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Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014

Looking back to 1917

Posted Tuesday, September 23, 2008, at 7:43 AM

(Photo)
How dare they?? The year was 1917, and Woodrow Wilson was President of the U.S. Several courageous women moved outside the comfortable confines of their homes to demonstrate for the right to vote. The results were appalling.
My hummingbird blog will just have to wait a day or two - I've recently received the most fascinating information and photos from the year 1917, when women in the U.S. were campaigning to get the vote. Like many of today's women, I hadn't really thought about what women had to go through to be recognized as thinking citizens who had the same rights as men.

I remember being shocked when I read "To Kill a Mockingbird," an autobiographical story which took place around 1935, and realized that women weren't allowed on juries during that period of time.

It's been a struggle, and I don't know if I could have done what these trailblazing women did "back in the day..."

The women in the photo were our grandmothers and great-grandmothers; they lived only 91 years ago. It was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote. Like many other causes through the centuries, the struggle wasn't easy.

Women during that period were wives and mothers with no experience in political organizing. They came forward, innocent and unprepared for the fury that would be unleashed on them. I look through the old photographs and am impressed by the calm and serenity in their faces, when I consider the horrible things which happened to them.

On the "Night of Terror," November 15, 1917, 33 women were jailed for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote. By the end of the night, they were fighting for their lives.

With the approval of their warden, forty prison guards wielding clubs went on a rampage against the women, who were accused of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.'

They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left 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. Alice Cosu, Dora's cell mate, 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, as their ordeal stretched into weeks.

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.

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.

In February and March of 1919, just one year before women won the right to vote, 26 of the women who were imprisoned on that awful night in November, 1917, gathered together to tour the country on a cross-country speaking tour called the "Prison Special." Their stories describing their experiences as political prisoners must have had an important effect on their listeners, as the law was passed the next year.

An HBO movie entitled "Iron-Jawed Angels" is being released on video and DVD and is being described as "a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged."

I haven't yet seen the film, but one reviewer says, "It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.

The doctor's quote is indicative of those early years of the women's rights movement: "Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity."

Wow!

Here are some links if you're interested in reading more about this topic:

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/...

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/...

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/...

We have an election coming up soon. No matter how you vote - This story is a good reminder of why we should make the effort to do so.


Comments
Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

We had a Night of Terror one time. I believe it was in Michigan opening up for Alice Cooper. I swear I thought he really cut his head off on stage and then after that, some guy gets on stage and acts like he is stabbing Alice. That is my definition of Terror right there.

-- Posted by shannonhoon on Tue, Sep 23, 2008, at 9:26 AM

Another rousing horror story from the Hoon Journals...

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Sep 23, 2008, at 11:02 AM

Madeline, I thought maybe the account of the "Night of Terror" and the events in its aftermath is another Internet exaggeration. But I found it isn't.

I found that Project Gutenberg has a first-person book written in 1920 by Doris Stevens, one of the women involved in the protest and imprisonment. The book is "Jailed for Freedom" by Doris Stevens (New York: Liveright Publishing, 1920. The book can be read, printed or downloaded at no cost from the following link:

http://womenshistory.about.com/gi/dynami...

(The first several pages are legal mumbo-jumbo, so just go down until you get to the text. (If you have a heart-attack while reading the book the Gutenberg Project isn't responsible, etc.))

-- Posted by FJGuy on Tue, Sep 23, 2008, at 1:25 PM

FJ, how do we know which form to download?

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Sep 23, 2008, at 1:37 PM

MD, I check and Google Books has a complete photo copy of "Jailed for Freedom" by Doris Stevens available to be read online at, http://books.google.com/books?id=3eQm9wZ...

Or you can download the complete book in PDF format (includes pictures, etc.) at, http://forejustice.org/books/jailed_for_... (It is a large 8 meg file so it will take a while with a dial-up connection)

-- Posted by FJGuy on Tue, Sep 23, 2008, at 2:18 PM

GL, If you have an option of which Format to download, choose "Plain text." That is the smallest file size and a plain text file can be loaded by any word processor.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Tue, Sep 23, 2008, at 2:26 PM

Pretty amazing how much has changed in less than a century. Sure made life better for those of us who came along later on. I love hearing and reading about historical events.

-- Posted by SKDellinger on Tue, Sep 23, 2008, at 2:45 PM

Thanks, FJ!

So true,Sk.....It's hard to imagine that conditions were like that as late as 1920. I do so admire those women!

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Sep 23, 2008, at 3:48 PM

Today I ordered "Iron Jawed Angels," starring Hillary Swank. Amazon.com $9.99, DVD.

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Sep 23, 2008, at 6:30 PM

Women are still treated in less than an equal manner today and some of it I have noticed comes from their own gender.

I assume of course that this is partially because of the difference in the way we as society expect girls to be raised and taught.

In a whole lot of ways, whats good for the goose is not yet good for the gander.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Tue, Sep 23, 2008, at 6:36 PM

Mmmm...I wonder just what women you could be talking about??? Someone in politics, perhaps??

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Sep 23, 2008, at 9:08 PM

I remember the Red Baron...cool dude.

-- Posted by Jim Morrison on Wed, Sep 24, 2008, at 1:31 AM

??? Ooookaaaay.......

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Sep 24, 2008, at 5:08 PM

Boy, that old photo really gives this blog BLING!

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Sep 24, 2008, at 5:53 PM

GL, I found the official site for "Iron Jawed Angels" at, http://iron-jawed-angels.com There is a lot of info on the site, including a forum (aka Blog). Someone asked where the title came from, and the answer was: "The somewhat unusually sounding title "Iron Jawed Angels" refers to a nickname the press at that time gave the women's rights activists who were on hunger strike and who had to be force-fed with metal clamps and rubber tubes." They literally had to pry the women's jaws apart to stuff a tube down their throat to feed them a liquid gruel.

There is also a website for Alice Paul, http://alicepaul.org The Alice Paul Institute is very active with many activities throughout the year. Her home in New Jersey has been restored and is known as Paulsdale. She was obviously a tough cookie who lived by something her mother told her: "When you put your hand to the plow, you can't put it down until you get to the end of the row."

-- Posted by FJGuy on Wed, Sep 24, 2008, at 6:22 PM

Cool!

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Sep 24, 2008, at 9:21 PM

No, i am not talking about an individual. I am more concerned in general with how women as a whole are viewed and treated, specifically by other women. Just think of how different the reaction would have been if a woman President had been caught having an affair with a young male intern instead of Bill Clinton with the young lady. Impeachment would probably have been the least of her worries and the same women who defended Clinton would have been at the fore front calling for a burning at the stake.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Wed, Sep 24, 2008, at 9:50 PM

Mmm...you're saying that women are harder on their own sex than they are on men. Well, yes, that's probably true. I remember noticing that when I was younger. Now that I'm older, I don't see it as clearly as I did when I felt like I was the target.

Oops, does that mean that I am now one of those mean-spirited old biddies???

-- Posted by goat lady on Thu, Sep 25, 2008, at 7:48 AM

I don't know if you are a mean spirited old biddie or not but I will bet that if you have male and female grandkids the acceptable conduct standards are different. Why?

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Thu, Sep 25, 2008, at 8:39 AM

Behavior standards? I don't think so. Do you mean that if one of my grandsons has sex, I won't take it as seriously as if a granddaughter did the same thing?

That's been the perennial double standard, since the girls get pregnant...

-- Posted by goat lady on Thu, Sep 25, 2008, at 4:48 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
My Seattle Connection just sent me a new photo of women demonstrating in Seattle during the 20's, plus, a COOL NEW PALIN photo!!! Must get them posted soon!! Hahahaha! I love these blogs!!

This is so nice that she put this blog on the dailystatesman. It reaches many people and people need to realize this because some people don't.

-- Posted by 20 on Sat, Sep 27, 2008, at 1:07 PM

That is just one example GL. It is that way with most everything if you think about it. Boys are just being boys and girls will be called whatever and ridiculed.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Sat, Sep 27, 2008, at 6:40 PM

I.B. I whole-heartedly understand just what you mean. If my boys are expected to stay clean because I've just dressed them for a (as an example) Christmas event, it's said by even their grandparents that they're just being boys when they lag through the mud...but had my friend's girls done the same...they'd have been put in the corner because girls aren't supposed to get dirty.

I'm a tom boy, I love to get dirty, I don't like purses and make-up, and I can't imagine what people would have thought of me back in 1917! I love the freedoms that I posess today...couldn't imagine being without them! And had I been raised by my mom instead of my dad, I'm sure I'd be different, as she was a very clean, lady-like woman. There again, even though I'm more than qualified to do certain "male-oriented" jobs, I'm still passed over, no matter how much more qualified I am than them. So yes, I.B., we are still held down in many ways!

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Sat, Sep 27, 2008, at 9:23 PM

I have just discovered this item and found it horrifying to say the least.

I appreciate that this correspondence is pretty well dead but I must take issue with one detail.

The fourth paragraph of the item states "It was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls".By inference this suggests that this was a first.

I am sure you mean "women in the U.S."

Women in New Zealand started voting on 11.28.1893, some 27 years earlier.

-- Posted by wartz on Tue, Jan 20, 2009, at 2:40 AM

I.B.--I'm glad you stated the possibility that a woman could be president. I think the response to an inappropriate encounter of EITHER gender is a big deal--a big deal between the people directly involved. I don't always need to know the intimate details the media so thrills to circulate. My idea is this, though I really wish this incident could be left alone: The president was set-up by a girl who wanted to be known for something. There are children who will "act out" for attention, even negative attention. These children grow up--and they are the ones who crave attention or fame. They have no qualms about setting up someone who will put them in the news. Why not seek the attention of the entire country by enticing the president? It was wrong for both parties involved, but I must reiterate--it was not necessary that the entire world see the suffering of the families involved. Clinton's wife and daughter chose to forgive and move forward. Shouldn't the rest of the world do the same? This incident needs to be put away, yet I'm not naive. There will always be someone who has to bring it to the forefront. It was a mistake. Are WE big enough to put it behind us? I am.

-- Posted by GONENOW on Tue, Jan 20, 2009, at 8:10 PM


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Madeline DeJournett
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net or by phone at 573-722-5322.
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