A sobering history lesson

clip_image001This is the story of women who were ground-breakers. These brave women from the early 1900s made all the difference in the lives we live today. Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.The women were innocent and defenceless, but when, in North America, women picketed in front of the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote, they were jailed.And by the end of the first night in jail, those women were barely alive.Forty  prison guards wielding clubs and their warden’s blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of ‘obstructing sidewalk  traffic.’
They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and leftclip_image002 her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed  her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the  women. Thus unfolded the ‘Night of Terror’ on Nov. 15,  1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson’s White House for the right to vote.For weeks, the women’s only water came from an open pail. Their food–all of it colorless slop–was infested with worms.                                                                                                                                                   clip_image003 

 

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When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.All women who have ever voted, have ever owned property, have ever enjoyed equal rights need to remember that women’s rights had to be fought for in Canada as well.  Do our daughters and our sisters know the price that was paid to earn rights for women here, in North America ?   2009 is the 80th Anniversary of the Persons Case in Canada, which finally declared women in Canada to be Persons!
Please, if you are so inclined, pass this on to all the women you know, so that we remember to celebrate the rights we enjoy.“Factual Knowledge is Freedom: hide it, and it withers; share it, and it blooms” P. Hill. 

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2 Responses

  1. Thank you so much for reminding us of the awful treatment and hardships these women had to endure. It seems like what we are taught about them is such a sanitized story: they got together, put on their pretty white dresses with the purple sashes, marched, and voila, they got to vote. I am ashamed to say that although I supported the ERA and was a member of NOW at a fairly young age, it was not until I saw a documentary on PBS a decade or so later that I had even an inkling of what these women went through. And Woodrow Wilson is always presented as such a decent man — he was really nothing more than the forerunner of Obama where women are concerned.

    • Many women today forget how much women went through to get them the vote- some do not even bother to exercise their right or if they do – they do so without knowing what they are voting for. If everyone who casts a vote – voting for the freedoms this country was founded on – – if everyone first read the Constitution – we could get back to what this country was meant to be minus that they left out women and blacks.

      BettyJean Kling M.S, M. Ed Founder: The Majority United http://www.TheMajorityUnited.com http://www.FreeMeNow.wordpress BTR. The Majority United Radio Founder: Free US Now- “A victim’s first scream is for help; a victim’s second scream is for justice.” – Coral Anika Theill

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