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August 26

Compiled and Written by Irene Stuber
who is solely responsible for its content.
This version of Women of Achievement has been taken
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The full text of this episode of Women of Achievement and Herstory
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August 26, 1920


QUOTE by Carrie Chapman Catt.

August 26, 1920


      I cannot keep back tears whenever I write about this day in 1920.
      We who possess the right to vote and direct the actions of our country from birth hold our rights so casually. Can you imagine what it must have been like eighty years ago when women, for the first time in this nation s history, became true citizens of the United States?
      On the day the 19th Amendment was approved in 1920, a reporter went to Mrs. Charlotte Woodward, then past 90, the only living person to remember that day in 1948 in Seneca Falls when it all started with the first Women s Rights Convention in history:

      "I do clearly remember the wonderful beauty of the early morning when we dropped all our allotted tasks and climbed into the family wagon to drive over the rough roads to Seneca Falls. At first we traveled quite alone under the overhanging tree branches and wild vines, but before we had gone many miles we came on other wagonloads of women, bound in the same direction. As we reached different crossroads, we saw wagons coming from every part of the country, and long before we reached Seneca Falls we were a procession . . ."

      All the original leaders for woman s suffrage had fallen before the battle was won. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone and so many more had died without realizing their dreams... Hundreds, thousands of women who gave most of their lives for us also passed on with only their faith in the eventual triumph of justice for women.

      Carrie Chapman Catt, who with such brilliant organizational and political skills, led U.S. women and her 3.5 MILLION member NAWSA (National American Woman s Suffrage Association) to victory in the largest civil rights movement of our nation's history summed up the battle:

"To get the word `male' out of the constitution cost the women of this country 52 years of pauseless campaigning
      "... During that time they were forced to conduct 56 campaigns of referenda to male votes,
      "480 campaigns to get legislature to submit suffrage amendments to votes,
      "47 campaigns to get state constitutional conventions to write woman suffrance into state constitutions,
    "277 campaigns to get state party conventions to include woman suffrage planks,
      "30 campaigns to get Presidential party conventions to adopt woman suffrage planks to party platforms and "19 successive campaigns with 19 successive Congresses."

      Seventy-five years ago today, CCC, who was being saluted as the greatest woman of her generation - some writers in 1920 calling her the greatest women in the history of this nation, added:

      "I have lived to realize the great dream of my life - the enfranchisement of women.
      "We are no longer petitioners,
      "We are not the wards of the nation, but "Free and equal citizens."

      Today, in the mysterious ways of HIStory, few know who Carrie Chapman Catt was - and fewer still recognize the brilliant POLITICAL strategy that won women the vote... not parades, not sit-ins, not hunger strikes...
      To get the rest of our human rights women today must realize that they must enter the political arena, not just the voting booth.

      Following the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which had been finally backed by both political parties through the amazing arm-twisting by Carrie Chapman Catt and her 3.5 member army of the NAWSA.
      Trained as lobbyists, publicists, and political experts, the NAWSA women actually bearded the politicians in their offices, in the hall of Congress, appeared at all their social gatherings to discuss and influence the men towards woman's suffrage.
      The lobbyists were knowledgeable, professionally prominent women who could reason with the politicians on equal terms. Their strategies and actions - the complex inner machinations and cooperation - have been the most suppressed because it was successful.

It is a bold blueprint for political change.
      Instead, HIStorians focus on the protests that often stiffened the resolve of the opposition rather than the strategies that won.
      The NAWSA president was generous with her thanks after victory, saying to the Republicans:

      "Ratification at this date would not have been achieved without your conscientious and understanding help. I wish also to express our gratitude to the Republican party for its share in the final enfranchisement of the women..."

To the Democrats she wrote,

"There is one important Democratic factor which should be included in the record and that is the fearless and able sponsorship of the amendment by the leader of your party, the President of the United States (Woodrow Wilson)..."

But CCC couldn't help lecturing and warning them both:

      "Women owe much to both political parties but to neither do they owe so much that they need feel themselves obligated to support that party if conscience and judgment dictate otherwise.
      "[Women's] political freedom at this time is due to the tremendous sentiment and pressure produced by their own unceasing activities over a period of three generations.
      "Had either party lived up to the high ideals of our nation and courageously taken the stand for right and justice as against time-serving, vote-winning policies of delay, women would have been enfranchised long ago... If, however, neither of the dominant parties has made as clean and progressive a record as its admirers could have wished, there is no question but that individual men of both parties have given heroic service to the cause of woman suffrage and this has been true in every state, those which ratified and those which rejected."

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B. 08-26-1827, Annie Turner Wittenmeyer who spent at least $130,000 of her own money and personally carried food and supplies to the front as well as to wounded soldiers in hospitals during the Civil War. She developed special diet kitchens for army hospitals because the food was so bad.

B. 08-26-1873, May Lamberton Becker, author and director of the Reader's Guide and New York Tribune books, was an amazing researcher with a prodigious memory. Her mother taught to support the family and used some of the most advanced progressive methods when privately instructing her daughter (and her granddaughter).

B. 08-26-1874, Zona Gale was the first woman to have a play on Broadway and the first woman to win the Pulitzer (1921) for drama. An ardent feminist and activist. Her writing style evolved throughout her life and her later works appear to be the works of a different writer.

B. 08-26-1908, Cynthia Clark Wedel, Episcopal churchwoman, first woman president of the National Council of Churches in Christ in USA (1969- 72).

Event 08-26-1920: U.S. Secretary of State receives official notification that the two-thirds of the states have ratified the 19th Amendment and declares it the law of the land. U.S. women for the FIRST time in history are made part of the U.S. constitution and are guaranteed by federal law the right to vote.
      Although never forbidden by the constitution, women were not allowed to vote by state and congressional laws and tradition. The 19th Amendment overrides all laws restricting women s right to vote.
      "Women are no longer petitioners,
      "We are no longer the wards of the nation, but free and equal citizens."
(Carrie Chapman Catt)
      Mostly ignored by the politicians and media, this day is officially known as Women's Equality Day.

B. 08-26-1935, Geraldine Ferraro who in 1984 became the first woman ever nominated for the vice presidency of the United States by a major political party.

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      "Women have suffered an agony of soul which you can never comprehend, that you and your daughters might inherit political freedom.
      "That vote has been costly.
      "Prize it."
            -- Carrie Chapman Catt, November, 1920.

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