With Election Day right around the corner, I thought I would write to emphasize how important it is for women to exercise their right to vote.
Not only did women actively fight for the right to vote in America since around 1848 – when Elizabeth Candy Stanton, Lucretia Mott, et al held the Seneca Falls Convention– women have also been fighting for their rights in America since its creation.
Abigail Adams wrote to her husband in 1776 saying:
Even in Great Britain 1796, Mary Wollstonecraft wrote that women are regarded as “a kind of subordinate being and not as part of the Human species.” She urged women to take control of their own lives in her book A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. After its publication, women in American (not Great Britain) began to involve themselves in the Revolution – whether it was actually fighting (as a group in Massachusetts did when redcoats tried to plunder their town), participating in petition-signing and raising money for American troops, or forming groups like Daughters of the American Revolution and Daughters of Liberty.
Clearly, there was something different about American women – they, before other countries, took real action. Perhaps their first-hand experience of seeing liberty fought for by their husbands during the time of the American Revolution propelled them to stand up for their rights as free citizens.
1848 marks the beginning of women’s suffrage in America, and the movement did not take long to spread to the U.K. when in 1851, The Sheffield Female Political Association was founded and called on the House of Lords to give women the right to vote. Although women in Great Britain were given the right to vote earlier than women in the United States, the suffrage movement itself was definitely set off by American women.
Year after year, country by country, women gained the right to vote. Now just 2 countries do not give women the right to vote (The Vatican and Saudi Arabia).
The concept of American Exceptionalism proves to be no exception for American women. America truly is a special place where exceptional things happen and can motivate the world to take action.
So I hope you exercise your right to vote tomorrow and remember that American women are historically pioneers of their time and that their actions can influence the world.