You already know that I am a political junky and usually, a very vocal political junky. I love this country passionately, and I am extremely interested in making sure that the people I help vote into office understand just what a serious responsibility We The People have entrusted to them.
I also must admit that I am very guilty of taking my right to vote for granted; it just never occurs to me that anyone would challenge my intelligence in such a manner as to restrict my vote, and yet, when I make myself stop for a minute, I am reminded that it was not really all that long ago when women just as interested and just as intelligent were denied this very, very basic right.
When my friend Janella Hendon from Dublin, Texas sent me an email reminding me of the women who paid such a high price for my right to vote, I decided to pay tribute to the sisterhood who came before all of us who will cast our votes in the very near future.
The women pictured above were not only arrested for protesting, they were beaten and tortured in what is now called The Night Of Terror (November 15, 1917). It happened inside a prison or workhouse in Virginia and might be worth your time to research.
When I taught advanced high school classes, I actually used to spend several weeks on this period in our history. Obviously, I cannot cover that amount of information in this article; however, I do want to point out that women from perfectly good families and most from perfectly good economic situations were branded as lunatics or worse and actually jailed for demanding the right to vote.
Alice Paul who is pictured here was jailed. When she embarked on a hunger strike, she was force fed until her body would hold no more and sent the offending food hurling. This went on until the media finally shined a light upon the torture Alice was enduring behind bars. http://www.alicepaul.org/alicepaul.htm
“Lewis was among the outspoken hunger-striking suffragist prisoners and she received some of the most brutal treatment at the hands of wardens at the District jail and the Occoquan Workhouse. During the infamous Night of Terror, Lewis was hurled bodily into her cell. She was knocked unconscious and feared dead when she collided headfirst against her iron bed frame. Lewis and Lucy Burns were initial leaders of the hunger strike in Occoquan; both grew so weak that they were held down by attendants and force-fed by tube.”
Dora’s cellmate was so afraid when she saw the treatment of Dora that, thinking Dora was dead, she had a heart attack. There are other sworn statements that the guards groped, dragged, beat, choked, slammed, pinched, kicked…well you get the picture of just how these women were treated by men who believed themselves superior.
I do hope that this is a subject that you might want to research for yourself since my space is so limited. I have provided a couple of links to get you started. More than that, however, when I step into the booth to exercise my right to vote, I plan to remember those who gave so much to give me the right to pull the lever.