Tag Archives: history

Juliette Gordon Low: First Girl Scout


English: Juliette Gordon Low Category:Girl Sco...

English: Juliette Gordon Low Category:Girl Scouts of the USA images (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Americans know who the Girl Scouts are: they are the cute young girls wearing green vests that go door-to-door selling cookies. When these girls aren’t telling cookies, they are learning leadership skills and survival skills while making friends and volunteering in the community. When Juliette Gordon Low created the Girl Scouts, she wanted girls to go outside the house… to learn about the stars, to administer first aid, and to volunteer within the community. She wanted a group that would accept all girls, no matter their race, religion, disability, or family’s income. When she created the Girl Scouts, America was still segregated and girls were expected to grow up to be house wives. Now, more than 59 million American women have been a Girl Scout at one point in their lives – these women include actresses, reporters, senators, and even astronauts.

Juliette Gordon Low was born on October 31, 1860 in Savannah, Georgia. Her parents were Eleanor Kinzie Gordon and Confederate Captain William Washington Gordon II. Low spent her childhood writing poems, sketching, painting, sculpting, and taking care of stray animals. After finishing Virginia Female Institute in Virginia, she traveled throughout the United States and Europe. She also dealt with ear infections in her childhood, resulting in partial hearing loss in one ear. On December 21, 1886, she married wealthy Englishman William Mackay Low. After the wedding, during the rice tossing, a piece of rice became lodged in her ear. While trying to remove the rice, the doctor punctured the eardrum, resulting in the total loss of that ear.

She moved to England but returned to the United States to help her mother in the war effort during the Spanish-American War. She returned to England to find her husband’s mistress in their home; they divorced in 1901. In 1911, she met Sir Robert Baden, founder of the Boy Scouts. He was interested in a similar organization for girls. Low returned home and called her cousin, Nina Pape, saying “I’ve got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all of the world, and we’re going to start it tonight.” On March 12, 1912, Low gathered 18 girls to register the first two patrols of the American Girl Guides (changed to Girl Scouts the next year.)

The girl scouts was created for girls to develop self-reliance and resourcefulness and to encourage girls to prepare for traditional domestic skills and future roles as professional women. Low’s goal was to bring girls out of the home and to go outside. The Girls Scouts also welcomed girls with disabilities at a time when they were excluded from many activities. Low also welcomed African-Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanics girls at a time when minorities were excluded. This was because Low herself had a disability due to her partial hearing. Low died on January 17, 1927, from breast cancer. In her pocket she has a telegram from the national board of girls scouts of the United States, “You are not only the first Girl Scout, you are the best Girl Scout of them all.”

100 years ago, the Girl Scouts had 18 members. Now, it currently has 3.2 million members in the United States. It is the largest educational organization in the world and has influenced more than 50 million girls, women, and men who have belonged to it. Due to Low’s hearing loss, Low was determined to create a group that would teach girls to accept people of different backgrounds. The Girl Scouts was ahead of its time in 1912 when it accepted minorities, immigrants, and people with disabilities and it is still ahead of its time since it accepts homosexuals, unlike the Boy Scouts. Low wanted girls to learn skills that would help them to grow up and become strong leaders. The fact that two-thirds of Congress have been Girl Scouts is proof that her goal became a reality. Remember the next time a girl comes to the door selling cookies, she could be the first female president.


Girl Scouts

Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace


Jane Addams: Nobel Peace Prize Winner


English: American social reformer, Jane Addams

Jane Addams (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of the 100 individuals awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, only 15 are women. Of the 15, 3 are from the United States. In 1931, the first female American won the Nobel Peace Prize for being a pioneer social worker in America. Jane Addams never wanted to raise children or stay at home, though her family wanted her to. When they took her to Europe in hopes of changing her mind, the trip instead inspired her to take action.

Jane Addams was born in Cedarville, Illinois on September 6, 1860. Her father was State Senator John Addams, a friend of President Abraham Lincoln. Her mother died when she was two, but she was inspired by her mother’s kindness to the poor to study medicine. Addams’ poor health caused by curvature in her back prevented her from attending medical school. While she was traveling in Europe, she came across Toynbee Hall, a settlement house. When she returned to Chicago, she and her friend, Ellen Starr, decided to open their own settlement house. The two women leased a large house built by Charles Hull; the house became known as the Hull House. The goal of the Hull House was “to provide a center for a higher civic and social life; to institute and maintain educational and philanthropic enterprises and to investigate and improve the conditions in the industrial districts of Chicago.”

The two women raised money by giving speeches and convinced young woman to help take care of children and nurse the sick. By the second year, it was hosting 2,000 people a week; kindergarten classes took place in the morning, elementary children clubs in the afternoon, and classes for adults in the evening. In 1905, she was appointed to Chicago’s Board of Education and in 1908, participated in the founding of the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy and became the first woman president of the National Conference of Charities and Corrections. She led investigations on midwifery, narcotics, child labor, and sanitary conditions.In 1910, she received the first honorary degree ever awarded to a woman by Yale University and in 1911, she became the vice-president of the National American Women Suffrage Association.

Before the United States entered the World War One, she became outspoken against the war and became expelled from the Daughters of the American Revolution. Though her publicity decreased, she continued to help the poor by working as an assistant to Herbert Hoover in providing relief supplies of food to the women and children of the enemy nations. In 1926 she had a heart attack that she never recovered from; in fact, she was at the hospital on the day the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to her in 1931. On May 21, 1935, she died after an operation reveled unsuspecting cancer. The funeral service was held in the courtyard of the Hull House and was attended by thousands of people

Jane Addams grew up knowing that her mother helped the poor and she wanted to follow her mother’s footsteps. Though her poor health prevented her from becoming a doctor, she instead found a new calling that allowed her to help thousands in the poor area of Chicago. When she realized the root of the problem were the lack of laws, she became involved in the government to create new laws to improve sanitary conditions. Addams had several setbacks, but continued to work toward her goal and because of her determination, thousands benefitted from her good will.



The Nobel Peace Prize 1931

Jane Addams

Harriet Beecher Stowe: Author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin



Harriet Beecher-Stowe, American abolitionist a...

Harriet Beecher-Stowe, American abolitionist and author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even before the United States became a country, the South and North fought over slavery. Though several compromises created between 1776-1850 prevented war from erupting between the two opposing sides, slavery remained a hot topic in politics. While modern day Americans picture the Northern states has being advocates for Black Americans, majority of Northerners believed that Black Americans were inferior beings that should be shipped back to Africa because they were taking White Americans’ jobs. The slaves needed a voice, someone who could convince thousands that slaves and Black Americans were humans capable of having feelings. In 1852, the slaves received their voice; her name was Harriet Beecher Stowe.


Harriet Beecher Stowe was born on June 14, 1881, in Litchfield, Connecticut. She was one of thirteen children born to  Congregationalists minister and his wife; seven of her brothers grew up to be ministers while the sisters became active in women’s rights. Stowe met her husband, teacher Calvin Ellis Stowe, in the Semi-Colon  literature club. She became involved in the anti-slavery movement from participated in the Underground Railroad. From the runaway slaves, newspaper articles, and first-hand accounts of slavery auctions, Stowe learned how horrible slavery was.Years later, Stowe stated the death of her 18 month year-old son helped her understand the pain of enslaved mothers felt when their children were taken from them to be sold. In 1850, Congress passed the Fugitive State Law, which made it a crime for anyone in the North to help runaway slaves escape from the South. Stowe knew she had to do something so she wrote to her publisher about writing a few articles about slavery. She wrote “I feel now that the time is come when even a woman or a child who can speak a word for freedom and  humanity is bound to speak… I hope every woman who can write will not be silent.” Her articles appeared in the National Era and became a novel, now titled Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the next year. Uncle Tom’s Cabin became the second best book sold in the 19th century, second only to the Bible.


The novel described the horrors of slavery, such as the pain a mother felt when her child was sold to a different family. Uncle Tom’s Cabin showed that slaves had emotions, faith, and could be educated; that they were indeed humans. The novel also featured strong female characters since Stowe believed it was up to the American women to end slavery in the United States.  While the book inspired Northerners to participate in the anti-slavery movement, the Southerners sent Stowe death threats; one package included a severed ear of a slave. Stowe never backed down and spent the rest of her life writing articles, novels, and textbooks about social injustice in the country. The book also became popular abroad; American minister to Britain during the war Charles Francis Adams (grandson of President John Adams) said “a more immediate, considerable, and dramatic world-influence than any other book ever printed.”


On November 25, 1862, Stowe met President Abraham Lincoln in Washington D.C.. The story says that when she met the President, Lincoln told her “So you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.” Three years later, the Civil War ended and the 13th Amendment passed, outlawing slavery in the United States. After accomplishing her goal of ending slavery, Stowe spent her winters teaching emancipated slaves in Mandarin, Florida. She  died on July 1, 1896 in Hartford, Connecticut.


Stowe was taught by her parents that both men and women were expected to contribute to society. Stowe used writing not only to support her family, but to make a difference in the world. Gone were the days of burning abolitionists’ printing shops to the ground since many Americans now knew about the horrors of slavery. During the Civil War, thousands of men and women joined the cause knowing that slavery needed to end. And even after slavery ended, Stowe focus on writing about equality for blacks and women in the United States. Stowe showed that anyone, man, woman, or child, could make a difference. Because of her, the stories of millions of slaves were finally written down and the horrors of slavery would never be forgotten.




Harriet Beecher Stowe. biography

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Trans-Atlantic Historical Solidarity


Sacagawea: Guide of the Lewis and Clark Expedition


Statue of Sacajawea in Washington Park, Portla...

Statue of Sacajawea in Washington Park, Portland,  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson “purchased” 828,000 square miles of Louisiana territory from France. Since little was known about the West, a group of U.S. Army volunteers under the command of Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark was chosen to explore and map the newly acquired land so that America could claim the the western land before European countries could. When Lewis and Clark returned three years later, they brought home news of the Pacific Ocean, the Rocky Mountains, multiple Native American villages, and descriptions of new plants and animals. They also brought home the story of Sacagawea, the Native American who helped lead them on their journey.

Sacagawea was born in 1790 to a Shoshone chief, but was kidnapped by the rival tribe Hidatsa when she was ten years old. Three years later, she and another Shoshone girl were purchased by Toussaint Charbonneau, a French Canadian trapper. Sacagawea was 16 and pregnant when she met Lewis and Clark. Lewis and Clark were in South Dakota in 1804 asking fur traders to be interpreters. Though Charbonneau knew several Native American languages, Lewis and Clark were impressed with Sacagawea because she knew Shoshone. The travelers needed horses to travel across the Rocky Mountains, but since they were traveling by boats at first, they could not bring the horses with them. They knew the Shoshone tribe used horses so they planned to ask the Shoshone tribe to use the horses. Thus, Sacagawea and her husband were chosen.

On February 11, 1805, Sacagawea gave birth a bay name Jean Baptiste, nicknamed Pompey by the travelers. For the rest of the journey, Sacagawea carried Pompey on her back. Within a month of traveling, the small boat Charbonneau was navigated capsized. While Charbonneau panicked, Sacagawea gathered important papers, books, and medicines was making sure her baby was safe. In her honor, the river was named after her.

When the group made contact with the Shoshone, Sacagawea served as the interpreter. To her surprise, the chief was her older brother. The siblings were reunited and celebrated their reunion. Though Sacagawea could have stayed with her family, she continued with Lewis and Clark. Throughout the trip she was able to identify plants that were either medicinal or poisonous and she helped guide the travelers, leading them through a mountain pass in Montana. Sacagawea’s biggest contribution was the fact that she was female. The American travelers would have alarmed many tribes, but seeing a woman with a baby meant the Americans meant no harm. After seeing the Pacific Ocean, the group returned home. Sacagawea and her husband parted with Lewis and Clark at the Hidatsa village in Missouri on August 14, 1806. Three years later, they visited Clark in St. Louis. Clark made a deal with them; he would provide the family with farming land if he could educate Pompey. Farming didn’t work out for the family, but the parents left Pompey in Clark’s care. In 1812, at the age of 22, Sacagawea died from poor health.

Sacagawea walked hundreds of miles with her baby on her back, climbing mountains, riding horse back, sailing down rivers, and camping out during blizzards. Sacagawea also made the difficult decision to have Clark raise her child because she knew her son would receive the best education and life with Clark and not her and her husband. Because of her, Lewis and Clark were able to finish their journey, coming in contact with 72 tribes and mapping out the trail to the Pacific Ocean. If Sacagawea was not there, the travelers may have been viewed as a threat and killed, alternating history. Though Sacagawea had a short and difficult life, her contributions to the United States are the reasons why she has more statues and monuments than any other female American in the United States.



History: Sacagawea

Elizabeth Blackwell: First Female American Doctor



Elizabeth Blackwell

Elizabeth Blackwell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was a time when it was expected that a boy would grow up to become a doctor while a girl would grow up to become a nurse. That stereotypical idea still exists in the present day, but because women are more likely to go to college than men, it is predicted that by 2017, there will be more female doctors than male doctors. The fact that there could be more female doctors shows how much women have come since the first female American doctor graduated from medical school less than 200 years ago. Her name was Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell.

Elizabeth Blackwell was born in Bristol, England on February 3, 1821, but moved to the United States when she was eleven for financial reasons and because her father wanted to help abolish slavery. In America, the Blackwell family gave up sugar to protest the slave trade and the children were up believing that women deserved to be educated. Due to her father’s unexpected early death, Blackwell became a teacher and opened up a school with two of her sisters. Blackwell was repulsed by the idea of the body, but she changed her mind after a dying friend suggested that she would have been spared her worst suffering if her physician had been a woman.

Blackwell was able to convince two physician friends to let her read medicine with them for a year and she applied to over fifteen schools. In 1847, she was accepted by the Geneva Medical College in New York. The Geneva Medical faulty, assuming that the all-male student body would never agree to a woman joining their ranks, allowed the male students to vote on her admission. If one male student out of the 150 student body voted “no” then she would be turned down. As a joke, they all voted yes. Though many students and teachers disagreed with a woman becoming a doctor, Blackwell was accepted. In 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell  become the first woman in America to earn her M.D. degree. She spent two years in Europe working at clinics but after contracting purulent ophthalmia, she lost sight in one eye and returned to New York.

In New York she had trouble finding a job because she was a woman so she opened her own dispensary in a single rented room. With the help of her sister, Dr. Emily Blackwell, and friend, Dr. Marie Zakrzewska, she established the New York Infirmary for Women and Children in 1857 for women who were rejected from internships elsewhere. Blackwell also helped create the U.S. Sanitary Commission because she realized that maintaining sanitary conditions was an important aspect of health. Due to her health, she was forced to retire in the late 1870’s but she continued to campaign for reform. She published several books on women in medicine and became involved in many different social reform organizations. Blackwell spent the later years traveling until May 31, 1910, when she died in Hastings, England after suffering from a stroke.

Elizabeth Blackwell became a doctor because she realized female patients would be comfortable around female doctors and because she wanted women to be considered equal in the medical field. Though females were just becoming accepted as nurses in the mid 1850’s, Blackwell pushed the barrier even further by becoming a doctor. Blackwell went on to open medical schools for women and became a mentor for many other female doctors. Though Blackwell led the way for women becoming doctors, the fact that male doctors make more then $12,000 a year than female doctors mean that equality in the medical field is not there yet.


Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell

Elizabeth Blackwell. biography

Female doctors set to outnumber male colleagues

Male Doctors make $12,000 more than Female Doctors per Year

Sybil Ludington: Female Paul Revere



Statue of Sybil Ludington on Gleneida Avenue i...

Statue of Sybil Ludington on Gleneida Avenue in Carmel, New York by Anna Hyatt Huntington (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Majority of American children grow up knowing about Paul Revere due to the poem “Paul Revere’s Ride” by poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. “One if by land, and two if by sea; And I on the opposite shore will be, Ready to ride and spread the alarm,” says the poem, describing how Revere (plus other riders) warned the American colonists that the British soldiers were getting ready to attack. But do children know who Sybil Ludington is? Like Revere, Ludington alerted the colonists about the British attacks. Unlike Revere, she traveled 40 miles, fought a highway man, rode through pouring rain, and she was only 16.

Sybil Ludington was born in April 1761 in Fredericksburg (now Ludingtonville section of the town of Kent, New York). Her father was Colonel Henry Ludington who commanded the 7th Regiment of the Dutchess County Militia during the Revolutionary War. On April 25, 1777, a 2,000 men British force commanded by General William Tyron landed at Fairfield, Connecticut. The soldiers moved to Danbury to search for Continental Army supplies and began setting storehouses and homes on fire. Messengers were sent from Danbury to find reinforcements.

At 9 p.m. that night, Sybil was helping her eleven siblings to bed when there was a loud knock  at the door. The messenger from Danbury relayed the message that the Danbury residents needed help. The messenger was exhausted and did not know the land, so Sybil volunteered to gather the men. Sybil took her hose, Star, and rode into the rainy night, shouting “The British are burning Danbury…muster at Ludington’s!”  Sybil had to avoid the British soldiers and British loyalists and when she encountered a highwayman, she used a giant stick to defend herself. Sybil traveled over 40 miles (twice the length of Paul Revere) before returning home, arriving around dawn the next day. When she returned home, 400 soldiers were gathered at her father’s war. Though the soldiers arrived too late to save Danbury, the soldiers helped drive the British back to the East Coast. Sybil was congratulated by her friends, neighbors, and even General George Washington.

The popularity of Sybil has grown over the last 100 years; there is now a poem about her, statues of her in Putnam County, and she appeared on a stamp in 1975. Known as the Female Paul Revere, Sybil’s journey was actually much harder than Revere’s due to the fact that it was longer, it was raining, and she was a teenage girl with just a riding stick for protection. And while Revere was captured, Sybil was able to avoid capture. Sybil shows how women are just as brave and patriotic as men are.


Sybil Ludington

Sybil Ludington (1761-1839)

Confirmation Readings

Betsy Ross: A Symbol of the Revolutionary Woman



Betsy Ross presenting the first American flag ...

Betsy Ross presenting the first American flag to George Washington, by Edward Percy Moran. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Beginning in Kindergarten, American children are taught about how General George Washington asked Betsy Ross to design the first American flag. It was the summer of 1776 and the thirteen colonies had just declared independence from Great Britain so the country needed a flag. Because of this story, Betsy is the most famous woman during the Revolutionary War. Though the legend was started by her grandson fifty years after Betsy died and historians question its authenticity, Betsy represents all the American women who lived during the Revolutionary War.

Elizabeth “Betsy” Griscom was born on January 1, 1752 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Betsy was born to Quaker parents, but was shunned after falling in love with John Ross, a fellow upholster apprentice. After eloping, the couple started their own upholstery shop until John joined the militia. While John was stationed on Philadelphia’s waterfront, gunpowder exploded and killed him. Betsy was now all alone, forced to work days and nights repairing uniforms, making tents, and making blankets for the Continental Army.

The legend says that in the summer of 1776, General George Washington visited Betsy to ask her to design a flag for the new nation. The Continental Congress had come up with a basic design, but Betsy finalized the design by replacing the six-shape stars with five-shape stars because the cloth could be folded and cut out with a single snip. Though there is no proof she created the first flag, there is proof that she was among one of the first women to do so since a receipt shows that the Pennsylvania State Navy Board paid her 15 pounds to sew flags for ships.

In June 1777, Betsy married Joseph Ashburn. In 1780, he was apprehended by the British in 1782 while working as a privateer in the West Indies and died in a British Prison. While her husband was missing, Betsy had to deal with the death of her firstborn daughter right after her second daughter was born. John Claypoole, an old friend, delivered the message of her husband’s death to Ross. The two ended up marrying and having five daughters. Over the next few decades, Betsy  made flags and banners for the nation until her poor eye sight prevented her from sewing. Betsy died on January 20, 1836 at the age of 84.

Though there is no proof that Betsy created the first American Flag (there is also no proof that she didn’t create the first flag) Betsy is still an important part of American history. Betsy demonstrates how hard women had to work to support their family while taking care of the house and raising children. Betsy, like other women during war, lost loved ones due to war but she remained strong and continued to work to support herself and her family. Betsy shows how women have always played a role in American History and will always be there to support the United States during times of war.


Betty Ross

Betsy Ross. biography

Ida Tarbell: The First Great Woman Journalist



Ida M. Tarbell, head-and-shoulders portrait, f...

Ida M. Tarbell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ida Tarbell became a journalist in the late 1800’s at a time when it was believed educating women was a waste of time and money. After graduating college, the only woman in her class, Tarbell became a teacher, and an author before becoming a journalist to inform the American public on the problems in America. Tarbell never wanted to be a role model to women or take part in the women’s suffrage movement, but she showed that women are just as capable of exposing transgressions in the United States. After all, it was Tarbell who took down the most powerful man in the world: John D. Rockefeller.

Ida Tarbell was born in a log cabin in Amity Township, Pennsylvania on November 5, 1857. Her life changed when her father lost his job as a oil refiner due to the 1872 South Improvement Company Scheme, a hidden agreement between the railroads and refiners led by John D. Rockefeller. While educating women was considered a waste of time and money, Tarbell’s parents wanted their daughter to be educated; she graduated at the top of her high school class and was the only woman of the 1880 class at Allegheny College. After working as the managing editor at The Chautauqua magazine and writing biographies on Napoleon Bonaparte and Abraham Lincoln, Tarbell switch to journalism. Due to the rise that monopolistic trust that was “disturbing and confusing people” and memories of her father losing everything due to the Standard Oil Trust, Tarbell began to investigate Standard Oil Trust. After two years of research, Tarbell discovered illegal tactics the oil company used to monopolize the oil industry; Standard Oil would sell oil below price to run its rivals out of business, then raise the prices up once there was no competitors in the area. Tarbell’s first article appeared in November 1902 McClure’s Magazine, alongside articles by muckrakers Lincoln Steffens and Ray Stannard Baker. Muckrakers were journalists who exposed wrongdoings by writing articles in magazines and newspapers accessible by the middle class. Muckrakers helped change the United States; child labor laws first appeared in the U.S. because of Muckrakers. Due to the popularity of The History of the Standard Oil Company, it became a 19-part series published from November 1902 to October 1904. Tarbell spent the rest of her life writing until she died on January 6, 1944 in Connecticut.

Because of Ida Tarbell, the Supreme Court decided in 1911 to break up the Standard Oil Trust in Standard Oil Co. New Jersey v. United States due to the Sherman Antitrust Act. The company was split into 33 companies, including ExxonMobil and Chevron. Pulitzer Prize winning American author and economic researcher Daniel Yergin calls The History of the Standard Oil Company the most important business book ever written while New York University ranks it No. 5 of the Top 100 works of 20th century American Journalism.Tarbell never wanted to be part of the women’s suffrage movement or a role model, but she proved that women are just as capable of being reporters. It took guts to take on the most powerful man in the world, guts that no male reporter had at the time.


Isa Tarbell: Life and Works

Biography: Ida Tarbell

Women’s History deserves more than a Month


Did you know that Women History Month is March? Neither did I until recently. Since 1911, March 8 has been International Women’s Day and in March 1987, Congress expanded the whole month of March to be about women. Even though I went through the public school system from 1995-2007, I never once learned about Women History Month. Though I don’t really care for Minority Months, the the months dedicated to every gender, race, culture, sexuality outside the stereotypical “white straight Christian man” created to show how minorities also helped shaped the United States, I do worry that people are forgetting how much women have done and continue to do for the United States.

I recently was planning my trip to New York city to see Susan B. Anthony’s home. My name is Susan and I have dedicated several research papers to her throughout my life. As I read the tips on the page, I cam across one comment: “Before a visit, get a deep background to understand with some precision what Susan B. Anthony is all about. She doesn’t much matter now, but she did then.” Wait, what??? Anthony is the reason why I, and millions of other women, was able to vote last election. Because of her and millions of other women who came before me, I am able to go to college, have a job, and walk outside my house without a man escorting me.

Susan B. Anthony Day

Susan B. Anthony Day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In school we are taught about the Founding Fathers, but do we learned about the women who took care of the children, the house, and the harm while the men were busy? We learn about the soldiers that defended our country during war, but what about the women who worked in the factories or disguised themselves as men to join the war? We learn about the Presidents who created laws, but what about the First Ladies that made speeches to gain support for their husbands? Do we learn how it was the Women who worked for equality for Everyone, not only for themselves but for the slaves, the Native Americans, the Immigrants, the mental illness, the disabled,  the children, and even the “white straight Christian man.”

It is hard to believe that everyone realizes how great women are when politicians spend time and money trying to control women’s choices and bodies. A minority of men even believe “rape” is imaginary since women are always asking for it, a reason why a rapist can get a slap on the wrist while a victim is forced to drop out of school. Though more women than men graduate college, men continue to make more than women at the exact same job. Everyday women prove to the world how much they do matter; last summer it was the female athletes who brought home most of the medals home to the United States and last fall it was the female voters who decided the president. Women deserve more than a month that no one knows exist, they deserve an equal part in the history books.

Franklin Roosevelt’s Greatest Strength


President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born on January 30, 1882, to a wealthy family in up-state New York. After attending Harvard and Columbia Law School, he focused his sights on the White House by following his relative’s, President Theodore Roosevelt, footsteps by first becoming Assistant Secretary of the Navy. His journey to the White House halted in 1921 when Roosevelt became ill while vacationing with family in Canada. After several doctor visits over a span of a couple of weeks, it was discovered that Roosevelt had contacted Poliomyelitis and now had polio. At the age of 31, Roosevelt became paralyzed from the waist down. Roosevelt’s mother begged him to retire from politics, but his wife, Eleanor, would not let him because she knew that he would regret it. Though the current times believed people with disabilities were a burden, Roosevelt would use his paralysis to lead his country through troubled times.

Franklin D. Roosevelt in Warm Springs, Georgia...

Franklin D. Roosevelt in Warm Springs, Georgia  (Wikipedia)

In 1924, Roosevelt learned about Warm Springs, Georgia where the springs were rumored to cure paralysis. At the springs, Roosevelt found that his legs would hold him upright and that he could swim for hours so he bought the springs for $200,000 as a place for polio victims to seek therapeutic treatment; he personally led pool exercises. Though it was $42 a week for a polio victim to stay at the springs, no one was ever turned away due to lack of money because Roosevelt would personally cover the bills. Though the springs never did cure paralysis, it became a place for people with disabilities to seek therapeutic treatment. Roosevelt Warm Springs Rehabilitation Center is still in existence and serves 4,000 people each year.

While Roosevelt was in Georgia, he came in contact with the locals where he saw extreme poverty, something he never forgot about when he became president in 1932. In his first term, the New Deal (set of programs and policies designed to promote economy recovery and social reform) took place. Roosevelt signed the Tennessee Valley Authority Act (TVA) because the civilians of Tennessee Valley had an average income of $639 per year and 30% of the population had malaria. The TVA developed new fertilizers, taught farms how to replant forest and improve habitats for wildlife, and created dams that provided electricity. Another important part of the New Deal was the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The CCC hired a total of 2.5 million young men who planted 3 billion trees and created 800 parks.Each man was paid $30, but $25 of that was sent back home to his family. Separate programs put 200,000 Blacks to work and the Indian Emergency Conservation Work allowed Native Americans to develop roads and schools on reservations. Congress also passed the Social Security Act; it established  federally funded old-age benefits and funding for states to provide assistance to blind individuals and disabled children, and extended existing vocational rehabilitation programs. Roosevelt never forgot about the people he met in Georgia and made it his goal to put America back to work and to give Americans self-esteem.

One of only a few known photographs of Rooseve...

One of only a few known photographs of Roosevelt in a wheelchair (Wikipedia)

Roosevelt was never photographed in his wheelchair because he did not want Americans to view him as “weak” since he lived at a time when Americans believed people with disabilities were an inferior group of people. He only made two public appearances that showed his paralysis. In 1936, while dedicating a new building at Washington’s Howard University (a Black University) he was asked by the university’s president Dr. Mordecai John if the students could see that he was crippled because the students were crippled because of their race. By seeing that the president was crippled, he would inspire the students. Roosevelt agreed and walked, with his leg braces, painfully down the aisle to the platform. The second time happened in July 1944 when Roosevelt went to Pearl Harbor for strategy sessions. On his spare time, he visited military hospitals. In the amputee ward, Roosevelt was pushed in a wheelchair by Secret Service because he wanted to show his useless legs to those who would face the same affliction. As Sam Rosenman, adviser and speechwriter to Roosevelt, noted “I never saw Roosevelt with tears in his eyes… That day as he was wheeled out of the hospital he was close to them.”

Roosevelt continued to return to Warm Springs every year and every year he was reminded about the poor children in Georgia. Rosenman stated, “He (Roosevelt) made it clear in private conversation that he felt strongly that there was no reason why a child born in some county too poor to sustain a good school system should have to start life in competition with children from sections of the country that had fine schools.” Before World War II, less than 5% of young adults attended college because college was reserved to the wealthy. Roosevelt saw his chance to open education to all of America by using the World War II veterans. In his message to congress he requested federal support for college and vocational training for every returning veteran for up to four years. “Lack of money should not prevent any veteran of this war from equipping himself for the most useful employment for which is aptitudes and willingness qualify him…I believe this Nation is morally obligated to provide this training and education and the necessary financial assistant by which they can secure,” said Roosevelt. The G.I.Bill of Rights passed and Roosevelt signed it into law on June 22, 1944. For the first time in American history,colleges and universities accessible to the common man because Roosevelt saw how important it was for everyone to have education in America.


Join March of Dimes (Wikipedia)

President Franklin Roosevelt once considered retiring from the public life to focus on getting better, but instead he proved that people with disabilities can overcome obstacles at a time when Adolf Hitler and the Nazis were murdering millions of people deemed inferior due to race, religion, and disabilities. Though he never gave up on his dream of regaining the use of his legs, his paralysis opened his eyes to world filled with poverty, unemployment, poor education, and people who needed inspiration. In 1938, Roosevelt organized the March for Dimes; though it currently focuses on infant mortality, it was once the principle fundraiser for research on polio and provided aid for polio victims. On January 30, 1946, what would have been Roosevelt’s 64th birthday, the dime bearing Roosevelt’s face was released in his honor. On April 12, 1955, 10 years after Roosevelt died, Dr. Jonas Salk announced that that there was a cure for polio…the research was primary funded by Roosevelt’s March of Dimes. As Eleanor said, “Franklin’s illness . . . gave him strength and courage he had not had before. He had to think out the fundamentals of living and learn the greatest of all lessons — infinite patience and never-ending persistence.

Polio victims lay wreaths at Roosevelt’s grave (History.com)

Source: Smith, Jean Edward. FDR. New York: Random House, 2007. 186-636. Print.