As someone who lived in a time when women weren’t even allowed to vote (the 19thAmendment giving women the right to vote wasn’t ratified until 1920!), let alone run for President, I applaud all of the current female candidates seeking the Democratic nomination to oppose President Trump in 2020. How fitting that we may elect our first woman president exactly 100 years after they won the right to vote!
Back in my day (antebellum America, that is), no one ever dreamed that our country would ever have a woman president. Queen Victoria had ascended to the throne in 1837 (the year before I was born), but unless you were a queen, a woman didn’t have the opportunity to serve in government, let alone as a country’s leader. And along with the rest of my generation of white men, especially if you were a cadet at West Point as I was, I admit it never occurred to me that women should have the right to vote. Most of us were too busy fighting about slavery and issues such as whether Negroes were human beings entitled to citizenship (according to the Dred-Scott Supreme Court decision of 1857, they weren’t) to seriously consider the issue of women’s rights. And my roommate at West Point was too busy accusing me of being a socialist, an atheist and an abolitionist to ever think to accuse me of being a feminist. Heck, I don’t think most people (let alone cadets at West Point, the ultimate bastion of white machismo), had even heard the term “feminism” back then. (The words “feminist” and “feminism” didn’t even appear in the United States until the early 20thcentury.) The women’s suffrage movement may have begun in 1848 when a women’s rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, NY, but not too many people knew about it or cared. And many who did were radically opposed to its goals.
More about the similarities between the women’s movement and the battle for racial equality to come soon.