and rapidly changing times in American history.
holding onto faith, family, and the men they love.
Book 3, A PASSING MIST, coming May 2019!
Follow three generations of women through the most dynamic
and rapidly changing times in American history.
Each woman must find her own way through the struggles of her generation,
holding onto faith, family, and the men they love.
A policeman grabbed the sixty-three-year-old woman by the arm and placed her under arrest. She was forced into the waiting patrol wagon while more police swarmed the area. Their blue uniforms swelled around the women like an angry sea, taking hold of them and dragging them away.
Any woman who appeared to be in connection with the NWP, whether she wore a sash and carried a banner or not, was seized and arrested. Some brave women scheduled to speak at the ceremony began to shout over the noise of the melee, while others were too afraid to make a sound. All of them were arrested. When the police vans present were filled, more were sent to Pennsylvania Avenue to collect the remaining female protesters as less than half of them had been taken captive.
Sophie’s heart slammed against her ribcage as she was tossed about in the chaos of shouting bystanders, indignant police officers, and angry suffragists. Louisa grabbed hold of her hand, her eyes wide with terror.
“Let’s go!” Belle said, beckoning them to follow her. Many of the others had already fled. It was the leaders and the staunchly dedicated who held their ground and argued with the police.
Belle disappeared into the crowd, her petite form quickly swallowed up in the mass of bodies. Sophie made to follow, Louisa still clinging to her. A jerk on her arm spun Sophie around and she saw that one of the officers had grabbed Louisa. A fierce protectiveness rose up inside her. She wasn’t going to allow Louisa to be hauled to jail with a fragile life still growing inside her. Charging at the officer, she hit him squarely in the chest. Startled, he released Louisa.
“Run!” Sophie ordered, not waiting to see if Louisa obeyed. She pushed against the officer, demanding his full attention, shouting anything that came to mind to keep him from pursuing her friend.
The policeman scowled hatefully at Sophie, his fingers biting into her wrists as he hauled her through the crowed and roughly disposed of her within the police wagon. Other officers guarded the prisoners from escape. Three more women were tossed into the van, then the order was given to take them away.
Since freedom of expression was preserved by the first amendment, the protesters of the first watchfire demonstration had been charged with lighting a fire in the District of Columbia between the hours of sunrise and sunset. At times the charge was, “disorderly conduct,” and today it was assumed that they would be held for “obstructing traffic” or some other equally trivial misdemeanor.
Though she was terrified, Sophie was proud that they had achieved their goal of rekindling interest in the suffrage movement. Such an exhibition at this would be plastered all over the newspapers nationally and abroad. She only hoped Louisa had safely escaped.
Police delivered them to the district jail to be held overnight. They would be tried in the morning. Sophie stared in horror at the tall, brick building where genuine criminals were housed.
“Don’t worry, honey,” one of the women in the wagon with her said, “they’ve reduced sentences to five days now because they don’t know what else to do. We always go on a hunger strike when they arrest us, and they don’t want it to last for longer than that or they appear cruel and abusive. Be strong and remind yourself that it will be over soon. The strength and power you possess is in your mind and your will. They can take our bodies captive, but they can’t take our spirit unless we surrender it.”
Sophie had never felt raw fear before this moment. She’d read about it in books, described as if a hand of ice was grasping the heart, squeezing with an unforgiving fist. It has always sounded dramatic, poetic even. But in this moment, as her blood turned cold and pressure constricted her chest, she realized it wasn’t a dramatization. It felt exactly as it had been described.
She goes on to say: "The Republican Congress elected in November, 1918, would not sit until December, 1919-such is our unfortunate system-unless called together by the President in a special session. We had polled the new Congress by personal interviews and by post, and found a safe two-thirds majority for the amendment in the House. In the new Senate we still lacked a fateful one vote.
Our task was, therefore, to induce the President to call a special session of Congress at the earliest possible moment, and to see that he did not relax his efforts toward the last vote."
The National Women's Party succeeded at both of these endeavors. Protests were held in Boston and New York and the uproar that resulted was splashed across the newspaper headlines. Wilson agreed to a special session to vote on the amendment and ensured that it would pass.
Putting the Rat in Ratification
On June 4, 1919, after 40 years—and much effort and debate—Congress passed, by a two-thirds vote of both houses, that proposed amendment. It was then up to the states to ratify it. Many states quickly approved the amendment, and by the end of March 1920, it was just one state shy of ratification.
Mississippi could have been the final vote needed to make the amendment law, but the state rejected it on March 29.
The amendment still needed one more state for ratification when the Tennessee legislature met in special session that summer.
The Tennessee Senate passed the amendment, so ratification rested with the Tennessee House of Representatives. After weeks of intense lobbying and debate, on August 18, 1920, a motion to table the amendment was defeated with a 48-48 tie.
The speaker then called the for the vote to ratify. It seemed certain the result would be another deadlock, but that morning a son received a letter from his mother that changed everything.
The son was Harry T. Burn, a 24-year-old representative from East Tennessee. Just two years earlier Burn had become the youngest to be elected to the state’s legislature. Burn, who had been seemingly solidly in the anti-suffrage camp, received a seven page letter from his mother asking him to support the amendment.
Dear Son, . . . Hurray and vote for Suffrage and don’t keep them in doubt. I noticed Chandlers’ speech, it was very bitter. I’ve been waiting to see how you stood but have not seen anything yet. . . . Don’t forget to be a good boy, and help Mrs. “Thomas Catt” with her “Rats.” Is she the one that put rat in ratification, Ha! No more from mama this time. With lots of love, Mama.
Burn had hoped the issue wouldn’t rest with him—he supported suffrage himself, but his constituents were opposed, and he faced an election that fall. Burn was torn, and when the issue came to vote he blurted out “aye,” without thinking, thus breaking the tie.
The Tennessee legislative had passed the amendment making it law of the land.
I’m going to pause in my walk through the history of women’s suffrage to discuss a current day civil rights issue which is often thrown into the category of women’s rights: abortion. Recently, many states have passed laws either to expand abortion or to restrict it. It has become a topic which fills my newsfeed daily, and which I feel a pressing need to speak out about.
In today’s world, we have access to technology that can not only verify the heartbeat of the fetus in the womb but take 3-D pictures of her that can be printed and framed. We have NICU units dedicated to saving the lives of prematurely born babies, as long as they are wanted by their parents. We know what babies look like all the way from conception to birth, at every month of pregnancy. We know that abortion is killing a baby. There is no way we can live in this modern age of science and deny this fact.
Because the baby cannot live independently outside of the nurturing body of his mother until all the systems are fully developed, it is left to the mother to decide if she wants this child to live. If she doesn’t, she can have the pregnancy terminated, the baby aborted, the life inside her ended.
By the time a woman is of age to reproduce, she knows how babies are conceived. It’s no secret that having sex creates a risk of pregnancy. We live in a culture that wants to embrace science yet wants the freedom to perform reproductive acts without consequences. Yes, there are rare instances of a woman conceiving as a result of rape, but most abortions performed are the result of consensual intercourse.
The real underlying question isn’t whether the “fetus” is a clump of cells or a human life, it’s a question of whether that life has value. Does the life of the unborn matter? When we begin to decide which lives have value and which do not based on convenience, economics, or some other criteria, we are on a slippery slope. And we’re already rolling downhill, folks. Now there are laws allowing assisted suicide, starvation of mentally ill patients, and the murdering of babies who survive abortion procedures. The value of life is no longer universally accepted. It’s become a matter of subjective opinion.
Have we seen something like this happen before? I’m currently writing the next novel in my series, which is set during the era of WW2. As I research the Holocaust, I’m appalled by the frightening similarities I see in the mentality behind the genocide. Certain people decided which lives mattered. Action T4 approved the death of children with disabilities and was a precursor to the wholesale extermination of the Jews, and anyone else Hitler didn’t like or who opposed his regime.
If one man had the idea to kill a ton of people, we would call him a serial killer. One man, acting alone, could never have successfully murdered almost 85 million people. A little at a time, the division between groups of differing people widened while at the same time, life was devalued, and then his plan was set into action. And the masses not only allowed it to happen, they participated in it.
Getting back to women’s rights and Alice Paul, let’s consider a basic scientific fact: if abortion was a matter of a woman’s choice, it would be herself she killed and not a separate human life. That fragile, vulnerable person inside her isn’t choosing to die, death is being chosen for him or her.
Alice Paul was not only a powerful force in gaining women the right to vote, she continued her work after the 19th Amendment passed, working to achieve the Equal Rights Amendment. Yet she—a respected and renowned voice for women’s rights—believed “Abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women.”
Although Alice Paul and Elizabeth Cady Stanton disagreed on methods of achieving the right to vote, they did agree on this topic. Elizabeth Cady Stanton aptly said, “When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit.”
The famous advocate for women’s rights, Susan B. Anthony, referred to abortion as "child murder."
And all these women didn’t have access to the same knowledge of human growth and development that we do. There were no ultrasounds, sonograms, or fetal photography.
How can we, who know so much, be so desensitized to the reality that abortion is exactly what Susan B. Anthony called it?
Having said all that, if you have ever had an abortion, I'm not condemning you. I know many women carry great guilt and shame for having made such a decision. If you have, there is hope for healing and forgiveness. I want to be clear in my passionate belief that babies' lives matter, but I want to be equally clear that God is willing to forgive anyone who repents of any sin. That is the beauty of the gospel.