HOW OUR MOTHERS, GRANDMOTHERS AND GREAT GRANDMOTHERS FOUGHT FOR OUR RIGHT TO VOTE

Information disseminated via email through League of Women Voters, Prince William Unit, Prince William County, VA.

(With thanks to Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt.)

This is the story of our Grandmothers and Great-grandmothers; they lived only 90 years ago.

img_0

Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

 


img_1

 

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote.

 


 

img_2

Lucy Burns
And by the end of the night, they 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 left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.


 

Dora Lewis

Dora Lewis
They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cell mate, 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.

 


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.

 


Woodrow Wilson and his cronies tried to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. The doctor refused. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.

 


The doctor admonished the men: 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.'

 


Some women won't vote this year because–why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining?

 


If for no other reason, vote out of respect for ANY of those who have suffered for our rights to do so.

___________________________