By Kathleen Mary Tepper
Dist. E council candidate
To the Editor:
NORWALK, Conn. — Just over 160 years ago a small group of women sat down to afternoon tea. It was an afternoon that would change history. Among the attendees at that long-ago tea party were Elizabeth Cady-Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Lucretia Mott, three women who, with the help of many others over the years, organized an event that would begin the long struggle to finally give women the right to vote.
At the first Women’s Convention held in July 1848 in Seneca Falls, N.Y., Cady-Stanton wrote a document called the “Declaration of Sentiments.” It was based on the Declaration of Independence.
Reading this document at the hastily organized convention, Cady-Stanton stated that women should have the right to vote because both “men and women are created equal.” It was a radical idea at the time because women were not considered mentally or physically capable of holding any public office or position of authority.
Although supported by many prominent Americans, female and male, the idea of women’s equality was greeted with ridicule, fury and vilification at the mere idea that women were equal to men and deserved an equal place in the governance of the country.
Proponents of votes for women were called the “Shrieking Sisterhood,” branded as unfeminine and accused of everything from immorality and drunkenness to prostitution.
Women who spoke out on the issue were often subjected to verbal abuse, physical violence and arrest. They were beaten; force fed, handcuffed in stress positions for many hours and often became unconscious as a result.
One of these heroines was called Helena Hill Weed and she lived right here in Norwalk. The beatings and verbal abuse never dampened her determination to win the right to vote, but it wasn’t until the 19th Amendment to the U.S Constitution was ratified on Aug. 18, 192, that the struggle for women’s suffrage was won.
Whether it is a municipal, state or federal election, EVERY woman should honor the memory of the courageous men and women who fought to give us the right to vote by going to the polls themselves and voting. When women vote, women win.
No excuses. If you can’t get to the polls on Nov. 5, you can vote absentee. Just call the Town Clerk’s Office at 203-938-2377 or 203-854-7746 for information.
It is an honor to be able to vote; I do so with pride and am humbled by the sacrifice it took to give me that right.
Kathleen Mary Tepper
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