Do You Know These Suffrage Dates...and One About Chocolate?
Updated: May 17
Celebrating RosieCentral's Suffrage Month
It’s DAY 3 of our RosieCentral blogs celebrating the 19th Amendment — the constitutional guarantee of women’s right to vote.
As Kendra mentioned on Monday, we have named August Suffrage Month. Why? The last of the state ratifications and the Secretary of State’s certification of the 19th Amendment both took place in August.
We have planned 19 suffrage focused blogs throughout the month as one more way to acknowledge the 19th Amendment.
Kendra started our Suffrage blogs on August 1 highlighting "the best of times, the worse of times." Then on August 2, she provided two fun free suffrage word roundups. (Click on the red links to see these blogs, if you missed them.)
What to Expect this Month
Those two blogs by Kendra are just the first of our August Suffrage Month filled with:
Interesting women’s voting rights topics
Suffrage dates galore
FREE downloadable suffrage games/puzzles
FREE downloadable coloring pages (our hand-drawn suffrage cartoons are set up for your (or your children or grandchildren’s) crayons or colored pencils.
And special discounts on our suffrage products on Etsy.
Each blog has either a DISCOUNT coupon code (good for only 7 days) or a FREE download.
Taking in a Bigger View of Suffrage
On Monday, Kendra wrote about the immediate history surrounding the move toward suffrage — specifically the importance of the momentum provided by the General Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1914.
And today, I’m going to back up by a few years — well by quite a few years — 138 to be specific. In this blog, I want to honor our foremother, Abigail Adams, and to show her clear link to the suffrage movement. I’ve written about Abigail before, but this time I want to highlight her direct link to the protests associated with the suffrage movement.
Going Back to 1776
In March 1776, Abigail Adams famously wrote to her husband, John Adams, about her hopes for the new legal system that would govern America after its forthcoming independence from British rule. As you probably know, she wrote:
“I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favorable 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 particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice or Representation.”
I bolded the second paragraph because it is so important. Yes, it took 72 years after Abigail’s 1776 letter before the Declaration of Sentiments (a document that paralleled the Declaration of Independence) was voted on and accepted at the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention. But it was Abigail who drew attention to the need for women to have a voice in government. And she also foreshadowed the marches and more militant actions women took in securing the right to that voice -- that vote -- in her words "to foment a Rebelion."(sic)
But before we get to Seneca Falls, look at some of the events that took place between Abigail Adams’ 1776 letter and the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention. I've also give you our "take" on those events.
Abigail wrote her husband in March. By July, New Jersey had adopted its state constitution that allowed all who owned property to vote. Neither gender nor race were disqualifications. Of course (!), married women couldn’t vote because legally they were not allowed to own property as any they owned became their husbands.
We call this: So close and yet so far.
Between May and September, the Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia where they decided states had the right to determine who could vote and under what circumstances.
We call this: A missed opportunity to grant women the right to vote.
Oh, Abigail would have been so happy.
The Fifteenth General Assembly of New Jersey specified that voters could be both “he” and “she.”
We call this: Forward progress. Hopefully. Maybe.
The New Jersey legislature voted to limit suffrage to “free, white, male citizens.”
We call this: One step forward (in 1790)
and now one step back (in 1807).
Kentucky passed a statewide woman suffrage law that allowed women (well, only female heads of household and only in elections that dealt with taxes and schools) to vote.
We call this: Something is better than nothing.
June was a significant month — not because of progress toward suffrage for women but because of women’s exclusion from the World Antislavery Congress. Two women whose names are synonymous with suffrage — Elizabeth Cady Station and Lucretia Mott — were not permitted to take part in the Congress in London. It was a matter of they could be seen (they could attend) but not heard (they could not speak.) This prompted Stanton and Mott to resolve to “form a society to advocate the rights of women.”
We call this: Nevertheless, they persisted.
During the New York State Constitutional Convention, six property owning women petitioned for “equal, and civil and political rights” enjoyed by white men in the state. No surprise. The petition was denied.
We call this: It doesn’t hurt to ask, but stronger actions are needed.
1847 Yes, I Did Say CHOCOLATE in the Title!
The title of this blog wasn't a tease. Chocolate really does come into this set of dates. Between the New York State Constitutional Convention in 1846 and Seneca Falls in 1848, the first solid chocolate bar was invented. True, a man's name is associated with it, Joseph Fry. But the story includes a woman. Why are we not surprised! Joseph Fry died in 1787. His wife and son took over the company and renamed it Anna Fry & Son. Anna's son, took over the company after Anna died. He patented a method of grinding cocoa beans using a Watt steam engine. And it was his sons, Anna's grandsons, who invited the first solid chocolate bar in 1847. This all took place in England, but it's fun to imagine that some of those early chocolate bars were exported to America and perhaps eaten during Seneca Falls Convention.
We call this: Yummy.
Now we arrive at our target year — 1848.The Women’s Right Convention — commonly called Seneca Falls Convention — debated the Declaration of Sentiments. One hundred of the approximately 300 attendees (both women and men) signed this document that included a passage for women’s right to vote. The Declaration of Sentiments became a call to action.
We call this: Finally. It’s about time!
We intended to stop at 1848 for this blog. But when we found out what happened in 1849 regarding women’s right to vote, we just couldn’t resist sharing. A Michigan State Senate committee proposed universal suffrage.
What happened? You can probably guess, but you might not know the reason. Yes, the proposal died in committee with the following reason: “woman suffrage is viewed as ‘unusual’ and ‘needless.’”
We call this: Women voting was “unusual” ...
because men controlled who got to vote.
Back to Abigail Adams...with Gratitude
We thank Abigail Adams for her many letters to her husband including those that argued against the domination of male power. She was a strong woman. She managed the family farm while her husband was absent helping to build a nation. She was John Adams' sounding board. Abigail was one of our founding mothers . Without any real power herself, she put forward ideas on women’s rights that would inspire the future suffrage generations—and continue to inspire us today.
...I’ll return with more history on women’s suffrage, looking specifically at…
A President, a War, and One More Senate Vote
See you then.
… if you’d like an Abigail Adams mug, we created one with her quote about “learned women” on Redbubble.
T-shirts more your interest? Below is a link to one with the quote “Remember the Ladies”. You’ll find it also on Redbubble.
Multiple colors and sizes and styles available.
Or if you’d like our handmade Abigail Adams cloth ornament, we have a special 20% off discount for you.
Just click on the link below
Put the ornament PLUS the add-on beautiful oval button in your cart
Add the coupon code VOTE20ABIGAIL and you get 20% off the combo.
We’re super excited about this new Abigail button.
It is our hand-drawn version of an Abigail Adams portrait showing her a few years after her marriage to John Adams. Then we added a design similar to those used in brooches worn by Colonial women.
You’ll have fun wearing the button and acknowledging one of our founding foremothers.