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Vadae G. Meekison Collection - MS 211
During our last Suffrage campaign, I found an Ohio voter who did not know there was such a thing as the Feminine movement, and was perfectly astounded to learn that women wanted to vote. I asked him if he knew there was a time when men did not vote. He said, "Well, I never heard of it." I asked him how men got the right to vote. He looked at me pityingly and answered me thus: "By just growing up and bein' a man." Another equally well informed voter assured me, "We got it from the Lord."
Ignorance on the subject, however, was not confined to the rural districts. An editor in a neighboring state looked dreamily into space when confronted with the question and said, "History doesn't go back far enough to tell us that."
One nice big fat man in the rear of a Suffrage audience said, "This thing don't look good to me. I'll keep my woman in the kitchen behind the cook-stove where she belongs."
It was a well to do man who talked about the "mire of politics," and the "fineness of women". He seldom voted himself.
We visited a factory where the employees worked long hours. Many of them were patently under-fed and poorly clad. The manager was "against it." Indeed: he was fighting mad at the mention of it. As we passed out, one of the clerks said, "Woman Suffrage looks like an eight hour law to me."
One well fed complacent looking man said with a resigned air, "Yes, I'm going to vote for it, but I knew just what it means." We were curious. He explained, "Well, it means no more red lights." "Wouldn't the world be brighter without the red lights?" we queried. "Yes, I suppose that is true, but a man will tolerate them for the other fellow's sake." "That isn't all it means: You'll be wanting police women at all the public dances. Yes, I'm going to vote for it, but it will take the fun out of life."
One farmer said, "You women have butted into everything else. I think its just as well for you to butt into this.
In the main, the better class of men were unreservedly in favor of the movement.
The one, my group, were rather on the conservative side. We tried to use logic and feed the brute and hope to win in this way. The other group, headed by Mrs. O. H. P. Bellmont, went in for very spectacular things. At one time they were picketing the White House and for a quite a long period of time they kept a fire going in one of the urns near the White House and women were always in attendance and were supposedly burning President Wilson's speeches. They both grew to large proportions. The Bellmont organization finally took over a big house in downtown Washington for its office. On the ground floor they had quite a nice restaurant and many women visiting Washington went there for food and also for the novelty of seeing some of the women they were constantly reading about. I was in Washington in 1920 and in due course, of time I went down to this building to make a call, as we were co-workers, only differing in methods. I had lunch in the dining room and then someone volunteered to show me over the building.
A Presidential Campaign was on and Harding had just announced that he was going to have a front porch campaign in Marion, Ohio. Pictures of his comfortable home, with the big front porch were appearing in all the papers. The campaign at this time was at fever heat. Both organizations of women were doing all they could to bring about votes for women. As we were going through the building we came upon a pile of banners which a group of militant suffragettes were preparing to accompany to Marion, Ohio. They were going down to picket Harding's front porch. I could just see the front porch campaign being completely spoiled. As President Harding was from my home state and I knew many of his friends, I proceeded to write him a letter telling him that they had a lot of banners ready to ship. "In fact they had so many that it looked like four bales of hay, and a group of women would be down to put on a show and I was very much afraid that they would spoil his front porch campaign." I added that I belonged to the other group of the women's movement and "while we are less spectacular, we are nonetheless insistent, and the question will be pressed from now on by many women, but suggested that he could stop the picketing and save the front porch campaign by coming out now for the women's suffrage amendment. A few days later I received a letter:
Senator Harding has received your letter of July 20th and appreciates the thoughtful spirit in which you wrote him.
I think you will agree with me that the Senator has done and is doing all that he properly could do for the suffrage cause. I commend to your attention the telegram which he sent to Senator Houk of the Tennessee State Legislature only yesterday. You may rest assured if there were anything the Senator could do to obtain the ratification of the suffrage amendment he would be only too glad to do it.
Very truly yours,
Geo. B. Christian
There may have been other reasons for him taking this stand, But I am sure he would not have relished the thought of the front porch being picketed by a band of militent women all carrying large banners. Our cause had grown by leaps and bounds and many people who previously would have gone the other direction if they saw one of us coming, were now beginning to hunt us up and ask us to help in their campaings. As one politician bluntly said, "Sure, I'm for you, I know the difference between a band wagon and a hearse."
Given at Graduation from Valparaiso Univ.
"The Law And The Lady"
Lawyers Banquet, June 5, 1906
Vadae G. Harvey
A few short years ago this subject was unheard of. No one had such a wild imagination as to dream that the Law and the Lady could be associated, even for the purpose of an after-dinner speech. A few pages of the immense volumes were devoted to the "husband's rights over the wife's property.They were absolute. She was mentioned in divers other place among the"incompetents" infants, idiots and married women. When she married - the only thing she was capable of doing - her name merged in that of her husband. This was emblematical of the fate of her legal rights. The law regarded them as one - the husband was the ONE. Lest she might sometimes be tempted to assert her rights in opposition to those of her husband, the law very kindly divested her of them.
But within the last few years woman has risen from a state of servitude to one of equality with man. The world has come to recognize the fact that woman, intellectually is easily man's peer.
In this commercial age of America, and of the world, it has become the privilage of every one, man and woman, to lead a wholly independent life. This fact has played a vast part in the elevation of woman to a position socially, spiritually, and intellectually with man. A position which she justly deserves and which she holds with dignity and grace.
This independent spirit led women to invade the industrial world. At first she confined her efforts to matters purely feminine, until man, seeing that her business was paying, started laundries, restaurant, and tailoring establishments all over the land. Driven from her own field she entered the professional world. At the present time she is not only succeeding, but excelling, in almost every known profession, among them Law.
It has only been in the last few years that woman has attempted to invade the field of the legal profession. In those few years she has entirely dispelled the idea, popular among the masses, and even in higher circles, that it is impossible for a woman to develop a legal mind. The few lady lawyers in this country are recognized as leaders in this, the world's noblest profession, Law. This is only another link in the already long chain of incontrovertible facts which go to prove that the only solution of the "Eternal Question, Woman" is to give man and woman the same liberties and interests in life, so that each can enjoy the luxury of one looking up to the other, and can have alternately the pleasure of leading and being led in the path of development.
Preparation is the secret of success in any line of endeavor. Especially is this true of the Law. A certain prescribed course is necessary in order to develop a legal mind. That is the reason we have spent the past months at Valparaiso Univerity. I am sure it is this unanimous belief that the time spent in this institution has been both pleasant and profitable. The lawyers are the most wide awake and industrious classes of Valparaiso University. The classes of 1906, both junior and senior, have given me much help and encouragement in my work in this, your chosen profession, for there is not thought more true than this: In order to attain success, in any line, upon the sea of life, "We must sail, sometimes with the wind, and sometimes against it, but we must sail - not drift or lie at anchor." I hope that the best day you have ever had is worse than the worst day that is to come. I wish you the greatest possible success.
Who would not be enthusiastic when we consider the kind, noble man at the head of the Law Department. He is known as the "friend of the boys". He has an excuse for every fault; an encouragement for every hope. To you, my cheerful friend - to you who seem to be an exquisite architect forever building up the castle of happiness out of the losses and crosses and wrecks and ruins that fate may throw about you - to you who can always see the silver lining in every cloud, who can poinard your sorrows and share your joys, and laugh, and be content, and still keep up the fight 'till life's rugged journey ends, I extend to you the best wishes and the blessings of the class.
VADAE G. HARVEY
To see images of original correspondence, search for "Meekison" on Ohio Memory
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