Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Historic Significance of Madam Presidents Nomination

The Suffragettes chained themselves to the White House gates in 1918. They were there through the winter. Many nights they were encased in ice and it got so bad  President Woodrow Wilson invited them to come in and have some coffee and warm themselves. They refused. So Woodrow and his wife Edith Wilson, of only three years, sat in the White House and listened to the chants of women literally freezing to death to get the vote. It would not happen until 1920. The irony is that when Woodrow Wilson had his stroke and Edith took over and ran the White House, the suffragettes continued to picket the front gates unaware that the First Woman President was now running the country.

But of course this was  covered up through the years. Alice Paul , the head of the National Organization of Women, would go down as an unknown martyr to the cause of women's suffrage. She would go to prison and be force fed and then committed to an insane asylum. Woodrow Wilson felt the pressure when society women began to side with the suffragettes and he switched from supporting states right suffrage to national suffrage. His wife was young and progressive and very much an independent woman, but Edith Wilson never openly supported the suffragettes.

The suffragettes never gave up. They threw themselves in front of carriages, chained themselves to the gates, flashed the President and his wife as they drove by, and  tried to embarrass Wilson when foreign visitors came to the the White House. Woodrow Wilson finally went  to Congress to ask for an amendment approving the vote. It did not pass, but it started the process that would lead to the right to vote for women.

And now we have the first nomination of a woman for president by a major party.  Hillary Clinton will not feel the cold icy wind those women did in 1918, but she inherits the grail they were dedicated to and risked their lives for. A moment in history that should not be forgotten.

Madam President The Secret Presidency of Edith Wilson

Books by William Hazelgrove