Suffrage For Women & Who Paid For It

Women did not gain the right to vote until 1920.

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.

These women were jailed for protesting.

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.

Alice Paul

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.

What happend to Alice Paul was terrible; however, Dora Lewis was treated even worse.

“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.

About Fredda Jones

Fredda Davis Jones was raised “in the country” in Comanche County and learned very early that creativity and innovation are traits that can flourish even in small-town Texas and that with enough effort, indeed nothing is impossible, including being married to the same man for over 40 years! Rickey and Fredda have 2 children, 5 grandchildren, and a crazy life that includes sitting in the bleachers several times a week. The rest of her time is spent creating great content for and marketing small-town Texas.
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3 Responses to Suffrage For Women & Who Paid For It

  1. Patty Hirst Patty Hirst says:

    Every time I read about these wonderful women it makes me thankful for them all over again and I too often take my right to vote for granted.
    Thanks for the story and to Janella for the email!

  2. missy jones says:

    Fredda, I haven’t researched it a lot, but I have always been interested in the “poll tax”. My great grandfather, Andrew J. Cox was on a Republic of Texas poll tax list in 1846. Also, my mother and daddy kept receipts of all kinds of things, for instance, every tax statement on their land and when they paid it, tickets showing “headlight” taxes paid and licenses purchased for their cars. but of special interest to me is the “poll tax” receipts. My daddy, William Cornelius Cox was born in 1882, and in the late 1890’s he paid his first poll tax. There is a receipt for every year after that, and the first time that my mother, Minnie Steward Cox was allowed to vote, there is a poll tax receipt for her and every year after that until that tax was abolished. These papers were rolled up, and tied with a piece of string, and stored in “K C” baking powder cans. About 10 inches tall, made of tin with a tight fitting lid. Yes, I still have the baking powder cans, and all of the recipts are in a scrap book and in date order. Would you like to see them? I treasure this, and I can see my parents keeping these papers in what they probably thought would be a safe place.

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