[Vision2020] Fwd: A short history lesson on the privilege of voting ..

Tom Trail ttrail at moscow.com
Fri Aug 13 15:44:46 PDT 2004

>Visionaries:   This reflection on the history that we should remember and

not forget about the importance of the privilege of voting.  Only 
about 20% of Idaho's
voters turned out for the primary this spring, and Ada County the turnout
was about 16%.  The price paid by many for the privilege that in this case-
women could vote--needs to be remembered.

Tom Trail

>>A short history lesson on the privilege of voting ...
>>The women were innocent and defenseless. And by the end of the night,
>>they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and with
>>their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly
>>convicted of "obstructing sidewalk traffic."
>>They beat Lucy Burn, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head
>>and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air. 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 November 15, 1917 (a mere 87
>>years ago), 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. 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?
>>Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new movie
>>"Iron Jawed Angels." It is a graphic depiction of the battle these
>>women  waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and
>>have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.
>>All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the
>>actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote.
>>Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege.
>>Sometimes it was inconvenient.
>>My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history, saw the HBO
>>movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked
>>angry.  She was--with herself.
>>"One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie," she said.
>>"What would those women think of the way I use--or don't use--my right
>>to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but
>>those of us who did seek to learn.  "The right to vote" she said, had
>>become valuable to her all over again.
>>HBO will run the movie periodically before releasing it on video and
>>I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would
>>include the movie in their curriculum. we  are not voting in the
>>numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock  therapy is in
>>It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a
>>psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be
>>permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor
>>refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her
>>crazy. The doctor admonished the men: "Courage in women is often
>>mistaken for insanity."
>>Please pass this on to all the women you know. We need to get out and
>>vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very

       Courtesy of my cousin, Mary.

Dr. Tom Trail
International Trails
1375 Mt. View Rd.
Moscow, Id. 83843
Tel:  (208) 882-6077
Fax:  (208) 882-0896
e mail ttrail at moscow.com
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