Election Day in Galveston County

Dressed as a suffragette, Kathy Nixie greets voters and hands out candidate information Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, at the polling location at Moody Methodist Church in Galveston.

I wasn’t thinking about the “Night of Terror” when I cast my first vote at the age of 18.

I wasn’t thinking about Nov. 14, 1917, when male guards at the Occoquan Workhouse manacled Lucy Burns by her hands to bars above her cell and forced her to stand all night. Or that guards twisted Dorothy Day’s arm behind her back and slammed her twice over the back of an iron bench.

I wasn’t thinking about Dora Lewis, who was led into a dark cell where guards smashed her head against an iron bed, knocking her out. Alice Cosu, Lewis’ cell mate, believing Lewis dead, suffered a heart attack and was denied medical care until the next morning, according to The Washington Post.

Their crime? They wanted to vote.

The women were among 33 suffragists from the National Woman’s Party who had been arrested while picketing outside the White House for that basic right.

Aug. 18 marks the 100-year anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which, for the first time, gave women all the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship.

Growing up, I had a cursory, sanitized understanding of Susan B. Anthony and the movement. And at 18, I was more worried about boys, Madonna and college. I won’t lie and say casting my first vote was thrilling. I don’t remember much about it.

At that age, I had not come to know and appreciate the hundreds of women who had a direct hand in ensuring my right to cast that vote that day and all the many since.

Without those women, I too might have been considered too intellectually inferior, too irrational, too weak and gullible to merit that right and to discharge that responsibility.

Without them, I might have been judged unladylike or just “bad” for even wanting to vote.

Perhaps that’s the fate and ultimate achievement of successful social and civil rights movements — that the heirs enjoy the right or privilege without ever knowing what it cost.

But the many hundreds of women — and men — who fought to give women one of the most basic rights as U.S. citizens and most powerful tools of democracy deserve to be remembered.

And as civil unrest and calls for justice continue around the nation today, we should remember this — march all you want, but if you don’t exercise your right to vote, you have done a disservice to your cause and the people who risked their lives and protested before you.

It’s important to note that in this country, where “all men are created equal” very few were. All men, first meant only landed white men. The landless had to fight, as have women and Blacks since.

This month, as we celebrate the 100-year-anniversary of women’s right to vote, we should reflect on the “Night of Terror,” the inequalities and even the ugly racism in the fight for women to vote.

We should remember what it cost and the debt we owe.

The best way to honor all those who have fought, were beaten and tortured to exercise that right, is simply to vote.

As I cast my votes in the November elections, I’ll be thinking of Burns, Lewis, Cosu and the many hundreds of other women who fought for me and future women at a significant cost to their present.

Laura Elder is managing editor of The Daily News: 409-683-5248; laura.elder@galvnews.com

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(29) comments

Bailey Jones

Conservative power structures always resist progress. It takes people in the streets, sometimes violence, occasionally a civil war, to get them to budge. It's an American story as old as the Revolution.

Carlos Ponce

Bailey should look at the political leanings of each woman.

Lucy Burns formed the National Women's Party because of apathy from the Democrat Party. Dora Lewis joined the NWP.

Susan B. Anthony allied with the Republican Party.

Alice M. Cosu picketed Democrat president Woodrow Wilson.

Bailey Jones

Thanks, again, Captain Obvious. There was a whole counter movement of conservative women against the vote. Many objected to this diddling about with traditional gender roles.

Luckily the progressives won. And we're happy they did, aren't we Carlos?

Carlos Ponce

If the progressives had won that round women would still not vote!

Bailey Jones

"If the progressives had won that round women would still not vote!"

There's that complete and utter rejection of reality that we've come to expect. It's hard to admit being on the wrong side of history, isn't it? If you're going to be a conservative, Carlos, you should own it. Conservatives have always fought for "traditional" roles in marriage and gender. And 100 years ago, that meant that men voted and women did not. There's no shame in admitting that. There is, though, considerable shame in pretending it didn't happen.

Carlos Ponce

Bailey obviously does not understand Conservatives.

Bailey Jones

There's that complete and utter rejection of reality that we've come to expect, nay, demand, from our court jester. Always good for kicks and giggles.

Carlos Ponce

Bailey obviously does not understand Conservatives.

Charlotte O'rourke

Thanks for the editorial. A reminder of history and the importance of voting never hurts.

Dot Wilbanks

Thanks Laura for reminding us and keeping us up to date on what women have had to go through in the past for us to have the right to go to the polls and cast a vote. Very good read.

Charlotte O'rourke

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43740033

Ten reasons expressed for not allowing women in Great Britain the right to vote,

Progressive or conservative .... men or women ..... doesn’t matter. The reasons for prohibiting women’s right to vote lacked any logic and were blatantly silly.

Bailey Jones

You can't argue with the one about the hats. harrumph! harrumph!

Charlotte O'rourke

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/07/womens-suffrage-nineteenth-amendment-pseudoscience/593710/

Real life better than fiction.

Jim Forsythe

Women should have had the right to vote at the same time men were allowed to vote! Should we be celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment or sadden because women voting should have happen at the same time men were granted the right to vote?

Women got the federal vote in three stages: the Military Voters Act of 1917 allowed nurses and women in the armed services to vote; the Wartime Election Act extended the vote to women who had husbands, sons or fathers serving overseas; and all women over 21 were allowed to vote as of January 1, 1919.

Carlos Ponce

Up until the ratification of the 19th Amendment the Constitution was silent about women voting so according to the 10th Amendment it was left up to the individual states.

States granting women the right to vote prior to the 19th Amendment:

Wyoming 1890

Colorado 1893

Utah 1896

Idaho 1896

Washington 1910

California 1911

Arizona 1912

Kansas 1912

Oregon 1912

Montana 1914

Nevada 1914

New York 1917

Michigan 1918

Oklahoma 1918

South Dakota 1918

Full Voting Rights before 19th Amendment and before statehood:

Territory of Wyoming 1869

Territory of Utah 1870

Territory of Washington 1883

Territory of Montana 1887

Territory of Alaska 1913

Could vote for President prior to the 19th Amendment:

Illinois 1913

Nebraska 1917

Ohio 1917

Indiana 1917

North Dakota 1917

Rhode Island 1917

Iowa 1919

Maine 1919

Minnesota 1919

Missouri 1919

Tennessee 1919

Wisconsin 1919

https://constitutioncenter.org/timeline/html/cw08_12159.html

David Hardee

I have read Elder's news articles with confidence and trust that what was offered was unadulterated journalism.

This one-sided article venturing into sociology is typical of the multitude of orchestrated attacks on every tradition that created the best hope of humanity. Elder should acknowledge that only a small segment of women supported suffrage and claimed oppression.

Elder will reap applause from all the malcontents wanting relief from their perceived oppression The equality and recognition these malcontents desire, has been accomplished by the fact white women were party to and were making contributions to humanity., alongside the males, The denigrating in this article is the reflection of unreasonable depression and a tool for seeking unjustified vengeance. Males did nothing but perform in concert with the natural component of the physical and genetic codes of millions of years of evolution. Or if the biblical origination of the species is your belief then men performed as the prime move intended.

These sociological articles are the product of changes to the ego component of the psyche. These articles are purposed to influence the reader with a political effect and would be more credible if the authors would do two things. 1. Give a bio so the reader would be able to evaluate the perspective of the author, 2, tell the audience what they intend the article to achieve.

Articles that dig out of history the most denigrating events by the white males are in contradiction with the denigrating articles by Blacks claiming “systemic white superiority” and “white skin currency.” This article will require revision of the original mantras to be “systemic white MALE superiority” and “white MALE skin currency. But best to check with Kimberly Yancy for permission to exclude white females.

Dwight Burns

Denying history doesn't change it nor does it change the heart of the denier.

David Hardee

No deny of history in my comment. History is the tale of how we got to be the best hope of humanity. That result, being we are the best hope, proves history was in total good. These malcontents should stop wallowing in self-pity and make our future a record of more good results. Moaning about yesterday is not productive.

A good start is to purge the megacities of the anarchist progressive liberals that have produced looting, killings, and slogans for more "kill the cops" mayhem. Quit worrying about the heart and start using some intelligent reasoning.

Dwight Burns

I am fearful of those who want to purge Americans because they don't agree or belong to the same political party and etc....

Samuel Collins III

Galveston native Jessie McGuire-Dent marched in the 1913 Women's Suffrage parade in Washington DC. She was a student at Howard University at the time and a founding member of Delta Sigma Theta. There were 22 founders of DST in January 1913 and they all marched in the March 3rd parade.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-day-the-deltas-marched-into-history/2013/03/01/eabbf130-811d-11e2-b99e-6baf4ebe42df_story.html

Raymond Lewis

Good Sam and thanks for the link.

Ted Gillis

I heard that Donald Trump is considering a presidential pardon for Susan B Anthony.

Diane Turski

Thank you for a timely article reminding everyone not to take for granted any of our rights that have been hard won by our predecessors! We must vote in every election to preserve all of our hard won rights, especially our voting right which is now under renewed attack in this upcoming election! We must continue to persist!

Carlos Ponce

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday [August 18, 2020] said that he would pardon Susan B. Anthony, the women’s suffragist who was arrested after voting illegally in 1872 and charged a $100 fine, as he tried to appeal to female voters on the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment giving them the right to vote.

“She was never pardoned. Did you know that? She was never pardoned,” Mr. Trump said. “What took so long?”

“She was guilty for voting,” Mr. Trump said on Tuesday, “and we’re going to be signing a full and complete pardon.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/18/us/politics/trump-susan-b-anthony-pardon.html

Jim Forsythe

Trump pardoning Anthony, a woman known for fighting for voters’ rights, takes on heavy notes of irony given that 1) he has a history of disrespecting women and 2) he is brazenly attempting to repress voter rights by dismantling the United States Postal Service. Even as he honors a woman who has been dead for over 100 years, he continually derails and treads upon the rights of women now.

Carlos Ponce

As a Christian he is forgiven but Jim never will.

Jim Forsythe

Since the start of his presidency, Trump disbanded the White House Council on Women and Girls, pushed to defund Planned Parenthood and damaged women’s healthcare, revoked an Obama-era fair pay policy, and eliminated policy helping close the gender pay gap. Plus, he has constantly berated women in leadership roles and has been accused of sexual harassment by over 20 women.

Trump may be congratulating himself for pardoning a woman who was wrongly convicted in 1872. He may claim that he has “done more for women than just about any President in history.” But in truth, Trump is doing nothing more than putting on a show to distract critics of the many ways he’s harmed both women’s rights and voting rights — and he’s using a woman who can’t even speak for herself to do it.

Carlos Ponce

The White House Council on Women and Girls was an Obama creation. Trump found the Council "redundant".

"The Trump Administration is committed to advancing women’s equality, seeking to protect the rights of women and girls, and promoting women and youth empowerment programs. The United States Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS Strategy) responds to the Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2017, which President Donald J. Trump signed into law on October 6, 2017."

https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/WPS_Strategy_10_October2019.pdf

David Hardee

Your right Jim. Those programs were federal government intended to benevolent social engineering. They have been in effect for over 60 years.

The government benevolent programs began with the "Great Society" has controlled the education, health, and welfare of society. How did they do? Well USA education ranking is a disaster. The health systems 60 years later are still not settled. And welfare has become the enabler that keeps the poor poor, addicts supplied with addiction needs. Our country's mores were corrupted. Babies are aborted or if they survive are 70% of the time a single parent raised. Sex has become a recreational activity. Movies and music are laced with porn, vulgarity, and calls for committing mayhem "kill the cops).

Government social engineering is destroying ethics, morality, and every tradition that made America the best hope of humanity.

Michele Obama had over 200 personal assistants (friends) on the federal payroll. These friends of Obama's were dithering in the social programs you mention.

Those areas of government you are glorifying are part of the swamp needing draining.

Results is the meter of failure or success. Good intentions without good results is what the progressive liberals gave and will always give. Swallow the Democrats feel-good pill and you deserve having your children corrupted.

Your posting exspose your intellectually able to process and make a conclusion. I can only surmise (guess) you are in a condition you are needy and that is why these programs are attractive. If your not being served by government programs you must be intentionally ignoring the corrupting result. Empathy and a charitable disposition is no excuse for looking at the results to evaluate the worthiness of what is being done.

David

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