Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 31, 2010

Women's suffragists demonstrate in February 1913. (Bain News Service)

March 31, 1776: Abigail Adams writes a letter to her husband, John Adams, stating that women are “determined to foment a rebellion” if the new Declaration of Independence doesn’t guarantee women’s rights as well as men’s. She was right, of course, but it took over 100 years for that to happen.

Women could be elected in the US before they could vote themselves into office. Women’s suffrage is still not a worldwide right, but progress is continually being made. It should be noted that there are places on this planet where male suffrage is also not granted.

Women have no right to vote in Saudi Arabia (men 21 and over) and at the Holy See or Vatican where only cardinals (all male) under the age of 80 can vote. Women got the vote in the Falkland Islands in 2009 while the Pitcairn Islands were first to grant this right in 1838. In Iceland, when first given a say, women had to be 40 or over, but the age was reduced to 18 five years later. As an ironic twist, Isle of Man was the second to give women a vote in 1881.

Women’s rights became more of an issue as slavery was being abolished. If one is saying that all humans are equal regardless of race, then certainly they should all be equal regardless of gender. Women became more vocal and demanded the full status of human beings. The Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, granting voting rights regardless of sex was finally ratified in August of 1920 – a mere 144 years after Abigail wrote her letter.

“Howiver, I’m not denyin’ the women are foolish: God Almighty made ’em to match the men.” – George Eliot in “The Harvest Supper,” Adam Bede

“I have an idea that the phrase ‘weaker sex’ was coined by some woman to disarm some man she was preparing to overwhelm.” – Ogden Nash

“Nature has given women so much power that the law has very wisely given them little.” – Samuel Johnson

“Democracy is being allowed to vote for the candidate you dislike least.” – Robert Byrne

Also on this day, in 1889 the Eiffel Tower was inaugurated.

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One Response

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  1. Bobby Dias said, on March 31, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    I really appreciate what Abigail Adams did in her life but the fact of the matter was that she if could write to her husband for a thousand years she would not gain anything for women’s voting for anything federal. Abigail did not understand that the laws had to be changed by Congress not by her husband.

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