When Politics Hits Home: Pandemic Moms are Descendants of Soccer and Votes-for-Women MomsRoundup
tags: Voting, womens history, 19th Amendment, COVID-19
Laura Kumin, a lawyer turned food historian, is the author of "All Stirred Up: Suffrage Cookbooks, Food, and the Battle for Women's Right to Vote," publishing Aug. 4, and "The Hamilton Cookbook: Cooking, Eating, and Entertaining in Hamilton's World." Find her on Instagram or at her food and cooking blog, Mother Would Know.
Pigs, cookbooks and state fairs
These women are descendants (spiritually if not literally) of the women who won the battle for their own right to vote. Over 100 years ago, legions of women canvassed, cajoled male voters, and found ways to convey to non-activist women that the vote was crucial to them and the well-being of their families. They didn’t have tools like television or social media. They raised money and consciousness for their cause by peddling cookbooks, hawking suffrage at state fairs, and selling pigs from their farms.
The influence of these mothers is micro, as well as macro. One hundred years ago, a mother named Febb Ensminger Burn of Niota, Tennessee changed history with a wrinkled letter to her son that invoked the name of suffragist leader Carrie Chapman Catt. She wrote:
. . . Hurrah and vote for suffrage and don’t keep them in doubt. . . . 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. Catt . . . With lots of love, Mama
Following her instructions, on Aug. 18, 1920, 24-year-old Harry cast the deciding vote in the Tennessee legislature — giving the 19th Amendment the last state it needed for ratification.
In the face of multiple defeats, the suffragists kept going. They took suffrage over the finish line first in Congress in 1919 and then with ratification votes in 36 state legislatures. The pandemic moms of today have a lot in common with the vote-for-women moms who helped make that happen. They protect their families and expect society and their leaders to do the same.
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