Court of Appeals that licensed physicians should be exempted from prosecution under Section 1142 if they are giving advice or prescribing contraceptives to a married patient "for the prevention or cure of disease."

Magistrate Rosenbluth spent two weeks weighing the evidence gathered at two previous court sessions, then made his ruling :

"Good faith is thus made the test of guilt or innocence. It may well be that, in spite of Mrs. McNamara's purpose to search out and beguile a suspected violator of the statute, her physical condition, as disclosed to the doctors who are defendants, made their advice and instructions entirely necessary....

"If Mrs. McNamara was in such physical condition, before she consulted defendants, that their prescription was unwarranted, and necessarily made in bad faith, that was easily susceptible to affirmative proof, but the prosecution at bar rested its case without any evidence to challenge the diagnosis made by the defendant ...

"The burden clearly rests on the people in this kind of prosecution to negative the good faith of the doctor or nurse...."

Doctor Hannah M. Stone, director of the facility, the Clinical Research Bureau at 46 West 15th Street, New York City, gave out a statement on behalf of herself and Dr. Elizabeth Pissoort, and nurses Marcella Sideri, Sigrid Brestwell and Antoinette Field. In it they said they "had no resentment against the misguided raid and the attempts to fingerprint us. Those responsible for the raid were apparently entirely ignorant that the law expressly permits physicians to give such advice for medial indications. Our Clinical Research Bureau is a most signal and valuable public health service and aids in the working program of many important social service agencies in this city. This decision is a vindication."

The raid has caused much public criticism, even from those who had not been supportive of the clinic in the past, and it has proven to be a great embarrassment to the police department. It was conducted so overzealously and ineptly that many items not having any relation to birth control, such as forceps used to handle instruments being sterilized, were seized. Mary Sullivan, head of the Women's Bureau of the Police Department at the time of the raid, was removed from that position on May 10th.

Especially disturbing to the medical community was the confiscation of huge numbers of private patient files, 150 of which have been "lost." Raids, arrests, and even jail sentences of birth control advocates were common in the early days of the movement. But in the eleven years since Judge Crane's opinion in People v. Sanger (222 NY 192), doctors who prescribe contraceptives to married women whose health would be endangered by a pregnancy have been relatively free of harassment, at least in New York. Last month's raid was quite unexpected, and there is much speculation as to why it occurred.

Margaret Sanger, the clinic's owner, thinks that because the clinic has always kept a low profile, it had gone unnoticed by the Catholic Church for many years. But it may have recently come to the Church hierarchy's attention when some of their social workers had been asked by a number of clients for the address of the clinic, and the Church leaders then used their influence with the police to bring about the raid.

Hopefully, the public outcry over the methods used, plus the dismissal of all charges against all defendants will be enough to make this the final "raid" in New York State, and the battle for birth control here can continue without medical professionals once again living in fear of arrests and criminal prosecution for treating their patients.

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May 14, 1942 : The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps is now an official part of our war effort, thanks to President Roosevelt’s signing of the Rogers bill (Public Law 77-554) today. Introduced by Rep. Edith Nourse Rogers (Republican of Massachusetts) a year ago - nearly seven months before Pearl Harbor – it allows the President to establish “ … from time to time … a Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps for noncombatant service with the Army … for the purpose of making available to the national defense when needed the knowledge, skill, and special training of the women of the Nation.”

The idea of women doing military jobs to free male soldiers for combat actually goes back to the last war, when General Pershing asked for a small contingent of women to work in France doing the vital work of telephone operators. By the end of that conflict, the American Expeditionary Force had requested 5,000 women to fill jobs being done by men. Though the War Department did not go along with that request and drafted 5,000 more men instead, some civilian women did serve with the Quartermaster General, the Ordinance Department and the Medical Corps. Their performance was considered exemplary.

In 1928, there was some discussion of women in the military, with Major Everett S. Hughes assigned to plan a Women’s Army Corps. But though he came up with quite practical and detailed plans of how to allow women to serve in uniform and as a part of the Army, not just an auxiliary force, his ideas gathered dust on the shelf while America stayed at peace.

But in 1939, as Europe went to war, newly-named Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall began to think that if we were drawn into the conflict, women would be needed not just in defense plants, producing goods, but in some military capacity as well. With the situation in Europe sufficiently dire that there was a reinstatement of the U.S. draft in September, 1940, other people began thinking along the same lines.

On May 28, 1941, Representative Rogers introduced her bill, and began lobbying everyone from her fellow members of Congress to the War Department to support it. Once we went to war, support for her bill picked up rapidly. Last December, General Marshall said : “There are innumerable duties now being performed by soldiers that can actually be done better by women.” In February of this year, General Marshall wrote to the House Majority Leader, John W. McCormack (Democrat of Massachusetts), saying : “Women certainly must be employed in the ‘over-all’ effort of this nation, and for the activities indicated in the draft of the law proposed to Congress we consider it essential that their status, their relationship to military authority, should be clearly established.”

Finally, after a vigorous debate, the law establishing the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps was passed by both Houses of Congress and has now been signed into law. It authorizes up to 150,000 to enlist, though there won’t be nearly that many to start. The first trainees will be going to Fort Des Moines, in Iowa. Applicants must be at least 21 years of age but under 50, between five and six feet tall, 105 to 200 pounds, and have completed high school. Oveta Culp Hobby has been asked to serve as Director, though she has not as yet said for certain whether she will accept the post.

Though there will be many ways to take part in the war effort, this is certainly a highly commendable choice which all those who are qualified to serve should consider.

 

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May 15, 1894 : The woman suffrage movement's youngest supporters may be among the most insightful and articulate if those who spoke earlier this afternoon at the Brooklyn Woman Suffrage Association's headquarters are any example. School-age suffragists came up with some devastatingly logical answers to some of the most common arguments used by the "antis."

Edith Merzbach hurled several questions at suffrage opponents, one aimed at the myth that women would somehow lose their femininity at the polls : "Why is it when boys and girls go to the same schools, men and women go to the same churches, and sit in the same pew, go to concerts and lectures together, that once a year, if they should meet at the voting places, the women would be suddenly unsexed ?

She also turned another "anti" argument about women voters neglecting their families against those who created it : "While the anti-suffragists are gathering in conventions to oppose this advance step, what is becoming of their husbands' suppers ? While they are carrying the protest from house to house, who is rocking their cradles at home ? They devote more time to shopping in one season that would be required for voting in two years. Are not their homes being neglected then ?"

Mildred Leyd became an active suffragists to refute the assertion that only a few older women wanted the ballot, or to sign a petition asking for a suffrage referendum. She said : "Those that made that statement hadn't yet heard from us. We so long to sign the petition that we would fain reverse the sentiment of the poem and exclaim 'Forward turn forward, O time in thy flight, and make me twenty-one just for to-night.' "

She then went on to lampoon the "logic" of some basic anti-suffrage arguments. Especially effective was juxtaposing two of the most common ones : "If suffrage were granted, women would not take sufficient interest to vote, for she does not want it," and "If granted she'd take so much interest she'd neglect home." She then gave an example of a brother and sister who went to the same school, and where the sister took all the prizes. And yet, years later, the boy "is perfectly willing to legislate for all his sisters and his mother besides."

By the end of the program, the veteran suffragists were quite impressed by the students' rhetorical skills, and cheered by the thought that the battle for the ballot, which has been raging for two generations, will be joined and carried on by the newest one with great vigor and eloquence.

 

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May 16, 1913 : Local suffragists expressed immediate and universal outrage today over some remarks made by New York Mayor William Gaynor in a newspaper interview. He actually started off quite well when he endorsed woman suffrage : "Would I call myself a suffragist ? In that I am perfectly willing, yes." He then went even further and said he could understand the militant actions taken by some British suffragists, a statement which made him seem an even more militant advocate of suffrage than most Americans working for the ballot for women.

But like many a politician before him, he didn't know when to stop talking, and went on to explain why he had sympathy for the actions of what he called "rather desperate" English suffragists who had turned to vandalism. He then exposed his true views of women in general, suffragists in particular, and offended both.

Apparently the Mayor feels that what makes women "militant" about seeking equal rights is lack of a husband, and since there are 1,500,000 unmarried women in England, he believes such desperation there is inevitable. He explained : "As soon as every woman has a man the women will get peaceful ... Is there any suffragette in the world who would not give up her principles for a nice man ?" He said that the reason he did not fear such violence here was because "most of our woman suffragists are married." He then made things even worse by blaming women themselves for their failure to win suffrage, and showed that he does not take the suffrage movement seriously :

"Do I think the men of this State are opposed to woman suffrage, or are in favor of it, or indifferent about it ? I think the greatest number are in that mood that they just laugh and rub their stomachs and say that they are perfectly satisfied for the women to vote if they want to. But the trouble is that there are only a few women, apparently, who want to vote. Mark me, as soon as the majority of them want it they will get it."

Suffragist response was unvaried from the most to the least militant. Elizabeth Freeman, who drove the literature wagon during a recent suffrage hike from Newark, New Jersey, to Washington, D.C., and who served time in English prisons prior to coming here, said : "The Mayor is talking through his hat when he says that all militant suffragettes need is mere man. All they need is a vote ! Most of the militant suffragette leaders in England, as a matter of fact - that is to say many of them - are very sweetly married women."

Freeman then recalled a recent debate here, in which the anti-suffragists implied that those who believed in "Votes for Women" tended not to believe in marriage and motherhood. She then called for a survey of those on the platform, and it was discovered that the five mothers who argued against suffrage had three children between them, while the four suffragist mothers had a total of twelve children, Freeman being the only unmarried debater on the platform.

Harriot Stanton Blatch said English militance was not due to so many unmarried women, but political and economic reasons, and mentioned the names of many prominent English militants who are married.

Rheta Childe Dorr, author of "What Eight Million Women Want" said : "What an insult to women to say that any suffragette would give up her principles for a nice man. Lots of suffragettes who are chucking things in England are married women whose husbands are nice men, and many of these husbands have stood by them and been arrested with them." She then noted that : "Women don't need men half as bad as men need women, anyway."

With the suffrage movement enjoying unprecedented strength, as shown by massive pageants in Washington, D.C. on March third and here in New York on May third, it's surprising to see anyone who holds elective office so unconcerned about offending a group that may soon constitute at least half the electorate. But suffragists - single, widowed, divorced or married, with or without children, have never been deterred by such old-fashioned, outdated views, or the condescending attitudes personified by the Mayor, and will simply use these insults as a spur to greater efforts, thus bringing the day of victory closer.

 

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May 17, 1921 : Ruth Hale has now formally launched her crusade to legally allow - and encourage - married women to use their birth names after marriage. This evening's first meeting of a new organization called the "Lucy Stone League" proved quite a success, and attracted a number of well-known people who engaged in a lively discussion about issues that still remain regarding a woman's separate identify after marriage.

Hale began by answering a number of important and basic questions from the audience. She told Elsie Ferguson that so long as she made arrangements to do so with the bank, she could have an account under her own name, and sign that name rather than "Mrs. T.B. Clark, Jr." on checks.

Passports, however, are another matter. Last year, Hale and her husband, Heywood Broun, wanted to take a trip to France, but the State Department refused to issue her a passport in her own name. After many months of discussions, the authorities decided to try a "compromise," and sent her a passport made out to "Ruth Hale, also known as Mrs. Heywood Broun." On February 18th she refused to accept the passport, saying she had chosen to "throw the government overboard" and the trip was canceled.

On a more successful note, a recent experiment at New York's Waldorf Hotel proved that husbands and wives can register under separate names, though only if it is made plain on the hotel register that they're married.

The validity of a woman with a well-established career continuing to use her birth or professional name after marriage was brought up by Blanche Oelrichs, also known by the pen name of Michael Strange. On the advice of her lawyer, she recently signed a contract using her married name of "Mrs. John Barrymore." Tonight she learned that the contract would still have been valid had she used either her birth name or pen name, because she was so well-known that no one could question her identity or right to use it.

Though married women still face discrimination by employers, as well as many State-imposed legal inequalities (all of which the National Woman's Party is currently working hard to eliminate), most of those here tonight were pleasantly surprised to find out how much freedom they have to use their birth names after marriage. So for now, the top priority of the group will be to educate women about their right to use their own name, rather than to advocate new legislation.

Among those at this first meeting were columnist Heywood Broun, author and activist Charlotte Perkins Gilman, novelist Fannie Hurst and playwright Anita Loos. Ruth Hale is a well-known journalist, has worked for the Hearst Syndicate, The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Ledger, The New York Times, Vogue and Vanity Fair. She and her husband have one child, Heywood Hale Broun, age three. The League is named for Lucy Stone, who defied the custom of her time by retaining her birth name after her marriage to Henry Blackwell in 1855.

Things have certainly progressed a long way since Colonial Times, when wives were considered legally invisible appendages of their husbands. As Sir William Blackstone put it in "Commentaries on the Laws of England" (1765) : "By marriage the husband and wife are one person in law ; that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband, under whose wing, protection and cover, she performs everything."

But even in this modern age, there are still many laws and customs which reflect the old, traditional view of a wife's status, and the Lucy Stone League is determined to fight them until full dignity and equality for wives is achieved.

 

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May 18, 1920 : Will Hays and other Republican leaders who may have become complacent about woman suffrage, and presume that "Votes for Women" advocates will continue to praise them for past efforts, got a reminder today that the struggle is not over. National Woman's Party activists made it plain that they will criticize anyone who retreats even slightly from the front lines of the battle until the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment is ratified.

Though not as colorful as the banner-bearing "Silent Sentinels" who picketed President Wilson three years ago over his - and the Democratic Party's - lack of commitment to suffrage, today's protesters sent an equally strong and uncompromising message to Mr. Hays, head of the Republican National Committee.

The reason for the protest is the failure of the Republican Governors of Connecticut and Vermont to call special sessions of their legislatures to ratify the Anthony Amendment, plus the continued delay of a ratification vote in Delaware. Just yesterday the Republican leaders of that State met, but did not choose to use their influence to pressure their fellow Republicans to call up the ratification resolution and cast their votes in its favor.

Congress passed the Anthony Amendment on June 4, 1919, and thirty-five States have now ratified, but thirty-six out of forty-eight are needed for the 3/4 the Constitution requires. Registration deadlines for the November 2nd election have already passed in at least two States, and others approach. Though women have already won full voting rights in some States, the longer ratification is delayed, the more obstacles there will be in the way of women voting in all States in November.

The high expectations for today's meeting with some wealthy women of Washington, D.C., were obvious from the slips of paper that were placed on each chair. They said : "For the use of the Republican National Committee, I herewith enclose a check for $ 1,000." Once everyone was seated, the usual flowery introduction of the keynote speaker was given, then Mr. Hays got up from his chair, expecting to give a standard fundraising speech to a group of highly supportive women.

But before Hays could launch the first platitude, Elsie Hill, daughter of the late Republican Member of Congress from Connecticut, started the proceedings off with a question : "Before you ask us to support the Republican Party, Mr. Hays, won't you tell us what the Republican Party is going to do about Delaware ?" Sensing that this was not a question the guest of honor was eager to answer, the man in charge of the meeting said : "I am sure Mr. Hays, if he has time in the course of his remarks, will answer that question."

Sue White, of Nashville, seconded the request, demanding an answer. Benigna Green Kalb, a Republican activist from Ohio, spoke up as well, making it clear that she would not continue to show loyalty to her party unless it showed the same to women : "Mr. Hays, women will not give money for the next elections until they know whether or not they are going to vote in them. In Delaware, Connecticut and Vermont, the Republican Party can answer that question."

Finally, Hays realized that he had to address the issue : "I suppose I may as well take this matter up at once. My dear ladies, if any one of you knew anything about practical politics, you would know that we do not carry legislatures around in our pockets. Why don't you go to Delaware and work for suffrage ?"

Though many certainly felt insulted by the condescending tone of his answer, Anita Pollitzer was especially offended, and said : "I have been working in Delaware, Mr. Hays, for six weeks. The legislators of Delaware seem to think that the Republican Party can do something about suffrage in that State. One of the leading Republicans of the Lower House telephoned me last night and asked : 'What are the national Republican leaders going to do about this deadlock here ?' "

Hays then tried to reassure everyone that woman suffrage was inevitable, and therefore in no need of extraordinary efforts by his party : "Every Republican hopes that Delaware will ratify. Some one of the remaining States will be intelligent enough to act between now and election time. I feel sure you women will vote in the next election."

Abby Scott Baker then asked : "Mr. Hays, why are you sure women will vote in the next election ? If the Republican Party can not persuade the Republican legislature of Delaware to ratify, can it persuade the Republican governors of Connecticut and Vermont to call special sessions, or are you depending upon the Democratic States to enfranchise the women to whom your party is now appealing for funds ?"

Not having a particularly good answer to that question, Hays decided to instead recall past glories, and the fact that Republicans deserve the lion's share of credit for bringing the Anthony Amendment this far. When the U.S. House passed it last year, the vote was 104 Democrats in favor and 70 opposed, but 200 Republicans in favor and just 19 opposed. In the U.S. Senate it was 20 Democrats in favor and 17 opposed, but 36 Republicans in favor and 8 against. Of the 35 states which have ratified so far, 26 have Republican legislatures, 6 are Democratic, and in the remaining 3, one party controls the House, the other the Senate. But praiseworthy as that record may be, without a 36th State, 35 ratifications of the Anthony Amendment enfranchise no one.

As was the case with the "Silent Sentinels" posted along the White House fence a few years ago, whose banners asked questions the President and his supporters found embarrassing, today's not-so-silent protesters' questions were met with boos from some in the audience. But since many of today's interrogators were veterans of that earlier campaign, which involved arrests, imprisonment, hunger strikes and force-feeding, they weren't about to be intimidated by a few catcalls.

Hays tried one final time to deflect the only really pertinent questions being asked at the meeting by retreating even farther into the past and recalling the virtues of Abraham Lincoln. But Lucy Branham insisted on bringing the discussion back into this century, and after trying to dissuade her from interrupting his soliloquy by saying : "Not now, young lady, not now ..." he finally realized that the battle was lost, and gave up his fundraising attempts for the day.

The National Woman's Party has now issued a press release proudly saying that it was, in fact, their members who had disrupted the meeting, and explaining why :

"The Republican Party is in overwhelming control in the Delaware Legislature, which has been in session since March 22 but has so far failed to give the vote which will complete ratification of the suffrage amendment.

"In addition, the Republican Governors of Connecticut and Vermont have steadfastly refused to call special sessions of their Legislatures, which are believed to hold a majority for the amendment."

The battle for woman suffrage is now clearly in its final stages, and though it has been a 72-year struggle, it will be what is done in the next few weeks or months that will be uppermost in the minds of voters in November, and may even influence the way many women view the parties for years to come.

Millions of women already vote on all questions and candidates in equal suffrage States, and can vote for President in a number of "Presidential Suffrage" States. Each party has the opportunity to take the credit for putting the Anthony Amendment over the top - or the blame for blocking ratification until after the election, and continuing to bar women in male-suffrage-only States from the polls. Actions such as today's by the National Woman's Party are essential to keeping up the pressure until final victory is achieved, and today's protesters should be praised for their "No Vote - No Money !" campaign.

 

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May 18, 1953 : Jacqueline Cochran has become the first woman to fly faster than the speed of sound, and today set a new world speed record as well. She broke the sound barrier using two steep dives, leaving no doubt in anyone's mind that she'd accomplished her goal because ground observers clearly heard a "sonic boom" on the second attempt.

 

But adding that to her already impressive list of feats wasn't her only accomplishment while here at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Today she also flew faster over a 100 kilometer, circular course than any pilot - male or female - has ever done, at 652 miles an hour.

 

Though the old record she shattered belonged to a man, it was not a "battle of the sexes" in the usual sense. Colonel Fred Ascani, who flew an equivalent course at 635 miles an hour in August, 1951, is actually a good friend of hers. When she told him she might like to try to better his speed, he suggested she use her considerable influence to borrow the Canadian version of the Sabre Jet he used, which has a more powerful engine. She took his advice - and his record.

 

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May 19, 1922 : Young feminists got a reminder today of the persistence that was needed to bring about the recent suffrage victory. It came in the form of a gift from the only surviving member of the 1848 Women's Rights Convention at Seneca Falls, NY. The National Woman's Party will be breaking ground on a new headquarters in Washington, D.C., next Sunday, and Charlotte Woodward Pierce has sent along a silver trowel to be used in the ceremony. It is inscribed : "In memory of the Seneca Falls convention in 1848, presented by its sole survivor, Charlotte Pierce, in thanksgiving for progress made by women and in honor of the National Woman's Party, which will carry on the struggle so bravely begun."

 

When Pierce first read about the upcoming July 19-20, 1848 convention she was a teenage glove maker who was so enthusiastic about the idea of working for equality that she went around town telling people about the unprecedented event and gathering up friends to go with her for the grueling 40-mile wagon trip. She stayed for both days, and was one of the signers of the "Declaration of Sentiments."

 

She continued her suffrage work after marrying and moving to Philadelphia, joining the American Woman Suffrage Association not long after the Civil War. On November 2, 1920, when the first national election after passage of the 19th Amendment was held, she was the only person present at that Seneca Falls meeting still living and eligible to cast a vote. But as fate would have it, she was too ill to go to the polls. Though unable to leave her home since last year, she still continues to do what she can to promote equality, an example to us all until final victory is achieved.

 

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May 19, 1969 : In what seemed like a courtroom scene from another era, Bill Baird was sentenced to three months in prison today for distributing a contraceptive device to an unmarried woman in violation of a Massachusetts law banning "Crimes Against Chastity, Morality, Decency and Good Order." The maximum penalty for violation of the law is five years in prison.

The case began on April 6, 1967, when in response to a request by some students, Baird came to Boston University and gave a well-attended lecture on birth control. At the conclusion of his remarks, he gave a package of Emko contraceptive foam to a 19-year-old female student. He was promptly arrested by members of Boston's Vice Squad, and charged with two separate felonies : exhibiting "obscene" objects (birth control devices) and giving away one of them.

Baird was found guilty on October 17, 1967, though his sentencing was stayed until he could appeal to the Massachusetts Supreme Court. He won a partial victory there 18 days ago, when the Court ruled in "Commonwealth v. William R. Baird" (355 Mass. 746) that it was not illegal to give a lecture on birth control, even if it involves exhibiting contraceptive devices, but voted 4 to 3 to uphold his conviction for distributing such devices to an unmarried individual.

Since 1966, state law has allowed physicians and pharmacists to dispense contraceptives to married individuals, but Mr. Baird is neither. No one in Massachusetts is legally permitted to give birth control devices to anyone who is not married.

Though many had expected nothing more than a symbolic $ 100 fine, the judge declared that Baird was a "menace to society" and sentenced him to three months in the infamous Charles Street Jail. Baird is angry, but prepared to serve his time while appealing his case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Four years ago that court ruled in "Griswold v. Connecticut" (381 U.S. 479) that married adults have a right to birth control, but has not yet ruled on whether single individuals have that same right, so this will be a test case.

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UPDATE : Baird began serving his sentence on February 20, 1970. The U.S. Supreme Court did eventually take the case, and on March 22, 1972, ruled in "Eisenstadt v. Baird" (405 U.S. 438) that unmarried individuals have the same right to birth control information and devices as married couples. This landmark decision overturned laws in 26 states, and was the second of three decisions that form the foundation of reproductive rights today, the third being "Roe v. Wade" (410 U.S. 113) on January 22, 1973.

 

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May 20, 1903 : "No vote, no tax !" That was the declaration today of Clara Bewick Colby, editor and publisher of The Woman's Tribune, and Corresponding Secretary of the Woman's Equality Association. And this is just one part of a new campaign to mobilize Wisconsin suffragists. Ably aided by Rev. Olympia Brown, who has lived in Wisconsin since 1878, and been president of the Wisconsin Woman Suffrage Association since 1884, Colby's main objective is to establish a bipartisan women's organization that will endorse candidates of either major party who declare themselves in favor of woman suffrage.

After this group is activated, the next step will be to make a list of Wisconsin women who pay taxes, as a way of showing how widespread "taxation without representation" is today, and use this as a means of lobbying the State Legislature to grant suffrage to women. Until they do, the State's non-voting women will be asked to pledge both individually and as a group to become non-taxpayers. When 10,000 have made such a pledge, legal action will be instituted in the courts on their behalf demanding the voting rights that should go along with taxpaying responsibilities.

Clara Bewick Colby has been an active advocate for the rights of women since she had to fight for the right to take classical courses designed for men after her enrollment at the University of Wisconsin in 1865. She succeeded, and was valedictorian of the first class of women to receive bachelor's degrees there in 1869. After being hired to teach Latin and History, she left because they refused to pay her the same salary as a similarly qualified man.

After moving to Beatrice, Nebraska, in 1872 with her husband, she organized the free public library there, and brought women's rights speakers such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony to lecture. She helped organize the Nebraska Woman Suffrage Association in 1881, and was its first president from 1885 to 1889.

Her best-known activity is The Woman's Tribune, published since 1883. From March 27 to April 3, 1888, during the International Council of Women, she published daily, the first time a newspaper published by a woman had done this. By 1898, her publication had become so prestigious that she received the first War Correspondent's Pass issued to a woman so she could cover the Spanish-American War. She now lives in Washington, D.C. and publishes her paper there.

Let's hope this new project is as successful as all her previous efforts, and that "taxation without representation" will seem just as outrageous to Americans today as it did in Revolutionary times !

 

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May 21, 1932 : Amelia Earhart has flown the Atlantic alone ! Leaving from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland, last evening, five years to the day after Lindbergh left on his pioneering flight, she landed safely in a pasture near Culmore, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, 14 hours and 56 minutes later.

Not only is she the first female pilot to have made the trip by herself, and only the second person to have ever done a transatlantic solo flight, she is the only person to have flown the Atlantic twice in a heavier-than-air craft (the first time was as a passenger on June 17-18, 1928.) She also now holds the record for the fastest crossing by any pilot or team of pilots, beating the old record by one hour and sixteen minutes, and has set the record for the longest solo flight by a woman, 2026 miles.

It was quite a challenging trip, and many an aviator would have turned back, and not been criticized for doing so. Despite assurances of good weather, it turned atrocious for five hundred miles during the middle of the flight. Her altimeter gave out after three hours, a piece of equipment that was especially crucial, because she had to stay dangerously low to avoid the ice that had formed on the wings when she tried flying at high altitudes.

"It was absolutely black," she said about her hours of flying blind through heavy rain, practically skimming the ocean. The fuel gauge also malfunctioned during the flight. Six hundred miles out she saw flames shooting from the exhaust, and a small amount of fuel dripping from a gas tank. But she still decided to go forward, not turn back. Fortunately, her engine performed perfectly, so that, plus her skill as a pilot, were enough to overcome all the challenges that were thrown her way. After landing, she said :

"Ever since my first transatlantic flight in the Friendship, I wanted to do it alone, and I did, even though I had to come down in a pasture outside Londonderry. Until midnight it was smooth sailing for me. The rest of the time - well, you've got to expect bad weather out on the Atlantic. I ran into a severe thunderstorm and ice conditions when flying high, so I had to come down pretty quick.

"The gasoline gauge in the cockpit broke and I was getting gas all down the back of my neck. Then the exhaust manifold burned out. Four hours after leaving Newfoundland I saw flames at the exhaust, which worried me. It was a matter of four hours to get back, so I thought I might just as well keep going."

Telegrams of congratulations are pouring in from all over the world, including one from President Hoover, and Earhart can look forward to a big welcome when she returns home.

Her accomplishment should certainly be a boost to women in aviation, a field they are now entering in increasing numbers. At the beginning of 1929, there were only 34 licensed women pilots in the U.S., whereas there were 512 as of last month. Americans hold six of the seven international women's flying records.

Earhart set her first women's record on October 22, 1922, when she went to 14,000 feet. She set a women's speed record of 181 miles per hour on July 5, 1930, and on April 8th of last year she soared to 18,415 feel in an autogyro, higher than any pilot, man or woman, had ever taken such an aircraft. Today she added more records to her impressive list of achievements, and everyone is looking forward to her next feat !

 

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May 22, 1915 : The major differences in philosophies and tactics used by suffrage groups were openly illustrated today through a number of public comments. Though all suffragists have the same goal of "Votes for Women," some give priority to winning suffrage on a State-by-State basis, using conventional methods, while others focus on passage of the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment, and take a more militant, though non-violent approach.

The Empire State Campaign Committee is currently working hard to pass a suffrage referendum in New York State in November, and is quite concerned that the actions of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage might offend some of those who will be voting on the measure. Carrie Chapman Catt is head of the Committee, and recently sent a letter to Alice Paul, head of the Congressional Union, asking her not to organize in New York State until after the election.

Alice Paul told Catt that though the C.U. has a headquarters in New York City, it is just a central location to direct work nationwide. While the Congressional Union plans to organize in every State, they will wait until after the election to do so in those which have referenda on the ballot, in order not to interfere with those efforts. But individual Congressional Union members will still continue to work in every State, including New York.

Paul stated today that since the C.U.'s priority is a Constitutional amendment, this will require visiting every member of Congress, including those in the four States (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts) which will vote on woman suffrage this Fall. In some cases, this will require visiting the member's home office.

Copies of Catt's letter to Alice Paul, which is reported to be quite polite, were recently sent around the country to other suffragists, and accompanied by a note signed by the National American Woman Suffrage Association that more accurately reflects the growing rift : "War has been declared upon the National by a new militant organization which enjoys autocratic leadership and a philosophic irresponsibility to the suffrage movement in the various States."

Katharine Dexter McCormick, N.A.W.S.A. Vice President, was even more outspoken today : "There has been entire harmony between the National Association and the workers in the State, but we have all had to suffer from the amazing selfishness of a small group which is determined to figure in the day's news no matter who pays the bills.

"We have been flooded with telegrams from suffragists throughout the country deploring the effect of the Congressional Union's attack upon the President in two campaign states - last week in Pennsylvania and this week in New York. The only thing to do is to bend every effort to convince the public - and especially the men - that, as Mrs. Catt has said, ninety-nine and nine tenths percent of the suffragists have no sympathy with such undignified and preposterous methods. It is the work of a small band which enjoys autocratic leadership and a fine contempt for the slow, solid methods which American women have preferred and still prefer."

The Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage was formed in April, 1913, by Alice Paul and Lucy Burns. Paul had been head of N.A.W.S.A.'s Congressional Committee, and organized their hugely successful suffrage pageant in Washington, D.C., the month before. But philosophical incompatibilities soon required Paul to separate from N.A.W.S.A., and use her now-independent group to take a different approach.

N.A.W.S.A. has been concentrating on State referenda, along with some polite lobbying of members of Congress for a watered-down suffrage amendment. The Shafroth-Palmer Amendment, which they endorsed last year, directly enfranchises no one, and would only require States to hold a referendum on woman suffrage if 8% of the registered voters sign a petition. The C.U. insists on nothing less than the Anthony Amendment, which would immediately enfranchise women on the same basis as men nationwide.

The Congressional Union has begun attacking the party in power, which has the ability to pass the Anthony Amendment, but has not done so. It was these attacks on Democrats in last year's midterm elections, and repeated attempts to pressure President Wilson to support nationwide woman suffrage that have upset N.A.W.S.A. and the Empire State Campaign Committee.

Though it obviously does not help matters to have group rivalries and animosity between major figures in the struggle for suffrage, the current situation does show that a lot of people still have a strong commitment to winning "Votes for Women," even if they strenuously differ on how it should be accomplished. In fact, in the long run, it seems quite likely that a combination of strategies may be the best, with some politicians and voters responding to N.A.W.S.A.'s gentle lobbying and traditional methods, and others to the Congressional Union's hardball politics and unconventional methods of capturing the attention of press and public.

 

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May 22, 1919 : A recently-passed New York State law which prohibits employing women on transportation lines between 10 P.M. and 6 A.M. was the subject of a protest meeting this evening called by the Women's League for Equal Opportunity.

 

After a number of women who had been fired because of the law vented their outrage, attorney Amy Wren, counsel for the Brooklyn Rapid Transit League denounced the Lockwood-Caulfield Law for unfairly restricting the rights of women. The protest campaign is just getting started, according to Wren.

 

The manager of a theater has offered to host future protest meetings, and on Saturday morning Wren, accompanied by women from the Interborough Rapid Transit Company and the New York Railways Company will talk to Governor Smith to try to change his views. He strongly supports the law because he says that medical authorities have determined that night work is "injurious" to women.

 

A report was submitted to the Governor today by the Public Service Commissioner and it concluded that : "So long as this bill, enacted in response to the demand for welfare legislation, remains law and is enforced, as it must be, the general employment of women in many places on these roads must cease." The General Manager of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company has said that if the law is strictly enforced, 365 cars now in operation would have to be discontinued.

 

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May 23, 1870 : Though the battle for women's equality has raged for almost 22 long years, victory surely cannot be far off, judging by the impressive assembly of speakers that gathered here in Boston this evening, and the enthusiastic response of their audience. Though this was only the first of three meetings at Tremont Temple by the New England Woman Suffrage Association, it is hard to imagine any better arguments could be forthcoming, nor should any more be needed to persuade even the movement's most severe skeptics to embrace the justice and expediency of the cause.

The meeting was called to order by Julia Ward Howe, with the first order of business being the election of James Freeman Clarke as the group's president. Clarke is of the opinion that it is time for women to work with men in all that they do, and contrary to the dire predictions of opponents, it has been his experience that a close association between the sexes enhances the best characteristics of each gender.

Howe resumed the podium again, and despite a bad cold, made a good point by arguing that the best and most delightful men, such as William Lloyd Garrison, Henry Ward Beecher, John Stuart Mill, and Wendell Phillips were with the women in their struggle.

But the most powerful argument of the evening was given by Mr. Garrison himself, who had not just one good reason why women should vote, but twelve :

First, he noted that they have the same natural and unalienable rights, and the same common interests as men. Second, they have as much concern in the establishment of justice, the insurance of domestic tranquility, in providing for the common welfare, and in securing the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity, as have men.

Third, they are naturally as capable of understanding and determining what laws will be equitable and what measures effective to these ends, as men. Fourth, they have as strong a love of country and as exalted and pure a patriotism as men. Fifth, they are taxed without representation and in various ways by unjust legislation. Sixth, they are made amenable to laws - even to the extent of capital punishment - which they have no part in enacting, and to which their consent has never been asked or given.

Seventh, deprived of the ballot they have no means of self-protection against legal and judicial injustice. Eighth, with the ballot they will possess an equal share of political powers, and thus be able to redress every wrong. Ninth, all caste legislation is oppressive. Tenth, a Government which excludes one-half of the population from all participation in its affairs is not a Government of the people. Eleventh, to make sex a ground of exclusion from the possession and exercise of equal rights is as unjustifiable and tyrranical as it has been to make the color of one's skin the ground for similar abuse.

Finally, to withhold the vote from women is to assign them to a state of guardianship through sheer usurpation and the strong arm of brute force, and consequently tends injuriously to affect the character, policy and destiny of a country, and to make a pure and just administration of government utterly impracticable.

Wendell Phillips ended the meeting with an appeal to the community's sense of justice, and asked that women be given the power to protect themselves.

Though there is certainly a struggle ahead, the fact that women in the Territory of Wyoming won the ballot on December 10th is proof that the arguments in favor of woman-suffrage heard here earlier this evening are having an effect, and will one day prevail nationwide.

 

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May 24, 1913 : Though the 500 who marched in Long Island's first suffrage pageant today may have been fewer in number than the tens of thousands who paraded down New York's Fifth Avenue three weeks ago, they seemed every bit as enthusiastic and colorful. Not content with a single Grand Marshal, the duties were split between "Suspender Jack" McGee on the ground and aviator Charlie Hild in the air.

McGee, famous for his impassioned and impromptu speech to the State "Bull Moose" Party convention last September, in which he demolished the party's carefully planned slate of candidates and got Oscar Straus nominated for Governor, wasn't the only well-known name to take part today. Also along for the journey from Mineola to Hempstead was Josephine De Mott Robinson, who last year organized the women of Barnum & Bailey Circus for suffrage, and whose unique ability to turn a somersault backwards while on horseback made her a natural choice to be prominently featured among the many equestrians.

There were also women dressed in red, white and blue, carrying banners of the nine States that already have equal suffrage. Many floats and flower-bedecked carriages followed. The silver cup for "most effective vehicle" went to one created by one of the newest converts to the cause. Only a supporter of suffrage for two weeks, Mrs. Lewis of East Hempstead was dressed as Liberty, and accompanied by as many schoolchildren as could fit in her roofless automobile and under the banner of "Little Twins of Brookholt Branch." (Brookholt is the name of the Long Island estate of suffragist Alva Belmont, leader of the Political Equality Association.)

The donor of the cup, and keynote speaker at the rally attended by over 5,000 at the end of the parade, was a nationally-known local suffragist, "General" Rosalie Jones. She has been a familiar figure to people on this part of Long Island since early last year when she traveled around in a little suffrage-yellow, horse-drawn cart giving out "Votes for Women" literature and making stump speeches to any who would listen.

Jones achieved Statewide fame when she took a few brave hikers on a march from New York City to Albany, December 16-28, 1912, to successfully elicit newly-elected Governor Sulzer's support for a proposed Statewide suffrage referendum two years from now. Her success in that lobbying effort was followed by nationwide attention when she led an even larger group of hikers from Newark, New Jersey, to Washington, D.C. between February 12th and 28th of this year, then marched in the massive suffrage parade and pageant there on March 3rd.

So enthusiastic are local suffrage supporters that the end of the speeches was not the last of the day's activities. Three "flying squads" of suffragists are now driving their automobiles around the area promoting the cause to any who may have missed the parade and rally. Jessie Hardy Stubbs is in charge of Hempstead, Elizabeth Freeman is in Rockville Center, and May Morgan is converting Sea Cliff residents.

 

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May 25, 1877 : The New York State chapter of the National Woman Suffrage Association met to-day, and made it clear that suffragists are still resolutely determined to win the fight, and that politicians who stand in the way will be publicly and severely criticized. The chief offender singled out for chastisement was Governor Lucius Robinson, who recently vetoed a bill that would have allowed women to sit on School Boards.

The first orders of business, however, were to adopt the report made by the Committee of Officers, and to elect Susan B. Anthony as president of the organization. Among the Secretaries elected were Matilda Gage and Lillie Devereux Blake. Gage gave an address that so impressed the audience it was decided to print up copies of it for distribution.

Then it was on to resolutions, which proved an effective mix of basic principles, criticism, and even a bit of sarcasm.

The first resolution reflected N.W.S.A.'s top priority of winning the ballot. Once women are part of the electorate, their voting power will prevent politicians from passing laws that are injurious to women, as they freely do now :

"Resolved, That as the ballot means protection, the women of New York demand it, in order to protect themselves against such invidious legislation as the veto of the Woman's School Bill.

"Resolved, That the veto of Gov. Robinson is but another proof that the interests of the non-represented class are always misunderstood, neglected, and betrayed by those in power.

"Resolved, That by his denial of the right of women to sit upon the School Board, Governor Robinson has entailed upon the community a severe loss, i.e., the legislative, educational and moral influence of a class, especially designed by the 'God of nature' to have children in charge.

"Resolved, That the half-million men of New York who voted for Lucius Robinson as Governor, should be extremely grateful to him for intimating that they are so incapable of selecting competent school officers, that he must protect them by his veto from the risks of their own stupidity."

But not all politicians came in for criticism :

"Resolved, That the thanks of this association are due to Hon. William Emerson, Senator from Rochester, for his able and manly advocacy of a bill giving to women positions on educational boards, for which they have already in other States proved that they are admirably qualified."

The need to amend the U.S. Constitution for a sixteenth time, in order to enfranchise women nationwide was also indorsed :

"Resolved, That all friends of woman suffrage throughout the State should exert their utmost endeavors to secure signatures to a Sixteenth Amendment petition, and the passage of a national law that shall prohibit the respective States from disenfranchising women on the ground of sex."

The admission and subsequent success of women in academic life at two of the State's universities was noted, and used as proof that women should be equally free to compete with men in legal careers as well :

"Resolved, That the experience of Cornell and Syracuse University proves woman's ability to compete with man in all educational interests, and that we demand the passage of a law securing to her the right to enter every branch of the legal profession."

The evening session was highlighted with a speech by Lillie Devereux Blake, who addressed some common arguments against suffrage. She said that while opponents claimed women voters would become so preoccupied with politics that they would neglect, or no longer be inclined toward their domestic duties, the opposite was actually true. She also noted that a woman could not be a true companion to a man until she became just as familiar as her husband with the events and political issues of the day.

A practical example of the success of woman suffrage was given by a speaker from Wyoming Territory, where women won the vote in 1869. He said that women have done an admirable job of voting for the best candidates regardless of party affiliation, and have served well on juries. One woman appointed as a Justice of the Peace brought order to a previously lawless mining district, and in the ultimate test of suffrage vs. marriage, he noted an instance of a husband and wife running for office against each other which did not disturb the tranquility of their union.

The National Woman Suffrage Association was formed on May 15, 1869, by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. It has as its primary purpose securing a Constitutional Amendment to enfranchise women nationwide, though it also vigorously supports other measures designed to increase the rights and opportunities of women.

One example of its bold approach to winning equality was its demonstration at last year's Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Susan B. Anthony and a number of other women had been denied the right to officially participate, but were given passes to observe a key part of the July 4th ceremony. Right after Richard Henry Lee finished reading the Declaration of Independence, they got up from their chairs and presented a "Woman's Declaration of Rights" to the rather startled presiding officer, then Anthony gave a brief speech.

The group has already written the text of a proposed Constitutional Amendment to enfranchise women nationwide, and hope to have it introduced into Congress soon, so they're working in both conventional and militant ways to secure the vote.

Though the struggle is certain to be a long one - women vote in only sparsely-populated Wyoming and Utah Territories at present - the fight will be a successful one, judging by the many talented and dedicated individuals who make up just this one segment of the suffrage battle.

 

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May 25, 1946 : A new political action group for American women was formed today in Washington, D.C. Called the "Congress of American Women," it will be the U.S. affiliate of the Women's International Democratic Federation, established only in November, but which already has members in 41 countries. The group aims to bring together women of all races, religions, political parties and walks of life "to take political and all other necessary action to advance and defend their political, economic, legal and social rights."

 

Six hundred women from around the country attended the meeting, representing women's clubs, unions, professional women and homemakers. Were it not for the rail strike, many more would have been here. Greetings from the Women's International Democratic Federation were brought by Bodil Begtrup of Denmark, who felt that now was an opportune time for women to finish the worldwide battle for equality. Men's attitudes have evolved over the past few years, and "they now treat us as comrades," she says.

 

A principal aim of the new women's group is to "promote their welfare as women for the protection of the well-being, health and education of all children through political, legislative and educational action, and to participate actively for the advancement of women in America, for the complete destruction of fascism and fascist ideology, to promote the close collaboration of all the peoples of the world on a political, economic, social and cultural sphere, and to bring about the establishment of a democratic and lasting peace."

 

Columbia University Anthropologist Dr. Gene Weltfish was elected as head of the group, and Susan B. Anthony, grandniece of the suffragist, will be in charge of their Commission on the Status of Women. Among those who attended today's meeting was aviator Jacqueline Cochran, who charged that the Army Air Forces still discriminate against women.

 

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May 26, 1919 : Despite the frantic efforts and desperation tactics of Southern Democrats, the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment appears to be on the verge of final passage by Congress, and being sent to the States for ratification. Only a filibuster, led by Senator Hoke Smith of Georgia and Senator Oscar Underwood of Alabama prevented a vote today.

Senator Wesley Jones, Republican of Washington, is trying to get a motion passed to take the Anthony Amendment out of the hands of the Suffrage Committee and on to the floor for a vote by the full Senate. But Senator Smith made a motion to table Jones’ motion. If Smith had been successful, his motion would have put a vote on the amendment at the bottom of the Senate calendar and prevented a vote for an indefinite, but certainly a very long, time.

Delay is now the main strategy of anti-suffragists, who want to keep women from voting in next year's Presidential Election, even if they can't keep them from voting eventually. Virtually all State Legislatures have been in session since early this year, so they could vote on ratification quickly if given the chance. But as time goes by, more and more will finish their business and adjourn, so that in order to get a vote on ratification, the Governor of each State would have to call them into special session.

Smith’s motion was defeated by an encouraging 64 against to 27 in favor, thus indicating that even if the entire Senate had been present, there are at least 64 votes for suffrage, exactly 2/3 of the 96 Senators needed. Nineteen Democrats and eight Republicans voted for the Smith motion, with forty-one Republicans and twenty-three Democrats against.

Had Senator Jones’ motion been voted upon and passed, the Anthony Amendment would have been discharged from the Suffrage Committee, and Jones would have then called for an immediate vote by the full Senate. It would have passed 64 to 27, giving it three votes to spare among the 91 Senators present and voting.

Having failed to bury the amendment until all other bills on the calendar could be voted upon, opponents had no other tactic left than to filibuster and delay a vote as long as possible. So Senators Smith and Underwood, assisted by a rare anti-suffrage Republican, Senator Wadsworth of New York, took to the floor and talked for the remainder of the morning session, thus forcing the matter to be put over until day after tomorrow.

If not for the opposition of Southern Democrats, the amendment would have passed long ago, and might already have been ratified by 36 of the 48 States. But despite the frustrations of being within a few votes of the 2/3 majority needed for passage session after session, suffragists have resisted the temptation to “compromise” with segregationists by re-wording the amendment so that it would enfranchise white women only, or satisfy “States’ Rights” advocates by eliminating the section that gives Congress the power to enforce it.

But with 64 solid votes in the Senate, and passage by the House already accomplished on May 21st by a vote of 304 to 89, it now appears that this long battle is drawing to a close, and that the Susan B. Anthony Amendment will pass in its pure form, as a worthy tribute to the woman it is named for.

This is the full text of the proposed 19th Amendment, precisely the same today as when it was first introduced into Congress on January 10, 1878, by Senator Aaron Sargent, Republican of California :

Section 1 : “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Section 2 : “Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

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May 26, 1953 : A 22-year-old woman will soon become the youngest person ever to have served on the Los Angeles City Council, only the second woman ever to have done so, and its first Jewish member since 1900, thanks to today's election victory.

Rosalind Wiener, who began her campaign less than a year after graduating from the University of Southern California, has no powerful political connections or wealth, and yet by a skilled, persistent, grassroots campaign she has convinced the voters of the 5th District that she should represent them at City Hall.

She has been a campaigner ever since she became the first female student body president in the history of Los Angeles High School. After graduation in 1948, she went on to U.S.C., starting off as a pre-law major, then switching to Public Administration. Active in California politics since the Helen Gahagan Douglas Senatorial campaign of 1950, she became a member of the local citizens' committee to select a candidate for City Council earlier this year, and was immediately drafted by the group. Coming up with money for the campaign was a challenge, but friends, neighbors and volunteers pitched in, and soon the effort was in high gear. Even her nephew Tony, age 7, gave a speech. Then he offered to sell his polliwogs, netting $ 1.25 for the cause, which the Council Member-elect says put things over the top financially.

Her headquarters was in the apartment of her parents, both pharmacists and avid New Deal Democrats. From there, she and her volunteers would go out each day knocking on doors. As always, she set the pace, ringing a total of 4,500 doorbells herself. Though warned that being young and female would be handicaps in her race, she found that both actually worked in her favor, especially among homemakers, who became quite supportive of her campaign after meeting and talking to her.

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UPDATE : Rosalind Wiener Wyman was elected to two more four-year terms on the City Council. In 1958 she was chosen "Woman of the Year" by the Los Angeles Times. She was instrumental in bringing the Dodgers to Los Angeles, and the team still honors her efforts, because on May 7, 2013, she was permitted to throw out the ceremonial "first pitch" in their game against the Diamondbacks. She is still very active politically, and was here at the Feminist Majority Foundation office with Senator Barbara Boxer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi on April 4th endorsing Wendy Greuel's attempt to become the first female Mayor of Los Angeles in the May 21, 2013 election.

 

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May 27, 1933 : The need for an Equal Rights Amendment has increased dramatically in the past few years, due to an assault on women's rights and opportunities that some misguided individuals see as one of the solutions to our country's current economic crisis. That was the view expressed by Maud Younger of the National Woman's Party at a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on the E.R.A. today.

Specifically mentioned as examples of this trend are the firings of married women workers to make employment available to men, and new laws restricting only women's hours and regulating only their pay. The hearings were chaired by Senator John G. Townsend, Republican of Delaware, an E.R.A. proponent. He said :

"It has been my observation that women have not sought recognition in our political life as a matter of special privilege, rather they have asked simply for their rights. On this ground they won their suffrage. It is my belief that on the same principle of justice they will win equality in legal status. It may be contended that the results hoped for in the measure might be accomplished by working through State legislatures. I submit that such procedure would mean long delay."

Of the three main witnesses, only one spoke against the legislation. Mary Winslow, of the Women's Trade Union League appeared as a representative of her group as well as several others. As a supporter of special "protective" legislation for women she called the E.R.A. "vague, unnecessary, ineffective, destructive, reckless of consequence and tyrranous."

But Florence Bayard Hilles sees so-called "protective" laws as simply "restrictive," and a woman's status under the law as what's vague and too easily changed :

"Today the civil rights of women can be extended or restricted at the caprice of any State legislative authority, so that a woman's right to earn her living in the trades or professions, or the uses of the powers of her mind, or body, can be defined, permitted, or denied by State legislative authority. The history of the common law is the story of master and slave. Women were at one time in the slave class, and some of the attributes of that status still cling to her. Today there is absolutely no reason to regard a woman as a weakling or an inferior. She has demonstrated her ability in spite of the handicaps imposed on her by law and custom, and has earned her complete emancipation. This emancipation should be written into the Federal Constitution in order that it may be made secure."

The Equal Rights Amendment was written by Alice Paul, and the campaign for its adoption was launched by the National Woman's Party on July 21, 1923. It was introduced into Congress on December 10, 1923 by Senator Charles Curtis and Representative Daniel Anthony, both Republicans of Kansas. Rep. Anthony is a nephew of Susan B. Anthony. Two months later, the first hearings were held by a Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, with the National Woman's Party testifying in support. On February 4, 1925, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee held its first E.R.A. hearings. Last year saw two positive developments, as the E.R.A. got a hearing before the full House Judiciary Committee, and on September 22nd, Amelia Earhart and other members of the National Woman's Party called on then-President Hoover to discuss the measure with him.

Eighty-five years after the Seneca Falls Convention, and thirteen years after national suffrage was won, the battle for total equality continues. Though that may still be a distant goal, the continued activism of those who were instrumental in winning the battle for the vote, such as Alice Paul, Maud Younger and Florence Bayard Hilles, should insure the same successful outcome for this amendment as for the 19th.

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UPDATE : The E.R.A. would eventually be passed by Congress on March 22, 1972, with an original deadline for ratification by 38 out of 50 states of March 22, 1979. On October 6, 1978, Congress extended that deadline to June 30, 1982. Though only 35 states ratified by that time, the E.R.A. campaign came so close to victory that had seven individual state senators (3 in Nevada in 1975, 2 in North Carolina in 1977, and 2 in Florida in 1979), switched their "no" votes to "yes," the E.R.A. would have become part of the Constitution on May 24, 1979.

But there is no deadline on seeking equality, so the struggle continues. On May 9, 2013, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) introduced S.J.R. 15. It would eliminate the deadline imposed by Congress in 1972 and extended in 1978, and allow the campaign to pick up where it left off in 1982, just three states short of ratification. The deadline was never a part of the E.R.A. text itself, which is why Congress could extend the deadline in 1978 by a simple majority vote, and abolish it now by the same means. The Supreme Court has never ruled on the right of one Congress to alter a deadline set by a previous one, however, because by the time it was asked to do so, the extended deadline had passed, no states had ratified during the extension period, and they decided that there was no need to issue a ruling. So, it is not certain how the High Court would rule on this "Three State" ratification strategy. S.J.R. 15 has been sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT). The committee consists of Leahy, plus 9 Democrats and 8 Republicans.

A companion bill to S.J.R. 15, entitled H.J.R. 43, has been introduced in the House by Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ). It has been sent to the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). That committee consists of Goodlatte, plus 21 Republicans and 17 Democrats.

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) has introduced S.J.R. 10, the Equal Rights Amendment. This has the same text as the 1972 E.R.A., and would require approval by 2/3 of those present and voting in both houses of Congress, and ratification by 38 states. It does not have a time limit attached to it. It has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Regardless of whether you support the "3 State" or "Start Over" strategy - or both - the important thing is to let your legislators know that you want them to support this long-overdue measure. The battle isn't over until the U.S. Constitution - which will have been in effect 225 years on June 21st - finally states that : "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex."

 

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May 28, 1932 : Women are becoming a major force in the battle to repeal Prohibition, according to figures released today by the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform. When founded on this date in 1929, only about fifty women were in attendance at the Drake Hotel in Chicago. By 1930 there were 100,000 members. A year later there were 300,000 on the rolls, but that number has tripled to 900,000 in the past year, with 200,000 added in just the past month. Who are the women that are now active in its chapters in 42 States ? Homemakers are by far the largest group, comprising 37% of the members, with office workers second at 19%. Business and professional women, and industrial workers each constitute 15% of the organization's members.

The recent upsurge in members is at least partially due to the success of "Repeal Week," in which thousands of volunteers held open-air meetings around the country, a tactic used successfully by suffragists a generation ago. In another similarity, pamphlets, posters, tags and anything else on which the anti-prohibition message could be inscribed were widely distributed. Both major political parties will soon be put under pressure by the women to include repeal planks in their platforms this summer.

Advocates of repeal are taking great pride in their accomplishments as well as their tactics. In the words of Ione Nicoll, the organization's vice-president :

"Without threats and intimidation, the campaign for repeal has gone forward against the bitter opposition of the organized drys. This is no mere wet and dry argument, make no mistake about that. National Prohibition is not a question of liquor control, we have learned. Ours is a fight against the forces of crime, intolerance, fanaticism and corrupt politics which still have a strangle-hold on the government.

"The bitterness, the hate and the fury which our volunteers encounter in their work to expose the truth about the conditions under Prohibition demonstrate clearly that this is no academic debate on social legislation. It is a struggle to uphold the freedom of speech, of personal belief and conduct, guaranteed by the inalienable right of citizens in that section of the Constitution called the Bill of Rights ...

"As a woman I am justly proud of the part that women have taken in bringing this fight out into the open. As an American I am encouraged by the response to fact, reason and logic in the face of threat and intimidation. Three years ago repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment was considered an impossible ideal. Today repeal is a paramount political issue."

She then reminded her audience that this was just one phase of a much larger and persistent battle over "whether this country is to be governed by common sense or by an intolerant fanatical minority."

A (presently non-alcoholic) toast to the work of this group as well as their allies in the much older Association Against the National Prohibition Amendment, and "The Crusaders," a national group formed here in Chicago after the "St. Valentines' Day Massacre" to repeal the Prohibition Amendment because it has proven to be a boon to organized crime, and contributed to the violence that inevitably accompanies the rivalries of these powerful gangs.

 

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May 28, 1980 : Women are now among the elite who have graduated from each of the nation’s most prestigious military academies. Around the country today, precedents were shattered at graduation ceremonies from West Point to Annapolis to Colorado Springs, exactly one week after the Coast Guard set the pace by awarding diplomas and commissions to Jean Marie Butler and 13 other women at their academy in New London, Connecticut.

The largest contingent of women was found at the Air Force Academy, where 97 women and 970 men graduated. At West Point it was 61 women and 809 men, while at the Naval Academy in Annapolis the figure was 55 women and 938 men.

Andrea Hollen, a Rhodes Scholar, became the first woman to receive a diploma from West Point, ranking tenth in her class. After the ceremony she noted that “We’ll always be first, but we’re not tokens anymore.” Elizabeth Belzer, the first to graduate from Annapolis, held her diploma over her head and waved to the crowd, receiving loud applause in return. Kathleen Conley, eighth in her class, got the honor of the first Air Force Academy diploma ever awarded to a woman.

The fight to get women admitted to the service academies has been a difficult one, and the fact that women are presently barred from combat roles has made their admission a controversial issue. But thanks to a good deal of persistence by advocates of equal opportunity, such as N.O.W. President Karen De Crow, who testified at Congressional hearings - and support by 80% of the public in a survey - Congress passed Public Law 94-106 by a vote of 303 to 96 in the House on May 20, 1975, and a voice vote in the Senate on June 6th. It was signed by President Gerald Ford on October 7, 1975, and required the academies to open their doors to women the following year.

The Class of 1980 began its difficult journey about the time the nation celebrated its Bicentennial on July 4, 1976. Of all the women who were admitted that year, 66% managed to get through all the physical and academic challenges and graduate. That's a rate comparable to 70% of the men - who did not have to encounter resistance due to their sex.

Though there is still a long way to go to achieve equality in the military, the fact that women have now proven their ability to earn a commission under the strictest standards that any branch of our armed forces has to offer shows that the goal is a realistic one, and that our country will be better off when it fully utilizes the talents of all its citizens who wish to serve it in uniform.

 

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May 29, 1926 : The rivalry between the National Woman's Party and the League of Women Voters went international this week, with one victory for each side so far.

The stage upon which the battle between the two wings of the American women's movement is being fought is the Tenth Congress of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance, which opens tomorrow at the Sorbonne in Paris.

The first volley in the present conflict was fired by Belle Sherwin of the L.W.V., who objected to the admission of the N.W.P. as a second group representing the women of America : "The League objects to the admission of the Woman's Party on a ground which every one concerned recognizes as a fact - that the Woman's Party and the League are opposed to each other in policy and political action."

She then used the National Woman's Party's sponsorship and strong support of the Equal Rights Amendment to illustrate the difference between the philosophies of the two factions. Though both groups support equal suffrage worldwide and the general principle of equal opportunities for women, the League opposes the kind of absolute equality in all circumstances demanded by the Woman's Party, and favors some "protective" labor legislation for women. The National Woman's Party recognizes that so-called "protective" labor laws applying only to women are actually more "restrictive" than "protective" and simply make it harder for women to compete with men for jobs.

Despite a fine presentation by Doris Stevens, head of the N.W.P. delegation, the group was denied admission to the International Woman Suffrage Alliance by its board of directors, even though several other nations were permitted to be represented by more than one group.

But while the L.W.V. won that round yesterday, the N.W.P. is celebrating today. A committee of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance has just endorsed the main resolution the N.W.P. came here to support. Following a vigorous debate, the committee voted 70 to 38 to submit to the convention a resolution stating that "no special regulations for women's work different from regulations for men's should be imposed on women ; that the only policy consonant with the present trend of labor legislation, which permits the fullest development of the welfare of all workers and safeguards individual liberty, is that of basing all labor regulations or restrictions upon the nature of the work and not upon the sex of the worker."

Doris Stevens, Mabel Vernon, Anita Pollitzer, Alva Belmont and other members of the National Woman's Party will remain in Paris to lobby the delegates when they are outside the conference, and some seem quite supportive. One veteran suffrage leader here, Mme. Gabrielle Duchene, said she was happy to see a young and active group like the N.W.P. coming to Europe to strengthen the international women's movement.

 

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May 30, 1936 : The Equal Rights Amendment took a major step toward becoming the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution today, when for the first time in its 13-year history, it was approved by a sub-unit of Congress. By a vote of 4 to 2, the House Judiciary Subcommittee issued a favorable recommendation on the E.R.A., so if it can get over the next hurdle, approval by the House Judiciary Committee, it could then be voted upon by the full House.

The amendment's House sponsor, Rep. Louis Ludlow, Democrat of Indiana, called today's favorable recommendation "an epochal event in the advancement of the cause of women in America," and also said that "it gives valuable moral support and impetus to a cause that is daily gaining ground among right-thinking people. The Equal Rights Amendment is a necessary corollary and supplement of equal suffrage and its adoption will be the crowning act that will bring women to a status of the complete emancipation to which they are entitled by all the rules of right and justice."

The E.R.A. was written by Alice Paul, and her National Woman's Party has always been at the forefront of the fight for its adoption. Immediately after today's victory, statements were issued by party members. Florence Bayard Hilles expressed justifiable optimism : "After years of indifference in Congress, and, I must admit, among women, we are within sight of achieving our final goal of realizing and safeguarding for all time full legal equality with men for all American women." Betty Gram Swing said : "With the favorable report of the resolution to the full committee, the measure starts on its journey ; at last we are on our way."

Today's approval comes at an opportune time. Both major parties will be having their national conventions next month, and the National Woman's Party will be sending delegations to lobby the Republicans for an endorsement when they meet in Cleveland on June 9th, and the Democrats when they meet in Philadelphia on June 23rd.

If her schedule permits, the most famous member of a Woman's Party delegation will be Amelia Earhart. She has been aiding the N.W.P.'s efforts on this issue at least as far back as 1932, when she and other party members met with then-President Hoover in support of the E.R.A. Earhart feels that so-called "protective" labor legislation, which applies only to women, is really "restrictive" and that it can "only prolong the infantile period of women, and work to the disadvantage of those who want to progress. Hours and wages should be based on work, not sex, nor any other consideration."

Novelist Fannie Hurst is another celebrity supporter. Her enthusiastic endorsement of the E.R.A. was shown in a recent letter to the National Woman's Party in which she wrote : "I do hope that your organization can lift potent voices in behalf of what seems to me to be the uncontroversial right of women to be free of 'special protection' or restraint in their contractual or civil relationships."

The campaign for the E.R.A. was kicked off on July 21, 1923, by the National Woman's Party. The amendment was introduced into Congress on December 10, 1923, by Senator Charles Curtis and Representative Daniel Anthony (a nephew of Susan B. Anthony.) Both legislators were Republicans from Kansas. The House Judiciary Subcommittee held its first E.R.A. hearing two months later, with the National Woman's Party the only group testifying in favor. But today, the Woman's Party is no longer alone, with fifty women's groups, some of them national organizations such as the National Association of Women Lawyers, and eleven international organizations having pledged their support.

The outlook in the 24-member House Judiciary Committee is uncertain. Nine members have said they favor the E.R.A., eight have declared their opposition, and seven are uncommitted. In addition to eloquent testimony by proponents at hearings, there will need to be some intense lobbying of the seven who are still undecided, so letters and phone calls from their constituents are especially needed. But whether it gets through to a House vote this session or not, today's victory clearly shows that the momentum is on the side of E.R.A. proponents, and though it has already been long delayed, full equality will not be forever denied.

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UPDATE : The E.R.A. would eventually be passed by Congress on March 22, 1972, with an original deadline for ratification by 3/4 of the states (38 out of 50) of March 22, 1979. On October 6, 1978, Congress extended that deadline to June 30, 1982. Though only 35 states had ratified by that time, the E.R.A. campaign came so close to victory that had seven individual state senators (3 in Nevada in 1975, 2 in North Carolina in 1977, and 2 in Florida in 1979) switched their "no" votes to "yes," the E.R.A. would have become part of the U.S. Constitution on May 24, 1979.

But there can never be a deadline on seeking equality, so the struggle continues. On May 9, 2013, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) introduced S.J.R. 15. It would eliminate the deadline originally imposed by Congress in 1972 and extended in 1978, and allow the campaign to pick up where it left off in 1982, just three states short of ratification.

The deadline was never a part of the E.R.A.'s actual text, which is why Congress felt it could extend the deadline in 1978 by a simple majority vote, and why proponents of the "Three State" plan believe that Congress can abolish the deadline by the same means. The Supreme Court has never ruled on the right of one Congress to alter a deadline for a Constitutional Amendment set by a previous one. By the time it was asked to do so, the extended deadline had passed, no states had ratified during the extension period, and they decided that the issue was moot because regardless of whether extension was valid or not, the E.R.A. had still fallen three states short of ratification.

S.J.R. 15 has been sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT). The committee consists of Leahy, plus 9 Democrats and 8 Republicans.

A companion bill to S.J.R. 15, entitled H.J.R. 43, has been introduced in the House by Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ). It has been sent to the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). That committee consists of Goodlatte, plus 21 Republicans and 17 Democrats.

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) has introduced S.J.R.10, the Equal Rights Amendment. This has the same text as the 1972 E.R.A., and would require approval by 2/3 of those present and voting in both Houses of Congress, and ratification by 38 states. It does not have a time limit attached to it, and has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Regardless of whether you endorse the "Three State" or "Start Over" strategy - or both, as does the National Organization for Women - the important thing is to let your legislators know that you want them to support this long-overdue measure. The battle isn't over until the U.S. Constitution, which will have been in effect 225 years on June 21st, finally states that : "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."

 

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May 30, 1943 : In a Memorial Day address to the Women's Military Services Club today in New York, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt praised the accomplishments of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, and indicated that entire WAAC units may soon be stationed outside the U.S. "Some of you, I rather think before long all of you, may have the opportunity to go overseas, as many as want to." She cited the pressing need for members of the WAAC to work alongside our troops now in England, and noted that President Roosevelt had been quite impressed by the courage of some servicewomen recently. When in Casablanca in January for a meeting of Allied leaders, he had the opportunity to greet a small detachment of WAACs, who were on their way to being the first posted in Algiers. Their ship had been torpedoed en route to North Africa. Some were pulled off a burning deck, and others dragged sailors into their lifeboat. After being picked up by a destroyer, the President talked to them as they disembarked, and they seemed quite calm about their experience, as though it was just an expected part of military life.

The First Lady also discussed post-war work that will need to be done : "A world in which people starve and live under fear and injustice is no world in which peace thrives." She said that many people believed that all great nations exploit all weak ones. "We will have to do some work to convince all peoples of the world that this is not so. The first piece of work we have to do is watch ourselves."

Meanwhile, fifty more women were being inducted into the service in a ceremony carried on CBS radio during the Andre Kostelanetz program. Col. Oveta Culp Hobby, director of the WAAC, urged every woman to ask herself if she was helping the war effort to the best of her ability, and to enlist in her organization if possible. "Thousands of tasks are now being done by men, men whose presence on the battlefront may mean victory, and whose absence may mean defeat."

 

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May 31, 1894 : A large and enthusiastic group of suffragists descended on the State Assembly Chamber in Albany tonight urging that woman suffrage be included on the New York State ballot at the next election along with a package of other Constitutional reforms.

Dr. Mary Putnam Jacobi tackled several issues, among them suffrage and military service :

"Capacity to bear arms and fulfillment of military duty are not in the State of New York reckoned among the necessary qualifications of voters. Nor, indeed, is such capacity ever enough to confer a share in the sovereignty. We do not admit that exemption from military duty is a concession of courtesy for which women should be so grateful as to refrain from asking for anything else. The military functions performed by men, and so often perverted to the most atrocious uses, have never been more than the equivalent for the function of child-bearing imposed by nature upon women. It is not a fanciful or sentimental, it is an exact and just equivalent."

Dr. Jacobi then noted that women are already fulfilling one major obligation of citizenship by paying taxes, and therefore ought to have the right to select those who impose them. Women in New York State own $ 500 million in property in their own names, and even in Rochester the figure is $ 29 million, while in Brooklyn it is $ 103 million.

Lillie Devereux Blake reminded the Constitutional Convention Suffrage Committee that the suffrage movement was now something which could not be ignored :

"No longer is it possible to say that women as a sex do not wish the vote. The falsehood of that statement is forever disproved by the wonderful uprising of women throughout our State. They are coming here by the hundreds from the mountains, the valleys, the great cities, to ask their freedom, and those unable to come have sent their names by the thousands. Now, is this great uprising a mere fad or fancy, a light breath that will die away like the fitful gust of a Summer breeze ? No ; it is a grand movement, a rushing, mighty wind, the wind of destiny, of fate, the voice of the Lord God Almighty. It can no more be stopped or turned backward than the stars in their courses for its resistless progress is impelled by a force beyond any human control, the force that lies in the certain ultimate triumph of justice and liberty."

Harriette Keyser, the final speaker, denounced the attempts of anti-suffragists to enlist women who work outside the home in their cause, calling it "a stain upon the pages of history." She then noted that suffragists had the endorsements of labor organizations representing 100,000 men who work side by side with women, and that 111,396 of the 399,343 signatures on the suffrage petitions they brought with them were from those affiliated with labor organizations.

Following such a logical and powerful presentation, it's hard to see how a suffrage amendment could not be included among the Constitutional reforms to be voted upon in November. Presently women vote on the same basis as men in only Wyoming and Colorado, though women voted in Utah Territory from 1870 until 1887, when Congress took that right away from them as part of the Edmunds-Tucker (anti-polygamy) Act. If the Constitutional Convention chooses to include a suffrage measure on the ballot, New York's male voters could give the suffrage movement its biggest victory ever by enfranchising the women of the nation's most populous State, and even give Susan B. Anthony herself - who was in the audience tonight - a chance to finally cast a ballot legally.

 

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June 1, 1937 : Amelia Earhart is off again ! Undaunted by the near-disaster that occurred when she tried to fly to Howland Island on her first around-the-world attempt, she is determined to finish the task she set for herself on March 17th. After completing extensive repairs to her specially outfitted Lockheed 10-E Electra, damaged by a crash on takeoff on the Hawaii-to-Howland leg of her trip on March 20th, she and navigator Fred Noonan left Miami, Florida, early this morning, and have just landed in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Technically, the trek began on May 21st in Oakland, California, the same starting point as her original attempt. She has made a series of flights across the country to test and "tune up" the plane, first landing at Burbank, California, then Tucson, Arizona, and New Orleans, Louisiana on her way to Miami. But now that the refurbished aircraft has passed all her tests, she declared early this morning that her attempt to become the first woman to fly around the world - and do it in an unprecedented way, by staying as close to the Equator as possible - had begun.

The route will be about the same as planned in the first trip, but due to the prevailing winds being different at this time of year, the globe will be circled in the opposite direction from that original attempt. So, the toughest part of the journey will be near the end, when she must fly over vast stretches of water, hopping from New Guinea to Howland to Hawaii to Oakland, hoping to arrive home in time for the July 4th festivities. Today's seven-and-a-half hour flight was described by both Earhart and Noonan as uneventful, and she praised her navigator's skill for predicting their time of landfall to within one minute.

Earhart says that with all the new equipment and such expert navigation, long-distance flying is now getting pretty easy. Even so, this may be her last such flight. She was recently quoted as saying : "I have a feeling that there is just about one more good flight left in my system and I hope this trip is it. Anyway, when I have finished this job, I mean to give up long-distance 'stunt' flying."

If she does decide to devote more time to other pursuits after her return, it's certain that women's rights will be high on her agenda. She has been an active member of the National Woman's Party for many years, and has used her fame as a way of gaining access to influential individuals so she could lobby for women's rights. As an example of her dedication to equality, she sent a telegram to the N.W.P. at their most recent national convention saying :

"Because my lecture schedule prevents, I cannot be present at the Biennial Convention. However, I am so deeply interested in women obtaining full equality under the law that I am sending a small contribution to help the cause. Today women still stand victims of restrictive class legislation and of conflicting interpretation of statutes. To clear the situation their rights must be made theirs by definition - that is, by Constitutional guarantee. Therefore this year's National Woman's Party meeting may bring us at least one step nearer the Lucretia Mott [Equal Rights] Amendment."

Many thanks, Amelia, for your past contributions to both aviation and women's rights, and the best of luck on your newest adventure !

 

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June 2, 1920 : Deeds, not words, were demanded of the Republican Party today by Alice Paul and the National Woman's Party when Delaware refused to become the 36th and final State needed to ratify the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment.

Though the Republican National Committee unanimously passed a resolution yesterday reaffirming its support of the measure, and strongly urged Republican legislators in all unratified States to vote for it, members of the Republican-controlled Delaware Assembly voted 24-10 against bringing up the proposal for a vote. The Assembly then adjourned, dooming any chance of passage there this year.

Since passage of the suffrage amendment was held up for so long by Southern Democrats in Congress, many State Legislatures had already adjourned by the time it was sent to the States on June 4th of last year. They cannot meet again until their next regular sessions, after the November elections, unless their Governors call them back into a "special session." So the few which are still in session are critical to victory.

Today's rejection by Delaware has resulted in Alice Paul asking thousands of suffrage supporters nationwide to join her in a protest against the party that's now blocking the enfranchisement of millions of women.

Though the Republican Party provided the vast majority of the votes needed for the amendment's passage by Congress (200 out of the 304 "yes" votes cast in the House and 36 of the 56 affirmative votes in the Senate) and is the party which controlled 26 of the 35 State Legislatures which have ratified so far, it will nevertheless be Republicans who will be the targets of protest now. As explained by Alice Paul in her appeal :

"The Republican Legislature of Delaware refuses to ratify the suffrage amendment. The Republican Governors of Connecticut and Vermont, where the Legislatures are counted on to ratify, refuse to allow their Legislatures to meet. We are confronted by a serious emergency. It looks as though Republican opposition would prevent millions of women from voting this November. Will you join us on June 8 at the Republican Convention in Chicago in a demonstration of protest against Republican action in holding up ratification in the one State needed ? The demonstration will probably take the form of a line of women in front of the convention hall with banners of protest against the opposition of the Republicans."

President Wilson, who at one time was the principal object of the National Woman's Party's protests due to his refusal to support the Anthony Amendment, or get actively involved in the struggle to get it passed by Congress after he endorsed it, has become a vigorous advocate of suffrage. He sent the following telegram to three leading anti-suffrage Democrats in the Delaware Assembly : "May I not as a Democrat express my deep interest in the suffrage amendment and my judgment that it would be of great service to the party if every Democrat in the Delaware Legislature should vote for it ?"

But despite his plea and that of the Central Labor Union of Wilmington, no votes were changed. Since there are still five months left until the Presidential election, there is still hope that the Anthony Amendment may be ratified before then, but it's uncertain where that 36th ratification might come from. Meanwhile, the battlefront will temporarily move to Chicago.

 

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June 3, 1904 : A major boost today for woman suffrage worldwide, as delegates from ten nations gathered in Berlin to form an International Woman Suffrage Alliance. Susan B. Anthony feels this is such an important next step in the battle for women's equality that she made the arduous journey to attend - and was named President. However, due to her advanced age, she said that most of the duties of presiding at the conference will be done by Carrie Chapman Catt, who was elected Secretary.

 

The platform of the new group is quite progressive and well worth working for. It says that men and women are born equal and free and independent members of society. The natural relationship of the sexes is one of reciprocity and common effort. The suppression of the liberty of one sex inevitably injures the other, thus causing damage to all humanity. Self-determination in the home as well as the State is the inalienable right of every adult, so women do not owe obedience to the State or their husband. Every Government that taxes women without permitting her to vote exercises tyranny, which is irreconcilable with justice. The vote is the only way to assert the personal rights which the American Declaration of Independence recognized as inviolable, and all modern Constitutions accept the same position. Constitutional States must therefore grant suffrage irrespective of sex.

 

Though as yet only a few nations are represented, one of them, New Zealand, is a country where women vote on the same basis as men. The other country where women vote nationally is Australia, though that nation is not represented here. In the United States women can vote only in Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho and Utah. The other non-suffrage nations which sent representatives are Great Britain, France, Germany, Holland, Sweden, Austria-Hungary, Switzerland and Denmark.

 

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June 3, 1920 : Alice Paul arrived in Chicago today, and immediately announced that there would be women picketing outside the Republican National Convention each day that it's in session here next week unless a 36th and final State ratifies the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment.

Paul is aware of the fact that a resolution supporting the Anthony Amendment will be passed by the delegates, but said : "We are not content with words on suffrage which are not backed by party pressure. We are protesting against the continued disenfranchisement of women, for which the Republican Party has now become responsible, and are demanding that the Republican Party secure ratification immediately in one more State, so that millions of women may vote in the Presidential election."

It had been hoped that the Republican-controlled Delaware Legislature would have ratified by now, but yesterday the Delaware Assembly rejected by 24-10 a motion to vote on the ratification resolution, then adjourned for the year. Meanwhile, in Vermont and Connecticut, there are believed to be enough votes in their State Legislatures to ratify, but because they have already ended their regular sessions, they can only meet if called into "special session" by their Republican governors, and both have refused to issue the call, despite intense lobbying.

It's ironic that the party which has done by far the most for suffrage is now starting to be seen as the party blocking it just short of victory. The Anthony Amendment was first introduced into Congress by Senator Aaron Sargent, Republican of California, in 1878. When the Anthony Amendment was passed in the House last year, the vote was 102 Democrats in favor and 70 opposed, their support level of 60% falling far short of the 2/3 needed. But 200 Republicans voted in favor, and just 19 were opposed, so their 91% support pushed the measure to well over the 2/3 margin needed. The final vote was 304-89, 42 votes over the 262-131 needed by the 393 members present and voting, with 1 Farmer-Labor Party member and 1 Prohibitionist Party member providing two of the favorable votes.

In the Senate, there were 20 Democrats in favor and 17 opposed (54% support) with 36 Republicans in favor and 8 against (81.8% support) giving the measure just two votes more (56-25) than would have been needed for passage by 2/3 of those present and voting (54-27).

Once passed by Congress, the Anthony Amendment went to the 48 State Legislatures for ratification, 36 approvals being required. Of the 35 which have ratified so far, 26 have Republican Legislatures, 6 are Democratic, and in the remaining 3, one party controls the Lower House, the other the Upper House.

Continuing its strong support, the Republican National Committee passed the following resolution just two days ago :

"Whereas, the Republican National Committee at its regular meeting has repeatedly indorsed woman suffrage and the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and has called upon Congress to pass, and the States to ratify such amendment ; and

"Whereas, such amendment still lacks ratification by a sufficient number of States to become law, therefore be it

"Resolved, By the Republican National Committee, that the Nineteenth Constitutional Amendment be, and the same is hereby again indorsed by this committee, and such Republican States as have not already done so are now urged to take such action by their Governors and their legislators as will assure the ratification of such amendment and establish the right of equal suffrage at the earliest possible time."

But an Anthony Amendment with only 35 ratifications wins the vote for no one, so the pressures and tactics which have gotten suffrage this far must be kept up, and even increased as registration deadlines in States where women cannot presently vote approach. According to Alice Paul, ten thousand letters have been sent by the National Woman's Party to suffrage supporters in and around Chicago asking them to take part in the protest. So when the Republican Convention opens on June 8th, delegates and party leaders may have to walk through quite a large number of picketers, all asking why the party is giving the appearance of support, but not the tangible result of a 36th State.

 

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June 4, 1919 : The elation expressed by suffragists in the Senate gallery earlier today has now spread nationwide, along with the news of the biggest victory so far in the history of the women's rights movement. Forty-one years after the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment was first introduced in Congress, today's Senate vote of 56 to 25 finished the process of gaining its approval by 2/3 of both Houses, and sends it to the States for ratification.

In recognition of their many decades of work for the measure, representatives of the National American Woman Suffrage Association were invited to be present when House Speaker Frederick Gillett signed the suffrage bill, then the gold pen he used to sign it was presented to N.A.W.S.A.

The final step to victory was the suffragists' targeting of anti-suffrage Senators in the November elections, reducing their number enough in the new Congress to turn the measure's previous narrow defeats into a two-vote victory today. But though opponents knew they were fighting a losing battle, they kept putting up every imaginable roadblock, from a filibuster to numerous attempts to add "riders" in a last-ditch attempt to dilute or delay the amendment.

One example from yesterday clearly illustrated why the Southern wing of the Democratic Party has been so vehemently opposed to the Anthony Amendment, and has held up its passage for so long. Senator Pat Harrison of Mississippi offered a rider that would make the proposed 19th Amendment apply to white women only. It was rejected 58 to 17. When segregationists were unable to accomplish their goal that way, Senator Edward James Gay of Louisiana tried another approach : Change the section which gives Congress the power to enforce the amendment to one which leaves enforcement to State Legislatures. This of course, would have reassured those who are still ignoring the 15th Amendment that they would be permanently free to do the same with the 19th. His proposal was defeated 62 to 19, and so the race-neutral wording endorsed by suffrage groups, composed by Susan B. Anthony herself in 1875, and already passed by the House, was preserved intact. It reads :

Section 1 : "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."

Section 2 : "Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."

When the final four-hour debate was over, and the five-minute standing ovation from the Senate gallery after the vote had died down, the hard job of gaining ratification by 36 of 48 State Legislatures began immediately. (Fortunately, a proposal by Senator Oscar Underwood of Alabama, which would have submitted the amendment to State Constitutional Conventions instead of State Legislatures, was rejected 55 to 28, because this would have made the ratification process even longer and more cumbersome.)

Suffrage leaders are confident that the 36 approvals can be obtained before the 1920 Presidential election, and anti-suffragists are equally certain they can get at last one house in each of 13 State Legislatures to permanently stand against suffrage. The opposition would truly have to be permanent to stop suffrage, however, since there is no time limit on how long the States have to ratify.

Alice Paul, already on the road and campaigning for ratification in Minnesota, and who along with other National Woman's Party members braved arrests, jail brutality, hunger strikes, and force-feedings in a successful campaign to get President Wilson to finally endorse and then work for the Anthony Amendment, said today :

"Women who have taken part in the long struggle for freedom feel today the full relief of victory. Freedom has come not as a gift but as a triumph, and it is therefore a spiritual as well as a political freedom which women receive .... There is no doubt of ratification by the States. We enter upon the campaign for special sessions of the Legislatures to accomplish this ratification before 1920 in the full assurance that we shall win."

Carrie Chapman Catt, President of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, said from New York :

"The last stage of the fight is to obtain ratification of the amendment so women may vote in the Presidential election of 1920. This we are confident will be achieved ... In the result we can turn our backs today upon the end of a very long and arduous struggle needlessly darkened and embittered by the stubbornness of a few at the expense of many. 'Eyes front' is the watch word now as we begin another struggle, short, as the other was long, the struggle for ratification."

The ratification campaign is complicated by the fact that opponents succeeded in delaying Congressional approval so long that many State Legislatures have either already adjourned, or are about to, and therefore special sessions will have to be called by their State governors in order to gain some of the necessary approvals.

But the power and political sophistication now being exercised by groups like the National Woman's Party and the National American Woman Suffrage Association seems equal to their task. In the same way that credit should be shared for getting the measure this far, both groups - and their radically different tactics - should soon be dividing up the credit for ratification of what now seems certain to become the 19th Amendment.

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June 5, 1916 : An exciting week and a half of activity began today as members of two rival suffrage organizations arrived in Chicago. Both are planning on heavily lobbying the Republicans at their national convention here this week, then the Democrats at their convention in St. Louis, from June 14th to 16th, with the goal of getting both parties to include nationwide woman suffrage planks in their platforms.

Both the National American Woman Suffrage Association and the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage are working hard to win suffrage for women nationwide, but are taking radically different paths to achieve that goal. Probably the most obvious difference between the two approaches can be seen in the fact that Alice Paul's Congressional Union's main task here is to organize a new political party made up entirely of women.

Now that women vote in 1/4 of the States, they can become a meaningful force in politics. As keynote speaker Maud Younger noted when the C.U. convention kicked off this morning :

"With the formation of the Woman's Party a new force marches on the political field, a new cry rings out in the national campaign. For the first time in a Presidential election the voting women are a factor to be reckoned with. The Woman's Party has no candidates, and but one plank, the enfranchisement of the women of America through Federal Amendment. There is no higher service for which we can use our votes. With enough women in each State organized to hold the balance of power, the women voters may determine the Presidency of the United States."

Ann Martin summarized the party's purpose : "The object of our party is not to create sex antagonism. It has no fantastic vision of sex solidarity. It is simply as organization of the 4,000,000 voting women in the twelve suffrage States who place equal suffrage before the interests of any political party."

Alva Belmont, arriving today from New York, is not only a strong supporter of the new party, but quite optimistic about feminism's future in general :

"I am sure that the Susan B. Anthony Amendment will be passed within the next year. Before that great goal is reached the women of New York City will have placed New York among the suffrage States. The women of that city have been making great headway, and immediate access is bound to be the result of their wonderful fight ... A new woman's world is about to be created. From this day forward this history of the woman movement throughout the world will be one of emancipation and entrance into the councils of the Nations."

Not wanting to be eclipsed by their younger and more militant rivals, N.A.W.S.A. has some big plans as well. Day after tomorrow they will have a mass march down Michigan Avenue as a way of pressuring the Republican Convention to adopt a woman suffrage plank. Once the Republican Convention closes on the 10th, suffrage forces plan on trekking South to St. Louis to lobby Democrats for a similar plank when their convention opens on the 14th. Getting both parties on record in favor of nationwide woman suffrage could be of great help in regard to upcoming State referenda and in getting Congress to pass the Susan B. Anthony Amendment, so no efforts will be spared by any suffrage group at either convention.

 

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June 6, 1920 : Alice Paul has been busy since arriving in Chicago, and today announced specific plans for picketing the Republican National Convention, which starts here day after tomorrow. In keeping with the tradition of the "Silent Sentinels" who picketed President Wilson by standing alongside the White House fence for two years beginning on January 10, 1917, there will be no heckling of delegates. As before, the message of the National Woman's Party will be made quite clear by being written on large, colorful banners.

More than a hundred women representing twenty-two States will be outside the convention hall each day. They will be bearing banners with the names of their States, and slogans intended to pressure party leaders into using all their influence to get the Republican governors of Connecticut and Vermont to call special sessions of their legislatures so that one of them can become the 36th and final State needed to ratify the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment.

Though the pickets are expecting both parties to put endorsement of the Anthony Amendment into their platforms for the first time this year, mere words will have no effect whatsoever on the protests, because words alone cannot satisfy the Constitutional requirements for ratification. Only the approval of 36 of the 48 State Legislatures can do that, and thus far just 35 have give their endorsement since June 4, 1919, when the Amendment gained final Congressional approval.

Suffrage headquarters, directly across the street from the Coliseum, where the convention will be held, was overcrowded, and a beehive of activity today. Even though the majority of the troops have not even arrived yet, some meetings had to be held out on the sidewalk due to lack of room. But though this outpouring of enthusiasm is sure to cause many logistical problems, that's certainly preferable to a sparsely populated office due to apathy, or overconfidence that ratification before the November election is inevitable.

The picket line will be led by suffrage pioneer Rev. Olympia Brown, 85 years old, who along with another elder suffragist, Anna Kendall, will be holding a banner inscribed : "How long must women wait for liberty ?" These were the final public words of the late Inez Milholland Boissevain, who collapsed on stage during a grueling speaking tour of the West in 1916, and never recovered.

The main banner to be used will carry the following inscription : "We protest against the continued disenfranchisement of women, for which the Republican Party is now responsible. The Republican Party defeated ratification in Delaware. The Republican Party is blocking ratification in Vermont. The Republican Party is blocking ratification in Connecticut. When will the Republican Party stop blocking suffrage ?"

Another featured banner notes that women can already vote in some States : "Republicans : Twenty million unenfranchised women ask you for the vote. Seven million women who can vote for Congress and the President are waiting for your answer to them."

Pickets from Connecticut and Vermont will carry banners saying : "The Republican governors of Connecticut and Vermont refuse to call our legislatures, ready to ratify suffrage at a special session. Will the Republican Party allow two men to prevent the enfranchisement of 20,000,000 women ?"

Though National Woman's Party pickets have proven themselves willing to go to jail in the past, it is not expected that there will be any repetition here of the arrests that took place in Washington, D.C., during their campaign against President Wilson. According to one suffrage leader, Police Chief Garrity "is a suffragists, even though he is a bachelor."

There is still hope the upcoming confrontation can be avoided, and that Republicans can still preserve their reputation as the party of suffrage. Their most recent claims to that honor occurred in 1919 when Republicans gave the Anthony Amendment 81.8% support in the U.S. Senate, 91.3% support in the House. Since then, 26 of the 35 States which have ratified so far have had Republican majorities in their legislatures.

If Republican leaders use their influence to get the Republican governor of an unratified State to call an immediate special session of their legislature, which then provides the 36th and final ratification needed, there will be jubilant, cheering suffragists surrounding the Coliseum instead of silent, solemn pickets. But until that final victory is achieved, every tactic that has been successfully used to get the amendment this far will be employed, and no one will be letting up in their efforts until the Secretary of State certifies that 36 States have properly ratified, and the Anthony Amendment is securely and permanently the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

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June 6, 1936 : Women are "lost to history," according to Mary Ritter Beard, speaking earlier this evening to graduates of the New Jersey College for Women. "What is called equal education is in fact but co-education in men's minds and manners, and in men's politics, men's wars, men's business adventures, men's books, men's theories and practices. The assumption is that women have no history of their own worth much recognition, if any ; that women have no ideas pertaining to their social role ; that they have no interpretations of history to offer, and that they derive their notions of the proprieties from men."

 

Fortunately, she herself is trying to remedy that situation. In 1915 she published "Women's Work in Municipalities," wrote "On Understanding Women" in 1931, and "America Through Women's Eyes," finished just three years ago. Her latest work is a book she co-authored, and is in a lighter vein, showing that feminists do have a sense of humor, entitled "Laughing Their Way : Women's Humor In America." She has also collaborated with her husband, Charles Beard, on a number of works, the most well-known being "The Rise of American Civilization."

 

A veteran feminist, she has been working for women's rights since 1907. Her work in the Women's Trade Union League convinced her that only with the vote would working women get better conditions, so she became active in the suffrage movement and edited the suffragist periodical "The Woman Voter." At the request of Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, she joined the Congressional Union (later the National Woman's Party) when it was formed in 1913, had a seat on on its board, and edited its publication, "The Suffragist."

 

She is currently the director of the World Center for Women's Archives, which is collecting exactly the kinds of publications, documents and other writings by women that will fill in the gap in traditional histories, and allow students in the future to learn about women's history as well as men's.

 

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June 7, 1965 : A major victory today for both privacy and birth control ! Ninety-two years after the war on contraception began when Congress passed the Comstock Act, declaring birth control and information about it to be obscene articles, and states soon enacted their own bans, Connecticut's 1879 anti-birth-control law has been declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in Griswold v. Connecticut (381 U.S. 479).

The battle to decriminalize birth control has been a long and difficult one, fighting censorship of literature, clinic raids, arrests, and jail sentences for early birth control pioneers. But thanks to vigorous and persistent efforts to drum up public support for re-legalization, plus some favorable state and Federal court decisions, access to birth control has been gradually expanded over the past five decades.

The first major victory was the "Crane Decision" in 1918 (New York v. Sanger, 118 N.W. 637). Though Judge Frederick Crane upheld Section 1142 of the New York State law banning distribution of birth control devices and information, as well as nurse Margaret Sanger's 30-day sentence for opening the first birth control clinic in the U.S. in 1916, he ruled that Section 1145 allows an exception to be made so that licensed physicians in the state could prescribe contraception to their married patients - though the burden of proof was on the doctor to show that it was "for the prevention or cure of disease." This loophole led to the establishment of the first legal birth control clinic in 1923.

In 1936, a Federal Appeals Court dealt a blow to the Comstock Act by upholding the right of doctors to receive contraceptives through the mails, but only if the items were used to protect the health of their patients (U.S. v One Package of Japanese Pessaries, 86 F. 2d 737). However, despite these rulings, as well as the liberalization of birth control laws in Colorado, Indiana, Kansas and Minnesota, plus overwhelming public support for legalization of birth control nationwide, restrictions still remain.

Ten states permit distribution of contraceptives only by physicians and pharmacists. Nine states prohibit advertising of contraceptives, and even the distribution of certain types of birth control information. Eight more states have varying degrees of restrictions. But now that Connecticut's outright ban on birth control has been struck down, Massachusetts remains the only state where contraceptives are flatly prohibited. These remaining laws are now presumed to be unconstitutional, at least as they apply to married couples, who now have an established right to contraceptive information and devices.

The final prosecution of birth control clinic operators began when Estelle Griswold and Dr. C. Lee Buxton opened their clinic in New Haven on November 1, 1961, to openly challenge the Connecticut law. They were arrested nine days later, then convicted and fined for giving "information, instruction and medical advice to married persons as to the means of preventing conception."

Connecticut law states that : "Any person who uses any drug, medicinal article or instrument for the purpose of preventing conception shall be fined not less than fifty dollars or imprisoned not less than sixty days nor more than one year or be both fined and imprisoned." Though they gave only advice, the law also states that : "Any person who assists, abets, counsels, causes, hires or commands another to commit any offense may be prosecuted and punished as if he were the principal offender."

What makes this case significant to more than birth control is that in overturning the convictions, Justice William O. Douglas, writing for the 7-2 majority, said that : " .... specific guarantees in the Bill of Rights have penumbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance. Various guarantees create zones of privacy." Therefore, the Connecticut statute was invalid because it violated what is now an established right of privacy :

"The present case, then, concerns a relationship lying within the zone of privacy created by several fundamental Constitutional guarantees. And it concerns a law which, in forbidding the use of contraceptives rather than regulating their manufacture or sale, seeks to achieve its goals by means having a maximum destructive impact upon that relationship. Such a law cannot stand in light of the familiar principle, so often applied by this Court, that a 'governmental purpose to control or prevent activities constitutionally subject to state regulation may not be achieved by means which sweep unnecessarily broadly and thereby invade the area of protected freedoms.'

"Would we allow the police to search the sacred precincts of marital bedrooms for telltale signs of the use of contraceptives ? The very idea is repulsive to the notions of privacy surrounding the marriage relationship. We deal with a right of privacy older than the Bill of Rights - older than our political parties, older than our school system. Marriage is a coming together for better or worse, hopefully enduring, and intimate to the degree of being sacred. It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes ; a harmony in living, not political faiths ; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects. Yet it is an association for as noble a purpose as any involved in our prior decisions."

Though a major battle has been won, the right of unmarried individuals to use modern birth control methods and to access contraceptive information has not been settled by the case, and extreme, century-old abortion bans remain valid, so the struggle goes on.

 

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June 8, 1920 : One hundred and twenty five National Woman's Party pickets surrounded the Chicago Coliseum today, their large and colorful banners demanding that the Republican Party do more that just pass a suffrage resolution at their national convention. Instead of mere words in a party plank, and speeches patting themselves on the back for past efforts in the suffrage struggle, Republicans must now make a far more meaningful commitment to the cause by getting a 36th and final State Legislature to ratify the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment.

Mabel Vernon led 124 other members of the N.W.P. to the gates of the Coliseum, where most pickets carried their group's purple, white and gold standards, while the rest held up huge banners explaining to Republican Convention delegates - and the press - why it's now the Republicans, not the Democrats, who are the bottleneck to winning the vote. One banner read :

"We protest against the continued disenfranchisement of women, for which the Republican party is now responsible. The Republican party defeated ratification in Delaware. The Republican party is blocking ratification in Vermont. The Republican party is blocking ratification in Connecticut. When will the Republican party stop blocking suffrage ?" This refers to the fact that a majority of State legislators in Vermont and Connecticut are in favor of suffrage, but their Legislatures are not in session, and cannot meet unless called into special session by their Republican governors, who have refused to issue the call. Another banner echoed the same theme : "The Republican party has the power to enfranchise women. When will it do so ?"

Like their "Silent Sentinels," who picketed the White House from 1917 to 1919, and pressured Democratic President Wilson into first endorsing, then actively working for suffrage, today's N.W.P. protesters were deliberate and dignified. There was no harassment or heckling of delegates as they arrived or left. No speeches were made. There was just a long line of women carrying powerful messages on banners. Protesters such as Betty Gram, of Portland, Oregon, proved that this was a nationwide effort. The pickets ranged in age from very young women to the venerable Rev. Olympia Brown, age 85, holding a banner in the hot sun that said : "How long must women wait for liberty ?"

Though there is no time limit on ratifying the Anthony Amendment, the Presidential election is just under five months away. With registration deadlines having already passed in Georgia and Mississippi, and approaching in other States where women cannot presently vote, the answer to Rev. Brown's question, first asked by the late Inez Milholland Boissevan in 1916, should be "no longer."

 

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June 9, 1904 : A brief distraction today from the serious business of a conference here in Berlin, Germany, where women have gathered from all over the world to organize an International Woman Suffrage Alliance. The meeting began six days ago, and today the American delegates who have been staying at a local hotel were presented with their first bills.

Since Susan B. Anthony, Carrie Chapman Catt, Rev. Anna Howard Shaw, May Wright Sewall, Ida Husted Harper, and Mary Wood Swift are all total abstainers from alcohol, they were shocked at charges for "beer and wine." After briefly eyeing each other suspiciously, and wondering who among them had a thirst for brew and grape that had somehow been charged to the other delegates' bills, they decided that there must be a more innocent explanation, and determined to find out what it was. They soon learned from a hotel staffer that in Berlin it was simply presumed that guests would imbibe some hotel beer and wine, so there was an automatic charge for it. As willing to revolt against injustice here as in the United States, they quickly descended as a group upon the hotel manager. Knowing better than to take on such an assemblage of world-renowned activists, he deleted the offending portion of their bills, and offered them ice water at no extra charge for the remainder of their stay.

 

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June 9, 1970 : Two long overdue developments today in regard to an Executive Order by a former President, and a Task Force appointed last year by the present Chief Executive.

Though it certainly took a while, guidelines were finally issued today specifying what kinds of sex discrimination in the workplace were barred by President Johnson's Executive Order issued on October 13, 1967. The order required equal opportunity and treatment of women by contractors and subcontractors when they do business with the Federal Government, but it didn't say exactly what constituted illegal treatment.

The new guidelines were issued by the Labor Department at a White House briefing, and they ban a number of common practices. Newspaper "Help Wanted" ads may no longer specify whether the employer is looking to fill the position with a man or woman, unless it can be shown that gender is a "bona fide occupational qualification" for the job. It is now illegal to penalize women for taking time off to give birth, or to bar mothers of young children from being hired unless fathers are similarly banned.

Specific job classifications may no longer be made off limits to women, and separate seniority lists based on sex are unlawful. Enforcement can begin immediately, and will be up to the Office of Federal Contract Compliance.

Unfortunately, these guidelines are the only part of the 33-page report by the President's Task Force on Women's Rights and Responsibilities that President Nixon has accepted. The report itself was completed and submitted on December 15th, but was suppressed by the White House until today, though some parts of it have leaked out.

The Task Force, announced with great fanfare by President Nixon on October 1st of last year, and headed by Virginia R. Allan, gathered information about sex discrimination in the U.S., and made recommendations about how to end it, entitling its report "A Matter of Simple Justice." In a cover letter accompanying the report and sent to the President, he was asked to use his influence on behalf of "the more than half our citizens who are women and who are now denied their full legal and Constitutional rights." The Task Force noted that "an abiding concern for home and children" should not cut women off from "the freedom to choose the role in society to which their interest, education, and training entitle them." The letter also said that "The United States, as it approaches its 200th anniversary, lags behind other enlightened and indeed some newly emerging countries, in the role ascribed to women."

Among other things, the Task Force recommended establishing a permanent Office of Women's Rights and Responsibilities, whose director would report directly to the President, as well as passing the Equal Rights Amendment, having the President send a special message to Congress calling for new laws against gender bias, and increased assistance to women who work outside the home in regard to child care issues.

Coincidentally, the results of a 56-question survey about workplace discrimination were released today by the American Association of University Women. Of the 4,173 women and 3,001 spouses and male workplace colleagues who returned the surveys, 84% of the women and 77% of the men believed that women still suffer from discrimination in the workplace. Sixty per cent of the men, but only 43% of the women still think that a woman's prime role is that of wife and mother.

Clearly, even fifty years after women won the vote, a lot of work still needs to be done.

 

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June 10, 1963 : Almost two decades of effort by women's groups paid off today when President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act. Nineteen ceremonial pens were used, which he then gave to those who worked hardest for the bill's passage. He called the practice of paying women less than men for the same work "unconscionable." The new law will take effect next year, be enforced by the Labor Department's Wage & Hour Division, and apply to workers presently covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act.

To establish that an employer has violated the law, it must be shown that different wages are being paid to men and women, that the employees are doing substantially equal work on jobs requiring equal skill, effort and responsibility, and the jobs are performed under similar working conditions.

Twenty-two States already have equal pay laws on the books, but discrimination is still widespread. In one recent survey of employers, about a third admitted they had separate pay scales for male and female office workers. Since the Fair Labor Standards Act and Equal Pay Act do not cover all workers, and the new law does not deal with equal pay for "comparable work," or any other form of gender bias by an employer other than salary, the battle for total equality and equal opportunity in the workplace is not yet over. But women's groups justifiably hailed today's development as an unprecedented advance toward workplace equality for women.

President Kennedy told those who were invited to the White House to witness the signing of the bill :

"I am delighted today to approve the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which prohibits arbitrary discrimination against women in the payment of wages. This act represents many years of effort by labor, management, and several private organizations unassociated with labor or management, to call attention to the unconscionable practice of paying female employees less wages than male employees for the same job. This measure adds to our laws another structure basic to democracy. It will add protection at the working place to the women, the same rights at the working place in a sense that they have enjoyed at the polling place.

"While much remains to be done to achieve full equality of economic opportunity - for the average woman worker earns only 60 per cent of the average wage for men - this legislation is a significant step forward.

"Our economy today depends upon women in the labor force. One out of three workers is a woman. Today, there are almost 25 million women employed, and their number is rising faster than the number of men in the labor force.

"It is extremely important that adequate provision be made for reasonable levels of income to them, for the care of the children which they must leave at home or in school, and for protection of the family unit. One of the prime objectives of the Commission on the Status of Women, which I appointed 18 months ago, is to develop a program to accomplish these purposes.

"The lower the family income, the higher the probability that the mother must work. Today, 1 out of 5 of these working mothers has children under 3. Two out of 5 have children of school age. Among the remainder, about 50 per cent have husbands who earn less than $ 5,000 a year - many of them much less. I believe they bear the heaviest burden of any group in our Nation. Where the mother is the sole support of the family, she often must face the hard choice of either accepting public assistance or taking a position at a pay rate which averages less than two-thirds the pay rate for men.

"It is for these reasons that I believe we must expand day-care centers and provide other assistance which I have recommended to Congress. At present, the total facilities of all licensed day-care centers in the Nation can take care of only 185,000 children. Nearly 500,000 children under 12 must take care of themselves while their mothers work. This, it seems to me, is a formula for disaster.

"I am glad that Congress has recently authorized $ 800,000 to State welfare agencies to expand their day-care services during the remainder of the fiscal year. But we need much more. We need the $ 8 million in the 1965 budget for the Department of Health, Education and Welfare allocated to this purpose.

"We also need the provisions in the tax bill that will permit working mothers to increase the deduction from income tax liability for costs incurred in providing care for their children while the mothers are working. In October the Commission on the Status of Women will report to me. This problem should have a high priority, and I think that whatever we leave undone this year we must move on in January.

"I am grateful to those Members of Congress who worked so diligently to guide the Equal Pay Act through. It is a first step. It affirms our determination that when women enter the labor force they will find equality in their pay envelopes.

"We have some of the most influential Members of Congress here today, and I do hope that we can get this appropriation for these day-care centers, which seems to me to be money very wisely spent, and also under consideration of the tax bill, that we can consider the needs of working mothers, and both of these will be very helpful, and I would like to lobby in their behalf."

 

As newly amended, the Fair Labor Standards Act now includes the following language :

"PROHIBITION OF SEX DISCRIMINATION

(1) No employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section shall discriminate, within any establishment in which such employees are employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in such establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions, except where such payment is made pursuant to (i) a seniority system ; (ii) a merit system ; (iii) a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production ; or (iv) a differential based on any other factor other than sex : Provided, That an employer who is paying a wage rate differential in violation of this subsection shall not, in order to comply with the provisions of this subsection, reduce the wage rate of any employee.

(2) No labor organization, or its agents, representing employees of an employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section shall cause or attempt to cause such an employer to discriminate against an employee in violation of paragraph (1) of this subsection.

(3) For purposes of administration and enforcement, any amounts owing to any employee which have been withheld in violation of this subsection shall be deemed to be unpaid minimum wages or unpaid overtime compensation under this chapter.

(4) As used in this subsection, the term labor organization means any organization of any kind, or any agency or employee representation committee or plan, in which employees participate and which exists for the purpose, in whole or in part, of dealing with employers concerning grievances, labor disputes, wages, rates of pay, hours of employment, or conditions of work."

 

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June 11, 1920 : Alice Paul escalated the war of words outside the Republican Convention today. When National Woman's Party pickets first stood outside the gates of Chicago's Coliseum three days ago, they carried their party's purple, white and gold standards, and huge banners of an "educational" nature. Passersby were informed that it was a Republican legislature in Delaware which had recently rejected ratification of the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment, and it is Republican governors who are refusing to call special sessions of the Vermont and Connecticut Legislatures. In both those States, a majority of legislators appear eager to provide the 36th and final State ratification needed for victory, but without a call by the governor, they can't meet until next year because their regular sessions are over.

Today, however, the message printed on all the large banners held by Alice Paul and the other N.W.P. members was simple, uniform and explicitly partisan : "Vote Against The Republican Party As Long As It Blocks Suffrage." This is not a new tactic by the National Woman's Party. Four years ago they attacked Democrats with banners saying : "Vote Against Wilson - He Opposes National Woman Suffrage," and satirized his campaign slogan of "He kept us out of war" with "Vote Against Wilson - He Kept Us Out Of Suffrage."

Needless to say, no political party welcomes criticism, so there was some heckling of the protesters today by delegates as they passed by on their way into the convention. But there was nothing like the near-riot in 1916 when a mob attacked anti-Wilson banner-bearers outside a Chicago auditorium where the President was speaking, or the repeated attacks by crowds on the "Silent Sentinels" who picketed Wilson by standing along the White House fence from 1917 to 1919.

According to Alice Paul, if the Republican Party does not deliver the 36th State, this week's protests are just the beginning. No matter who their Presidential nominee turns out to be, he will be trailed and picketed at all speaking engagements, with embarrassing questions asked at every meeting open to the public. All Republicans running for Congress this year will be vigorously opposed, in the same way that all Democrats were opposed in 1916.

As to why Republicans might suddenly be reluctant to have ratification occur before November, Paul has a couple of ideas. Though the party as a whole has always been far more supportive of suffrage than Democrats, some very prominent Republicans have been outspoken opponents of suffrage. The party may fear the defeat of these powerful lawmakers if women in their States can vote in the upcoming election. Republicans also seem concerned that most women may favor immediate U.S. entry into the League of Nations, something President Wilson and Democrats have championed, while Republicans, led on this issue by Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts, have blocked. If women feel strongly enough about the League, a large "women's vote" could put another Democrat to the White House on March 4th to replace outgoing President Wilson.

But to Alice Paul and the National Woman's Party, the reasons why the Republicans are suddenly failing to do their part to enfranchise millions of women are irrelevant. Showing Republicans that it's in their best interests to finish the job of ratifying the proposed 19th Amendment is her concern :

"The winning of the thirty-sixth State has not been accomplished. More pressure from the Republican Party must be exerted to win it. We hold the Republican Party responsible for the delay in ratification. We are not concerned with the party's record during the past on the suffrage issue. It is now blocking suffrage in Vermont and Connecticut where legislatures are ready to ratify and are not allowed to convene by their Republican governors. In no Democratic State does a similar situation exist.

"We intend to continue to show to the Republican Party the effect of the obstruction of suffrage on its political future. When Republican leaders become convinced that party expediency is involved in suffrage ratification women will be enfranchised."

 

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June 12, 1912 : Theodore Roosevelt has just endorsed woman suffrage ! Better yet, he plans to work at the Republican Convention in Chicago next week to get a suffrage plank into the party's platform. Until today, he had been unwilling to make a definitive statement of his views on the subject. When pressed by Maud Malone at a recent campaign stop, the former President said that if there could be some sort of referendum in which women could express their views, he would favor woman suffrage if a majority wanted it.

But according to long-time suffrage advocate Judge Ben Lindsey of Colorado, who visited Roosevelt today at Sagamore Hill, he now fully endorses equal suffrage as a result of the work women voters have done in the Western States to promote good government :

"Col. Roosevelt told me that he was convinced by this record that woman suffrage would be of advantage to our country ... and that he had definitely decided to incorporate a suffrage plank in the platform." This statement has now been confirmed by Roosevelt himself.

Having so popular a figure as Theodore Roosevelt in support of woman suffrage is a major coup. Should he become the Republican nominee for President, then be elected, it would certainly bring the day of nationwide suffrage closer by having someone in the Oval Office who could use his considerable influence (what he has referred to as the "Bully Pulpit") to lobby Congress for passage of the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment, as well as endorse State referenda.

Though politics is always unpredictable, Col. Roosevelt will be going to the convention with an especially strong claim to the nomination. For the first time, some of the delegates have been chosen by rank-and-file members of the party in primaries instead of by State conventions controlled by party leaders. Of the 12 States which held primaries, Roosevelt won nine, eight of them by landslides, giving him 278 delegates. "Fighting Bob" LaFollette won two States, and 36 delegates, with incumbent President William Howard Taft taking one State and 48 delegates.

But most of the delegates will have been chosen in the other 36 states, and the Taft-controlled Republican National Committee will rule on all disputes. Since no one appears to have the majority needed for nomination, the outcome is far from certain. This should make for quite a battle between Taft conservatives and Roosevelt progressives, with the rhetoric already at a high level. Roosevelt has described Taft as a "puzzlewit" and Taft has referred to Roosevelt as a "honeyfugler."

But no matter how the battle for the nomination comes out, or who is elected on November 5th, suffrage has now made a substantial advance, thanks to the conversion to the cause of this prestigious American who has served as President (1901-1909), Vice President (1901), Governor of New York (1899-1900), Assistant Secretary of the Navy (1897-1898) and, of course, as a Colonel with the "Rough Riders" during Spanish-American War.

 

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June 13, 1967 : The California Legislature gave final approval today to a bill which will bring about a long-overdue reform of the state's 1861 abortion law. For the past 106 years, abortions have been legally performed only if necessary to save the life of a woman. But when the Therapeutic Abortion Act is signed by Governor Ronald Reagan, they will be permitted in cases of rape, statutory rape of someone under the age of 15, incest, or if there is "substantial risk that continuance of the pregnancy would gravely impair the physical or mental health of the mother."

The bill's chief advocate is State Senator Anthony Beilenson (D-Beverly Hills), who has been fighting for reform for several years. Though a liberalization of the present law, the bill still contains many restrictions. It requires that the physician performing the procedure must get advance approval by a committee of an accredited hospital's medical staff, and that the committee consist of at least two physicians or surgeons. If the pregnancy is at 13 to 20 weeks, the committee must have at least three members. In all committees consisting of three members or less, approval must be unanimous.

In seeking permission for an abortion resulting from rape or incest, the District Attorney's office must be notified, and if the D.A. says there is "probable cause" to believe that the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest - or the D.A. does not reply within five days - the committee may approve the procedure. If the District Attorney does not believe there is "probable cause" for such a conclusion, the committee cannot give its approval, although the woman seeking the abortion may appeal the committee's decision at a closed hearing in Superior Court within a week after filing a petition.

There was a good deal of drama this morning as Governor Reagan unexpectedly called for additional amendments to the bill, such as a residency requirement, and permitting only hospitals with 70 or more beds to perform abortions. The bill had already been altered to meet his previous objections by eliminating the section that would permit abortion in cases of fetal deformity, and by lowering the age at which an abortion could be performed as a result of statutory rape to 14. But despite all five new amendments being quickly rejected, the Governor has now said he will sign the bill, and that : "I am confident that the people of California recognize the need and will support the humanitarian goals of this measure."

Proponents of the bill include the California Medical Association, the Board of Governors of the California State Bar, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Northern and Southern California Councils of Churches, as well as the California Committee to Legalize Abortion, which has as its goal to place an initiative on the 1968 state ballot to repeal all restrictions and fully legalize the procedure. The opposition was led by the state's eight Roman Catholic Bishops.

Most polls show public support for the measure that passed today. Colorado became the first state to reform its laws along similar lines on April 25th, and North Carolina followed suit last month. There is still a long way to go to reform, then repeal, the abortion bans that still prevail in 47 states. But California's action today should certainly provide momentum toward the eventual goal of making this what it was in all states before the first anti-abortion laws were passed between the 1820s and the 1860s : a medical decision strictly between a woman and her doctor.

 

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June 14, 1895 : Difficult and inadvisable as it might be to find a way to simultaneously offend women, bicyclists and teachers, William Sutton of College Point, Long Island, managed to pull off such a triple-play earlier this evening. His verbal and legal offensive was directed at three female teachers who have taken up what is now a wildly popular sport among women as well as men, that of bicycling. Two of the teachers pedal the four-mile round-trip from Flushing each day, and the other lives in College Point.

Since it is not illegal for women to ride, there was nothing he could do as a newly-elected Justice of the Peace to deter what he considers an improper practice for women. But as a member of the Board of School Trustees, he could introduce a resolution prohibiting women teachers from riding to and from school. He explained his "reasoning" this way :

"We, as Trustees, are responsible to the public for the conduct of the school, and are in great measure, guardians of the morals of the pupils. In the first place, I do not consider it to be the proper thing for any young lady to ride a bicycle, and in the person of a school teacher, it is particularly out of place. As far as the question of riding before or after school hours and when away from the school is concerned, we have no authority, but we will not permit them to ride bicycles to or from the schoolroom."

Sutton was eagerly supported by fellow board member Dr. A.F.W. Reimer. Among women bicyclists elsewhere, traditional items of clothing such as the bustle and corset have long since been discarded, and in some large cities, even skirts have yielded to more practical bloomers. So, Dr. Reimer wanted to make sure that such an evolutionary course would not proceed to its logical conclusion in his village :

"It is not the proper thing for ladies to ride the bicycle. They wear skirts, of course, but if we do not stop them now they will want to be in style with the New York women and wear bloomers. Then how would our schoolrooms look with the lady teachers parading about amongst the boys and girls wearing bloomers ? They might just as well wear men's trousers. I suppose it will come to that, but we are determined to stop our teachers in time, before they go that far."

As might be expected, those whose morality and liberating mode of transportation has been called into question were not pleased when the board passed the resolution. One teacher said :

"I think it is a shame that such an action should be taken by the Trustees. I do not consider that riding a bicycle has a tendency to create immorality. I consider the resolution an outrage and an insult."

Mary Lyle, Superintendent of the school, said she didn't think any harm was caused by the women teachers bicycling, and praised their moral character. But she said that she would reluctantly enforce the ban.

Though this evening's vote was a setback for women, bicyclists and teachers, the growing popularity of both bicycles and the idea of equality for women insures that at some point in the future the decision will be reversed. One day bicycles should be as numerous and accepted on our streets as horses, and once equal suffrage is achieved, women wearing bloomers - or anything else they find practical - will surely hold as many elective offices as men wearing trousers.

 

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June 15, 1912 : Always eager to take advantage of any opportunity to promote the cause, the National American Woman Suffrage Association has made the first pro-suffrage motion picture. The two-reel epic, suitably entitled "Votes for Women," was shown for the first time today to an audience of suffragists gathered at the Bryant Theater on 42nd Street in Manhattan. The film will go nationwide on the 26th, and features a number of prominent suffragists cast as themselves. The best known players are Jane Addams of Hull House ; Rev. Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, president of N.A.W.S.A. ; Inez Milholland, Mary Ware Dennett, Mary Beard, Harriet Laidlaw, and Harriet May Mills. All turned in fine performances.

That the drama was made at all is a tribute to suffragist creativity and quick thinking. N.A.W.S.A. was suddenly given the opportunity to use this relatively new medium, but only if they could write their own script and be ready to perform it at 11 a.m. the next morning. As always, suffragists rose to the occasion, in this case employing the writing talents of Mary Ware Dennett, Harriet Laidlaw and Frances Maule Bjorkman, all of whom appeared in the film.

The story they came up with revolves around actions taken by settlement workers, in concert with suffragists, to reform the uncaring owner of a run-down, disease-ridden tenement, who also happens to be a State Senator whose vote is critical to suffrage legislation. Not having votes, the women must resort to "indirect influence" on the Senator. They do this though his fiancee, who they win over first.

When his fiancee falls ill with scarlet fever after she begins helping the women working in the tenements to improve living conditions, the Senator suddenly sees the light, and becomes a model landlord, as well as an enthusiastic supporter of suffrage. The lesson of the film is that if women had the power of the vote, they could do far more to bring about needed reforms through direct influence at the polls than through the inefficient methods of indirect influence which they must now employ.

After his conversion to progressive ideals - and suffrage - the Senator is thanked by Shaw and Addams, then given an enthusiastic reception at the Men's League for Woman Suffrage by James Lees Laidlaw, Max Eastman and many other men who are real-life suffrage activists. Scenes of last month's unprecedented and stunning turnout of at least 15,000 marchers in a suffrage parade down Fifth Avenue closed the film. This especially delighted the audience, most of whom had participated in the spectacle, but had only been able to see their own contingent on May 4th.

Congratulations are in order to N.A.W.S.A. for using this innovative means of spreading the word, and to Hal Reid for his excellent direction. Thanks will also be due from future generations who may now have the chance to see today's suffrage workers in action during this most exciting stage of the struggle for political equality.

 

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June 16, 1919 : As exciting as it was on June fourth, when Congress gave final approval to the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment, the ratification process by the States is proving to be quite exhilarating as well. Three States (Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan) competed with each other on June 10th to see who would be the first to ratify. (The winner of the title is still in dispute. Illinois passed the resolution an hour and four minutes before Wisconsin, but due to a technical issue in regard to wording, probably will have to reaffirm or re-ratify.)

But today’s triple ratification proved to be even more encouraging than the actions on the 10th. Not only did New York, the nation’s most populous State approve, its Legislature did so unanimously in both houses.

Ohio has traditionally been a graveyard for suffrage hopes over the years because its male citizens have defeated multiple suffrage referenda. But the Ohio Legislature not only approved the Anthony Amendment today (73 to 6 in the House and 27 to 3 in the Senate), but also passed a bill granting the women of the Buckeye State the right to vote for President in 1920 regardless of whether the national suffrage amendment is ratified in time for the General Election.

Kansas was the third State to ratify today, and did so unanimously at a special session of the Legislature called by the Governor. These special sessions will be critical, because so few Legislatures meet year-round, and once they adjourn their regularly scheduled sessions, they cannot come back on their own, and must be summoned by the Governor for a specific purpose. Abby Scott Baker and Lucy Burns of the National Woman’s Party deserve recognition for their efforts to get Governor Henry J. Allen to call the special session.

The Kansas legislators deserve praise as well for agreeing not only to come to Topeka for the extra session, but to waive their mileage and per diem allowances so that they could do their part for suffrage without overburdening the taxpayers. The ratification resolution was introduced by Minnie Grinstead, the only woman member of either house. One of the pens used by the Governor to sign the resolution after passage was sent to Alice Paul at National Woman’s Party headquarters by the head of the Kansas branch of the party.

With six ratifications in just the past week, and more than a year and four months to go until the November 2, 1920, election, it looks as if things are rolling along right on schedule. Of course, the pace will slow down at some point, and the “Solid South” will remain a roadblock due to suffragists courageously refusing to give in to demands by Southern Democrats that they re-word the Anthony Amendment so that it would only apply to white women, or drop the section which allows Congress to enforce it.

But though there is still some hard-core, anti-suffrage resistance around, there is no time limit on when the proposed 19th Amendment can be ratified. And if a sufficient number of Governors can be induced to call special sessions of their Legislatures, ratification by the required 36 out of 48 States can be accomplished in time for the 1920 election.

 

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June 16, 1937 : One day a woman will be elected President ! That's the assurance of the woman who currently lives in the White House, Eleanor Roosevelt. She expressed that view early this evening in answer to a question from Constance Eberhardt, selected as being representative of those graduating from high school, and given the chance to talk with the First Lady on an NBC radio program.

But while Roosevelt thinks a woman will win the Presidency, it won't be soon. She said that she is : " ... sure that there will be a woman President some day, but that day is not yet here. We women still have to prove ourselves, and at the present moment I do not think the country as a whole would have enough confidence in a woman, and without that confidence and cooperation she could not do a good job. Before we have a woman President we will have to have more women Governors of the States, more women in the Senate, and in Congress. The women who have served in those capacities have done good jobs, but they are far too few to create the confidence necessary."

Twenty years after Jeannette Rankin of Montana became the first woman to take a seat in Congress, and seventeen years after women won the vote nationwide, progress is still slow, but steady. In the new 75th Congress there are 5 women in the House and one in the Senate, bringing the number who have ever served to 20 in the House and 3 in the Senate.

The first woman to serve in the Senate was Rebecca Latimer Felton of Georgia, appointed in 1922 to fill a vacancy. Hattie Caraway of Arkansas was appointed a Senator in 1931, then won re-election in 1932 and is expected to run again in 1938. Rose McConnell Long of Louisiana, widow of Huey Long, served from January, 1936 until January, 1937.

Two women have served as State Governors. Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming and Miriam "Ma" Ferguson of Texas, were both elected on November 4, 1924, with Ross being sworn in first. There have been no women governors since Ferguson's second and final two-year term (1933-1935).

Though electing a woman President may be a distant goal, the diplomatic corps and Cabinet are already open to women. The First Lady noted in her radio interview that : "We have sent women as diplomats to two foreign countries already." Former Member of Congress Ruth Bryan Owen Rohde, daughter of three-time Democratic Presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan, was Minister to Denmark from 1933 to 1936. Florence Jaffray Hurst Harriman, an active suffragist during the battle for the vote, was recently appointed as our Minister to Norway. Frances Perkins has been our Secretary of Labor since 1933, the first and so far only woman ever to have been appointed to a Cabinet post.

With so many barriers broken in the past two decades, it can't be many more until the last and most difficult barrier, that of the Presidency, falls !

 

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June 17, 1904 : Martha Carey Thomas had the opportunity to address some myths about women and education, then Susan B. Anthony, Rev. Anna Howard Shaw, and Carrie Chapman Catt got the chance to tell women around the world about the benefits which have resulted in the four U.S. States which have equal suffrage, when they each addressed a mass meeting earlier this evening in Berlin's Philharmonic Hall. Delegates of Women's National Councils from as far away as Australia and New Zealand are assembled here for an International Council of Women, the first such gathering since they last met in London five years ago.

Catt said that the improvement in the character of the legislators in the four States where women can now vote (Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and Idaho) has been observed by everyone. As an example of specific legislation, she said that in Colorado, where women were enfranchised by male voters approving a Statewide suffrage referendum in 1893, the past 11 years have seen lawmakers pass the best laws in the world in regard to the protection of children. She then went on to address a popular myth in regard to the results of the emancipation of women. Though woman suffrage is alleged by its opponents to be destructive to the family, she noted that the divorce rate in Wyoming, where women won the vote on December 10, 1869, is lower than in other Western States where only men may vote.

The myth that higher education is unhealthy or too difficult for women was demolished by Martha Carey Thomas, President of Bryn Mawr College. Speaking on "The University Education of Women in the United States," she challenged theories such as that of Paula Broca, who believed that the brains of women were too small to compete with those of men intellectually. Then Thomas attacked the popular notion that women were too weak for the rigors of college life by citing statistics showing that more men than women broke down from overwork in American colleges.

Thomas also noted that contrary to the assumptions of many, college women were just as interested in marriage as those who did not go to college. Attacking the theory of Edward Clarke, who said that studying diverts blood from a woman's reproductive organs to her brain, and can render her infertile, Thomas cited statistics showing that college educated wives actually had a higher than average number of children.

The gathering has been a great success, and enabled many international friendships to be made, as well as campaign strategies to be shared. So, such events should occur on a regular basis until worldwide suffrage - and then total equality for women - is achieved.

 

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June 18, 1873 : Susan B. Anthony has been found guilty of having voted in last November's General Election. She was not convicted by a true jury of her peers, because women cannot serve on juries. Nor was she able to eloquently make her own case to the all-male jury, because the judge ruled in favor of the prosecution when the District Attorney said that as a woman "she is not competent as a witness on her own behalf." Her conviction did not come after secret deliberations by an unbiased jury, because Judge Ward Hunt, after hearing the evidence, directed the jurors to find her guilty. Even a defense motion to poll the jurors individually after the verdict was denied. Only the final act of this farce now remains, with sentencing scheduled for to-morrow.

Her test of whether the 14th Amendment confers the vote upon women began on Friday, November 1st of last year when she, three of her sisters, and a number of other women went into a barber shop in the Eighth Ward of Rochester, New York, to register to vote in the 1872 General Election. Though it took an hour of debate with the Registrars - and the threat of suing them personally if she was refused the right to register - they finally did allow it. Four days later she came back to cast her vote. As she explained in a letter written to Elizabeth Cady Stanton on Election Night, November 5th :

"Dear Mrs. Stanton :

"Well, I have been & gone & done it !! -- positively voted the Republican ticket -- strait this a.m. at 7 O'clock -- & swore my vote in at that -- was registered on Friday & 15 other women followed suit in this ward -- then on Sunday others, some 20 or 30 other women tried to register, but all save two were refused -- all my three sisters voted -- Rhoda De Garmo too -- Amy Post was rejected & she will immediately bring action for that -- similar to the Washington action -- & Hon. Henry R. Selden will be our Counsel -- he has read up the law & all of our arguments & is satisfied that we are right & ditto the Old Judge Selden -- his elder brother. So we are in a fine state of agitation in Rochester on the question -- I hope the morning's telegrams will tell of many women all over the country trying to vote -- It is splendid that without any concert of action so many should have moved here so impromptu.

"Haven't we wedged ourselves into the work pretty fairly & fully -- & now that the Repubs have taken our votes -- for it is Republican members of the Board -- The Democratic paper is out against us strong & that scared the Dems on the registry board -- How I wish you were here to write up the funny things said & done -- Rhoda De Garmo told them that she wouldn't swear nor affirm -- 'but would tell the truth' -- & they accepted that.

"When the Dems said my vote should not go in the box -- one Repub said to the other -- 'What do you say Marsh ?' -- 'I say put it in !' -- 'So do I,' said Jones -- and 'we'll fight it out on this line if it takes all winter' -- Mary Hallowell was just here -- She & Mrs. Willis tried to register but were refused -- also Mrs. Mann the Unitarian minister's wife -- & Mary Curtiss -- Catherine Stebbins sister -- Not a jeer not a word -- not a look -- disrespectful has met a single woman -- If only now all the Woman Suffrage Women would work to this end, of enforcing the existing constitution -- supremacy of national law over state law - what strides we might make this very winter -- But -- I'm awful tired -- for five days I have been on the constant run -- but to splendid purpose -- so all right -- I hope you voted too.

"Affectionately --

Susan B. Anthony"

A warrant for Anthony's arrest was issued on November 14th, after a Democratic poll watcher named Sylvester Lewis filed a complaint. She was charged with voting in a Congressional Election "without having a lawful right to vote and in violation of Section 19 of an Act of Congress." The Enforcement Act carries a penalty of up to a $ 500 fine and three years' imprisonment. Arrest by a U.S. Deputy Marshal followed on November 18th. At a hearing on November 29th, before United States Commissioner William C. Storrs, she was questioned by her lawyer and able to state that she believed she had the right to vote, as authorized by the 14th Amendment, and therefore was not guilty of willfully and knowingly casting an illegal vote. Storrs nevertheless decided that she was probably guilty, so the case proceeded. On January 24th, a 20-man Grand Jury returned an indictment against her.

Anthony then went on a speaking tour which proved so successful that in May, when the trial was supposed to begin, Judge Hunt persuaded the prosecutor to move the trial out of Monroe County due to the improbability of finding 12 local residents who would vote to convict. Anthony then went on another speaking tour, this time in Ontario County, where the trial was now to be held in the county seat of Canandaigua.

The trial began yesterday in a packed courtroom, with former President Fillmore among the spectators. Prosecutor Richard Crowley presented testimony from Inspector of Elections B.W. Jones that Anthony had cast a vote. Anthony's defense attorney, Harry Selden, then called himself as a witness and testified that he had told her that "the laws and Constitution of the United States authorized her to vote, as well as they authorize any man to vote." Since as a woman she was denied the right to testify, this was the only meaningful evidence given that she had believed what she was doing was legal. Though the prosecution brought out the fact that Selden had told her this after she had registered, it was still before she had voted, which was the offense with which she was charged.

Selden then gave three hours of testimony which noted that the "crime" with which Anthony was being charged would have been considered an honorable and laudable act if she were a man ; that the 14th Amendment prohibits abridging the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States, and therefore she cannot be denied the right to vote by New York State ; and that even if one disagrees with the argument, the fact that she believed she was acting lawfully means she did not, as the act requires, deliberately commit an illegal act, and therefore is not guilty.

District attorney Crowley spoke for two hours, but apparently everything beyond the minimal legal formalities was unnecessary. Immediately following the end of testimony, Judge Hunt took a piece of paper out of his pocket and read his previously prepared opinion :

"The Fourteenth Amendment gives no right to a woman to vote, and the voting by Miss Anthony was in violation of the law ... Miss Anthony knew that she was a woman, and that the Constitution of this State prohibits her from voting. She intended to violate that provision ; intended to test it perhaps, but certainly intended to violate it ... There was no ignorance of any fact, but all the facts being known she undertook to settle a principle in her own person. She takes the risk, and she ought not to shrink from the consequences."

Everyone will be back in court again to-morrow, when Anthony hopes to make a statement before sentencing, and we will find out whether she shall face imprisonment or a fine, and if a fine, whether she will pay it.

 

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June 19, 1873 : Susan B. Anthony was as eloquent as she was defiant when sentenced earlier this afternoon by Judge Ward Hunt for "illegally" voting in last November's General Election. Though she was not allowed to speak during a two-day trial that was a parody of justice, she was at least given the traditional right to address the Court before punishment was imposed. Judge Hunt first rejected a motion by her attorney for a new trial, which her defense lawyer believed she was entitled to due to Hunt's having violated Anthony's right to a trial by jury when he directed the jurors to render a verdict of guilty yesterday.

The judge then asked if the prisoner had anything to say. She replied :

"Yes, your honor, I have many things to say ; for in your ordered verdict of guilty, you have trampled under foot every vital principle of our government. My natural rights, my civil rights, my political rights, my judicial rights, are all alike ignored. Robbed of the fundamental privilege of citizenship, I am degraded from the status of citizen to that of a subject ; and not only myself individually, but all of my sex, are, by your honor's verdict, doomed to political subjection under this, so-called, form of government."

Judge Hunt then told her that he would not listen to arguments that her lawyer had already spent three hours presenting. She then said :

"May it please your honor, I am not arguing the question, but simply stating the reasons why sentence cannot, in justice, be pronounced against me. Your denial of my citizen's right to vote, is the denial of my right of consent as one of the governed, the denial of my right of representation as one of the taxed, the denial of my right to a trial by a jury of my peers as an offender against the law, therefore, the denial of my sacred rights to life, liberty, property and ..."

At this point Hunt interrupted her again, but she continued :

"But your honor will not deny me this one and only poor privilege of protest against this high-handed outrage upon my citizen's rights. May it please the Court to remember that since the day of my arrest last November, this is the first time that either myself or any person of my disenfranchised class has been allowed a word of defense before judge or jury ..."

Hunt told her to sit down, and that the Court would not allow her to speak further. To no one's surprise, she didn't sit and did speak :

"All of my prosecutors, from the Eight Ward corner grocery politician, who entered the complaint, to the United States Marshal, Commissioner, District Attorney, District Judge, your honor on the bench, not one is my peer, but each and all are my political sovereigns ; and had your honor submitted my case to a jury, as was clearly your duty, even then I should have had just cause to protest, for not one of those men was my peer ; but, native or foreign born, white or black, rich or poor, educated or ignorant, awake or asleep, sober or drunk, each and every man of them was my political superior ; hence, in no sense, my peer.

"Even, under such circumstances, a commoner of England, tried before a jury of Lords, would have far less cause to complain than should I, a woman, tried before a jury of men. Even my counsel, the Honorable Henry R. Selden, who has argued my case so ably, so earnestly, so unanswerably before your honor, is my political sovereign. Precisely as no disenfranchised person is entitled to sit upon a jury and no woman is entitled to the franchise, so, none but a regularly admitted lawyer is allowed to practice in the courts, and no woman can gain admission to the bar - hence, jury, judge, counsel, must all be of the superior class."

Another interruption by the judge : "The Court must insist - the prisoner has been tried according to the established forms of law."

Anthony replied : "Yes, your honor, but by forms of law all made by men, interpreted by men, administered by men, in favor of men, and against women ; and hence, your honor's ordered verdict of guilty ; against a United States citizen for the exercise of 'that citizen's right to vote,' simply because that citizen was a woman and not a man. But, yesterday, the same man-made forms of law, declared it a crime punishable with $1,000 fine and six months imprisonment, for you, or me, or any of us, to give a cup of cold water, a crust of bread, or a night's shelter to a panting fugitive as he was tracking his way to Canada. And every man or woman in whose veins coursed a drop of human sympathy violated that wicked law, reckless of consequences, and was justified in so doing. As then, the slaves who got their freedom must take it over, or under, or through the unjust forms of law, precisely so, now, must women, to get their right to a voice in this government, take it ; and I have taken mine, and mean to take it at every possible opportunity."

The now-exasperated judge made one more futile attempt to regain control of the courtroom, and said : "The Court orders the prisoner to sit down. It will not allow another word." But she still had a number of choice words to say, and ignored the judge in the same way he had ignored her rights :

"When I was brought before your honor for trial, I hoped for a broad and liberal interpretation of the Constitution and its recent amendments, that should declare all United States citizens under its protecting aegis - that should declare equality of rights the national guarantee to all persons born or naturalized in the United States. But failing to get this justice - failing, even, to get a trial by jury not of my peers - I ask not leniency at your hands - but rather the full rigors of the law."

She then sat down, having made her point to the judge, as well as to the nation via the many reporters who busily wrote down her every word.

Judge Hunt then ordered her to stand for sentencing, and said : "The sentence of the Court is that you pay a fine of one hundred dollars and the costs of the prosecution."

Anthony then spoke a final time :

"May it please your honor, I shall never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty. All the stock in trade I possess is a $ 10,000 debt, incurred by publishing my paper - The Revolution - four years ago, the sole object of which was to educate all women to do precisely what I have done, rebel against your man made, unjust, unconstitutional forms of law, that tax, fine, imprison and hang women, while they deny them the right of representation in government ; and I shall work on with might and main to pay every dollar of that honest debt, but not a penny shall go to this unjust claim. And I shall earnestly and persistently continue to urge all women to the practical recognition of the old revolutionary maxim, that 'Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.' "

Though this particular skirmish in the battle for suffrage has ended without any extension of the franchise, it is by no means a setback, because the struggle for political equality, which is being waged on any fronts, has been reinvigorated. Women - and men - who are working nationwide for equal suffrage will certainly find their ranks increased as a result of what was said and done this day.

Regardless of what strategy - or combination of tactics - eventually brings total victory to the cause of woman suffrage, Susan B. Anthony's courage in undertaking this protest, and her refusal to pay such an unjust fine, deserve praise and admiration by all those who believe in democracy. Though the judge could abuse his authority, and prevent even the illusion of justice from being dispensed in his tiny courtroom this week, he is powerless to stop this most brilliant and dedicated advocate of suffrage from gaining a coast-to-coast audience for her flawless and compelling arguments when they are printed in the nation's most influential newspapers.

In exactly one month, the movement for women's rights will celebrate the 25th anniversary of that first gathering in Seneca Falls, New York, on July 19th and 20th, 1848. A great deal has been accomplished in just a quarter century, and the pace of progress is accelerating. Though none of the 37 States have yet been won for equal suffrage, women have voted on the same basis as men in the Territory of Wyoming since 1869, and in Utah Territory since 1870. There are now well-established suffrage organizations composed of experienced and talented individuals operating nationwide.

Virginia Minor, a suffrage leader in Missouri, is also trying to use the 14th Amendment to gain the vote for women, though taking a different approach from Anthony. When Registrar Reese Happersett refused to allow Minor to register to vote on October 15th of last year, solely because she was a woman, she sued him. Though it may take a while, this case could eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court, and a favorable ruling there could enfranchise women in all States and Territories overnight.

This week's courtroom drama clearly shows that the second quarter century of the struggle for equality will be at least as energetic and eventful as the first, and there can be no doubt that the day of victory is now considerably closer that it appeared to be just a year - or even a few hours - ago.

 

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June 20, 1917 : Peaceful "Silent Sentinel" pickets, who have been protesting President Wilson's lack of support for woman suffrage by holding up banners each day along the White House fence since January 10th, were attacked by a mob today as they stood alongside a banner directed at the Russian envoys who are meeting with the President.

The banner read : "TO THE RUSSIAN ENVOYS. President Wilson and Envoy Root are deceiving Russia. They say we are a democracy. Help us win a world war, so that democracies may survive.

"We, the women of America, tell you that America is not a democracy. Twenty million American women are denied the right to vote. President Wilson is the chief opponent of their national enfranchisement.

"Help us make this nation really free. Tell our government that it must liberate its people before it can claim free Russia as an ally."

There has been a good deal of verbal hostility directed toward the protesters in recent months, even though their banners have contained only President Wilson's own words of praise for democracy, or asked : "Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty ?" and "Mr. President, what will you do for woman suffrage ?" But this was the first time the White House pickets had been physically attacked, had their banners torn away from them and then destroyed. The ringleader of today's vigilantes was Walter S. Timmins, a consulting engineer from New York City.

Both police and Secret Service agents were present, and could have prevented the violence, but the agents only stood around observing, while a police officer simply asked the crowd to restrain themselves long enough so he could copy down what was on the banner. There were, of course, no arrests of the attackers.

After the incident, some other members of the National Woman's Party came back to the White House fence and hoisted up some of the same banners they had been displaying for months. They were not interfered with. But Alice Paul said tonight that she and her fellow National Woman's Party members would not be deterred from exercising their right of free speech : "We have ordered another banner with the same wording, and we intend to show it in the same place."

Needless to say, all those who have been critical of the picketing from the beginning were quick to denounce today's banner, and they were joined by some others. The only woman in Congress, Rep. Jeannette Rankin, Republican of Montana, was the only politician who refused to join the chorus of criticism, taking a neutral stance on today's action for the present.

Picketing a President is in and of itself a new and radical activity that tends to provoke hostility, and our entry into the War on April 6th has made anyone criticizing the President liable to charges of disloyalty. But the National Woman's Party feels that demanding democracy in the midst of a war being fought for democracy is not unpatriotic, but quite the opposite, and totally consistent with American principles.

How can it not be the height of hypocrisy for President Wilson to deliver speech after speech about democracy being such a sacred ideal that American lives must be sacrificed to win it for those in other nations, but apparently feel that it is an insufficiently sacred cause for him to endorse and lobby Congress to pass an amendment to the Constitution, which when ratified by 3/4 of the States, would enfranchise 20 million women in non-suffrage States who now have no voice in choosing those who make the laws they must obey ?

Demanding a government "of the people, by the people and for the people" is no more anti-American now than when Abraham Lincoln spoke of it, and "taxation without representation" is no less unjust when imposed by Congress or a State legislature than when it was mandated by a British Parliament and King. Failure to use one's influence to help bring about a government representative of all its people, however, is a clear betrayal of democratic principles, and therefore of America. The National Woman's Party has made it clear today that it will continue to point out Wilson's lack of understanding of the fundamental concept of "democracy" until he takes a leading role in helping bring it to the female half of his own country.

 

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June 20, 1920 : Tennessee could be the key to victory ! Though recent attempts to get the 36th and final State needed to ratify the Susan B. Anthony (woman suffrage) Amendment have concentrated on the Northeast, the National Woman's Party launched a Southern campaign today.

 

The reason that Tennessee hasn't been a priority up until now is a provision in their State Constitution which requires that an election must take place between the time a Constitutional Amendment is submitted by Congress to the States, and its approval by the State Legislature. Since the proposed 19th Amendment was submitted on June 4, 1919, it was thought that no action could be taken there until after those elected in November, 1920, take their seats.

But a recent Supreme Court ruling in Hawke v. Smith, 253 U.S. 221, regarding the ratification of the 18th Amendment may have implications for the proposed 19th, and invalidate any restrictions on a Legislature's right to ratify. As Sue Shelton White explained it in a letter sent today to Governor Roberts of Tennessee :

 

"Since the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States on June 1 in the case of Hawke vs. Smith, I have consulted a number of lawyers, including the Solicitor-General of the United States, in regard to the effect that the decision may have upon the provision of the Tennessee Constitution which attempts to restrict the power of the General Assembly to act upon amendments to federal Constitution ..... Acting upon the legal opinions, I am, as chairman of the Tennessee branch of the National Woman's Party, and in behalf of the national organization of the National Woman's Party, submitting to you this formal request that you call the General Assembly of Tennessee into extraordinary session for the purpose of ratifying the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. This request is made with a full appreciation of every doubt that could possibly arise as to the validity of ratification by the present Tennessee Assembly and after due consideration of the contingencies that might arise should the doubt be resolved against the power of the Legislature to act."

Though 35 States have already ratified the Anthony Amendment, 36 of the 48 are necessary. The lack of one more State's approval before November 2, 1920, would keep millions of women in States which presently deny them the vote from taking part in this year's national election. It's already too late for women in Georgia, because the deadline for voter registration has already passed. Though there is no time limit on ratification, suffragists are striving to achieve the swiftest possible victory, because the longer ratification takes, the more deadlines will be missed, and the fewer women will be able to participate in November's Presidential election even if victory occurs by then.

 

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June 21, 1920 : The road to woman suffrage has taken some strange and unexpected turns over the past 72 years, but few more bizarre than the possibility that Tennessee Democrats might hold the key to final victory. Still, that's the belief of Sue Shelton White, head of the National Woman's Party in the "Volunteer State," and today the N.W.P. is gearing up for an all-out campaign to win what until three weeks ago was considered a State in which ratification this year was impossible.

Since it was Congressional Republicans whose overwhelming support for woman suffrage finally overcame the fierce and entrenched opposition of Southern Democrats, and 26 of the 35 State legislatures which have ratified the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment so far are controlled by the Republican Party, it was only natural to look to Republican States such as Delaware, Connecticut and Vermont to provide the 36th and final ratification needed.

But when the Delaware Legislature failed to even take the ratification resolution out of committee, then adjourned, and the Governors of Connecticut and Vermont steadfastly refused to call special sessions of their legislatures - where a majority of members appeared ready to vote for ratification if they had been called back into session - other possibilities had to be considered if there is to be a 19th Amendment in the Constitution in time for the November elections.

Unfortunately, Tennessee, like many other Southern States, has a provision in its State Constitution which says that a Statewide election must take place between the time Congress submits a Federal Constitutional amendment to the States, and its ratification by the State Legislature. Since Congress passed the Anthony Amendment on June 4, 1919, only those Tennessee legislators who will be elected on November 2, 1920, would appear to be eligible to vote on it, and not until they take their seats in 1921.

But earlier this month the U.S. Supreme Court rendered a decision in a case involving ratification of the 18th (Prohibition) Amendment, and their opinion in "Hawke v. Smith" (253 U.S. 221), has major implications for the proposed 19th Amendment, by appearing to invalidate all restrictions on a legislature's right to ratify. As Sue Shelton White explained it in a letter sent yesterday to Governor Roberts of Tennessee :

"Since the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States on June 1 in the case of Hawke vs. Smith, I have consulted a number of lawyers, including the Solicitor-General of the United States, in regard to the effect the decision may have upon the provision of the Tennessee Constitution which attempts to restrict the power of the General Assembly to act upon amendments to the Federal Constitution .....

"Acting upon legal opinions, I am, as chairman of the Tennessee branch of the National Woman's Party, and in behalf of the national organization of the National Woman's Party, submitting to you this formal request that you call the General Assembly of Tennessee into extraordinary session for the purpose of ratifying the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. This request is made with a full appreciation of every doubt that could possibly arise as to the validity of ratification by the present Tennessee Assembly and after due consideration of the contingencies that might arise should the doubt be resolved against the power of the Legislature to act."

Today this new ratification strategy became a full-fledged, all-out drive by the National Woman's Party. N.W.P. members already in San Francisco, the site of next week's Democratic Convention, began putting maximum pressure on Democratic leaders to get Governor Roberts to call Tennessee legislators into special session, and then assure enough votes in both houses to pass the ratification resolution.

As always, the N.W.P. is out to play hardball politics, and Abby Scott Baker, the National Woman's Party's official representative to the convention, told Democrats that unless they come through with that 36th State, her group would oppose the Democrats for failure to ratify in one of their States the same way they have opposed the Republicans for failing to get that final ratification in a Republican State.

Baker then said that if the Amendment isn't ratified soon, the N.W.P. would at the very least advise women in States where they have already won equal suffrage to avoid voting for either of the two major parties. The N.W.P. might even affiliate itself with a "proposed new party," presumably the Farmer-Labor Party, if it puts a suffrage plank in its platform at its convention next month. The idea here would be to punish both major parties by draining votes away from them in November.

Though picketing was done at the Republican Convention, it will not be done here, because it was so recently that the Supreme Court decision appears to have cleared the way for the present Tennessee Legislature to vote on the Anthony Amendment, and the Democrats have not had sufficient time to apply pressures of their own to Governor Roberts of Tennessee. As Baker put it :

"Previously, we have not blamed the Democrats as we have the Republicans because we have taken the position of 'no got, no can do.' Now we see that Democrats with Tennessee are just as able to give us the thirty-sixth State 'off the shelves' as were the Republicans to take down and wrap up for us either Connecticut or Vermont. We believe the Democrats will be quick to see the running start toward victory they can gain by giving all women the vote and that they will do everything in their power to that end. We shall not picket this convention if they do not, because we feel there has not been enough time to work upon Governor Roberts as there had been in the case of Vermont and Connecticut governors. In addition, there is no time left to organize a picketing demonstration."

Meanwhile, Democratic women arriving here in San Francisco are eager to see their party get the credit for the last step in winning nationwide woman suffrage. So, they will be working with N.W.P. members to get the Democratic Party to put a nationwide suffrage plank in its platform, and get party leaders to do everything they can to pressure Governor Roberts into calling a special session of the Tennessee Legislature to secure that 36th approval.

This promises to be quite an exciting summer - and hopefully the last one in which American women must work for a Constitutional guarantee of their right to vote.

 

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June 22, 1917 : After enduring bitter cold, snow, rain, heat and even attacks by unruly crowds during their past five months of picketing President Wilson along the White House fence, two members of today's contingent of "Silent Sentinel" suffragists encountered a new challenge : arrests.

What was on the large banner that National Woman's Party officers Lucy Burns and Katherine Morey were holding which was considered so outrageous and offensive that it would cause their freedom of speech to be denied, and clearly ridiculous charges of "blocking traffic" on the sidewalk to be brought ? The following words : " 'We shall fight for the things we have always carried nearest our hearts - for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their Government.' President Wilson's War Message. April 2nd, 1917."

Apparently there is no law against embarrassing the President by pointing out the hypocrisy of vigorously promoting democracy around the world while doing nothing to help enfranchise millions of women in his own country, so "blocking traffic" had to do for an offense. Seven police officers (six male, one female) singled out and surrounded Burns and Morey. Lucy Burns told the officers that her banner was private property, and that they had no right to touch it. The woman officer then asked Burns if she wouldn't rather give up the banner peaceably than be arrested. Burns replied that she had a right to stand there. Both picketers were then arrested and driven off to police headquarters while some in the hostile crowd cheered, and others seemed to show support and admiration for their courageous stand.

President Wilson, as the highest-ranking member of his party, could significantly decrease the number of Democratic votes blocking the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment in Congress if he used his full influence, so picketers have good reason to continue to try to prod him into action, despite the consequences to themselves.

With almost daily clashes now between the banner-bearers and those who strongly object to anything that seems critical of our wartime President, the cause of suffrage is getting unprecedented coverage in the press. This delights those who think more militant tactics are called for, but not traditional suffrage groups who worry that the general public can't tell the difference between the two factions of suffragists. Officials of the National American Woman Suffrage Association long ago stated their firm opposition to picketing the President, and the New York State Woman Suffrage Party regularly issues strong condemnations of the protesters. So the criticism of the White House pickets comes from all sides, and must especially sting when it's from fellow suffragists.

But the militants feel that their tactics are as correct as their cause. Almost sixty-nine years have gone by since the campaign for suffrage began, and though women have won full voting rights in 11 States, and limited degrees of suffrage in some others, it could take many more decades to finish the job of nationwide enfranchisement of women by conventional means.

The National Woman's Party is not interested in endlessly repeating the process of working for years to get a suffrage referendum on a State ballot, then trying to lobby millions of male voters, only to have suffrage rejected at the polls because of some outdated stereotypes about women, or myths promoted by anti-suffragists backed by unlimited amounts of money from the liquor industry. Instead, the N.W.P. intends to concentrate its efforts on the President, then certain Members of Congress, with the goal of getting the Anthony Amendment approved by 2/3 of the House and Senate, then sent to the States for approval by a simple majority vote in 36 out of 48 State Legislatures.

Two critical parts of Alice Paul's ratification strategy are to make sure that the struggle for woman suffrage is constantly kept in the public eye, and to show that suffragists are a powerful force, with single-minded dedication to a goal, who will not let up until that goal is fully achieved. If court dates and prison sentences are now in the future for National Woman's Party members, they appear willing to accept that as the price of progress. As long as they continue to have the courage to go with their convictions, the time until final victory will be shortened considerably by their personal sacrifices.

One indication that the National Woman's Party will never sound "retreat" was given earlier this evening, when it was announced at N.W.P. headquarters that there will be a full contingent of pickets along the White House fence tomorrow, with new banners to replace those destroyed by mob actions or confiscated by police.

 

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June 23, 1920 : The Tennessee Legislature will vote on ratifying the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment ! That was the announcement made today by Governor Albert Roberts, who said that he was calling the special session at the urgent request of President Wilson.

This is just the latest in a series of stunning developments which have occurred since the first of the month, but it's potentially the most important. A favorable vote by the Tennessee Legislature would give the Anthony Amendment the 36th and final State ratification it needs to become the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. This would immediately enfranchise women in States where they cannot already vote, and except where registration deadlines may have already passed, do so in time for them to cast a ballot in the nationwide General Election on November 2nd.

In his telegram to Governor Roberts, President Wilson said : "It would be a real service to the party and to the nation if it is possible for you under the peculiar provisions of your State Constitution, having in mind the recent decision of the Supreme Court in the Ohio case, to call a special session of the Legislature of Tennessee to consider the suffrage amendment. Allow me to urge this very earnestly."

The "peculiar provision" of the Tennessee Constitution the President referred to prohibits its legislature from ratifying a Federal Constitutional Amendment passed by Congress until after a Statewide general election has occurred, and the new legislature is seated. Until June 1st, it was thought that this would make it impossible for Tennessee to act until early 1921, but in Hawke v. Smith (253 U.S. 221), an Ohio case regarding the 18th Amendment, the Supreme Court appears to have ruled that any State laws which interfere with the right of a State Legislature to approve a Federal Amendment are unconstitutional.

The High Court's opinion immediately made Tennessee the potential 36th State - if the Governor would call the legislature back into session. Vermont and Connecticut had been the focus of intense suffrage efforts for months, because majorities of both States' legislatures appear eager to ratify. But neither body was in session, and their Republican governors refused to call special sessions so that the legislators could vote on ratification.

The refusal of two Republican governors to allow their States to deliver nationwide woman suffrage may turn out to be one of the biggest political blunders in history. Republican support for suffrage has far exceeded that of Democrats for so long that when Susan B. Anthony "illegally" voted in 1872, she marked her ballot for Republican candidates only. Six years later, it was a Republican Senator from California, A.A. Sargent, who introduced the Anthony Amendment in Congress. Four years ago, Alice Paul's Congressional Union / National Woman's Party campaigned twice throughout the West against the party in power - the Democrats - for failing to deliver Congressional approval of suffrage. This was followed by daily picketing of President Wilson outside the White House, which eventually prodded him into first endorsing, the lobbying for, the Anthony Amendment.

The final stage of the battle has also been led by Republicans, with the party giving the Anthony Amendment 81.8% support in the Senate and 91.3% support in the House, vs. 54% and 60% support by Democrats. Twenty-six of the thirty-five States which have ratified the amendment had Republican majorities in their legislatures, six were controlled by Democrats, and in three, one party controlled the Lower House and the other the Upper House.

But now it's possible that the enormous amount of good will that Republicans have earned from women over many decades with their unswerving support of suffrage may be thrown away just a few months before a Presidential election if a Democratic State Legislature called into session by a Democratic Governor at the request of a Democratic President provides the 36th and final ratification needed, while Republicans block suffrage votes in two States.

Senator Warren G. Harding of Ohio, the newly-chosen Republican nominee for President, appears to also be fumbling the ball just short of the goal line. Though he personally favors woman suffrage, and voted for the Anthony Amendment when he was in the Senate, he told National Woman's Party officers yesterday that it would not be proper for him to use his influence to pressure Republican Governors to call special sessions in Vermont and Connecticut.

Though dissatisfied with Harding's position, that minor disappointment has been buried under the avalanche of good news over the past three weeks which has brought cheer to suffragists of all factions. At National Woman's Party headquarters earlier this evening, Alice Paul, whose criticism of Democrats has at times been quite stinging, said :

"I am delighted at this evidence that the Democrats recognize the opportunity which they now have to give the final ratification and complete the enfranchisement of the women of the country. The National Woman's Party has contended that the Supreme Court made ratification by a special session of the Legislature in Tennessee legal, and the President has undoubtedly been advised by the best legal authority before calling upon the Governor to summon the Legislature. We hope that action in Tennessee will be immediate. We hope the Tennessee Legislature will save the situation for woman suffrage."

The finish line in this 72-year-long marathon may finally be in sight, but since nothing has ever come to suffragists easily or with certainty in all these years, it's unlikely that the rest of the road to victory will be as short as might be desired, or without suspense. But at least the days of trying to persuade millions of male voters to pass various State referenda, or lobbying hundreds of Members of Congress to pass the Anthony Amendment are now over, and all efforts can be focused on a single State, and getting approval by just 50 of 99 House members and 17 of 33 State Senators.

 

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June 24, 1969 : After being refused service at one of New York City's "men only" bars in January, Faith Seidenberg and Karen DeCrow, members of the National Organization for Women, filed a Federal suit today. They contend that being refused service at McSorley's Old Ale House, solely on account of their sex, was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

The atmosphere inside the pub was even colder than the weather outside on that winter's evening five months ago. A large bell was rung as an alarm when Seidenberg and DeCrow stepped into the bar. The male patrons clapped and stomped their feet, while the waiters hooted. Both women sat quietly at a table and politely asked for service, but without success, with the refusals becoming increasingly hostile. Finally, a sympathetic man at the bar tried to buy drinks for the women. Some of the patrons then picked him up and roughly threw him through the swinging doors and on to the curb, with him striking his head in the process. Not wanting to be the cause of any more violence, the women left, determined to fight the issue out in court.

This is not the first bar or restaurant in the city to be targeted by N.O.W. for discriminating against women. On February 12th, Betty Friedan and a few other women unsuccessfully tried to dine in the Oak Room of the Plaza Hotel, and were told women were not served there until after 3 P.M. on days the stock exchange was open, and that the same rule applied to the adjoining Oak Room Bar.

The struggle for equal access to all public accommodations is going on nationwide, with plenty of other action so far this year. On March 25th, N.O.W. staged a sit-in at Trader Vic's in Beverly Hills, California, protesting their prohibition on women drinking at the bar without a male escort. The management's assumption is that any woman not accompanied by a man must be a prostitute looking for business.

On March 8th, N.O.W. members staged a sit-in at a bar in Colchester, Connecticut, to protest a state law that prohibits women from being served liquor at bars. On February 19th, Judith Meuli, Lana Phelan, Ruth Ehrlich and Ila Johnson staged a successful sit-in at the Beverly Hills Hotel's Polo Lounge in California. Amid considerable press attention, they were served, so policies can change if publicly challenged.

Eliminating such forms of public accommodations discrimination has been a goal of N.O.W. from the beginning. On November 11, 1966, less than two weeks after its founding, N.O.W. wrote a letter to Acting Attorney General Ramsey Clark saying :

"Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination or segregation in places of public accommodation, also should be amended to prohibit such discrimination against women. Although sex discrimination in public accommodations has not been so widespread as race discrimination, it is more common than discrimination based on religion or national origin - both of which are specifically prohibited by Title II. The exclusion of women from numerous public restaurants, for example, continues as an insult to women and a handicap to their participation in the business world."

Today one more salvo against that kind of blatant discrimination was launched, as the battle for equal access continues.

 

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June 25, 1970 : A major public accommodations victory today by the National Organization for Women ! A year and a day after Karen DeCrow and Faith Seidenberg filed a Federal lawsuit against McSorley's Old Ale House, in New York City, for banning women, a judge has ruled that the bar's 116-year-old "tradition" of discrimination must end.

In issuing his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Walter Mansfield noted that he had considered the plea of the bar owner's attorneys : "It may be argued that the occasional preference of men for a haven to which they may retreat from the watchful eye of wives or womanhood in general, to have a drink or pass a few hours in their own company, is justification enough : that the simple fact that women are not men justifies the defendant's practices."

But after acknowledging the argument, he ruled that it was not persuasive :

"McSorley's is a public place, not a private club, and .... the preference of certain of its patrons ... bear no rational relationship to the suitability of women as customers. Outdated images of bars as dens of coarseness and iniquity, and of women as particularly delicate and impressionable creatures in need of protection from the rough and tumble of unvarnished humanity will no longer justify sexual separatism. Without suggesting that chivalry is dead, we no longer hold to Shakespeare's immortal phrase, 'Frailty, thy name is woman.' " The judge then praised the plaintiffs for "wisely choosing to stage this battle of the sexes in a courthouse rather than resort to militant tactics."

The two Syracuse women who filed the suit expressed great satisfaction at the result. Attorney Faith Seidenberg said "I'm ecstatic," and that her next target would be a second protest at the Rainbow Lounge of the Hotel Syracuse, where unescorted women are still barred. Law student Karen DeCrow said the decision was "proof that the women's revolution is indeed being won in the 70s."

The bar owner feels differently, of course, and intends to dig in his 19th Century heels while being dragged into the 20th Century. When a woman tried to enter a few hours after the ruling, she was told by the owner's son that "we don't serve women," and that "it will stay that way until all possible appeals are lost" and even then "until all necessary facilities are installed."

The bar obviously has no women's restroom, but Judge Mansfield suggested that providing one should not be a problem, or an excuse to postpone compliance. Therefore, if all appeals by the bar owner are lost, there should be no great delay in women being able to tread on the bar's sawdust floor, warm themselves by its pot-bellied stove, and enjoy its 35-cent glasses of ale or its two-for-50-cent beers with their popular Liederkranz and onion sandwiches.

 

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June 26, 1940 : "We favor submission by Congress to the States of an amendment to the Constitution providing for equal rights for men and women." With that simple sentence, the Equal Rights Amendment took a giant leap forward today, as the Republican Party became the first major party to include an E.R.A. plank in its platform.

Just six months after the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment was declared to be part of the Constitution on August 26, 1920, the National Woman's Party endorsed "absolute equality" as its next goal, and began drafting an amendment to accomplish it. On July 21, 1923, it formally endorsed a specific text, and launched the campaign to have it adopted. On December 10, 1923, their amendment was formally introduced into Congress by two Republicans from Kansas, Senator Charles Curtis and Rep. Daniel Anthony. The latter was a nephew of Susan B. Anthony, who voted a strictly Republican ticket when she cast an "illegal" ballot in 1872.

The E.R.A. has been the subject of many Congressional hearings since the first one by the House Judiciary Subcommittee in February, 1924. It was given a favorable recommendation by both House and Senate Judiciary Subcommittees in 1937, with the Senate Judiciary Committee reporting the measure to the full Senate in 1938 on a 9 to 9 tie vote.

The battle for the adoption of the plank was ably led by the National Woman's Party, whose founder, Alice Paul, wrote the amendment's text. Though originally the N.W.P. was its only supporter, the E.R.A. now enjoys the endorsements of 16 national and 150 state and local organizations of women. Among E.R.A.'s supporters are the National Federation of Business and Professional Women, which endorsed three years ago, and five State Federations of Women's Clubs (though nationally, the General Federation of Women's Clubs is opposed, as is the League of Women Voters.)

The chief concern of those who oppose the E.R.A. is that it will wipe out so-called "protective" legislation for women, laws which the National Woman's Party sees as "restrictive," and an impediment to women being able to freely compete with men for still-scarce jobs. A rival, and much less comprehensive plank, was submitted last week to the platform committee by Jane Todd, which read : "The right to work for compensation shall not be abridged or denied by reason of race, religion, sex, economic or marital status." This plank would have applied only to the workplace, and been aimed at prohibiting employers from either refusing to hire - or from firing - married women, a long-standing phenomenon that became much more widespread when the business depression hit in 1929.

Though representatives of the League of Women Voters called the platform committee's decision to submit the E.R.A. resolution, rather than the Todd resolution, "the shock of the century," Doris Stevens, of the National Woman's Party, said it was "Perfectly splendid. The party could do no less than recommend the guarantee of full rights under the Constitution to women everywhere." Stevens gave special thanks to Alfred M. Landon of Kansas, the party's 1936 Presidential nominee, who reversed his position on E.R.A. of four years ago, and former Senator George Wharton Pepper of Pennsylvania for his support as well.

With one party's endorsement already secured, the battle now moves to the Democratic Convention next month. Then it's back to Congress to get the approval of 2/3 of the House and Senate, followed by a nationwide campaign to get 36 of the 48 State Legislatures to ratify. That's no small task, but if in just 19 years things can progress from a general proposal for "absolute equality" legislation at a National Woman's Party convention on February 16, 1921, to a specific Constitutional Amendment that has been endorsed by numerous national and State organizations, and now has the approval of a major political party, the E.R.A. is clearly a powerful idea that's unstoppable in the long run.

 

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June 27, 1917 : The first jail sentences imposed on some of the "Silent Sentinel" suffragists picketing President Wilson outside the White House were handed down today in Washington, D.C.'s Police Court. Following a three-hour trial on trumped-up charges of "obstructing traffic" on the sidewalk in front of the White House fence, the pickets were each given a choice of paying a $ 25 fine or spending three days in prison. All six chose prison, and to be taken there in the "Black Maria" police van instead of taxis.

The judge might have preferred to impose longer terms, but the fact that all the prisoners made it known that they would go on a hunger strike if jailed for any meaningful length of time made it more a consideration of politics and public relations than sympathy or mercy when Judge Mullowney handed down the relatively light sentences for their first offense. What he will do with "repeat offenders" is the subject of speculation tonight.

The first two arrests were made on June 22nd, when Lucy Burns and Katherine Morey were carrying a large banner using a quote from President Wilson's War Message in April, in which he praised democracy and "the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own Government." On June 23rd, four were arrested, two in front of the House of Representatives, and two outside of the White House gates. Day before yesterday there were twelve arrests, and yesterday nine more, all on Pennsylvania Avenue, outside the White House.

Tonight the six convicted women are in separate cells in the District Jail, following a suffrage meeting and "song service" with the other inmates. The prisoners are : Mabel Vernon of Reno, Nevada (who played the organ during the hymn-singing portion of tonight's program) ; Katherine Morey of Boston ; Virginia Arnold of Asheville, North Carolina ; Lavinia Dock of Philadelphia (who hiked from New York City to Albany in 1912 and from Newark, New Jersey, to Washington, D.C., in 1913 as part of General Rosalie Jones' suffrage army) ; Maud Jamison of Norfolk, Virginia, and Annie Arneil of Wilmington, Delaware.

The picketing of the White House began on January 10th, the morning after an unsatisfactory meeting with the President by a delegation of 300 suffragists. They had been invited to the White House the day before to deliver a memorial regarding Inez Milholland Boissevain, a 30-year-old suffragist who had died while on a grueling speaking tour of the West last Fall. It seemed only appropriate to ask the President to support the cause for which she had given her life.

Though Wilson was known to be a supporter of the general idea of woman suffrage - and even voted in favor of it in the New Jersey suffrage referendum of 1915 - he refused to endorse the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment or help get it through Congress. He gave as his excuse that he was merely a servant of his party, and since the Democratic Party has only endorsed winning suffrage on a State-by-State basis, and not by Constitutional Amendment, he was powerless to do anything. Then he told the suffragists to go out and work harder.

This display of political cowardice by the President understandably angered the suffragists. Having just been re-elected to a second, and traditionally final term, he had the freedom that comes with holding great power without ever having to face the voters again. His dismissive attitude, plus his ridiculous excuse for inaction, were insults to the dignity and intelligence of his audience, and when combined with the hypocrisy of his constant pleas for democracy worldwide and silence about the lack of it in his own country for tens of millions of disenfranchised women, a firestorm of anger spontaneously erupted.

There was an "indignation meeting" that evening, and it was decided to take the unprecedented step of picketing a President. The banner-bearing "Silent Sentinels" began in bitter cold and blowing snow, and have continued to take up their posts through drenching rains, blistering heat, oppressive humidity, assaults by hostile mobs, opposition by more conservative suffrage groups, arrests, and now prison sentences.

But it was made totally clear by everyone at National Woman's Party headquarters today that regardless of how many more unjustified arrests are made, or how long any future sentences may be, picketing will continue until President Wilson endorses the Anthony Amendment and works to bring democracy to the women of America with the same zeal that he has shown for bringing it to those who live in other nations.

 

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June 28, 1920 : "The thirty-sixth State is in sight." That's the opinion expressed tonight by Alice Paul, and there is ample justification for her optimism about getting the last State ratification necessary to put the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment into the Constitution.

The latest evidence that victory for woman suffrage is swiftly approaching is Governor Roberts' announcement today of a specific date - August 9th - that he will call the Tennessee Legislature into special session to vote on ratification of the proposed 19th Amendment. Should the vote be favorable, equal suffrage for women, sought for more then seven decades since the first women's rights convention at Seneca Falls in 1848, may be just six weeks away from becoming the law of the land.

The Anthony Amendment, formally introduced in Congress by Senator Aaron Sargent, Republican of California, in 1878, says : "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." Section Two says : "Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation." Like all Amendments except the 18th, there is no time limit on how long States would have to ratify.

Paul declared that today's action by the Governor was : "At once an act of justice to the women of the country and an act bringing extraordinary prestige to the Democratic Party. The setting of a definite date for the suffrage session in Tennessee makes suffrage victory almost certain in time for women to vote in the next elections. Our campaign in Tennessee has now become much simpler. We had feared that a campaign would be necessary to force the Governor to set a sufficiently early date for the session. Now we shall have only the task of making a thorough canvass of the Legislature, to see that the majority which voted for Presidential suffrage in the State last year supports ratification." (Tennessee is one of the States whose legislatures have granted women the right to vote for President, but not all other offices.)

Sue White, who heads the Tennessee branch of the National Woman's Party, sent a telegram to Governor Roberts this evening : "Understanding that you have officially announced that special session of the Tennessee Legislature would be called on Aug. 9 to ratify suffrage amendment. I offer hearty congratulations. Your action makes certain the enfranchisement of women of eighteen States in time for Presidential elections, ends the half-century struggle of women for political equality, and adds new glory to the unique history of the Volunteer State. Thank you."

Though until recently it has been the Republicans who have been the principal supporters of suffrage, the Democrats are now running fast with the political football fumbled by their rivals on the one-yard line. President Wilson's telegram to the Governor of Tennessee (certainly a factor in getting the Governor to call the special session) has been followed up with telegrams to the Governor of North Carolina and two North Carolina Senators asking that their State immediately ratify the Anthony Amendment.

Senator Harding, the Republican Presidential nominee, is still unwilling to involve himself in lobbying two Republican Governors who are refusing to call special sessions in Connecticut and Vermont. Those legislatures are not in session, but a majority of members appear to be eager to ratify if the Governor would exercise his authority to call them back into session. (Once adjourned, State legislatures cannot reconvene on their own, but must wait until their next regularly scheduled session unless called back into special session by the Governor.)

In what's a major political turnaround - and a vindication of the National Woman's Party's militant tactics - President Wilson is now giving Alice Paul advance notice of many of his pro-suffrage actions, and has ordered that any statement she makes be brought to him immediately, no matter what the hour.

Back in the days when the National Woman's Party was picketing the President over his refusal to get actively involved in the suffrage struggle here, while vigorously promoting democracy abroad, conservative suffragists denounced the Party's picketing outside the White House and burning of Wilson's speeches as counterproductive. But a case can be made now that those hardball tactics have paid off by getting him to abandon his "hands off" stance and do everything from personally appearing before the Senate to make a plea for suffrage the night before a big vote in 1918, to sending many telegrams urging special sessions of State legislatures, and asking specific legislators for "yes" votes this year.

Of course, there are practical political considerations involved for both parties in regard to suffrage as well. Though Wilson will not be running in November, he certainly wants whoever is nominated by the Democratic Party to win, and continue his policies. It's generally believed that his party's support for the League of Nations, contrasted with Republican opposition, led by Senator Lodge, will influence many women's votes if they are able to go to the polls. So this, and the fact that a few powerful and outspokenly anti-suffrage Republican Senators are up for election this year in States where women cannot now vote may have more than a little to do with Democrats suddenly warming to the idea of suffrage and Republicans getting cold feet. And if it's Democratic legislators in a Democratic State who put the suffrage amendment over the top, that would certainly help the party on Election Day with women voters as well.

Whatever partisan considerations there may be in what seems to be the final stage of the battle, the real credit for getting woman suffrage to this point belongs to the suffragists who have been working for the vote since the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848, long before it was an issue of concern to either major party. There will be plenty of time after ratification to debate whether it was Alice Paul's militance, Carrie Chapman Catt's more traditional tactics, or the actions of the many lesser-known suffragists around the nation that proved decisive in winning the vote. But the important thing now is that the combination of tactics is working, and needs to be kept up at full force until victory finally arrives.

 

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June 29, 1937 : "I'll be in the United States in four days," said Amelia Earhart early this morning, just before she and navigator Fred Noonan took off from Port Darwin, Australia. Thus began the final, and most challenging part of their around-the-world flight. Every mile after Port Darwin is over vast stretches of ocean, and requires landing on islands until they arrive back in Oakland, California, where they began on May 20th.

Fortunately, the first island they needed to find was a large one - New Guinea - and the flight to Lae was only 1,207 miles, ending safely 7 hours and 43 minutes after it began. But their next hop will be over twice as long (2,556 miles), and their target will be a 450-acre (seven-tenths of a square mile) dot in the South Pacific : Howland Island. Then it's on to Hawaii (1,900 miles) and Oakland (2,410 miles). According to Earhart : "From Lae to Howland Island will be the worst section of the flight, but with Freddy Noonan navigating, I'm confident we will make it."

When she arrived in Port Darwin yesterday, after a 500-mile flight from Timor, in the Dutch West Indies, she said : "It's been a very interesting flight. But for slight mechanical trouble, which was remedied at Bandoeing, Java, we have experienced no hold-ups. We've been sitting down waiting for Australia to turn up and we'll push on to Lae, New Guinea. I'm not taking any risks, but am flying as fast as possible."

She has been writing regular reports on her flight, eagerly read in newspapers around the country. This is a sample from yesterday :

PORT DARWIN (Northern Territory, Australia) June 28. - We crossed the Timor Sea from Koepang on Timor Island, in 3h. 29 m., against strong head winds. We flew over fleecy clouds at a height of 7,000 feet, and possibly this was one reason why we saw no sharks, concerning which everyone had warned us.

The country hereabout is very different from that surrounding Koepang. There, jagged mountains rose against the dawn, while here, as far as one could see, are endless trees on an endless plain.

Tomorrow we must be off at dawn. I fear I must leave Australia without seeing a koala bear or Miss Jean Batten (flyer). I hope to return some time to accomplish these two desires."

Tonight mechanics are doing an extremely thorough check of her plane. If there are no mechanical problems found, and no weather delays, she and Noonan will take of as soon as possible for Howland Island. They are determined to stay on schedule for what should be a well-attended, well-deserved and triumphant reception when they land in Oakland.

Earhart has not been specific about her post-flight plans beyond saying that she is looking forward to enjoying the Independence Day holiday with her husband, George Palmer Putnam. But her strong and long-time commitment to equality for women in general, and support for the Equal Rights Amendment in particular, should insure that she will still have plenty of work ahead of her even if, as she said to a friend recently : "I have a feeling that there is just about one more good flight left in my system and I hope this trip is it. Anyway, when I have finished this job, I mean to give up long-distance stunt flying."

 

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June 30, 1966 : A new and proudly feminist organization has been born ! Following a spirited meeting in Betty Friedan's hotel room last night, 28 people got together today and formally set up a "National Organization for Women" to finish the fight for total equality begun at Seneca Falls, New York, on July 19-20, 1848. The group's founders have been in Washington, D.C., since day before yesterday attending the Third National Conference of the Commissions on the Status of Women.

Many of those attending the conference were action-oriented, and wanted to do something specific and meaningful to fight sexism, beginning with a resolution demanding that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission do its job, and start enforcing laws against sex discrimination in the workplace. But though the theme of the conference was "Targets for Action," delegates were told that "government commissions cannot take actions against other government departments," so even this modest motion was ruled "out of order."

At that point it became obvious that no governmental entity could take the kind of rapid, independent, sometimes militant actions that will be needed to overcome the last bastions of gender bias. So beginning over lunch yesterday, followed by a meeting in Betty Friedan's hotel room last night, and at informal sessions today during breaks in the conference, 28 of the attendees managed to create a new activist group before rushing to the airport for their flights home. The purpose of the new group will be : "To take action to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society NOW, assuming all the privileges and responsibilities thereof in truly equal partnership with men."

Author Betty Friedan ("The Feminine Mystique") came up with the name, which she scribbled on a table napkin during yesterday's luncheon. But Kathryn Clarenbach of the Wisconsin Commission on the Status of Women will temporarily chair the group. According to Analoyce Clapp, it has also been decided :

"That members join as individuals ; it will be a voluntary organization, speaking only for ourselves.

That the group will be called the National Organization for Women (N.O.W.)

That N.O.W. will recommend action in the area of equality for women.

That we begin with the assumption that we will not have unanimity on all questions.

That N.O.W. will be an action organization for the advancement of women into equal participation in the whole spectrum of American life.

That each member contribute five dollars per month toward the expenses of the organization. The ultimate financing will be decided later.

That N.O.W. keep in touch with all similar groups, both action and non-action groups.

That a telegram be sent to each of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commissioners urging them to rescind the Commission's recent ruling that help-wanted ads again be labeled 'Male' and "Female.'

Recruiting of Charter Members will continue until August first."

Among the issues of immediate concern to the new group are :

(1) Equal jury participation by women. (Female defendants often face all-male juries due to unequal jury selection laws. In 22 states women can get an automatic exemption from service, and Florida requires women to register with the clerk of the circuit court in order to be in the pool of those eligible to be called. Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina prohibit women from serving at all.)

(2) Title VII (a part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) and the failure of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to enforce its prohibition on sex bias.

(3) Newspaper want-ads that label jobs for "men" or "women."

Though a group presently consisting of 28 members spread throughout the country, with no office or employees, and assets of only one hundred and forty dollars doesn't sound like much of a threat to the entrenched prejudice of government, industry, media, law and custom, neither did the 300 who gathered in Seneca Falls in 1848 to begin this ongoing struggle for equality.

Despite great strides, such as winning the vote, the goal of total equality is still as elusive today as it was 118 years ago. But if the dedication and persistence of those in this second wave of feminism is equal to that of their suffragist ancestors, then N.O.W. will be just as successful in achieving its worthy goal as were those who worked so tirelessly for 72 years to win the vote.

 

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