Friday, November 7, 2008

Attitude of Gratitude ...Day 4

(Yes, it's late, but I'm catching up...)

Today (I wrote this in my head on Tuesday) I'm grateful that I have the freedom to voice my opinion and vote in the presidential election.

I'm also very grateful for the women who helped make it possible for me, a woman living in the United States in2008, to vote in this election.


Lydia Chapin Taft was an early forerunner in Colonial America who was allowed to vote in three New England town meetings, beginning in 1756.

In 1848, at the Seneca Falls Convention in New York, activists including Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott began a seventy year struggle to secure the right to vote for women. Susan B. Anthony, a native of Rochester New York, joined the cause four years later at the Syracuse Convention.

Women's suffrage activists pointed out that blacks had been granted the franchise and had not been included in the language of the United States Constitution's Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments (which gave people equal protection under the law and the right to vote regardless of their race, respectively). This, they contended, had been unjust.

Early victories were won in the territories of Wyoming (1869)[16] and Utah (1870), although Utah women were disenfranchised by provisions of the federal Edmunds-Tucker Act enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1887. The push to grant Utah women's suffrage was at least partially fueled by the belief that, given the right to vote, Utah women would dispose of polygamy. It was only after Utah women exercised their suffrage rights in favor of polygamy that the U.S. Congress disenfranchised Utah women.[17]

By the end of the nineteenth century, Idaho, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming had enfranchised women after effort by the suffrage associations at the state level.

National women’s suffrage, however, did not exist until 1920. During the beginning of the twentieth century, as women's suffrage gained in popularity, suffragists were subject to arrests and many were jailed.

Finally, President Woodrow Wilson urged Congress to pass what became, when it was ratified in 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment.

While the ability to vote was a national trend forming since the progressive years of Republican President William Taft, Woodrow's predecessor, Taft's appointment as Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court in 1921 was seen as the watershed moment for equal-pay legislation. Taft's dissenting opinion in Adkins v. Children's Hospital in 1923 was a progressive move and called out a maximum-hours law was equivalent to a minimal-wage. The Supreme Court overturned the decision, to agree with Taft, in 1934 permanently ruling separate hours/rates for women and men as unconstitutional.

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