Since days of old, women have had to grovel and beg for every bit of freedom that we in America enjoy today. I wonder as I look around the country if our young women have any idea of the pain and suffering it took for them to have the right to vote; for them to have a voice in the ways of the world.
From 1908 to 1917, women in both the United States and Britain suffered unconscionable brutality at the hands of those in power. It was an ugly, beautiful poetic time in history. These women were known as suffragettes.
“A vote given in deciding a controverted question or electing a person for an office or trust.” ~ Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Lucy Burns and Alice Paul, the founders of the Silent Sentinels and National Women’s Party were key players in our right to vote, and they stand in the hallowed halls of history as Giants Among Women. They earned that title without reproach. While protesting their rights outside the gates of the White House (Woodrow Wilson), they were subsequently arrested on charges of:
Inciting unlawful assemblage
It’s estimated 1,000 women were thrown into jails in America and Great Britain, from 1900 to the beginning of World War I (1917). While in the jails, old women were beaten and put into rat-infested cells. One was shackled with her arms above her head all night long. They demanded to be held as political prisoners. When their demands were not met, they staged hunger strikes, where Lucy Burns was force fed through a tube in her nose; many others were force fed raw eggs and milk. And still, they fought on with courage and perseverance.
In 1918, a federal judge overturned the convictions of the Silent Sentinels, ruling that their peaceful picketing outside the White House was political speech protected under the First Amendment.
One woman changed the course of history in America:
Phoebe Ensminger Burn, Miss Febb, as she was known to her family, was the mother of Representative Harry Burn of Tennessee. He was a young man of 24 years. The vote for ratification of the 19th Amendment of the United States Constitution was in his hands. His mother, simply wrote him a note:
“Hurrah, and vote for suffrage! Don’t keep them in doubt. I notice some of the speeches against. They were bitter. I have been watching to see how you stood, but have not noticed anything yet. Be a good boy and help Mrs. Catt put the ‘rat’ in ratification.”
It is important that we understand that women once had the respect and admiration of men, especially sons to their mothers, and husbands to their wives. Many times in the course of American history, women whispered in the ears of their sons or husbands and changed everything: Eleonore Roosevelt, Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, and Phoebe Ensminger Burn. The power of women goes far beyond the picket line. It is held in the household, the places of worship, the home and even in politics. However, it takes a very strong woman to wield this type of power.
The election of 2016 in the United States is an important one. It doesn’t matter which side you take, however you must not let the Giants Among Women’s fight be in vain. We as the Women of America, the Birthers of a Nation, must stand up and cast our vote this election. To do anything less would be a travesty against humanity.