Monthly Archives: May 2013

The awakening of Elizabeth Cady Stanton –inspecting law books: Part II

Daniel Cady

Daniel Cady, Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s father.

by Elizabeth Cady Stanton

The tears and complaints of the women who came to my father for legal advice touched my heart, and early drew my attention to the injustice and cruelty of the laws. As the practice of the law was my father’s business, I could not exactly understand why he could not alleviate the sufferings of these women.

So, in order to enlighten me, he would take down his books and show me the inexorable statutes. The students, observing my interest, would amuse themselves by reading to me all the worst laws they could find, over which I would laugh and cry by turns. One Christmas morning I went into the office to show them my present of a new coral necklace and bracelet. They all admired the jewelry, and then began to tease me with hypothetical cases of future ownership. “Now,” said Henry Bayard, “if in due time you should be my wife, those ornaments would be mine. I could take them and lock them up, and you could never wear them except with my permission. I could even exchange them for a cigar, and you could watch them evaporate in smoke.”

HER CHILDHOOD RESOLVE TO CUT THE NASTY LAWS FROM THE BOOKS

With this constant bantering from students, and the sad complaints of women clients, my mind was sorely perplexed. So when, from time to time, my attention was called to these odious laws, I would mark them with a pencil, and becoming more and more convinced of the necessity of taking some active measures against these unjust provisions, I resolved to seize the first opportunity, when alone in the office, to cut every one of them out of the books; supposing my father and his library were the beginning and the end of the law.

However, this mutilation of his volumes was never accomplished, for dear old FloraCampbell, to whom I confided my plan for the amelioration of her wrongs, warned my father of what I proposed to do. Without letting me know that he had discovered my secret, he explained to me one evening how laws were made, the large number of lawyers and libraries there were all over the state, and that if his library should burn up it would make no difference in woman’s condition.

“When you are grown up, and able to prepare a speech,” said he, “you must go down to Albany and talk to the legislators; tell them all you have seen in this office — the sufferings of these Scotchwomen, robbed of their inheritance and left dependent on their unworthy sons, and, if you can persuade them to pass new laws, the old ones will be a dead letter.”  Thus was the future object of my life suggested and my duty plainly outlined by him who was most opposed to my public career when, in due time, it was entered upon.”

SOURCE:  Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s memoir. Information about Daniel Cady, Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s father.

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Suffrage News Alert and Tara Bloyd reviews “Marching with Aunt Susan”

NEWS ALERT: Two suffrage programs on UK television. One is a documentary on suffragette Emily Davison TODAY that can be viewed online. Details soon. The other show is a three-episode suffrage sitcom, “Up the Women” (see trailer) that starts this coming Thursday, May 30th. See overview and episode summaries: #1, #2, #3. And now for Suffrage Bookshelf:

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Marching With Aunt Susan: Susan B. Anthony and the Fight for Women’s Suffrage, by Claire Rudolph Murphy, illustrated by Stacey Schuett.  2011: Peachtree Publishers.

Review by Tara Bloyd

I thoroughly enjoyed Marching With Aunt Susan.  Based on the 1896 campaign in California, the book focuses on events in the life of an actual ten-year-old girl, Bessie Keith Pond.  In this story, Bessie’s belief in the suffrage cause is precipitated by two closely-related events: her father refuses to take her hiking with her older brothers because “strenuous exercise is not for girls,” and her mother suggests helping with a suffrage tea instead.

SUSAN B. ANTHONY,  NOT OLD AND CRABBY AT ALL

Looking at a newspaper picture of Susan B. Anthony, Bessie thinks the suffrage leader looks old and crabby; she soon learns differently, though, and is inspired by Anthony’s statement that “Women’s votes can help change the world.”  Bessie attends rallies, works in the suffrage office, visits a factory where young women work in poor conditions, marches in a parade, and more.   I found the story, told in first person, compelling.

The book tells of the long, dedicated quest for votes for women, and is all the more poignant because it concentrates on an unsuccessful aspect of the long campaign.  Bessie is lucky because her family is supportive – her aunt was a leader in both campaigns, her father buys her a new white dress when hers is destroyed by an egg splattered on it during a march and realizes over the course of the book that Bessie should be able to go hiking with the family, her mother is in a position to host teas honoring and attended by Anthony, etc.

But even from her privileged position Bessie still faces challenges: her friend’s father rules the family and won’t let her participate in marches, onlookers at the march both verbally and physically heckle participants, Bessie talks with factory girls her own age, and, of course, California’s men vote against suffrage.

REALISTIC, NOT SIMPLISTIC VIEW OF THE STRUGGLE

I appreciate that the book shows a realistic view of the struggle and how important it was to not give up even after major setbacks; Bessie’s mother is determined to learn how to ride a bike after the defeat (because “Aunt Susan says that a bicycle gives a woman freedom”). And the book ends with Bessie suggesting to her father: “Sunday there’s a rally for the next suffrage campaign.  Come march with Mama and Me.”

The richly-colored illustrations are expressive and enjoyable and definitely add to the story.  Even though it’s a picture book, Marching with Aunt Susan doesn’t talk down to readers.   The historical information in the back of the book tells quite a lot in a fairly limited space: we learn about Bessie’s life, about California’s suffrage campaign and suffrage history in general, and about Susan B. Anthony’s life and work.

The section of Further Resources for Young Readers includes book and website recommendations, and photographs and copies of various documents are both on the endpapers and scattered through the historical information.   I strongly recommend adding Marching With Aunt Susan to any suffrage library, and I think it would be an excellent introduction to the suffrage movement for any children who find stories more interesting than facts.  (Wouldn’t that be almost all of them?)

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The suffrage shop for the WPU: Part II, by Kenneth Florey

In the spring of 1914, suffrage leader Harriot Stanton Blatch continued experimenting with various forms of publicizing suffrage and purchased a used, horse-drawn van, with the intention of converting it into a roving shop. The van was moved from place to place every few days, and sold a variety of suffrage literature and memorabilia such as colorful buttons, pencils, ribbons, and even suffrage cigarettes.

“Votes for Women” cigarettes caused considerable controversy within the movement when the WPU announced earlier that they would be selling them at the grand opening of their headquarters in December 1910.  Many suffragists were strongly opposed to the use of tobacco, and condemned its sale in any form. The WPU version, however, was made of chocolate, a fact that was kept secret until opening day in order to create publicity through controversy.  The cigarettes sold from the wagon were also probably made of chocolate.

The WPU wagon shop carried on the format of its stationary predecessor in that it served both as a retail establishment and as a platform for speakers.  A side of the van folded out to allow a small platform to be let down, much in the manner of a drawbridge. Speakers emerged from the van, bringing the message of suffrage to various parts of the city.

Blatch explained to the press, “Young people move; the shop will move; democracy moves . . . youth harnessed to democracy is certainly a winner.” The shop apparently attracted many working women and men, one of Blatch’s main goals when she had organized the Equality League in 1907. As the suffrage movement became more and more popular among society women in New York, Blatch did not want to forget about workers, and the van became a way of reaching them.

The roving shop had but a limited shelf life, however. In late 1914, it was abandoned for a more permanent site, a shop on New York City’s famous Fifth Avenue.  Management of the shop became one of the prized positions in the WPU, and was held by some of the wealthiest of New York socialites, including Vera Whitehouse, Louisine Havemeyer, and Helen Rogers Reid.  Still, the wagon had achieved various successes. Its value was a form of visual rhetoric was enormous.  Articles about it in such papers as The New York Times gave valuable publicity to suffrage, as many in the general public eagerly awaited its appearance in their neighborhoods.

Image: WPU suffrage wagon shop. From Library of Congress.

If you have an email subscription, chances are that you’re missing out on a lot of the colorful photos, graphics, and videos available on the suffragewagon.org site.  If so, play us a visit. Also, check out Kenneth Florey’s web site on suffrage memorabilia.

Suffragette Emily Davison still controversial after 100 years

Centennial of death of Emily DavisonOne hundred years ago English suffragette Emily Davison stepped in front of the king’s horse at the Derby to draw attention to the long and difficult campaign to win the vote. Emily Davison’s death remains newsworthy and controversial today. Because of the upcoming centennial of Davison’s death in June 2013, a great deal is appearing in the UK media about this topic and all of its variations. This film clip of the Derby race and Emily’s demonstration from the UK archives is easily accessible online.

Emily Davison’s great-great-great niece, Lauren Caisley, recently attended a ceremony to unveil a plaque at the racetrack where Emily stepped into the path of the king’s horse as a Votes for Women demonstration (PDF). Dr. Helen Pankhurst, the great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, and her daughter also attended the ceremony. A descendant of the jockey who rode the King’s horse that killed Davison has even emerged to speak publicly about the suffragette; the family has been silent (with one exception) all these years.

Here’s a sampling of postings about Emily Davison and the centennial: Upcoming TV special. #1. #2. No moment of silence at the Derby in memory of Emily Davidson. #1. #2.  Special tea lunch in Emily’s honor scheduled. #1.  BBC coverage of Emily Davidson centennial. #1. #2.  Is there more to the story of Emily Davidson? #1. #2. An overview of the suffrage movement in England. #1. #2. Art work planned for Emily Davison. #1. #2.   Emily Davison play. #1. #2. Emily fund. #1. #2.  Emily Davison exhibit. #1. #2. 

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The WPU and its Suffrage Wagon Shop: Part I

by Kenneth Florey

The Women’s Political Union was organized in 1910 by Harriot Stanton Blatch, daughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. It evolved out of her earlier Equality League of Self-Supporting Women, created in 1907 to provide working women with a voice in their own lives.  The Union eventually became incorporated within Alice Paul’s Congressional Union in 1915, later renamed the National Woman’s Party.

In creating the WPU, Blatch was strongly influenced by the organization’s English namesake, Emmeline Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political Union. To a degree, she emulated Pankhurst’s more assertive tactics, relying on marches, demonstrations, colorful buttons and sashes, and other forms of visual rhetoric to achieve the aims of the movement.

Most other suffrage organizations in America at that time were more conservative in their methods, some leaders even fearing that it was out of place for women to engage in public demonstrations until Blatch and Paul began to achieve success. Blatch borrowed not only the name of her Union from Pankhurst’s, but also copied its official colors of purple green and white, which created far more visual impact than the subdued yellow of the National Woman Suffrage Association. One of her buttons records Pankhurst’s famous slogan, “Deeds Not Words.”

Blatch very early on saw, as did the leadership of the WSPU, that merchandising the movement could contribute significantly in advancing its aims, In July of 1910, the Equality League, prior to its transformation into the Union later that year, erected a suffrage newsstand in front of its headquarters at 43 East Twenty-Second Street in New York City, where members sold suffrage ribbons, buttons, and post cards, as well as suffrage tracts. In addition to serving as a source of income, the newsstand gave a strong visual presence of suffrage to passersby, serving as a clever form of advertising for both the Union and the movement, even for those who had no interest in purchasing anything.

Later in 1913, the WPU experimented with another form of suffrage shop located outside of its headquarters, and rented a downtown storefront in New York City, where a daily program of suffrage speeches and events took place. Most other suffrage organizations such as NAWSA either had or were eventually to establish their own suffrage shops, but these generally were maintained inside of headquarters; the WPU shop, on the other hand, was a separate entity, allowing for all sorts of display possibilities in its windows to attract the public. . .

COMING SOON: Part II of Ken’s article on suffrage wagons, plus new video from his postcard collection featuring horse-drawn suffrage wagons. Check out Ken’s web site. His book on suffrage memorabilia is due for publication in 2013. Image above: Library of Congress.

Motorcycle ride to Seneca Falls: May News Notes

MotorcycleYou’d think the article wasn’t important: the news that greenhouse gas has reached a high never before encountered by humans! It appeared yesterday on page 5 in my local paper. Two million years ago was the last time greenhouse gas levels were this high.

COMING SOON: Suffrage Wagon columnist Tara Bloyd launches a letter writing campaign about sustainability issues of concern to the entire planet. Let’s receive the torch from our suffrage ancestors and carry on their work.

Highlights of suffrage news: UN staff travels to Seneca Falls, NY on motorcycles to bring attention to this historic site in the “cradle” of the women’s rights movement in the US. #1. #2. The 24th annual Elizabeth Cady Stanton Conference on Youtube. Illinois has its suffrage centennial. #1. #2. Summer suffrage centennial celebration. #1. #2. New play: “The Shrieking Sisters” in Ireland. #1. #2. Highlighting an Australian suffragist. #1. #2.  Interviewing one’s grandmother. #1. #2. Helen Hunt and her suffragist great-great grandmother. #1. #2. The ongoing women’s rights and suffrage quilt project features Theodore Roosevelt. #1. #2. An overview of what happened with One Billion Rising. #1. #2.  New Zealand suffrage memorial stirring controversy. #1. #2.  Scotland honoring its women. #1. #2. Wikipedia coverage of women. #1. #2.  Pushback on Pakistani women voters. #1. #2.

SusanB_LargeWideDon’t you just love it when Susan B. Anthony believes in a new cause in 2013? This letter places Aunt Susan in history. #1. #2.  We need a few laughs. Here, Peter Feinman recommends that historic sites be abolished in blog article published in New York History. #1. #2. More news notes coming this month.

More News NotesSuffrage Wagon has an archive of news and features you may have missed. In one click, you can catch up. New videos on the way. Current videos highlight suffrage organizing on Long Island and NYC. Visit our Suffrage Wagon magazine platform.

Photo at top of column by Sporty Driver.

NEXT TIME: Horse-drawn wagons in the suffrage movement! (a continuing series)

Suffrage movement gets wheels: Part II

by Kenneth Florey

Suffragists in America also promoted automobile tours as a way of advertising “Votes for Women.” The most famous trip was that of Alice Snitzer Burke and Nell Richardson in 1916.  The pair left New York on April 6, accompanied by their new kitten called “Mascot,” to make a circuit of the United States on behalf of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

The Saxon Motor Company donated their car, and NAWSA arranged for their expenses and entertainment along the way. They reached San Francisco in June.  In reporting on their activities to the delegates at NAWSA’s annual convention in September in Atlantic City, Esther Ogden exuded delight in recounting the dangers and depredations the pair faced along the way.  They crossed a desert and traveled through the Bad Lands of the Northwest.  They were along the Mexican border during the raids, and their car had to be pulled out of the river during floods.  In all of this, they maintained their courage and were able to elicit nationwide newspaper coverage for the movement.

By the time Burke and Richardson had returned to New York later in the year, Mascot had grown from a kitten to a cat.  The Saxon Company picked up on their success and featured the two in a magazine advertisement headed “Two Noted Suffragists Travel 10,000 Miles in a Saxon Roadster.” While the ad did note that the journey proved the “ease” with which the car could be handled, it also demonstrated that the car, and, by implication, women, could surmount “every obstacle of road and weather.”

Suffrage auto trip across countryNAWSA issued a post card that pictured Burke and Richardson in their “Golden Flier” Saxon, with the names of some of the cities they had visited painted on the side of the car. Although some conservative suffragists maintained that they wanted the right to vote and nothing more, it is clear that the issue of the franchise was not an isolated one but part of a larger tapestry of social change and a re-clarification of the roles of men and women in our culture.

Part I of the suffrage auto story by Kenneth Florey that you may have missed!

NEW VIDEO: Automobiles used in the suffrage movement, with photos from the postcard collection of author Kenneth Florey, as well as the Library of Congress. Ken’s book on suffrage memorabilia is due for publication in 2013. Suffrage Wagon has a YouTube channel that specializes in short feature videos about the movement.

COMING SOON: The centennial of Emily Davison, English suffrage martyr. The case is still controversial after 100 years!