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One Hundred Years Since the "Night of Terror"

by Countable | 11.14.17

What’s the story?

August 18, 1920 stands as the official anniversary of women’s suffrage, when Congress ratified the 19th Amendment to the Constitution:

"The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."

But it was on this day a hundred years ago, November 14, 1917, dubbed by suffragists the ‘Night of Terror’, that national support of women’s suffrage was galvanized.

33 suffragists imprisoned for protesting outside of the White House were beaten and tortured by guards — chained to the walls, knocked unconscious, and denied counsel. A White House official, Dudley Field Malone, who was married to one of the detainees, resigned his post to defend them in court.

In March 1918 the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled that all the arrests had been unconstitutional.

Why does it matter?

The Women’s Suffrage movement began in 1848 with the Seneca Falls Convention, commemorated on New York’s voting stickers in November of this year.

But the movement was not without its complications. The enfranchisement of black men via the ratification of the 15th Amendment in 1870 pitched the women’s suffrage and anti-racism movements of the time against each other. Some suffragist leaders were willing to advance the cause of white women at the expense of the black community.

Anna Howard Shaw, leader of the National Women’s Suffrage Association, famously said, "You have put the ballot in the hands of your black men, thus making them political superiors of white women. Never before in the history of the world have men made former slaves the political masters of their former mistresses!"

There were suffragist leaders who endorsed the 15th Amendment, however, and continued working to advance the political empowerment of all Americans until the 19th Amendment ratification in 1920.

Voting rights protections for people of color came with the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Many women, of all colors, are still hoping for passage of an Equal Rights Amendment.

What do you think?

Were you aware of this history? Are you concerned about the protection of voting rights? Do you support the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Associated Press via Washington Post )

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(15)
  • Joel
    11/14/2017
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    Ernest, that was a stupid comment.

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  • Pat
    11/15/2017
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    I now believe discrimination against women is as prevalent in the US as discrimination against black men and, perhaps, worse. Hillary is not in government office anymore but I still hear and read comments about her everyday that wouldn’t be said if she were a man. Sexual harassment accusations abound because some men think they are privileged and can do whatever they feel like in order to make themselves feel powerful. And they have been correct because there have been no consequences for sexual harassment and even assault. We even have a president who brags about it. Which brings me to the point that there are many women who think “men are just being men”. I have to believe these women have accepted a subordinate position in their life because they think they are not equal. These attitudes allow and lead to more discrimination. Thanks to the hero’s of women’s suffrage! They went through a lot to clear the way for an equal attitude toward women. But we’re not there yet.

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  • Dave
    11/14/2017
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    What is sad is now we seem to suppress the voters, also make it easier for corporations and other country to rig the vote. If that does work they redistrict. It not about what is right, but winning control and power over the people.

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  • Ernest
    11/14/2017
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    A scary thought..... if Hillary had won- election night 2016 would have become this century’s Night of Terror!!!😱

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  • Countryfirst
    11/14/2017
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    We are heading towards dark times given the powers controlling our country..pay attention to the signs..white supremacists feel empowered by trump and his cast of money grubbing lapdog will do whatever to ensure his power. Illegal activities abound in this white house and the country needs to act!

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  • gailnabity
    11/15/2017
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    Boy, maybe gender discrimination is the most significant bigotry of all! Some of these comments were alarming. From bashing Hilary one more to, to having to start a pissing contest reminding the Democrats that it was Republicans who passed the 19th amendment and then finally a long rant about those messed up black folk from a woman who can’t have gone beyond 5th grade writing and grammar. Still today, over 50% of the US is discriminated against. Look at the cacophony of allegations of sexual abuse of women of all walks of life. I for one am shocked at what these suffragettes lives through to get me the vote. Changing “the norm” is scary dangerous work. Because then, just as now, those most invested in maintaining the status quo don’t hesitate to use the police as thugs. Here’s to those brave women who faced down terror to make sure that women’s votes are balancing men’s. I’m just grateful the law stands with women. We just need to enforce those laws. And vote. Every one of us. That sends a message.

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  • Ticktock
    11/15/2017
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    Yes I support the ERA. Republicans have made a science out of finding ways to disenfranchise voters. The right to vote in any American election or referendum needs this Amendment’s protection. We need the protection that our votes ensure. With the right to vote gerrymandering is the only obstacle remaining to a free and fair election.

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  • Cindylen
    11/14/2017
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    Our rights should never cost so much. Our soldiers do not fight to secure a government that would do such a thing. Any member of a free government who treats it citizens with such brutality or condones such treatment should be quickly taken out of office and sent through our justice system. The power of a politician should be seen as a power to serve the people, never as a power to serve oneself. Citizens, whether they are trying to make a living or protesting an injustice, should always be treated with respect.

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  • Deborah
    12/11/2017
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    Get that psycho out of our White House! Take his drooling VP out also! Let Us be proud of the USA . Our allies see what he says and does; they don’t want him. He’s embarrassed us. I hope u don’t forget who put u in your jobs and we can take u out with our votes! Do ur jobs and take care of our country!

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  • Tooluser1
    11/14/2017
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    Here's another of those inconvenient facts that the Democrats would like forget. As with Emancipation and Enfranchizement of former slaves, Sufferage passed with a majority of Republican support over the Democrats opposition. http://www.usconstitutionday.us/p/19th-amendment.html?m=1

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  • NoHedges
    11/14/2017
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    I would like to have every single party-line legislator investigate for acts of domestic terrorism. What is happening in our government is clearly against the will of American people, as such it should be objectively evaluated for evidence of domestic terrorism. 🗝Show me a legislator willing to stand up TODAY for the American people and I will show you my vote.

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  • Kathleen
    11/14/2017
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    No disrespect, my family is by race full, I am a grandmother of Mexican, Asian and Black. I see no color in my family , I love them all. But as a family we have talk about each race, my niece who is Black agrees with me, the Black race has used Racist so much that know one pays attention anymore. What happen 100 or more years ago , both Black and White had slaves. It should be in history books and never be forgotten. But this is 2017 things are much different know, you have the same rights as all Americans. You can get a good paying job, go to any college, vote so what seems to be the problem. My nieces states that the Democrats have used this race, just for votes. They will pay for your life, so that you depend on them, if you choose to do so don’t complain. If your sons round around with guns don’t follow the law wether what race you are you will get hurt or worse. I am not saying that all police don’t do wrong, but there is more that our good than bad. Now the voting , I feel we should have voter I.D not because of race, but because of people who are corrupt and use dead people Names to vote etc. so they can vote twice. The Democrats are against this because I feel they are behind this corruption . Now the other races in my family have no complaints except my my Grandaughter who is Mexican, the dreamers that is only her concern. We are all Americans, and when this country gets into trouble we all stick together, we don’t think what race we are, and that is how we should live today. We need to end this and the only way we can is to teach your children right from wrong, to respect all people, if we don’t start some where this will never end. We have to stop blaming each other.

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  • Elizabeth
    11/15/2017
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    We should celebrate our victories in the progress of civil rights. But we must remain vigilant. We still need a full Equal Rights Amendment that protects people of all colors, genders, and sexual orientations.

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  • Sheryl
    11/16/2017
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    Many don’t realize that women are STILL waiting for the Equal Rights Amendment.

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  • Rj
    11/15/2017
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    That's sounds like a sexist comment! Who wrote the title of this column?!

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