• Paving the Way for Hillary

    We all know Hillary belongs on the list of the most powerful women in history, but do you know who those other women are? I’m here to tell you about some of the most powerful women this nation has ever seen, who paved the way for Hillary. Let’s start by going back to the time of the American Revolution.

    At the DNC this past summer you may have heard Meryl Streep mention the name Deborah Sampson, and rightfully so. Deborah was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1760, not long before the start of the American Revolution in 1775. At age 5 she was sent to live in different homes due to her mother’s inability to care for her and her siblings. Deborah was a servant until she turned 18 and could live on her own. She sustained herself well; being self-educated allowed her to teach in the summers and weave in the winters. Once the Revolutionary War was under way, the idea of becoming a soldier became more and more appealing to Deborah. So in 1781, at the age of 21, she disguised herself as a man and enlisted in the military. During a battle, she was shot in the hip and was forced to remove the bullet herself, afraid of being exposed. She would serve in the military for two years, until she was forced to reveal her secret because of her condition. She received an honorable discharge in 1783 and went on to live a typical life of a farmer’s wife until her death in 1827 at the age of 66.

    You may have heard a lot about this next group of women. Suffragettes were women who argued for their right to vote starting in the mid 19th century through the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. The Women’s Right’s Convention in Seneca Falls, New York introduced the nation to Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Cady Stanton was born into a wealthy family in 1815 and was well educated from the time she was young. At the convention, along with Lucretia Mott, she wrote “The Declaration of Sentiments.” Based off the Declaration of Independence, it listed many changes necessary in law and society to encourage more inclusion of women, one of which was the right to vote. In 1851 Cady Stanton met a woman by the name of Susan B. Anthony, and the two of them would be the leaders of the women’s movement until Cady Stanton’s death in 1902.

    Susan B. Anthony had successes of her own. Just like Cady Stanton, Anthony was well educated. Working as a teacher, she advocated for equal pay and abolition. She was also an active member of the temperance movement, but when a petition was unsuccessful because women’s signatures didn’t count unless they had suffrage, she realized the suffrage movement had to be the top priority. Anthony was a founder of the American Equal Rights Association and the National Woman Suffrage Association. Along with Cady Stanton, Anthony campaigned for women’s suffrage, traveling around the country giving speeches and writing articles on the issue. She would continue to do this after Cady Stanton’s death, until her own death in 1906.

    Arguably, the most influential First Lady of the United States was Eleanor Roosevelt. What most people don’t know is that she had to fight her way to the top. Born in 1884, Eleanor lost both her parents at a young age. In school, she was teased for her looks, leading her to attend a finishing school in London. Back in the United States, she met Franklin Roosevelt, her distant cousin, and they wed in 1905. While Franklin was making a name for himself in politics, Eleanor maintained the house and bore several children. Franklin would become Governor of New York, and eventually President of the United States at the start of the Great Depression. Not long before he ran for President, Franklin contracted polio, the disease that would forever change his and Eleanor’s lives. Eleanor often had to take his place, traveling across the country to places affected the most by the Depression, and meeting with people Franklin could not meet himself because of his condition. This got the attention of many Americans; they began to look toward Eleanor for guidance as much as they looked toward Franklin. She received many letters, and responded to as many of them as she could. She supported causes for women, children and African Americans; if she didn’t agree with something she would always make that clear. Meanwhile, Franklin’s health was deteriorating as he continued to hold office. Eleanor continued to support him until his death in 1945. The same year, she was appointed as a US delegate in the UN by President Truman. Eleanor helped write the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and gave her most famous speech promoting it the day it was adopted, December 10th, 1948. She continued her activism after the end of her UN service until her death in 1962.

    It is now 2016, 240 years after Deborah Sampson took a bullet for her country, 96 years after women got the vote due to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and other suffragettes’ efforts, and 68 years after Eleanor Roosevelt’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted. In 42 days, Hillary Clinton’s name will (fingers crossed) be added to that list, as the first female president of the United States. Hillary’s success is due in part to these and many other women, who paved the way to the possibility of a female president, just as now Hillary will pave the way for the girls of the future.

    Photo credit to DonkeyHotey

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