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Suffragists tell history of right to vote

Joan Aeling performs as Susan B. Anthony at a suffragist program Monday night to celebrate the right of women to vote. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

The Park Rapids suffragists took a step back in time to explain how women fought for the right to vote.

Sunday, Aug. 26 was the 92nd anniversary of the passing of the constitutional amendment that granted women the right to vote. Elizabeth Cady Stanton (Mary Adams), Susan B. Anthony (Joan Aeling), Alice Paul (Florence Hedeen), Clara Ueland (Alice Holz), and Coya Knutsen (Irene Weis) presented at a Hubbard County Historical Society meeting Monday night.

Stanton was a well-educated woman who discovered that married women didn't have any rights. She wanted voting rights for women and worked closely with Susan B. Anthony.

"We had vegetables thrown at us, men hooting at us," Stanton said. "We were ridiculed by the press, we were ridiculed by men. Not all men, though."

Anthony was born to a Quaker family and developed a sense of justice early on. She spoke at my conventions to get support for women to vote.

She died 14 years before the amendment was passed but her work was instrumental in women getting the right to vote.

Paul was also born to a Quaker family. She became involved in the settlement movement after college and went to England where she demonstrated for equal rights.

She went to jail several times in England for speaking out and was also sent to jail after demonstrations in the United States.

"I experienced force feeding after I went on a hunger strike," she said. "For standing up for our God given right to equality."

President Woodrow Wilson eventually supported the amendment giving women the right to vote.

Ueland lived in Minnesota and became an active lobbyist for many issues including schools before joining the suffragists in the quest for women's voting rights.

Knutsen was born in North Dakota and lived in Minnesota later on. She was a member of the state legislature and was also the first woman elected to U.S. Congress from 1955-59.

She was always interested in community issues.

The League of Women Voters will have another program at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 4 with historical background on the Voting Rights Act. The program is at the Northwoods Bank community room.

Suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton will offer her views on the role of the suffrage movement in securing voting rights for all citizens of the United States.

To learn more about upcoming events and how to become a member of the League of Women Voters of Park Rapids, contact Carolynne White (732-9819) or Annamae Holzworth (564-4613).

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561