Wednesday, September 30, 2015

1918 President Woodrow Wilson finally speaks in favor of female suffrage, has a stroke, & his new wife takes over his duties even though she cannot even vote




On this day in 1918, President Woodrow Wilson gives a speech before Congress in support of guaranteeing women the right to vote. Although the House of Representatives had approved a 19th constitutional amendment giving women suffrage, the Senate had yet to vote on the measure.

Wilson had actually maintained a somewhat lukewarm attitude toward women’s suffrage throughout his first term (1913-1917). In 1917, he had been picketed by suffragists outside the White House who berated him for paying mere lip service to their cause. The protests reached a crescendo when several women were arrested, jailed & went on a hunger strike. Wilson was appalled to learn that the jailed suffragists were being force-fed & he finally stepped in to champion their cause. Suffragists & their supporters agreed that Wilson had a debt to pay to the country’s women, who at the time were asked to support their sons & husbands fighting overseas in the First World War & who were contributing to the war effort on the home front. In his September 30 speech to Congress, Wilson acknowledged this debt, saying “we have made partners of the women in this war…Shall we admit them only to a partnership of suffering & sacrifice & toil & not to a partnership of privilege & right?” Wilson’s stirring words on that day failed to drum up the necessary votes to pass the amendment. The bill died in the Senate. 

On October 2, 1919, at the White House in Washington, D.C., United States President Woodrow Wilson suffers a massive stroke that leaves him partially paralyzed on his left side & effectively ends his presidential career. 



Ironically, his wife of 9 months Edith Wilson took over many routine duties & details of the Executive branch of the government. She decided which matters of state were important enough to bring to the bedridden president. "I studied every paper sent from the different Secretaries or Senators," she wrote later of her role, "and tried to digest & present in tabloid form the things that, despite my vigilance, had to go to the President. I, myself, never made a single decision regarding the disposition of public affairs. The only decision that was mine was what was important & what was not, & the very important decision of when to present matters to my husband." 


Woodrow Wilson's 1st posed photograph after his stroke. He was paralyzed on his left side, so his wife Edith holds a document steady, while he apparently signs. June 1920.

One Republican senator labeled her "the Presidentress who had fulfilled the dream of the suffragettes by changing her title from First Lady to Acting First Man."

In My Memoir, published in 1939, Edith Wilson called her role a "stewardship" & insisted that her actions had been taken only because the president's doctors told her to do so for her husband's mental health. Historian & journalist Phyllis Lee Levin wrote that Edith Wilson was "a woman of formidable determination."

Passed by Congress June 4, 1919, and ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America granted women the right to vote.


1650 Any woman out there need a good attorney?


The Good Womans Champion or A Defence For The Weaker Vessel. Printed in London by Francis Grove in 1650 picks out passages from the Bible in praise of women.


1652 Horsemanship?


The Vaulting Master or, The art of vaulting reduced to a method, comprised under certaine rules. illustrated by examples, and now primarily set forth by Will Stokes. Printed for Richard Davies in Oxford 1652.


1642 Laws and Statutes for Students of Harvard College - No Women Allowed


Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Woman with scarf over her head. 1643

Harvard College Lawes of 1642 (from New England's First Fruits)

1. When any Schollar is able to Read Tully or such like classicall Latine Author ex tempore, and make and speake true Latin in verse and prose suo (ut aiunt) Marte, and decline perfectly the paradigmes of Nounes and verbes in the Greeke tongue, then may hee bee admitted into the College, nor shall any claime admission before such qualifications.

2. Every one shall consider the mayne End of his life and studyes, to know God and Jesus Christ which is Eternall life. Joh. 17.3.

3. Seeing the Lord giveth wisdome, every one shall seriously by prayer in secret, seeke wisdome of him.

4. Every one shall so exercise himselfe in reading the Scriptures twice a day that they bee ready to give an account of their proficiency therein, both in theoreticall observations of Language and Logicke, and in practicall and spirituall truthes as their tutor shall require according to their severall abilities respectively, seeing the Entrance of the word giveth light etc. psal. 119, 130.

5. In the publicke Church assembly they shall carefully shunne all gestures that shew any contempt or neglect of Gods ordinances and bee ready to give an account to their tutors of their profiting and to use the helpes of Storing themselves with knowledge, as their tutours shall direct them, and all Sophisters and Bachellors (until themselves make common place) shall publiquely repeate Sermons in the Hall whenver they are called forth.

6. They shall eschew all prophanation of Gods holy name, attributes, word, ordinances, and times of worship, and study with Reverence and love carefully to reteine God and his truth in their minds.

7. They shall honour as their parents, Magistrates, Elders, tutours and aged persons, by beeing silent in their presence (except they bee called on to answer) not gainesaying shewing all those laudable expressions of honour and Reverence in their presence, that are in uses as bowing before them standing uncovered or the like.

8. They shall be slow to speake, and eschew not onely oathes, Lies, and uncertaine Rumours, but likewise all idle, foolish, bitter scoffing, frothy wanton words and offensive gestures.