Gaining the right to vote for women was a long and slow
process. The earliest discussions started in colonial days when Abigail Adams
wrote her husband a letter reminding him to “Remember the ladies.”
Instead we end up with a Declaration of Independence that said “All men
are created equal.”
Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton rallied for the
vote with the American Equal Rights Association. The group worked for the vote
for black men and women of all races. They only partially succeeded with the
vote for men of any race guaranteed by the 15th Amendment in 1870.
Also in the 1870s the women’s suffrage movement gained an
ally. The Women’s Christian Temperance Union
added its quest for national prohibition with the right to vote for the
ladies. I’m sure this group made a lot of friends among the male political
factions on both those topics.
Women won the right to vote in 1920. Since then they have
been as responsible as the male population for our political messes.
But it took years for the energy to build within the
movement. By 1915 the topic was hitting the front burner and was making news
even on the local level. The Jamestown Alert ran a number of brief articles
during January of that year.
First, they listed the minimum wage for women. These laws
varied from state to state but at least some listed the basic wage for women at
$8.35 per week.
Most people make at least that wage in an hour, not a
week, of labor. Even adjusted for inflation that is about $178 per week.
And the paper included some comments from the local
residents about the prospect of allowing women access to the ballot box.
The Wednesday Night Club, a gathering of local leaders
and business men, suggested that women be given what they want.
“If they want to bring in the wood and bring in the water,”
the article continued.
It would seem that women not only have won the right to
vote and better wages. They have also won the right to indoor plumbing and
I guess that has to be called progress.