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Republicans Championed Women’s Suffrage

womenGod bless Theodore Roosevelt, governor, president, peacemaker and Nobel Laureate, warrior and Congressional Medal of Honor winner, author of 37 books, father of five, preserver of national parks, creator of the Panama Canal, intrepid explorer – and champion of Women’s Suffrage. Yes, Theodore Roosevelt was a Republican, unapologetic, all-American, best sort.

History is quickly forgotten, but worth remembering. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote. Forgotten are three pivotal facts. 

First, constitutional amendments do not spring from nowhere.  They emerge after years of forethought, debate, leadership.  Scholars are clear: “Theodore Roosevelt was the first and most important major public official to endorse women’s suffrage.”

How serious was TR? Very. In 1880, still in college, he penned an essay, writing “there can be no question that women should have equal rights with men.” Hardly sounds controversial but was out-of-the-box in 1880.

As a young Republican legislator TR pushed women’s suffrage. As Governor and President, he hosted and honored the women’s rights movement.  In 1912, running for president as a “Bull Mooser,” he proposed a referendum – allowing women to vote on the right to vote, and led a platform pledge to “securing equal suffrage.” Convinced, TR never backtracked.

During the remaining seven years of his life, TR spoke nationally and wrote compellingly to political leaders, arguing democracy requires empowering women. In 1916, TR worked with then-Republican nominee Charles Evans Hughes, later Supreme Court Justice, to support a constitutional amendment giving women the vote. Hughes followed TR’s lead.

Days before TR died in 1919, he dictated an article – posthumously published – urging “no further delay in giving women the right to vote by federal amendment,” adding “it is an absurdity longer to higgle about the matter.” Within months, the amendment became law of the land.

Second, often lost in the swirl of modern politics: Democrats – led by southern Democrats –fought against passage of the 19th Amendment, which required two-thirds of the House and Senate, three-quarters of States for ratification.  As Republicans like TR and Hughes pushed for equality, Democrats blocked it in the Senate. In time, they lost, but not without early success.  If not for unswerving conviction of Republicans, 1920 would not mark the women’s franchise.

Third, history is chock full of forgotten lessons, precedents, and valuable reference points. While Republicans and Democrats are ever-evolving, modern messaging obscures key facts.  Republicans have long led fights for equal rights. The facts outshine critics.

The Republican Party grew from a commitment, memorialized in the Declaration of Independence, that “All Men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.” “Men,” plural of “Man,” from Germanic “Mann,” meaning person.  All persons are equal in God’s eyes.

Yes, the writings of Jefferson, Lincoln, and others press – in combination – liberty and equality. Other facts are illuminating. The modern Republican Party took shape around opposition to slavery, opposed by Democrats. The 13th Amendment – banning slavery – passed in 1865 with the support of every Republican but less than one-in-four Democrats.

Wind the clock ahead.  TR and Republicans led creation of child labor laws, aggressive antitrust laws – including the sort that can be used against social media giants today – and a wide spectrum of laws advancing equal opportunity, restored competition, free markets, workers’ rights, and balancing equities of labor and management.

Wind forward again.  Pathbreaking Civil Rights Act of 1957 was pushed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Republican – vehemently opposed by Democrats, including Lyndon Johnson.  Look at Ike’s proposal, 1956 State of the Union, recorded votes, Democrat opposition. The Civil Rights Act of 1960 was also Republicans. The legacy of breaking down race barriers began with Republicans. See, e.g., https://www.eisenhowerlibrary.gov/sites/default/files/research/online-documents/civil-rights-act/civil-rights-bill.pdf; https://www.eisenhowerlibrary.gov/sites/default/files/research/online-documents/civil-rights-act/statement-of-the-attorney-general.pdf; https://www.eisenhowerlibrary.gov/sites/default/files/research/online-documents/civil-rights-act/rnc-news-release.pdf; http://www.african-american-civil-rights.org/civil-rights-act-of-1960/; https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2020/07/republicans_led_the_way_on_civil_rights.html.

Across multiple measures of equality – measures that matter – Republicans have been pioneers, those who took the spears, knowing they would be thrown for balancing equality of opportunity and individual liberty. What they fought for – and got done – in Jefferson’s, Lincoln’s, TR’s, and Eisenhower’s time was significant, not trivial, not breezy “hail fellow” stuff, not easy.

Other measures demonstrate Republican conviction to the principle of women’s rights. Who was the first President to appoint a woman to the Supreme Court?  Not FDR, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, or Carter.  It was Ronald Reagan, who appointed Sandra Day O’Connor.

Other measures?  The first woman sent to Congress was Republican Jeannette Rankin of Montana, 1916. First women to serve in a State legislature – three Republicans in Colorado, 1895. First female mayor of a major city? Republican Bertha Landes, Seattle, 1924.  First black woman in a State legislature?  Republican Minnie Harper, West Virginia, 1928. First female Cabinet Secretary?  Oveta Hobby, appointed by Eisenhower. First woman to serve in US House and Senate, also to have her name placed in nomination for the presidency by a major party?  Maine’s Republican Senator Margaret Chase Smith.

Finally, what about passage of the 19th Amendment?  Well, it was the first bill, first act of the Republican-controlled Congress – after retaking control in 1920.  TR did not live to see it, but 40 years after he wrote that out-of-the-box college essay, it happened.

Historical facts are often obscured, diminished by those wishing not to recall.  But recall we must, because who we are depends on who we were, and who we were is often forgotten. Republicans championed Women’s Suffrage, have long been the fulcrum on which equality and liberty are balanced. That is a proud tradition, a good one to remember at the Centennial.

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Mary
7 months ago

The Republicans were for the Constitution and equality! Why aren’t the Republican Senators on every channel talking about Biden’s/Dems equity plan? Transgender order to destroy women’s sports etc. Crickets!!! Where is the push back? Disgusting!!!

John A. Fallon
7 months ago

Under the CONSTITUTION, all men are created EQUAL, as AMERICANS we are ALL ENTITLED TO THE SAME TREATMENT, why then are the DEMONRATS so determined to destroy THE LAW OF THE LAND? why do they cause division between people? They use race, religion, untrue history, politics and sex, all designed to DIVIDE AND CONQUER!!! probably the oldest and most effective battle plan ever divised, and our POORLY EDUCATED PEOPLE ARE TOO STUPID TO UNDERSTAND, THEY ARE DESTROYING THEMSELVES!

John A. Fallon
7 months ago

The socialists have been working for DECADES rewriting history, something they have become very good is “FLIPPING”, they “flip” votes, “flip” blame, from themselves to someone else, I order DVD courses from “THE GREAT COURSE”, I have one about AMERICAN HISTORY, the professor was talking about slavery and the civil war, a black student “corrected” him when he said the democrats were responsible for slavery, the student actually believed the socialist version of AMERICAN HISTORY, this is a student that went thru the educational system into college without an EDUCATION BUT WITH INDOCTRINATION, the socialist agenda needs to be STOPPED and legitimate courses need to be taught, colleges and universities are graduating people with degrees they are NOT qualified for, they are creating a generation of mindless drones that “GOOSESTEP” thru life and DESTROYING THIS COUNTRY BECAUSE OF THE LIES OF THE CCP CONTROLLED SOCIALIST/DEM PARTY OF HATE AND GREED.

J.R.
7 months ago

This is true about the Republican party and yet (I can’t understand why) a great majority of blacks and other minorities are Dmocrats. I especialy can’t undetrstand the blacks, since it was Lincoln a Republican that freed the “slaves”. What party was behind the CCC? The Democrat Party. And yet many blacks are proud to be Democrat; WHY?

Ruth A Lance
7 months ago
Reply to  J.R.

Because of the hand outs by the socialistic demorats

par
7 months ago

Also the Republicans implemented the original policies for desegregation.

Darcy
7 months ago

Excellent article!!!

RBC
7 months ago
Reply to  Darcy

Thank you Darcy, and know that the power of truth, over time, does lift all spirits. Somehow, in the modern moment, facts matter less. But if we keep referring to them, they will bring others around. Thank you!

Rose T
7 months ago

This is history not known by many and worth sharing! Thank you. My hope and prayer is that we can soon return to the belief that everyone is created equal and the people chosen for office should be fairly voted in based on their qualifications.

RBC
7 months ago
Reply to  Rose T

Thank you Rose. History is such a powerful too for teaching reality to those who, absent good teachers, seem to have little understanding of what has gone before. Worse, of course, they are miseducated. You are so right, all created equal – and we are best served when we select the best suited. Thank you for comment and for reading. I try to read all comments, and learn from them.

Herbert E. Swett
7 months ago

Good points, but you got one thing wrong. The first female Cabinet member was Frances Perkins, secretary of labor under a Democrat, Franklin D. Roosevelt.

David Germain
7 months ago

More people need to realize how poorly the democrats have treated women and other minorities over the years. The word needs to get out more widely!

John L Califano
7 months ago

I consider Theodore Roosevelt among the six greatest U.S. Presidents in our nation’s history, along with Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Reagan, and Trump.

RBC
7 months ago

Great list!

Gunny Joe
7 months ago

When will the American people wake up? After their cell phones stop working, the television sets are blank, and the pulp mills no longer make paper? No not even then, it will be when there is no one to stop Biden, and all his helpers in the Senate/House, finally heard the ones like me that have survived into reeducation camps. Then folks it will be to late. But I preach to the one that all ready know this. I explained to my 15 year old grandson how sorry I was that I and my generation let him down by not protecting our Nation form the inside. Was too busy being a Marine to look in, not out. God please protect our people, nation and let the old ways live in the hearts of some great leaders again!

Jeanette Fenton
7 months ago

Thanks for the reminder of what all should remember.

Judy
7 months ago

It is obvious that the ‘Progressive’ Democrat run states have been cheating in elections. This last time was a blatant ‘in our collective face’ voter fraud scam using Dominion machines with Com link to Satelites and help from foreign influencers.
The early Democrat Party was just a backward thinking lot. Still interested in power and influence and were constantly defeated. Their defeat by the Republican’s was in their faith as ‘God fearing’ American’s.
Today’s Political parties have little to do with faith based men and women.
I do not refer to them as the Democrat Party any longer. In my view they are the Socialist Marxist Party. The Republican Party has become the Complacent Compromising Party. No backbone, no moral capacity and just plain cowards, along with the Supreme Court. There is nothing Supreme about them anymore. This entire mood of the complete tearing down of our nation is at the core of killing God.
The Socialist Marxists led by Obama have wanted this all along. It’s in every concerted effort in their EO’s and legislative decisions. They are literally insane with hate for everyone who is opposed to their thinking.
The rest of us who have faith know we will not be shaken by what is going on. When Jesus told us to ‘take up our cross,’ that’s exactly what He meant. There is a reason for everything, there are no coincidences.
Keep the faith!

Hal Balthrop
7 months ago

Unless out present politicians, supported by an honest news media with integrity and not controlled by left wing ownership and editors, fix the faulty election system that has characterized the last National election, this Nation will continue to seek its doom in a form of Communism/Socialism which will put it in the history books of the future with past major civilizations like the Roman Empire, etc. As the original framers of our Constitutional Nation said .. they gave the citizens of the country a fair Constitutional governance, but wondered how long we could keep it. This last election and the conduct at the Federal level as exposed in the Trump attempted massacre doesn’t bide well for the future.

Victoria Johnson
7 months ago
Reply to  Hal Balthrop

Trump did NOT “attempt a massacre.” He was blocks away making a speech that did NOT incite the 100s of thousands of attendees to do anything but clap, cheer and go for a meal or go home when it was over.

Lee S McQuillen
5 months ago

Perhaps he’s saying at the attempt to massacre Trump. That’s what I got out of it.

patriot
7 months ago

It is amazing how people believe the Democraps BS at every election, then not notice or forget that they never actually did what they said. LBJ promised to help Blacks while his devious plan was to actually hold them back while making them subservient and eliminating the nuclear family. Obama was the same, even though he was Black.
Pres. Trump did not promise, he just delivered many things to help Blacks prosper.
America misses him!

Hal Balthrop
7 months ago
Reply to  patriot

LBJ kept a promise to me and other wise conservatives when he ran against Goldwater. He said that in the upcoming National elections if I voted for Goldwater, the Nation would be at War in Viet Nam in six months. I voted for Barry Goldwater and sure enough. He kept his promise! UGH!

Raymond C. Mayer
7 months ago

Why do you think that the Democratic party wants to re-write or delete historical facts!

Art A
7 months ago

A MOST INTRIGUING AND INFLUENTIAL PRESIDENT. BULLY TR! BULLY TR! As a note “Bully” is not being used here in the way that upsets the Loonie Left of today.

DMM
7 months ago

Democrats ARE the party of slavery. Pick up a history book. Especially the 1864 presidential election, see what Democrats SAID and DID.

Victoria Johnson
7 months ago
Reply to  DMM

And EVERY other means to eliminate or subjugate Blacks, from the K*K*K to Jim Crow to segregation to abortion to corralling them under the watchful eyes of privileged Black ‘overseers’ (democrat politicians) in modern day ‘plantations’ to keep them ignorant, dependent and ‘in their place’.

Fairfield 59
7 months ago

Thank goodness for TR. He was a great man and President.

Ruth A Lance
7 months ago
Reply to  Fairfield 59

Wish he were now.

Linda H
7 months ago

Thank you for the history on the republican party in these hot button issues. This past election, I took time to actually read what each political party stood for and the where they stand on issues which I believe are important to grow a strong nation. I even checked out the smaller parties. None of them held a candle to or reflected my views like the republican party.

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