Front Door Lobby

Front Door Lobby

Front Door Lobby

Front Door Lobby

Excerpt

The Front Door Lobby was the half-humorous, half-kindly name given to our Congressional Committee in Washington by one of the press-gallery men there, because, as he explained, we never used backstairs methods.

Our work, which was done in the closing years of the long struggle to get votes for women, can hardly be understood without some knowledge of the previous history of the movement. For that reason I preface my account with a summary of events that led up to the final effort for the woman suffrage amendment to the Constitution.

As early as the Colonial period, an occasional voice was lifted against the current injustices to women. But until the second quarter of the nineteenth century, those protests were merely sporadic. Then, between 1830 and 1850, a notable group of reformers began to demand equality for women. Lucy Stone, who was one of them, used to say that they taught woman's rights by pointing out woman's wrongs.

And there were plenty of wrongs to point to in those days. Under the prevailing laws a married woman had no legal right to control her own property, to collect her own earnings or to have any say about the care and education of her own children. Her husband might bequeath to someone else the guardianship of her minor children--even, in some states, of an unborn child. Little public provision was made for the education of girls. In some places they were permitted to attend public schools only after boys had gone home in the afternoon, or, in rural districts, in spring, when boys had to work on the farms. Boston opened its first high school for girls in 1826, and so many entered that the authorities, by some process of inverted reasoning, decided to close the school eighteen months later. It was not opened again until 1852. Up to that time industrial and professional opportunities for women were almost nonexistent. Most of their chances to earn a living were supplied by domestic service and the needle trades. And, despite the fundamental principle of the . . .

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