by Marguerite Kearns
Day #3. For the past two days I’ve been sharing some background about the suffrage movement as we move forward toward November 15th, the “Night of Terror.” Notice how we’re easing into the subject matter. The topic can be a rocky road at some points. So buckle your seat belt. Some audio podcasts are stored in my back pocket to share with you this posting.
After dragging you from the White House gates (with the music video) to the workhouse (YouTube), it’s time to lighten things up. Let me introduce you to my grandmother, Edna Kearns. Here she is, over to the left. We’ll hang out with Grandmother Edna a few minutes. No doubt she’ll tell you it wasn’t long before she was in the thick of the suffrage movement action in New York City and then off picketing the White House in 1917. Many of my friends and associates have adopted Edna as their own grandmother because she represents our collective grandmothers and great grandmothers and family members who were involved in the movement. They made it possible for us to vote. Make sure you get to the polls Tuesday. Winning the franchise was no small accomplishment.
This is my third day blogging in honor of the “Night of Terror” observance on November 15th, a partnership with Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association. Turning Point Suffragist Memorial has a web site and blog. You can also follow on Twitter and Facebook. There’s a lot of activity going on at Turning Point’s Twitter while it must seem like Suffrage Wagon is more like a classroom. Just the background, folks! Then we’ll get into the thick of things!
Let me be clear. Grandmother Edna Kearns didn’t experience the “Night of Terror” at the Occoquan Workhouse. But Edna and little Serena Kearns were on the White House picket line showing their support, as were hundreds of women across the United States.
The campaign to win the vote started back in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York. Actually it started earlier, but Seneca Falls became the launching pad. This is significant because the years from 1848 to 1917 were uphill. You know the drill: one step forward, one step backward and so on. By 1917 the women hit the streets with picket signs.
HOMEWORK ALERT: An assignment to spread over the next few days. Listen to the nine-podcast audio series linked here called “Playing Politics with the President.” Yes, it’s long, though each audio podcast averages no more than three minutes. Just enough time to squeeze it into your busy schedule.
In order to appreciate the story of the women of the Occoquan Workhouse, it’s helpful to understand the larger picture. American women were patient souls, but sooner of later they hit a brick wall. The audio series spells out in detail how U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and the two major political parties put roadblock after roadblock in the paths of the suffragists. They may have been patient souls, but their patience eventually wore thin. Audio by Librivox in the series “Playing Politics with the President.” The account is from the 1920 book by Doris Stevens, “Jailed for Freedom” that’s in the public domain.
For your reference: Here’s the entire “Playing Politics with the President” story series: Podcast #1. Podcast #2. Podcast #3. Podcast #4. Podcast #5. Podcast #6. Podcast #7, Podcast #8, Podcast #9 about US President Woodrow Wilson and the impending showdown over the issue of women voting. This is the leadup to when things became sticky and led to Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party picketing the White House, followed by prison time for many at the Occoquan Workhouse.
November 15th “Night of Terror” Blogging: Day #1 (Nov.1); Day #2 (Nov.2).
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