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A Distance to Travel
August 26, 1920. It was a day that to many was the
It was perhaps one of the greatest victories of the century. Now as the polls
open women and men stand next to each other and cast a vote which holds the
same importance. The time and effort it took to get here shall be ingrained in
every person?s mind as they approach the poll booth. There was a struggle to
over come and that struggle was won, in the end by forty-three words. The
landmark acceptance of the Nineteenth Amendment changed the way of life in
American forever, from the time before, to the time of, to the time after.
?We were sixteen women sitting in sixteen chairs, longing to stand.
(Dubois 250)? This quote given by Mary Baker before the Passing of the
Nineteenth Amendment is used to show how women were wanting and desired
to stand next to me in a line of equal measures. Before 1920, life being female
was assumed to be a life lived in the house watching over the children and
making sure that everyone was happy. If a female stepped out of this common
place it would be looked upon as being a radical, one who would never marry,
and one who would be forced to live her life in the shame of the town. Needless
to say it was a time where the lines between the male gender and the female
gender was one of great defiance. As Mary White Rowlandson remarked in her
dying words, ?It is a life I am no longer willing to lead. I am old so it is better
for me to die without the fight, but you are young so fight and be seen. Today
replaces yesterday, for as yesterday you had nothing to live for, today you have
the world.? It was the new life that was waiting behind the Nineteenth
Amendment, and every woman knew that it must be achieved the wall between
genders had to fall and it was to fall now. The only thing standing in the way of
this Amendment was the barrier of man. Ever though not every man stood in
this line, there were enough to hold women down for many a decades (Mackey
34). The men who fought for the women were forced into silence due to the
egos of themselves and those around them, they were as scared as the women
were to stand up, even if justice was on their side (Mackey 34). Before the
passing of the Nineteenth Amendment women were shunned and placed as
background settings to a male dominated stage.
When the time came to push a slew of women stood to take the brut of
the arguments about the ratification of the Nineteenth. As Alice Paul said, ?We
came to be heard, not to be questioned or to be turned around. We will answer
your questions and you may turn us around, but we will prove the burden of
justice in our favor then you can no longer make us leave. With that we will
stay. (Foner 765)? As the ladies decided that this would be their place to stay, in
time and in history, the male gender parted seas and allowed the females to
forge their way to the next moment in time. Till the day of the passing the
Nineteenth was the only argument that could force sides to be taken among
families, friends, and society in general. August 20, 1920, the Nineteenth
Amendment was passed allowing women the right to vote as the equals of men.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied
or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
The Congress shall have power, by appropriate legislation, to
enforce the provisions of this article. (Weatherford 245)
These few words gave the female race in America the right to stand with their
heads high and as equal to that of their men counter parts. The next election
over eight million women went to the polls to vote, they out numbered the male
count by almost one third. For some men this scene would be counted as the
downfall to the democracy, which we live by; still for others this was the
outcome of need, each women would now be one vote of equal value. ?It was a
dream which I could never had thought to live to see. My mother would stand in
her grave in pride. (Kraditor 240)? This quote by Blatch gives the bases for why
of all moments this one would stand in the memories of many. It was Stanton
who deserved to see this moment but she would be the one who could see
nothing from her view (Kraditor 247). Every woman who was alive would
remember the moment when the Nineteenth passed; the pride, the joy, even the
tears of sorrow for those who died in the fight.
Now, today, nearly eighty years later this one Amendment covers over
one half of the American population. To those who remember the stories each
vote is filled with that same pride, joy, and tears as their mothers or
grandmothers felt. In the modern time we look at that Nineteenth as being
something that was fought for and won, but to history it shall forever be a
legacy. ?We came to fight, and we won. We came to see, and we envisioned.
We came to correct the unjust, and we became justices. We came to vote, and
we voted.? Ida Husted Harper was right in everything she said, from then to
now it has been a history of failures and victories, but in the end it shall all be
made equal by law.
1776 to 1920, it almost seemed as if nothing was going to change. There
were times of silence and times of uproar, but in the end it was the final poll call
which told the stories whole. There were those who fought and there are those
who stand to vote, we in the present shall remember the past only to live our
futures under the same laws of justice. To the Nineteenth Amendment there is
honor, obedience, and pride, all of which will never die in this time or in those to
Dubois, Ellen Carol. Woman Suffrage and Women?s Right. New York
University Press. New York, 1998. 304pp.
Foner, Eric. Reader?s Companion of American History. Huughton Miffilin
Company. Boston, 1991. 826pp.
Kraditor, Aileen S. The Ideas of the Woman Suffrage Movement, 1890-1920.
Norton. Washington, 1980. 313pp.
Mackay, Andrew. One Half of the People: The Fight for Woman Suffrage.
University of Illinois. Chicago, 1982. 123pp.
Weatherford, Doris. American Women?s History: A to Z of People,
Organization, Issues, and Events. Prentice Hall. New York, 1994. 396pp.
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