Universal suffrage came during a time of widespread heartache. The movement to win the vote for women, already in its vigor, was nearly toppled by a deadly Spanish Flu pandemic that walloped the country. It killed 675,000 Americans between January 1918 and December of 1920, according to historical accounts.
Carrie Chapman Catt, founder of the League of Women Voters, said “This new affliction is bringing sorrow into many suffrage homes and is presenting a serious new obstacle in our referendum campaigns and in the Congressional and Senatorial campaigns.”
Despite the unexpectedly fierce foe, a brave and resolute cadre of women secured the right to vote for their sisterhood. Congress passed the 19th amendment on March 27, 1920, ratified it five months later and ended “…almost a century of protest.”
Under ordinary circumstances the centennial of a major historical event is celebrated throughout the nation, but now–just as then–a pandemic—has put a pause on partying with pomp.
Meanwhile, it is important to remember that bickering over equal rights began during the Revolutionary War. While many colonists concentrated on relief from British subjugation in the 1770s and 1780s, future First Lady, Abigail Adams, was also pondering another goal: how to include women in the political life of a brand-new country.
In a letter dated March 31, 1776 to her husband, John Adams, the prospective second President of the United States, she wrote:
“In the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.”
The Grateful American Book Prize is an award offered for excellence in writing for adolescent historical fiction, and non-fiction, based on the events and persons that have shaped the United States since the country’s founding. Judges for the 2020 Prize are now reviewing submissions. Works published between August 1, 2019 through July 31, 2020 are eligible.