Jackie Gingrich Cushman

When my grandmother (my mother’s mother) was born, women did not have the right to vote.  In the rural area where she was born, it was expected she would always live there.  She defied expectations, and her father’s wishes, moved to town and became a nurse.  She was quite progressive for her time.

My mother went to college and earned a math degree, unusual for her time.  When I graduated from high school, the question was not if I should go to college, but what college.  Once out of college, I earned a MBA.  My point?  Each generation builds on the framework of the prior generation. 

It was 144 years after the founding of our country that women were first allowed to vote for our governmental leaders.   

In 1776, during the founding of our nation, Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams, (who was to become the second president of the United States), wrote a letter to her husband, who was a member of the Continental Congress, requesting "In the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies."  She knew that it was important for women to participate and also noted, “If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”

The rebellion was a long time in coming, but come it did.  The women’s suffrage movement began in force in 1848, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott organized a convention in Seneca Falls, New York, with the goal of universal suffrage.  This quest for voting rights continued for decades.  In 1912, Theodore Roosevelt’s Bull Moose/ Republican Party became the first national party to include a plank in its platform for the women’s suffrage movement. 

In 1916, Montana’s election of Jeannette Rankin made her the first woman in the U.S. House of Representatives. A year later, the National Woman’s Party picketed the White House, demanding the right to vote.  Many of the picketers and organizers were arrested and sent to prison, where several of the ladies went on a hunger strike.  The prisoners were force-fed though tubes, and one of them, Alice Paul, was removed to a sanitarium in hopes of having her declared insane.  

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.