Sunday, September 15, 2019

Founding Mother

Last week I told you about the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848.  Seventy-two years passed before the 19th Amendment was signed into law.  Only one woman who attended the convention lived to see the passing of the law.  Her name was Charlotte Woodward Pierce.
Charlotte with her knitting.

Charlotte was 90 years old when in 1920.  She was the only a teenager when she attended the convention and signed the Declaration of Sentiments.  At fifteen, she was working as a school teacher and then worked as a seamstress making leather gloves (yes before sewing machines).  One source credited the fact that while she was a seamstress, she began to think about the inequity of her status as a woman because the only salary she earned was her room and board.  She told one reporter:  "I was only a girl of eighteen when the Seneca Falls Convention was held--and I am proud I too am a native of New York state."  After her marriage, she and her husband settled in Philadelphia where she lived the rest of her life.

The sad part is that Charlotte was too ill to cast a vote in 1920.  She passed away in 1921 and it is not thought that she was ever well enough to exercise her true right as a citizen at the ballot box.

You can read more about Charlotte here.  

Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Thank you!

I'm interrupting our regularly scheduled blogging to thank the many readers of Pennsylvania Piecemaker.  Very few of you leave comments but instead I'm often receiving wonderful emails from you!

Lisa emailed me that if you enjoy cross stitch, you might appreciate the suffrage inspired pattern or kit available at Little House Needleworks.  You can see it here.

Close-up of a Moravian Quilt
Betsy shared with me that the Moravian Village in Bethlehem is sponsoring a number of special events celebrating women.  In case you are unfamiliar with the Moravians, they believed in educating women very early in our country's history.  The settlement in downtown Bethlehem has been preserved and you might enjoy some of the events which you can read about here.  Come visit our lovely city!

I really appreciate the questions you have been asking and your comments as well!

Tonight Beth and I will be presenting By the Chimney No More at the Pocono Mountain Quilters Guild.  If you are in the area, why not attend?  We will be speaking at the Eastern Monroe Public Library at 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Happy Birthday Edith Ainge!

Beth and I both feel it's important for you to not only know about some of the general aspects of the suffrage movement but the women who participated--and often were persecuted for their work in the suffrage movement.  Enter Edith Ainge from the state of New York:
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Happy Birthday Edith Ainge!

Edith Ainge (1878-1947) was one of the Silent Sentinels who picketed the White House by holding banners of protest outside the White House.  She was among the first women arrested for this action and in all, was imprisoned five times during the last few years of the suffrage struggle.

I honestly don't know how the women endured the conditions of the Occoquan Workhouse where the women were imprisoned.  Imagine rodent infested cells and your food full of mealy worms.  Perhaps worse of all, you had to drink water from one cup shared by all the inmates, including those with tuberculosis--one of the most deadly and contagious diseases of that time period.
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If all this wasn't enough, Ainge was among the women who were beaten and tortured during the Night of Terror in November of 1917.  

What amazes me is that women like Edith continued to fight for their rights and ours.  Thank you Edith!

Friday, September 6, 2019

The Seneca Falls Convention and Birthday Wishes!

One aspect of suffrage history that we should all be aware of is the Seneca Falls Convention.  Five women met for tea on July 9, 1848 and the meeting would change the course of American history and birth the women's suffrage movement.  Lucretia Mott, her sister Marth Wright, May Ann McClintock and Ellizabeth Cady Stanton met at Jane Hunt's house in New York for tea and discussion of women's rights.

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Mott and Stanton had met earlier in London where they both had attended an abolitionist convention.  Both had been barred from the convention floor because they were women.  The two women met up again when they attended tea at Jane Hunt's house.  After much discussion, they decided to hold a "Woman's Rights Convention" and ten days later not only was the event held but it attracted about 300 people.  Later referred to as the Seneca Falls Convention, the event launched the women's suffrage movement.

A "Declaration of Sentiments" was debated and published, signed by 100 of the participants.  Among the 11 resolutions:

He has never permitted her to exercise her inalienable right to the elective franchise.

He has compelled her to submit to laws, in the formation of which she had no voice. 

He has made her, if married, in the eye of the law, civilly dead.

He has taken from her all right in property, even to the wages she earns.

He has so framed the laws of divorce, as to what shall be the proper causes of divorce; in case of separation, to whom the guardianship of the children shall be given; as to be wholly regardless of the happiness of women—the law, in all cases, going upon the false supposition of the supremacy of man, and giving all power into his hands. 
Translation:  Men are automatically granted full custody of children in the event of a divorce.

 After depriving her of all rights as a married woman, if single and the owner of property, he has taxed her to support a government which recognizes her only when her property can be made profitable to it.
He has denied her the facilities for obtaining a thorough education—all colleges being closed against her.

Many of their grievances (and others) we relate (in quilt form) in our program, By the Chimney No More.

You can read the Declaration of Sentiments here.

Just as an aside, who wasn't at the Seneca Falls Convention? 

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Susan B. Anthony

That's right, "Aunt Susan" as she was affectionately called did not attend the convention.  I noticed that some websites not only have her attending but reading the Declaration of Sentiments.  Susan B. Anthony met Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1851, together they would galvanize the movement and lead it into the 20th century.  Neither woman lived to see the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

Today is a Two-fer post.  Happy Birthday Jane Addams!
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Jane Addams 1860-1935

One of the most remarkable women of the 19th and 20th centuries, Addams was a social reformer, a suffragist, and believed in the dignity of all human beings.  She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in 1931.

I love reading anything by Addams but suggest you read her essay, "Why Women Should Vote" published in the Ladies Home Journal in 1910.  You can read it here.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Happy Labor Day 2019!

It's raining here in eastern Pennsylvania which means a perfect day to sew!  Today we celebrate a real labor pioneer, Sarah G. Bagley!  She was memorialized in a thread holder sold in the beginning of the 20th century; I've read these thread holders were sold in 1915 as suffrage fundraisers.

Decades before labor unions were formed, before the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848, Sarah was a true leader of suffrage and women's rights.  She had worked in the textile mills in Lowell Massachusetts. 
Sarah J. Bagley Durno

 She perceived that women were not getting a fair shake in the mills.  She is honored at the Lowell National Historical Park and I hope you will take a moment or two to read about her here.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Bread and Roses: Celebrating Labor Day Weekend, 2019

An interesting collaboration was the National Women's Trade Union League (WTUL) formed in 1903.  It joined working women and affluent women (often referred by the press as the "mink brigade") to abolish poor sweatshop conditions and support women's union.  This group helped create the International Ladies Garment Workers' Union and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America.  It also supported the American Federation of Labor towards a pro-suffrage position and recognition of the plight of women workers.

The WTUL supported women's suffrage and often in their magazine, Life and Labor, they published articles about enfranchisement.  Women's suffrage was viewed by this group as a critical way of gaining laws and regulations to protect workers.  Rose Schneiderman was a critical force in suffrage for working women.

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire underlined the differences in labor and the mink brigade.  The best analogy I can give you is a comment that was made to me a few decades ago in Russia.  I was admiring the little gardens outside of Moscow and remarked that I loved gardening.  My friend made a comment that I never forgot:  "You garden for pleasure," she said.  "We grow vegetables for survival." 

So too during one memorial after the fire when labor leader, Rose Schneiderman emphasized the plight of  workers vs. the mink brigade.  The mink brigade felt the solution was a fire prevention bureau.  Working women felt there was a need for class solidarity of the workers.  You can read Schneiderman's moving comments here.

Schneiderman gave a critical speech in Indiana in 1912 and used the phrase "Bread and Roses" for the labor movement.  It became a rallying cry for the 1912 Lawrence Textile Strike in Massachusetts.  Schneiderman said:

What the woman who labors wants is the right to live, not simply exist--the right to life as the rich woman has the right to life, and the sun and music and art.  You have nothing that the humblest worker has not a right to have also.  The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too.  Help you women of privilege, give her the ballot to fight with.

Another poem with the name "Bread and Roses" by James Oppenhiem was written a year before and became a favorite.  You can read it here.

Eleanor Roosevelt was a member of the WTUL and was so generous to the group that they nicknamed her their "fairy godmother".

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Antis #3: The Treacherous Trap

Yesterday I reported about how cordial the Antis and Suffragists were at the Allentown Fair.  Only a year later, an incident occurred that showed the conniving of some Antis.

1915 was a huge year for Pennsylvania suffragists.  Along with New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts, a referendum for woman's suffrage had been scheduled.  All that was needed in Pennsylvania was for (male) voters to support the referendum in November.  There was a huge push by suffragists that year to gain the support of men.  

During the late l9th and early 20th century, working women and labor groups aligned themselves with women's suffrage.  David Williams was a labor leader in the Lehigh Valley.  A leader in the famous 1910 Bethlehem Steel Strike, he was also a socialist and a supporter of women's suffrage.  At the time of this event, he was also running for Allentown School Director.

And then this happened:

The front page headline was scandalous enough to ruin any aspiring politician's future.   A warrant had been made out for Williams after a complaint by a Mr. Borton who said Williams was in an illicit relationship with his wife.  Williams had been caught red handed in the woman's room. 

 And if all that wasn't enough, Mrs. Borton was a suffragist working in Allentown.  Her behaviour seemed to illustrate every Antis suspician about corrupt women in the suffrage movement. Oh the Scandal!  

But as the story unfolded during the next few weeks, a seemingly simple end to Mr. Williams' career and the suffragists' cause turned out to be an elaborate plot of treachery:  

Suffragists weighed in on the despicable action:

A month later, three men and the two women detectives were charged for conspiracy and criminal libel--including Mr. Borton.  And as it turned out, Mr. Borton was not married to the woman in the room.  I know the libel complaint was settled out of court but the conspiracy charge dragged on for years and it seemed to disappear after the U.S. entered World War 1.

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I am sure you are wondering what happened to poor David Williams.  A man's reputation was EVERYTHING and a scandal like this could have destroyed his future.

Mr. Williams did overcome the scandal.  He had an illustrious career despite the conspiracy and was named Director of the Industrial Relations for the state by Governor Pinchot in 1925.  His career continued and in 1931, he was hired to work in the U.S. Department of Labor and held other various positions as a labor leader.

Despite the fact that the Antis reputation had been tarnished by this episode, the Antis scandal did not help the cause of suffrage.  Pennsylvania women did NOT gain the right to vote in the 1915 referundum.  The eastern part of the state voted firmly against suffrage. 

I know that some of you will find that surprising. Philadelphia saloon keepers and brewery owners had waged their own war on suffrage fearing that women voting would leave to prohibition--which of course it eventually did.