The women in this Library of Congress photo were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing Woodrow Wilson’s White House in 1917, and for carrying signs asking for the right to vote. By the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden’s blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of ‘obstructing sidewalk traffic.’ They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cell mate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.
Thus unfolded the ‘Night of Terror’ on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragettes imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson’s White House for the right to vote. For weeks, the womens’ only water came from an open pail. Their food–all of it colorless slop–was infested with worms. When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.
So, some women won’t vote this year because… Why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn’t matter? It’s raining?
A DVD in the library’s collection, Iron-jawed Angels, might serve as a reminder why it is important for women to vote.
To register to vote in Tamworth, voters can register up through Saturday, October 23 (11:00-11:30 AM at the Supervisors’ Mtg.). They can also register at the polls on election day–they should bring photo ID and proof of residency (like an electric bill). Any questions, call Sharon at 323-7243