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tv   Conversations with Suffragists  CSPAN  October 3, 2020 9:20pm-10:01pm EDT

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answers either. leave the interpretation of my answers to the american people watching this debate. hasme say further, no one ever said those young men who were killed to the negligence of this administration and others. no one with a child who is 19 or 20-year-old should say that about the loss of anybody else's child. >> watch the full debate in this sunday at 6:30 p.m. eastern, 3:30 p.m. pacific on american history tv. >> on august 18, 1920, women won the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th amendment. to commemorate the anniversary, the national archives hosted a conversation with interpreters from the american historical theater portraying susan b. anthony, sojourner truth, and alice paul.
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welcome to today's program on the 19th amendment and women's equality day. my name is dorothy dority. for the next hour, i will be moderating our discussion with three key figures in the fight for women's right to vote. as you can see i'm celebrating by wearing my suffrage sash. i have a centennial pen that i ordered from the national archives gift shop. another way we can celebrate as by sharing our stories online. we have a number of animated gifs and stickers so you can post that on your social media posts using the hashtag 19 suffrage stories. all of these details that are on our website at let's begin our discussion today. my first guest is miss susan b anthony. hello, miss anthony. >> i'm feeling very energetic today. how are you? >> wonderful, thank you. my first question is how did you get involved in the women's suffrage movement?
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>> i didn't start my life as an agitator in the women's suffrage movement. it kind of grew gradually over time. it began when i first was made to understand that married women had no legal rights in this country. they could not own property or keep their earnings and i was taught to believe that women and men were equal and should have equal rights in my quaker household, we were treated equally. this was a very cruel comeuppance to me when i was taught about that. it was going to be a long, slow process to change those laws. i became interested in the temperance movement. we thought perhaps if we could take the alcohol out of the hands of abusive husbands, things would not be quite so bad for the wives who would complain to their husbands when they drank away the rent and they had no money to feed the children.
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an abused mother could not even take her children with her when she left the mat the marriage. through elizabeth i had my introduction to the abolitionist movement. the stain of slavery was still existing on our shores at that time. we devoted all of our efforts and trying to remove that. it was not until after the civil war, when the 13th amendment had finally been passed and involuntary servitude could no longer exist on our shores that we realized it was time to turn our attention to the rights for women. >> is that what you believe the women had rights to vote? >> i believe women already possess the right to vote. you can understand that by looking at the founding documents of our republic. the degradation of independence rightly asserts that we are all created equal. furthermore, it states that when a government becomes destructive
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of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it and to reinstitute a new government that is most likely to affect their safety and happiness. the right of the whole people to vote is clearly implied for no matter how much a government should be destructive to my happiness, a disenfranchised class could not even abolish it nor put a new one in its place. the governments that compels us to obey laws to which we have never given our consent are half of the people left holy at the -- left wholey at the mercy of the other half in direct violation of the spirit and letter of the declarations of the framework of government. i realized that document is not a matter of but the constitution is. in the constitution, the 14th
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amendment stated that all persons born or naturalized in the united states are citizens there of and of the state in which they reside. so the question i have to ask you is, are women persons? i think they are. i don't think any of our opponents could have the hardy hood to say they are not. the 15th amendment went on to say that the right of a citizen to vote shall not be denied or abridged because of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. well, i have a race who is white. i do not have a previous condition of servitude other than a metaphorical one that is the yoke of the women of this country. if i am guaranteed citizenship, i am guaranteed the right to vote. no where do we talk about governments granting rights.
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we are not asking for the right to vote. i believe we already possess it. what we are demanding is that the right to vote be guaranteed and protected. >> well, it's fascinating that you say that. i would definitely agree that women are people. you obviously believe this to the point that in 1872 you voted in a rochester, new york election. i know this because the national archives at new york city actually has a copy of that arrest record as well as your conviction. can you tell me a little bit about your arrest and the trial that followed? >> well, it was quite a scene, as you might imagine, but i was hoping to gather publicity for the cause, when i went to register to vote, the young man at the barbershop who were in charge of the registration work, when i arrive for some of my neighbors in sisters asked me what made me think i had the right to vote. i said i read the constitution. i thought well, i seem to have a point there. they could not go against the
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constitution. so they allowed me to register, not supposing i would dare to go vote. they did not know who they were dealing with. on election morning, i got there with my sisters around me. before it could become too crowded and created unnecessary spectacle, and we have to answer the same questions, why do i think i have the right to vote? i read them the constitution again and we were predicted -- we were permitted to cast our votes. we did it positively. we voted at 7:00 this morning and then two weeks later and not -- a knock comes at the door at my home in rochester. there is a young man who says he wants to take me into downtown rochester to see the commissioner. i said i have no social acquaintance with the commissioner. i politely declined the invitation. he said, i have to arrest you. i said is this the way you treat a woman you arrest? he said no, i usually have to put women in handcuffs. i said then put on the handcuffs. take me down.
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i want everyone to see how the government treats a citizen who is only exercising her right to vote. he declined the handcuffs, but he took me down on the street car and when we got there i said are you paying your fair because -- and i said, are you paying my fare because i'm a woman or this is part of your obligation in your work? he said he has to pay all of the fares for anyone he brings in for arrest. i said well that is the first five cents worth i ever got out of uncle sam. when we went to trial, the judge was kind enough to write his opinion before he even came to rochester. i was not permitted to speak in my own defense, because the judge said women are not competent to testify in a court of law. when all of the evidence had been laid before them, he turns to the jury and said gentleman of the jury, thank you very much for your service. i now direct you to return a
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verdict of guilty. did you ever hear of such a thing? when he asked me if the defendant had anything to say, you can imagine that i said yes, your honor. i have a great many things to say! for the directed verdict of guilty, every principle of government is trampled underfoot. my civil rights, my natural rights, my political rights. my judicial rights are all alike ignored. and then he fined me $100 i said your honor, i will never pay a dollar of your unjust fine. and i never have. >> fascinating. thank you for voting in that election and being the name associated with the movement. thank you for mentioning the other women that were arrested along with you. i think it's important to know that as the leader, your name
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was out there, but there were many women behind the movement as well. i think at this point, miss anthony, if you don't mind i will ask you to come back in a little bit and i'm going to turn the conversation to our next guests. ms. sojourner truth. how are you today? >> i am good, thank you. >> thank you for coming today. let's start with the first question i have. it is about your name. it is unique. tell us about the story behind it. >> i was born on a dutch plantation in upstate new york. not too far from the hudson river. somewhere around 1797, they gave me the name of isabel. they called me bell for short. i grew up tall and strong like my daddy. my daddy's name was james and my mama's name was betsy.
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it seems like wherever i went, people would talk and i heard their names and i thought about my name. after new york state passed a law in 1827 saying i could be free, i moved to new york city, started to work there. i stayed in a commune on the outskirts of town. i didn't like the goings-on there, so i said, god, tell me what should i do? god said, bell, be about your father's business. i packed everything i could in a knapsack and i left new york city. i left with two dollars in my pocket and a song in my heart.
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i moved along and i thought about it. i said now that i am a free woman, i need a freewoman's name. what should i call myself? so i thought about it. god told me to move up and down the countryside to preach about the ills of sin and the meanness and wickedness of slavery and god told me to speak up about women's rights. in the valleys and hills and mountainsides, spread the word of the gospel. i thought about that. the people in the bible sojourned the countryside. i'm about to do the same thing. i'm about to sojourn the countryside to preach and speak up for women's rights. sojourn the countryside. i am a sojourner. i called myself sojourner.
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i like that. i kept on moving. i said, most people got two names. what shall my last name be. i said wherever i go, i will speak from the heart and i will always speak the truth. truth shall be my last name. from this day forward, my name shall be sojourner truth. and that is what i did. i sojourned the countryside. i spoke to every town, every city. i would start to sing and people would begin to gather around. i would tell them of my days of being a slave, of being sold three times in the meeting. i would say, women, you've got just as much right as the menfolk.
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a man should not have dominion over the. a woman should be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with a man. you should be able to work outside the house. you should be able to speak without being ridiculed. you should be able to vote, run for public office. the word got around. sojourner truth is coming to town and talking about women's rights. the crowd got bigger and bigger. it got so i had to get a secretary to keep track of all of my speaking engagements. sometimes the crowd got rowdy. i would start to sing and they would drop the rocks. sometimes they would have to lock me up to keep me safe from the crowd. after the crowds went home, they let me out and i would go to the next city and start a speaking engagement again. sometimes they would say, old
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lady, if you speak here tonight, we will burn the place down. i said burn it down. i will speak upon the ashes. that is what i did for years and years, sojourning the countryside and speaking up for women's rights. >> that is such a great story. thank you for sharing that. i know in 1851 you delivered a public speech. could you tell us what the lessons are from that speech, what we should take a way from it? >> i would be happy to. my grandson, sammy, who traveled with me, i said, sammy, read the newspaper. tell me what is going on. he said, in akron, they are having women's rights
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convention. i said i am going to go up there. i sat down in the back and listened to everything going on. i wasn't invited, i just showed up. most of the men were doing all of the talking. they said some things that didn't sit too well with me. they said women don't need to be equal to a man. a man is smarter than a woman. a woman is weak and needs to be taken care of. it went on and on. how come the women are speaking up? the women dare not speak in public or dare not debate a man in public. so i said, i have to say something. so the next day i went back and i sat a little closer to the
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front. a man was doing all of the talking again. i told the ladies, i said, excuse me, can i get up there and say a few words? and they said ms. sojourner truth, don't speak, they will ruin us. everywhere she goes she causes trouble. i said i won't take long, but i just have to say a few words in response to these menfolk. they said well, in time they will let her speak. the other said, don't let her speak. i didn't come prepared with a speech in my head. i didn't come to walk in front of the convention and say nothing. i had to respond to these men with all they had to say. i didn't know whether they were going to let me speak or not. they were trying to run out of
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time to let me not have time to speak. so i thought about it, how am i going to get up there? so i started to sing. ♪ before i could get another word out, the place was quiet. they were looking at me and pointing with mouths open. some say, that is sojourner truth. i said here is my chance. i walked up to the front, all the way up there, they were pointing and i took my time and i got up to the front. by the time i got to the front, the place was quiet. i started to speak. i didn't have a speech prepared, just responded to the men. that gentleman over there said, she, by her lonesome managed to turn the world upside down.
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shouldn't women everywhere be
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able to turn the world right
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and white, rich and poor, also worked together. that is what one them to do. >> that is great advice. thank you, miss truth. thank you. i'm going to come back to in a little bit. we are going to move on to our third guest. miss alice paul. as miss alice paul joins us, how are you today? >> i am happy to see you. thank you very much. >> you are welcome. i have a question, could you tell us a little bit about your early life? >> early life? yes. i was born in 1885, but don't think for a minute i was a victorian. you see, queen victoria believed she was independent because of the divine right of monarchs. well, she admired many philosophers of the time who believed women were plainly inferior to men. that was an attitude i never understood. you see, i came from a quaker family. we believe in the inner life and divine in each person. i was taught quality from -- equality from the beginning. i home is a new jersey. it was a comfortable house where i was born and grew up there.
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i loved my father deeply. he was a farmer and president of a bank, but mostly a farmer. he used to say when ever anything disagreeable had to be done, well, he died when i was in college, and i would hope you would the proud of my accomplishments. i graduated from a small, small college and went on to do a graduate degree, a masters degree in social work, which i received from columbia university. then i studied at the university of pennsylvania and received a phd in economics. after we won the low, i decided to go back and study law because i thought if you do not know the law, someone can talk you down. i got so engrossed in the subject. i ended up with three lotteries. -- three law degrees.
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>> how did you get involved in the fight for women's suffrage? >> it was there from the very beginning. as i say, it came from my quaker values, my quaker roots and principles. my mother was active in the national american women's suffrage association and i helped her, even as a girl, so i always knew about the principles of equality from my quaker ringing. but then, when i went out into the broader world and left my quaker community, it was as if i had been punched in the stomach. [indiscernible] four votes in britain and you [indiscernible] votes in britain and you could
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hear cristobal speak about votes for women. she tried to speak it was heckled off the platform. still, i paid one shilling signed up. there i was, member of the women's social and political union. i began to work with the family. emily pancras and her daughters sylvia and kristabell. some of their tactics were unusual for women to engage in. we tried to confront politicians with their position on votes for women. and this would rattle the politicians significantly, so he kept at it, but here was our problem. at that time, no women were
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allowed at political gatherings. you wonder why? because the women might confront the politician about his view on votes for women. that frightened them, you see. well, we had to think of lever ways to enter the hall. if we gathered outside, we would be immediately arrested for obstruction of the sidewalk, so we would go in early in the morning and we would pretend to be kitchen staff, perhaps, or [indiscernible] cleaning women and we would wait all day sometimes. we would hide so we would not be discovered, and we would pump out when a politician entered the hall and confront him on votes for women. of course, we were immediately arrested. the police would grab us. we wore cotton underneath our clothing to protect ourselves
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from their blows. in england, i was put in prison seven times. when we were in prison, the pancras would give orders to hunger strike. we would stop eating. then we were forced. that was a terrible, terrible thing. >> i am sorry that you had to go through that. how did women finally get the right to vote? >> my major strategy was to confront the political system. i encouraged women to take the vote and not ask politely for it. you see, terry chapman did not believe that we needed a settled amendment. she preferred to go
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state-by-state and bake women for the vote. beg man for the vote for women. no, we cannot go state right state. we have to have a federal amendment. i have shown you a picture of professions that we planned. it was planned for the very eve of the inauguration. we were going to confront him with the glory of our cause. here in the photograph, you see this whitehorse that led the suffrage parade. she was a beautiful young woman. unfortunately, she exhausted herself in her work for suffrage and died at the podium exclaiming mr. president, how long must women wait for liberty? but you see how we presented ourselves, all in beautiful white clothing. and we marched instead. we wore sashes of purple, gold
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and white. and there is another picture actually i believe from the national archives that shows us all marching. yes, that is it. you see how we presented our beautiful promise beautifully to the world and woodrow wilson. there were 5000, men and women, in a procession. so many that woodrow wilson said, well, where is everybody? when he came in for his inauguration at the train station, no one was there to greet him. he was told everyone is at pennsylvania watching the suffrage parade. you could see the crowds. it was a well-publicized procession, which is what we wanted. it turned very ugly. the crowds moved in and heckled
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us. they beat us. they spit on us. it was terrible. many, many of us were badly injured. and as you can see in this photo, they mobbed the ambulance, so we were prevented from even getting the care we needed. i will tell you that it was very, very difficult to relive some of these photographs because they show how difficult our journey was until we could reach suffrage. well, president wilson did not initially support our cause. he would not even meet with us. he said he was way too busy to bother with women or women's issues.
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so after our parades and demonstrations, which i know the public thought were sometimes unladylike and very brave, and cat believed our tactics were too wild. i told her over and over, i am a shy quaker woman. when wilson would not listen to us, we decided to picket the white house. we were known as the silent sentinels. we peacefully, peacefully picketed. we had signs. mr. president, how long must women wait for liberty? democracy begins at home. mr. president? again, the crowd viewed us as unpatriotic because the war had started, the first world war. i had said we are not stopping simply because there is a war in europe.
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you will remember the last time there was a war, the civil war, and the result was the 14th amendment, which has within its text, male inhabitants of the land, three times, no, we would not stop. again, crowds perceived us as unpatriotic. they grabbed our picket signs and flags. they beat us with them. we were the ones arrested. we were the ones arrested. we were taken to a workhouse that was filthy. the mattresses were filled with vermin and the food for worms. that makes it easier to go on a hunger strike. again, we stopped eating. again, we were faced with force-feeding with horrible tubes. the blood, the vomit.
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well, i was put in a psychiatric ward. they said i was insane for simply asking for the right to vote. but doctors came to examine me, and at the end of the examination, they found i was indeed sane. public pressure was exerted, and we were released from prison early. the tide began to turn. you know, gandhi, and later martin luther king, used the same tactics were used. some call it civil disobedience. i see it as calling attention in whatever way is necessary to the importance of a vital, vital cause. >> thank you for sharing that. after these tactics and after all of this, the tide did turn. we did get the right to vote in
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1920. what did you do after that? >> getting the vote was just the beginning. my father, he was a farmer, you will recall, said, once you put your hand in the plow, you do not let go until you have come to the end of the road. i knew we were not yet at the end of the road. i know i was laughed at for never taking out my hat working night and day, never leaving my room for fear i would be tempted to read a novel, but you see, getting the vote only gave us equality in voting. not in earning a living or seeing that the loss of earning a living are equal. therefore, i used my legal training to draft language for an amendment to grant full equality to men and women. a federal amendment so all the
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states would have to obey. that amendment has come to be known as the equal rights amendment. it was put into congress through a friendly congressman in 1923. you can see there some of the demonstrations, some of the later demonstrations of my photograph and the text of the equal rights amendment. >> and that is something we are still working on today. >> yes, it is. it is a cause i have an in love with. i am in love with this cause, but we have not yet won it. in 1972, the united states congress passed the equal rights amendment and put it out for ratification to the states, but congress put a time limit on it of seven years and seven years is not enough time to lobby each state for ratification.
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now, it is 1977. 35 out of the necessary 38 states have ratified and by march 22, 1979, we must have three more states. i am elderly now and i do not believe i will live to see that happen, but i am hopeful, i am hopeful that others will move the cause of equal rights beg you to askd yourself, what can i do? what can i do for equality of rights? well, you see, i have always said the women's movement is like a mosaic. if each of us will put in one small piece, do one small thing, together, we will create a great work of art.
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equality. >> thank you ms. paul. that was wonderful. i am thinking about the three things i have learned from all of you. i would sum them up as hope, passion and perseverance. there are so many things we still need to do for equal rights today. >> you are watching american history tv, exploring our nation's past, every weekend on c-span3. this week, we are looking back to this date in history. ♪ is formallyeredith enrolled at the university of mississippi, one chapter in the federal government's efforts to desegregate the university. the town of oxford is an armed
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camp, following riots in that accompanied the registration of the first negro league the 118 year history. much of this record was destroyed when our cameraman was attacked. he did salvage pictures of the governor at the scene. the governor fought the court order long and diligently before modifying his stance, saying mississippi was over barred by the federal government. president kennedy appealed to the students and people of the state to comply peacefully with the law and bring the crisis to an end. even as he talked, riots were breaking out in oxford. >> follow us on social media at c-span history for more on this day in history clips and posts. >> between january in the end of september, about 44,000 have earned over 7 million acres nationally. america," "reel
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archival films about firefighting and fire prevention. first, 1970 nine california forestry department film showing why the state is vulnerable to wildfires and how they fight them. in about 20 minutes, the fires of 1910, about a seminal series of all fires in idaho and montana that burned 3 million acres in 10 days and killed 78 firefighters. then, little smoky, a short service -- film telling the story of smokey the bear. fire department documents firefighting in the los angeles area and promotes firefighting practices. hot weather tomorrow with the possibility of thunderstorms tonight. >> some cloud build up and lightning activity. [thunder crashing] ♪


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