The Fundamental Principle of a Republic, by Anna Howard Shaw
Breaking Down Patriarchy
Allebest: Welcome to Breaking Down Patriarchy! I’m Amy McPhie Allebest. Today’s text is the speech, “The Fundamental Principle of a Republic” by Anna Howard Shaw, given in New York in 1915. Shaw argues that the fundamental principle of a republic is that its citizens get to participate in civic life, and that in denying women the right to vote, America falls short of its democratic values. As listeners might recall from our episode on the Seneca Falls Convention, the women’s suffrage movement had officially begun in 1848, which means that at the point that this speech was given, women had been fighting for the right to vote for 67 years!! Can you imagine how frustrating?? Why was it taking so long? What arguments were being made against women’s suffrage, that were convincing American men and American women that women should not have the right to vote? Anna Howard Shaw’s oration addresses exactly those anti-suffrage arguments. This speech is included on many lists of the 50 best speeches of the entire 20th Century, and sure enough when I read it I was blown away… not only by its power, but also by its humor! Anna Howard Shaw was funny! But before we get to the speech, I want to introduce my reading partner, Amy Osmond Cook. Amy and I were neighbors and running buddies several years ago in Southern California, and we crammed years’ worth of deep discussion into the year that we lived in the same neighborhood. Also, fun fact: as you may have guessed from her maiden name, Amy is the niece of Donny and Marie Osmond. She’s way too humble to name-drop like that, so I’m going to do it for her. :) And we discovered after meeting that we know tons of the same people, including discovering after we had been friends for months, that my cousin is married to her sister! Amy, I absolutely adored you from the first moment I met you and I am so grateful that you agreed to do this project with me! Thanks so much for being here.Cook: Amy, the feeling is just so mutual. Allebest: So before we start, could you tell us a little about yourself? Where you grew up and what made you the person you are today.Cook: BioAncestors fromBorn and raised inFamily of originReligionEducation: undergradPhD dissertationCareerCurrent familyHobbies/favorite thingsAllebest: Thanks so much! And the other question I like to ask is what interested you in Breaking Down Patriarchy. Cook: Interest in the projectAllebest: Thanks, Amy. Ok, so in preparation for discussing this text, we need to set the stage a bit by explaining the women’s suffrage movement and Anna Howard Shaw.Allebest and Cook take turns:Allebest:As a way of orienting us, here are a few highlights from a Women’s Suffrage Timeline, as found on the website of The National Women’s History Museum. We’ll take turns reading some important dates just so we have an understanding of what happened when. 1850Worcester, Massachusetts, is the site of the first National Women's Rights Convention. Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Lucy Stone and Sojourner Truth are in attendance. A strong alliance is formed between the Women’s Rights Movement and the Abolitionist Movement (and actually, as we learned in other episodes, those two movements were allied from the very beginning - the women’s movement grew directly out of the Abolition movement)1861-1865During the Civil War, efforts for the suffrage movement come to a halt. Women put their energies toward the war effort.1866Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony form the American Equal Rights Association, an organization dedicated to the goal of suffrage for all, regardless of gender or race.1868Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Parker Pillsbury publish the first edition of The Revolution. This periodical carries the motto “Men, their rights and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less!”Senator S.C. Pomeroy of Kansas introduces the federal woman’s suffrage amendment in Congress. It is rejected. Cook:1869The American Equal Rights Association is wrecked by disagreements over the question of whether to support the proposed Fifteenth Amendment which would enfranchise Black American males, while avoiding the question of women’s suffrage entirely. Also in 1869, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony found the National Women’s Suffrage Association (NWSA), a more radical institution, to achieve the vote through a Constitutional amendment as well as push for other women’s rights issues. 1870The Fifteenth Amendment gives black men the right to vote. NWSA refused to work for its ratification and instead the members advocate for a Sixteenth Amendment that would dictate universal suffrage. Frederick Douglass broke with Stanton and Anthony over the position of NWSA. Allebest: Which is understandable. Frederick Douglass had worked so hard helping White women achieve equal rights, but they abandoned the cause of equal rights for African Americans. Stanton especially said some terribly racist things once it became apparent that Black men were going to be able to vote before White women. We talked about this in our episode on Seneca Falls, but it bears repeating what a tragic and terrible chapter this was in history. 1872Susan B. Anthony casts her ballot for Ulysses S. Grant in the presidential election and is arrested and brought to trial in Rochester, New York. Fifteen other women are arrested for illegally voting. Sojourner Truth appears at a polling booth in Battle Creek, Michigan, demanding a ballot to vote; she is turned away.1874The Woman's Christian Temperance Union is founded by Annie Wittenmyer. (Temperance of course means not consuming alcohol.) The WCTU became an important proponent in the fight for women’s suffrage. As a result, one of the strongest opponents to women's enfranchisement was the liquor lobby, which feared women might use their vote to prohibit the sale of liquor.1878A Women’s Suffrage Amendment is proposed in the U.S. Congress. When the 19th Amendment passes forty-one years later, it is worded exactly the same as this 1878 Amendment. Allebest1890Two different women’s suffrage organizations merge to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Stanton is the first president. The Movement focuses efforts on securing suffrage at the state level (since it won’t pass at the national level)Wyoming is admitted to the Union with a state constitution granting women’s suffrage. This makes sense. Those Western women were working right alongside the men on the frontier, taking care of animals and fields and doing a lot of the same hard work the men were doing, in a much more egalitarian way. No sitting in the parlor passing the time with embroidery for those women.1894600,000 signatures are presented to the New York State Constitutional Convention in an effort to bring a women’s suffrage amendment to the voters. It is rejected (and laughed at).1896Mary Church Terrell, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and Frances E.W. Harper, among others, found the the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs.Utah joins the Union with full suffrage for women. (But voiting rights are later revoked because of an issue with polygamy - that’s an interesting story to look up, and you no doubt know all about that, Amy!)Idaho adopts women’s suffrage1903The Women's Trade Union League of New York is founded, an organization of middle- and working-class women dedicated to unionization for working women and to women’s suffrage.1910Washington State adopts woman suffrage. The Women’s Political Union organizes the first suffrage parade in New York City. Cook1911The National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage (NAOWS) is organized. Led by Mrs. Arthur Dodge, its members included wealthy, influential women, some Catholic clergymen, distillers and brewers, urban political machines, Southern congressmen, and some heads of large corporations.1912Women’s Suffrage is supported for the first time at the national level by a major political party -- Theodore Roosevelt's Bull Moose Party. Twenty thousand suffrage supporters join a New York City suffrage parade. Oregon, Kansas, and Arizona adopt women’s suffrage. 1913Suffragists organize a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC. The parade was the first major suffrage spectacle organized by the National American Woman Suffrage Association.[Here we want to add something that doesn’t appear on the timeline] In a New York Times article called “How the Suffrage Movement Betrayed Black Women,” author Brent Staples writes that the White leaders of this parade “...demanded that black participants march in an all-black assembly at the back of the parade instead of with their state delegations. Ida B. Wells famously refused. Mary Church Terrell, who marched in a colored delegation as requested, believed at the time that white suffragists would exclude black women from the 19th Amendment — nicknamed the Anthony Amendment — if they thought they could get away with it. These episodes fueled within the African-American community a lasting suspicion of white suffragists and of the very idea of political cooperation across racial lines.”This story is not covered often enough, and we encourage you to look up Ida B. Wells and Mary Church Terrell, and we have posted a link to biographies of Black women who worked tirelessly for women’s suffrage on the website, Breaking Down Patriarchy.com. (Source: https://www.history.com/news/black-suffragists-19th-amendmentAmy: It’s just shameful. And I was really disappointed to not see that mentioned on The National Women’s History Museum timeline. You still have to look up special interest articles to learn about the contributions of women of color, and about the racism of many of the white feminists. That needs to change. 1915Forty thousand march in a NYC suffrage parade. Many women are dressed in white and carry placards with the names of the states they represent. Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts continue to reject woman suffrage.---Allebest:And that leads us to the moment of Anna Howard Shaw’s speech in New York. As you just pointed out, women’s suffrage was being battled state by state, and New York was still holding out against it. So let’s pause here and learn a little bit about Anna Howard Shaw. Amy, could you give us a brief biography? Cook:Anna Howard Shaw was born on February 14, 1847 - any 30 Rock fans will remember Liz Lemon renaming Valentine’s Day “Anna Howard Shaw Day.” :) Shaw was born in England, but moved with her parents to the United States when she was four years old. She grew up in a forest in Michigan, helping her mother manage a large property and many children in the wilderness, while her father worked in the city and had a thriving career. Anna did a lot of manual labor and caretaking of her mother and younger siblings when she was a child. Shaw felt called to preach from an early age. As a child, she would spend time in the woods near her house, and stand on tree stumps to preach to the trees of the forest. She was determined to go to college and follow the path that she felt was God's will for her life. Her family disapproved and refused to help her with her goal, so she struck out on her own, having to “pick up the dreaded needle” and do work as a seamstress because her preferred work of digging ditches or shoveling coal were not considered suitable for women. An important moment came when Anna met Reverend Marianna Thompson, a Universalist minister who came to preach in Grand Rapids. Shaw went to the service, eager to see a woman in the pulpit, and after the service, Shaw confided in Thompson her own desire to pursue the ministry as a vocation. Thompson strongly encouraged her to obtain an education without delay.In 1873, Shaw entered Albion College, a Methodist school in Albion, Michigan. Since her family frowned upon her decided career path, they refused to provide any financial support. At that point, Shaw had been a licensed preacher for three years and earned her wages by giving lectures on temperance.After Albion College, Shaw attended Boston University School of Theology in 1876. She was the only woman in her class of forty-two men, and she always felt "the abysmal conviction that [she] was not really wanted there." She also struggled to support herself financially. Already running on a tight income, Shaw found it unfair that the "male licensed preachers were given free accommodations in the dormitory and their board cost each of them $1.25 while it cost her $2 to pay rent of a room outside." Additionally, she had trouble finding employment. In 1880, after she and Annie Oliver were refused ordination by the Methodist Episcopal Church, despite passing with the top exam score that year, she achieved ordination in the Methodist Protestant Church. Following her ordination, Shaw received an MD from Boston University in 1886. During her time in medical school, she became an outspoken advocate of political rights for women. Shaw first met Susan B. Anthony in 1887, and in 1888, Shaw attended the first meeting of the International Council of Women. Susan B. Anthony encouraged her to join the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), and in 1904 she became president of the organization. She was president for the next 11 years. During the early 20th century, Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, NAWSA members, began employing militant techniques (e.g. picketing the White House during World War I) to fight for women's suffrage. They, like other members, were inspired by the success of the militant suffragettes in England. Shaw was ardently nonviolent, and maintained that she was "unalterably opposed to militancy, believing nothing of permanent value has ever been secured by it that could not have been more easily obtained by peaceful methods.” She was a speaker at the 1919 National Conference on Lynching, speaking about her frustration that women could not vote to outlaw the practice of lynching. In July of 1919, Shaw died of pneumonia at her home in Moylan, Pennsylvania at the age of seventy-two, only a few months before Congress ratified the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, granting women the right to vote. ----AllebestSo frustrating!!! Ok, so now let’s talk about that famous 1915 speech. Amy and I have selected a few of our favorite parts to highlight, but I must say, there is truly so much amazing material in this speech, I highly recommend looking it up and reading the whole thing! It’s really readable and enjoyable.----AllebestWhen I came into your hall tonight, I thought of the last time I was in your city. Twenty One years ago I came here with Susan B. Anthony, and we came for exactly the same purpose as that for which we are here tonight. Again, how incredibly frustrating!!! It’s easy for us to look back, knowing how the story ends, and say “don’t worry, it’s going to work out.” But can you imagine spending your entire life fighting for something, day after day, and knowing the generation before you fought for it, and going to give a speech in exactly the same place, about that same topic, 21 years later, and nothing had changed?? I would want to give up.Boys have been born since that time and have become voters, and the women are still trying to persuade American men to believe in the fundamental principles of democracy, and I never quite feel as if it was a fair field to argue this question with men, It’s not!! We’ve discussed this on multiple episodes already - it’s like Queen Esther fasting and praying and going in to King Xerxes and just hoping he feels benevolent enough to raise his scepter and let her talk. I feel sympathy with people of color trying to argue for their rights when they talk to white people in power, and for LGBTQ people trying to convince straight people to please let them have the same civil rights that straight people already enjoy. It’s not a fair field of argument at all. One thing that men, or White people, or straight people, can try to do is to try to have empathy. For me, being a woman appealing to a group of men in power feels similar to how I felt when I was a child talking to an adult who held all the power over my life. I remember that feeling of trying to make my case brilliantly and compellingly and trying to behave so...
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