Thursday, November 10, 2016

Election Week, 1888

Edith here.

I'm writing this the day before the 2016 election, but it's going to appear two days after. Since this is not a political blog, what I write doesn't have to relate to the results of the nation's vote. So I thought I'd give you a quick taste of my fictional Election Day from 1888, which will appear in Turning the Tide, book three in this series, releasing in April, 2018.

Midwife Rose Carroll's mother, a suffrage activist, has come to visit, and the Amesbury Woman Suffrage Association turns out in force across from the poll on Election day. Elizabeth Cady Stanton has also come to town to support the women. 

Here's part of the scene:

The Amesbury Armory, now Town Hall
Voting was taking place at the Armory, a recently completed town building, and the polls had already been open for an hour. I wore my bright yellow sash slung diagonally across my torso, and Mother wore one from a previous event, since the color was a symbol of the movement. She’d told me using the color of sunflowers was chosen because the flower always turns its face to the light and follows the course of the sun, as if worshiping the archetype of righteousness. She’d brought a sash for Faith, too. We received a couple of rude comments from men we passed on our way here, one glare from an older matron, and several admiring glances from women in shops we walked by.

Now I gasped. In front of a three-story brick home on the other side of the street from the Armory a hundred women in matching yellow sashes lined the sidewalk. The women stood mostly in silence, watching men file in and out of the polling place. One demonstrator held a placard reading, “Women Bring All Voters Into The World. Let Women Vote,” and it showed a drawing of a mother cradling a baby. I wished I’d thought to create a poster like hers. Other signs read, “Ballots for Both” or “Equal Suffrage,” and number of others simply had, “Votes for Women” printed in large block letters. Many were decorated with a yellow matching our sashes.


Elizabeth Stanton stood in the middle of the line next to a woman holding an American flag on a pole and I spotted Zula at the far end handing out sashes to newcomers who needed them.

Faith’s eyes went big. “Granny Dot, this is stunning. Has thee ever seen a demonstration so big?”

I have, but today’s numbers are quite impressive for a town this size.” 

Two tall and wide arched windows flanked the arched door in the middle of the red brick building opposite, which was draped with red-white-and-blue bunting. Representatives from both the Democratic and Republican parties handed colored ballots to the men entering, the Republicans wearing tall white hats with black bands, the Democrats the same hat but with a pearl-colored band. A half dozen men held posters mounted on sticks. Several featured the President’s and A.G. Thurman’s images, and others had the faces of Benjamin Harrison and his running mate, Levi Morton. An older police officer stood with his hands behind his back, his eyes roaming constantly.


A thickset man in a bowler and overcoat approached the polls. When he saw us, he lifted his fist and shook it, an angry look on his face. The flag holder raised her standard, smiled, and waved it at him in return. It was our flag, too, after all. He turned and stomped up the steps into the building.

Edith back in 2016: Readers, what do you think? Did you know who ran that year? How about who won? What's your favorite presidential election year?


5 comments:

Eileen said...

What a great reminder of the women who fought so hard to make sure all of us could vote!

vicki batman said...

My grandmother was born in 1896 and I once asked her about voting for the first time. She loved it. She said she could do what most men did (and she did run her own farm); so why not vote too. Good post.

KB Inglee said...

What surprised me about this scene was that the ballots were handed out by the parties in public. No secret ballot? I will have to look this one up. When I voted a few days ago, the person in charge of the machine I used called out my name as she shut the curtain. I guess it is public who votes, but private who they vote for.

Edith Maxwell said...

That's right, KB. The Australian ballot was the start of the secret ballot and it wasn't quite here yet.

Kaye George said...

Thanks, Edith. We all need to remember what got us to where we are.