image via UniteWomen.org
I'm watching Senator Elizabeth Warren give another rousing, inspiring speech. I love her. I love a woman who takes action and fights for truth, justice and the American way. Remember The American way? Elizabeth Warren does. And she wants us to fight for it.
If we push back hard, we can win. We fight, we win. We don’t win every time, but we’re learning to win. We’re learning to win and we will keep winning.
She is out there, supporting her colleagues who are running for office, promoting her book A Fighting Chance, calling out the bad guys, and demanding accountability.
It's July 2014 and the world is at war, going crazy. Planes are being shot out of the air, rockets are being launched, fingers are being pointed and everyone is blaming everyone else. Where is the accountability?
And as I watch this fabulous female Elizabeth Warren, I see another fabulous female Elizabeth. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who back in July 1848 gave quite the rousing inspiring speech at an herstoric convention, and paved the road (with a load of other fabulous females and males) for Elizabeth Warren to travel on.
See back in 1840, Elizabeth Cady Stanton was twenty-four years old and on her honeymoon, enjoying - as she wrote in her diary - "the pleasures of the flesh". Yes. Her destination? A convention. The 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention in London. Peeps from aaaallll around the world gathered to find a way to abolish slavery.
And keep in mind what travel was like in the eighteen hundreds; arduous, dangerous, nightmarish. This was a large group of thoughtful committed citizens - to paraphrase the great Margaret Mead.
So, Elizabeth Cady Stanton - (who had the audacity to keep her maiden name - Cady - and refused to say the word "obey" in her wedding vows) was privileged, educated, super smart and knew that this was an opportunity to really participate in the world. An opportunity provided by Henry Stanton, her brand new husband - an abolitionist - who was invited to the London Convention.
That's where Elizabeth Cady Stanton went on her honeymoon and that's where she met Lucretia Mott, forty-seven year old famous abolitionist and adored Quaker minister, who became Elizabeth's friend and mentor.
Ms. Mott had been invited as a delegate from The Philadelphia female Anti-Slavery Society, which she established because - as a woman - she was not allowed to speak or participate in any of the Abolitionist Meetings.
But it turned out the 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention was "limited to gentlemen" and the women were
constitutionally unfit for public or business meetings
and not allowed to speak or participate.
The men took a vote. Some of them said yes, let the women participate. But more of them, lots more, said no. Including Elizabeth's new husband Henry Stanton. Ooooh. No more pleasures of the flesh for him! The women end up behind a curtain. Behind a curtain!
So, after the meeting, walking around London, arm in arm, bonding and bitching, Lucretia and Lizzie (as Elizabeth was affectionately called), vowed to have their own meeting.
I find it remarkable that abolitionists who so keenly feel the wrongs of the slaves should be so oblivious to the equal wrongs of their own wives, sisters, mothers, said Lizzie.
She had quite a way with words, that Lizzie.
We must hold a convention to form a society to advocate the rights of women.
And they did. Thanks to geography and tea.
Eight years later Lizzie is a thirty-three year old, multi-tasking Mama, suffering from mental hunger and domestic drudgery, and living in Seneca Falls, a sleepy little town in upstate New York. She gets invited to a tea party in Waterloo, the next town over. Meanwhile, Lucretia Mott goes to visit her sister in Waterloo, and gets invited to the same tea party. Lizzie and Lucretia had not seen each other in eight years.
From Not for Ourselves Alone:
"I can find nothing to bring into play my higher faculties", she tells Lucretia.
From She's History!
"I get so angry when I see Henry going about where and how he pleases. He can walk at will through the whole wide world or shut himself up within four walls with his books and his thoughts. When I contrast his freedom with my bondage I am fired anew! We must have a meeting as we discussed in London and we must do it here in Seneca Falls"!
And so a meeting was planned.
Not wanting to schlep her three little boys, who she referred to as "hellions", she called for the meeting to be held in her home town of Seneca Falls. A working mother's practicality is the reason the first women's convention was held in Seneca Falls.
A sign was posted in the local paper;
"Women’s Right’s Convention – A convention to discuss the social, civil and religious condition and rights of woman will be held....in the Wesleyan Church in Seneca Falls.”
This was The First Meeting Held And Organized By American Women!
They drafted a Declaration of Sentiments, based on The Declaration Of Independence, our founding father's little list of eighteen grievances against King George. The women just substituted men for King George.
All men and women are created equal.
But when Elizabeth had the audacity to ask for the right to vote, she stood alone. Not even Lucretia Mott would back her up.
From Not for Ourselves Alone:
"Lizzie, thou wilt make the convention ridiculous".
But Lizzie's good friend Frederick Douglass backed her up and the right to vote - is resolved!
From Not for Ourselves Alone:
The duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise.
Watching Elizabeth Warren go after the banks and the bad guys, lobbing fact after fact, so articulately, so passionately, so brilliantly, I think of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the countless unknown fabulous females who fought and fought and pushed back hard.
Most of them died before they saw women win the right to vote.
They would adore Elizabeth Warren and I can only imagine what they would think of the most powerful country in the world holding its breath waiting for a woman to announce if she will run for President. We've come a long way since 1848.
Of course, there's that war on women to deal with.