Renewing the American Spirit

Patriot Week begins on 9/11 and ends on 9/17 (the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution (Constitution Day)) and renews America’s spirit by celebrating the First Principles, Founding Fathers and other Patriots, vital documents and speeches, and flags that make America the greatest nation in world history. Many of current holidays have become overly commercialized or have lost their deeper meaning. We need to invigorate our appreciation and understanding of America’s spirit. This blog is dedicated to keeping the spirit of Patriot Week - and America - alive all year long.....

Monday, September 9, 2013

Patriot Week Daily Reading 9/14: Equality - Gender


On September 14, Patriot Week recognizes the First Principle of Equality (gender).  
We also recognize the great suffragists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, who made that First Principle come alive in America. In addition, we recognize the 1848 Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions (written by Stanton) and the 19th Amendment (which enfranchised women), as well as the Suffragette Flag (which was used in marches and rallies).
Equality is a First Principle of America’s free and just government. As explained in the Declaration of Independence, the Founding Fathers believed that “all men are created equal.”
The Founding Fathers embraced the Judeo-Christian understanding that the Creator created all individuals, that each person arises from His handiwork, and that every person embodies His blessing. Regardless of physical, mental, and social differences between individuals, each individual is equally precious in His eyes. While this First Principle originally arose from a belief in the nature of the Creator, the laws of nature lead many to the same conclusion. 
By embracing the First Principle of equality, America rejected the deliberately inequitable regimes dominating the globe in their time. Inequality codified in the law was a cornerstone of government throughout world history. Hereditary nobility and other special classes were almost universally granted special privileges unknown to the common person. 
Yet, from the American Revolution and for generations thereafter, equality was not afforded to one-half of Americans - women. Driven by the idea of the First Principle of equality, suffragists pressed for the vote. 
Echoing the Declaration of Independence, suffragists in the Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions (written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton), railed against gender oppression as violating the First Principles of equality, the Social Compact, and unalienable rights. It also explained that men and women had the right to alter or abolish the current unjust system of government. Susan B. Anthony could rightfully ask, “how can ‘the consent of the governed’ be given, if the right to vote be denied”
Through generations of struggle, the First Principles of equality, the Social Compact, unalienable rights, and revolution resulted in women’s suffrage and great advances in equality for women. Understanding the enormous effect of symbols, they even created their own Suffragist Flag. 
Although the struggle is not complete, the First Principle of equality requires that each person be treated equally under the law, and that the equal protection of the laws be afforded to all.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton presented to the world’s first conference for women’s suffrage held in Seneca Falls New York, a Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions, which was adopted by the conference on July 20, 1848.  Paralleling the Declaration of Independence, the power of the statement is understood best by simply reading it:
“When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one portion of the family of man to assume among the people of the earth a position different from that which they have hitherto occupied, but one to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes that impel them to such a course. 
“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of those who suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it, and to insist upon the institution of a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer. while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their duty to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of the women under this government, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to demand the equal station to which they are entitled. The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world. 
The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world. . . .

“Now, in view of this entire disfranchisement of one-half the people of this country, their social and religious degradation--in view of the unjust laws above mentioned, and because women do feel themselves aggrieved, oppressed, and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights, we insist that they have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of the United States.”
The Seneca Falls declaration was just the beginning.  It took several generations of determined suffragists to enact constitutional change with the adoption of the 19th Amendment, which became effective on August 26, 1919.  It simply provides:
“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. 

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

Born in Johnstown, New York on November 12, 1815, Elizabeth Cady Stanton was the daughter of a Federalist Congressman, who later became a Justice of the New York Supreme Court. Stanton was a homemaker and raised several children, but became very active in political affairs. 
Stanton met Lucretia Mott, a Quaker minister, at the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London. Energized by the convention’s refusal to allow women to openly participate in the proceedings (women were required to sit behind a curtain), Stanton and Mott resolved to hold a woman’s rights conference in America. Belatedly held in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848, the conference participants vigorously attacked the disenfranchisement of women and their unequal treatment as violative of the First Principles of free and just government. This began the first significant organized movement for women’s equality – and it claimed the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution as its own. 
Stanton soon joined forces with Susan B. Anthony, and they eventually formed the National Women’s Suffrage Association in 1869. She later served as President of the National American Women Suffrage Association. 
Stanton’s interest in equal rights was much broader than just suffrage, and her efforts led to several significant legal social reforms after she addressed New York Legislature. 
Although she died on October 26, 1902, nearly two decades before the adoption of the 19th Amendment and women’s suffrage, there is little question that she laid the foundation for equality for women to the present day.

Susan B. Anthony was born in Adams, Massachusetts on February 15, 1820, and began her public life as an abolitionist and in the temperance movement. In the early 1850s she began to focus her energy on women’s suffrage and women’s equality. 
She soon joined forces with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and they eventually formed the National Women’s Suffrage Association in 1869. They were peculiar partners. Stanton was full-time mother and housekeeper. She was also married to a politician who little understood her egalitarian beliefs. Anthony, single and childless, was an effective and tireless organizer for the movement, while Stanton was a powerful writer and orator. Anthony was a teacher for 15 years, published a newspaper (The Revolution), and was an active abolitionist and temperance reformer. 
Anthony was famously tried and convicted of illegally voting in the presidential election of 1872. Her eloquent closing argument, grounded on the language of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, was for not. The judge fined her $100, which she refused to pay, and which was never collected. To avoid an appeal, the judge refused to proceed with contempt proceedings. 
Undaunted, Anthony proceeded to go on a speaking tour in which delivered a powerful speech based on her conviction. In that speech she declared “it is a downright mockery to talk to women of their enjoyment of the blessings of liberty while they are denied the use of the only means of securing them provided by this democratic-republican government - the ballot.” 
Although she died in 1906 - years before the adoption of the 19th Amendment and women’s suffrage - she laid the bedrock on which women’s rights would be secured through the present day.
The National Woman’s Party created their own flag to symbolize their struggles to achieve women’s suffrage. During the drive to ratify the 19th Amendment (the amendment which gave women the right to vote), they would sew on a star onto the flag for each state that ratified the amendment. 
They used the flag when picketing the White House (unheard of at that time), parades and demonstrations. When the 19th Amendment was finally ratified, the leader of the party, Alice Paul, unfurled a flag with stars representing all of the States at their national headquarters in Washington, D.C. 

Alice Paul sews on another star to commemorate an additional state ratifying the 19th Amendment. Watching, among others, are National Woman's Party members Mabel Vernon (far left) and Anita Pollitzer (standing, right).
Learn more about America and Patriot Week, and renew the American Spirit, visit, Facebook, Twitter, or contact Judge Michael Warren at

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