Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Old Girl Celebrates Her 90th

Women march in a suffrage parade in New York City, May 4, 1912.
Both photos, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.
CHARLOTTE WOODWARD WAS JUST 18 when she traveled by wagon, with other hopeful and liberal-minded friends, to the Seneca Falls Women's Rights Convention in 1848. There, the radical notion of women's right to vote was first seriously suggested by rabble-rousers Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott. Woodward was among 68 women to sign the meeting's Declaration of Sentiments.
Little could Woodward have realized that it would take another 72 — yes, 72 — years, for that right to be guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. When the 19th amendment was finally ratified in 1920, she was roughly 90 years old. Unfortunately, she was ill and confined to her home and did not participate later that year when women first voted in a presidential election.  
Last month, women's suffrage celebrated its own 90th birthday. A girl born on August 18, 1920 — the date the 19th amendment was ratified — never knew a time when she couldn't vote. And she's had the chance to vote myriad times — 18 times in presidential elections alone.
As we approach another election, albeit a midterm, we raise a glass to the Old Girl, women's suffrage, and to all the women who pressed for its passage, including Woodward. 
"My heart is with all women who vote," she said in 1920.
Cheers to that.

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