Tag Archives: Occoquan Workhouse

Why Women Should Vote

Connie Schultz of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland wrote a column that has gone viral in a zillion emails and blogs. I got it in an unattributed email, but a bit of research turned up her name, so kudos to Connie Schultz.

After watching an HBO movie entitled “Iron Jawed Angels,” she wrote a powerful reminder of why everyone ”” not just women ”” should educate themselves about the issues and vote responsibly.

It’s a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged. Netflix gave it a 4 out of 5 star rating. I’m going to watch it with my kids before the election.

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This is the story of our Grandmothers and Great-grandmothers; they lived only 90 years ago.

Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote.

(Lucy Burns)
And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden’s blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of ‘obstructing sidewalk traffic.’

They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.

(Dora Lewis)
They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the ‘Night of Terror’ on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson’s White House for the right to vote.

For weeks, the women’s only water came from an open pail. Their food ”” all of it colorless slop ”” was infested with worms.

(Alice Paul)

When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

So, refresh my memory. Some women won’t vote this year because ”” why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn’t matter? It’s raining?

History is being made. And those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

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What do you think? Are you going to vote in the Presidential election in November? Do you vote in your local elections? Why or why not? Did you see “Iron Jawed Angels”?