The Liz Library presents Irene Stuber's Women of Achievement

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March 11

Compiled and Written by Irene Stuber.

The Husband and Wife Are One


QUOTE by Johnnie Tillman.

Blackstone on Women and the Law

      "Throughout the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, woman was considered a perpetual minor incapable of ownership or of making her own legal decisions. Even a married woman was a nonentity before the law.
      "Sir William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England, (First edition, 1765) may be cited as giving chapter and verse for woman's perpetual legal infancy. This work was the standard textbook for the training of lawyers throughout the English-speaking world up till the twentieth century.
      "It contains this classic statement of the legal position of married women:

'By marriage the husband the wife are one person in law; that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least is incorporated and consolidated into that of her husband...
      'Upon this principle of a union of person in husband and wife depend almost all the legal rights, duties, and disabilities that either of them acquire by the marriage .... "For this reason, a man cannot grant anything to his wife, or enter into covenant with her; for the grant would be to suppose her separate existence, and to covenant with her would only be to covenant with himself; and therefore it is also generally true that all compacts made between husband wife when signed are voided by the inter-marriage (21st ed., London, 1862, Book I, p 441).
      "Blackston's position has been summed up many times: The husband and wife are one and it is the husband."
            -- Excerpted from The Great Ideas, 1966 edition. Ironically, Blackstone lost effectiveness quickly in Britain, but remained THE law in the U.S. for a long time because of the frontier quality of life in the U.S. and the shortage of books.

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B. 03-11-1922, Madeline Houston McWhinnery, founder of the First Women's Bank in New York City, the first full-service U.S. commercial bank to be predominantly owned and operated by women.

B. 03-11-1903, Dorothy Schiff Thackrey, although born to wealth, she bolted the Republican party to engage in social welfare work. In 1939 she bought the New York Post. She wrestled it though the NYC newspaper wars and it lasted as the only daily afternoon paper.

Event 03-11-1903, Der Wald is performed at the Metropolitan Opera. Written by Dame Ethel Mary Smyth, it is the first opera written by a woman to be performed in the US.

Event 03-11-1907, a number of rich and famous women of the day including Mrs. John Jacob Astor, Maude Adams, Ethel Barrymore, Mrs. Walter Damrosch, and Mrs. Harry Payne Whitney opened their own women's club The Colony with a clubhouse at 112 Madison Ave., New York City, the first time women had their own public gathering place.

Event 03-11-1994 - "I just can't stop laughing, I can't stop crying," the reaction of Helen Cunliffe, longtime advocate of the women's priest lobby, when the Church of England voted to ordain women as priests, November 10, 1992. The first women priests were ordained March 11, 1994 and performed their first priestly duties Sunday March 13, 1994, Mother's Day in England.

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      "In this country, if you're one of those things - poor, black, fat, female, middle-aged, on welfare - you count less as a human being. If you're all those things, you don't count at all. Except as a statistic."
            -- Johnnie Tillman

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© 1990-2006 Irene Stuber, Hot Springs National Park, AR 71902. Originally web-published at We are indebted to Irene Stuber for compiling this collection and for granting us permission to make it available again. The text of the documents may be freely copied for nonprofit educational use. Except as otherwise noted, all contents in this collection are © 1998-2009 the liz library.  All rights reserved. This site is hosted and maintained by the liz library.