Women of New England Desire to Vote

“Wait, Susan, women ALL OVER the United States don’t just desire, they DO vote.”

True, but in 1880, the did not and all they could do was express a desire.  Anti-women’s suffrage voices suggested that women really didn’t want the responsibility of voting. So Matilda Joslyn Gage asked them. As the owner and editor of the pro-woman suffrage newspaper, The National Citizen and Ballot Box, she compiled a massive list of notes from women all over the country who answered.

My friend JD thought it would be cool to share these notes but there were so many, he divided them up into states and asked friends to post them. He gave me ones from Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island–my home area. If you would like to fully appreciate these letters from all over maybe from your area, click over to Words from Us where JD has links to all of them. Individually they are meaningful; as a collection they are a powerful voice for women at a time when they were not always heard.

Pick a name, vote for a woman who couldn’t…or vote for women in your life now…or yourself, your children…just vote.

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The work of reading these thousands of postals and letters and selecting from among them for publication, has required the labor of two persons over two weeks, and a portion of this time three persons were engaged upon it. Although but comparatively a small portion of them has been given, they form a very remarkable, unique, instructive and valuable addition to the literature and history of woman suffrage.

They not only show the growth of liberty in the hearts of women, but they point out the causes of this growth. Each letter, each postal, carries its own tale of tyrannous oppression, and each woman who reads, will find her courage and her convictions strengthened. Let every woman who receives this paper religiously preserve it for future reference. Let those who say that women do not want to vote, look at the unanimity with which women in each and every state, declare that they do wish to vote,—that they are oppressed because they cannot vote—that they deem themselves capable of making the laws by which they are governed, and of ruling themselves in every way.

These letters are warm from the heart, but they tell tales of injustice and wrong that chill the reader’s blood. They show a growing tendency among women to right their own wrongs, as women have ofttimes in ages before chosen their own ways to do. Greece with its tales of Medea and Clytemnestra; Rome and the remembrance of Tofania and her famous water; southern France of more modern times all carry warning to legal domestic tyrants.

Regards,

Matilda Joslyn Gage

CONNECTICUT.

Believing that the world’s salvation depends primarily upon emancipation of woman, therefore I wish you and your noble compeers speed in this noble cause, a cause for which I would gladly live or die.—EMILY P. COLLINS, Hartford.

Yes, I want to vote, and I am not ready to die until I have done so, at least once. —GRACE SPENCER, Madison.

Earnestly, and anxiously working and waiting for the ballot.—HANNAH M. COMSTOCK, New Haven.

I most earnestly desire that women everywhere should have a legal recognition of every right, (suffrage included,) with no other conditions or limitations than such as apply to male citizens.—EMILY J. SENARD, Meriden.

Not till men feel our power will they respect our rights.—FLORENCE PELTIER, Hartford.

I think women should vote.—F. A. L. ROOMIS, Meriden.

Believing as I do that the ballot is not only the first right of woman but that it is for the best good of the country that she exercise those rights. *—Abbey J. Mathewson, Brooklyn.

RHODE ISLAND.

My wish to vote grows out of the inevitable law of progress in thought, so soon transmitted in civilized countries from men to women. Unless men are willing and able to restore the day of absolute rule in the state and authority in the church, they cannot consistently relegate woman to a lower intellectual place than such as the duties of the age require every thinking being to occupy. A long passive intelligence has matured into an active phase and man is powerless to arrest its development at just that point which may now seem to him most consonant with his tastes or interests.—ESTHER B. CARPENTER, Wakefield.

“With all my heart” I concur in an emphatic demand for an insertion of the proposed plank in the platform of each party, and if foiled by all in the claim, let there be a banding together to either throw the election into the House of Representatives or to execute the determination of A. S. Adams in 1776, “to promote a rebellion,” etc.—C. C. KNOWLES, East Greenwich.

MASSACHUSETTS.

I wish to express in the strongest manner possible my desire for the enfranchisement of women, and my deep sense of the wrong and injustice of depriving her of the right of self-government. —Arabell Browers Elwell, Lynn.

If the ballot educates man it will also educate woman; if it protects man, it will also protect woman. —Noretta E. McAllister, Lawrence.

I wish to vote because I take a lively interest in the welfare of my country, (more perhaps than half the men) and wish to see the government in clean and safe hands. Because women are taxed and should have something to say about the spending of taxes. Because there are many selfish and intriguing politicians who pursue the “rule or ruin policy.” Because I think there is a great good coming out of it. Because there are so many intelligent women who wish to vote. Because they are as well, (if not better) fitted for it as foreigners, negroes and Indians. Because woman suffrage means fairness, justice, liberty and equal rights for women, and because I have never been represented by any man. —Abby D. Hicks, Blue Hill.

Ella F. Weeks from Marlborough, sends thirty-seven names.

I wish to see the ballot in the hand of woman, first to satisfy my sense of justice, and secondly, because I should consider it a very great step toward her elevation, and consequently to the advancement of the whole human family.—Evelyn M. Walton, Saugus.

And most earnestly desire to see the day when women shall no longer be deprived of the ballot and the opportunity of developing and improving all the faculties, with which they are endowed. —Zilpah H. Spooner, Plymouth.

“Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish,” I am with you in this fight for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Yours for the right.—ELIZA F. DOANE, Athol.

As one of the 60,000 superfluous women in this little State of Massachusetts and one of several thousand young women employed in the three factories of Lynn, Mass., I want what I hope in due time all my sisters will want, it is to vote.—ELIZABETH O. ROBINSON, Malden.

We, the undersigned, being unable to be present at the mass meeting, desire to forward our names, together with our most hearty approval of your proceedings and our warmest wishes for the highest success of woman suffrage.—MRS. E. O. WILLIAMS, MRS. M. E. ORR, MRS. C. C. POWERS, Roxbury.

I would express with all the earnestness my nature will allow of and with all the emphasis I can bring to bear on any subject, that I here with send my name as one who desires to vote.—FENNO TUDOR, (widow,) Boston.

We all wish to vote,—MRS. C. W. BROWN, MISS CLARA WILDER, MISS MARY A. RICE, MISS KATH. L. WILDER, Barre.

May God speed the NATIONAL in the splendid work it is doing! That woman should have the ballot is my most earnest desire. I have always wanted to vote.— MRS. HARRIETTE R. SHATTUCK, Malden.

Pledged to labor for the right of suffrage earnestly until it is acknowledged to be ours. May yours efforts be crowned with success. Yours for Woman Suffrage.— EMILY EATON, Athol Center.

I am with you in thought and spirit as there are thousands of others who cannot be there in person. Hoping God will speed the day when women will secure the right of suffrage.—MRS. MARIA SWALLOW, Springfield.

I want the franchise of a citizen because I love justice, because I love freedom, because I am a woman.—CATHARINE B. YALE, Shelburne Falls.

Massachusetts School Suffrage Association. I shall be with you in spirit and feel it is one of the most glorious meetings ever held in our country. I trust all will be accomplished in giving us the right of full suffrage.—HARRIET LMIST, Boston.

Resolved, that the right of suffrage inheres in the citizen of the United States, and that intelligent women are citizens and should be so regarded by law.—MRS. L. C. W. GAMMEL. Holyoke.

I desire the privilige of voting, believe right of suffrage should be given to all citizens of the United States.—ANNIE LORD CHAMBERLAIN, E. Somerville.

I also desire to vote.—ALICE B. SAMPSON, Boston.

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A Love Story in Three Parts

These three columns ran in The Kansas City Star over the course of three years and tell a story of life, loss and love. They are special to me and non-fiction. If you read only one thing that I have ever written, I would like it to be this.

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Part One: March, 2012

“When do I get to meet you?” was the message that greeted me on my Facebook page.

“Oh, I don’t know.” I typed back, “That might ruin the mystique. I’m not very interesting in person.”

That was the answer I gave Chris. It’s the answer that I give a lot of people.  Sometimes a flip answer like that keeps one more thing off of my To-do list.

Chris lived an hour away. I’ve spent a good deal of time with his wife- she’s one of my best friends. We are in contact, usually written, every day; once a year we go on a Chick Weekend with other friends. But if I got Nicole, Chris got the kids.

Last year, Chris and Nicole threw a New Year’s Eve party and invited my family. But the long round-trip drive on that particular night held little appeal to me. It held less to my husband who wasn’t thrilled about spending a late night with people he didn’t know.

Right. Didn’t know. He didn’t know one of my best friends or her husband. But we all do that, right?  Brian has his circle of people and I have mine. Sometimes, in a real life Venn diagram, those circles intersect-most of the time they don’t.  It’s a fact of modern life.

But Chris and I were connected through another fact of modern life: social media. I got to know him through the things he shared.  Always funny, always smart- I was often in awe of the depth of his faith and the quickness of his wit; I admired how Nicole and Chris parented as a team. I got that all through his posts, I didn’t have to be in the same room with him to know him.

Finally, six months ago, I did get to be in the same room as Chris. He was dressed in a nice suit, sharing with anyone who would look a picture that his six-year-old daughter drew.  Chris’ whole family was there, all five kids and Nicole, of course. When I walked into the room I went to her and hugged her hard- the physical contact so much more rewarding and personal than any phone conversation, text or Facebook message.

I walked over to Chris, “Never thought I would meet you like this,” I whispered.

He lay still. Hands holding a picture of Daddy in heaven.

Days before, Chris had set off to work like any day. He had kissed Nicole good-bye like he did every day, got in his car and drove the same route that he drove every day.

But that day, Chris met a man in another car who was traveling at highway speeds in the wrong direction.  The death was quick, which is a little comfort to Nicole and the kids.  The other driver survived. He is still surviving, still available to his own family.

I can’t attempt to understand the legalities of the accident- why justice seems so slow.

I can’t attempt to feel Nicole’s grief.  I can hear the raw emotions in her voice; I can see the pain in her eyes, in her words as I listen and learn more about Chris. Not just the stories that are sharable to anyone who reads his Facebook page, but the private Chris. Nicole’s Chris.

The Chris I would have met if I had made the effort.

I have yet to give my flip, “we don’t need to meet” answer to anyone. I doubt I ever will. Chris taught me that. I don’t care if I’m not interesting – I have to assume that they are interesting enough for both of us.

Just like Chris was.

Part Two: September, 2013

Everyone would change that day. They would insist on a longer breakfast, block the road, tell the drivers not to get behind the wheel.

If anyone had any power to stop it, they would have.

But it happened.

I shared this story awhile back, but, in a nutshell:

I learned the hard way never to make excuses and put off meeting people thinking that there is always time.

There isn’t always time.

My friend Nicole’s husband, on an ordinary drive on an ordinary day had the non-ordinary happen when he met a wrong-way driver.

Chris’ life ended and the path that no one would want for anyone began for Nicole, their five children and everyone who knew and cared for the family.

Grief. How do you handle grief like that? Sure, there are well published stages and steps, there are counselors who can guide a family through them but the family has to make the journey.

Nicole embarked on the journey. She had no choice; her kids had no choice.

Watching Nicole for the last year and a half has been heartbreaking. People surrounded them, blanketed them with love and casseroles- but there was nothing that anyone could do other than be there, as an ear, a hug, a meal, a drink, a laugh.

Nicole did what a lot of people do when faced with a loss of this magnitude: they wrote it out.

She began a blog.

She started it to work-out her feelings, have tangible evidence of her journey and, maybe, to offer hope to others who will go through something similar.

Most of the entries were obviously painful to write, they were painful to read. She was lost, hurt…alone. She admitted her failures; confronted and explored her feelings and turned to her faith as a guide. She found mentors in other women who had been on this journey before. She sought help for her family.

I have always admired her personality but her words revealed not only raw and vulnerable emotions, but true character- true strength.

She didn’t rush through each phase of grief, although I’m sure she wanted to, but she worked at it. She faced the pain and rode it through to the day when she could admit that the pain was just a little, tiny bit less.

One day she said that maybe, someday, she might like to date.

But she wasn’t ready and she knew it.

Death is a natural part of life. The journey of Nicole and her family isn’t unusual- but that doesn’t mean it’s any less life affecting. Being a common human experience doesn’t mean that it feels common when it happens to you, or to someone you love.

Nicole did what anyone would do when someone we love dies: use the tools that we have available to get our changed and confusing days to become ordinary ones. Ordinary days filled with familiar challenges- familiar ups and downs.

Old lives morph into new ones. People are the same, certain elements are the same, but it’s like they got broken up into a kaleidoscope and turned. Changed.

Then one day becomes a day that no one would ever change.

“I met someone and he’s special.”

Then she used the word “love”.

Nicole’s journey has taught me that happily ever after really is a myth. Every day is full of happy, sad, angry, delighted- a spinning color wheel of emotion that can’t be stopped.

But when it wheels past the special color, the cherished emotions- it’s happily right now.

And that is a moment we should never change and never, ever forget.

Part Three:July, 2015

Eight weddings. The year that I was 26 I attended eight weddings. It was a personal record that still stands.  By that age– three years, two jobs and four apartment moves since college– I got very good at the wedding guest routine: mail RSVP card, get gifts, buy dress and matching shoes, attend stuffy-fluffy bridal shower, fret over finding a Plus One, act like a grown-up at wedding, repeat.

Next wedding, same routine different dress.

When I was 26 I had a fairly steady beau. While he was not the steady beau that was my date to my own wedding, he was an excellent Plus One. He cleaned up nicely and was faking being an adult about as well as I was.

When I was 26 I took weddings for granted. They sort of ran together: another special day for a party; another beautiful friend who I was delighted for but quite happy that it wasn’t me.

After I did my own turn down the aisle, I understood the whole story. While armed with that newfound perspective, most of my friends were already married and wedding invitations dwindled. There have been a lot of non-wedding years since I was 26.

There have also been a lot of changes in weddings since then. For one wedding this past month I RSVP’d on Facebook and the bridal shower was less Stuffy-Fluffy and more Girls’ Night on the Deck.

I wore a dress that I already had in my closet.

I didn’t fret that my entire family was busy that day and I had no Plus One.

I didn’t have to pretend to be grown-up, although I had to remind myself of it several times when I was carried away with the joy of the day and the comfortable happiness of sharing it with a group of close friends.

The best change since I was 26 is that I possess empathetic involvement not only in the wedding, but in marriage. This particular couple’s journey to the alter was twisted like an emotional kaleidoscope. It wasn’t a special day for a party, it was a special day with a party. Accent on special.

And this one was very special.

It wasn’t simply that the bride was beautiful, the groom was beaming and the day shone bright and perfect; it wasn’t that they were surrounded by people who loved and cared for and about them.

It was more.

As the preacher began I looked around the chapel. I had never seen half of the people before, but the other half I had.

The last time that I had seen them I was sitting with the same group of friends.

The last time I had seen that collection of familiar and vaguely familiar faces it was at a church not too far by distance, but a million miles of experiences away.

“I, Nicole, take you Paul,” my friend repeated her vows…sickness, health, richer, poorer…I had heard the same vows eight times the year I was 26; I had heard them a hundred times since and I had said them once myself. But they never meant what they did that day.

“…until death separates us.”

The last time the vaguely familiar faces and this particular group of friends and I met in a church, we were there because death had separated Nicole from her first groom.

The most important change in weddings since I was 26 is that I now know that every couple has a story, every celebration unique. Every wedding is special. The ceremony and party may seem like the same old routine, but it’s not.

It’s the celebration of something new.

Something to cherish.

Nicole and I at her wedding.  Yes, I selfied in the receiving line.

Nicole and I at her wedding. (Yes, I selfied in the receiving line.)

Nicole’s (excellent, painful, raw, honest, well written)blog can be found here, My Ways Not Your Ways. I’ve linked you to the very beginning.