Musings from the Hill, April 2, 2015
Do you know March is Women’s History Month? We seem to pass lightly over the fact that rarely is any recognition of women’s part in shaping the destiny of our country. Why was our future nation not under French or Spanish control? You can thank the many brave women who accompanied their husbands to an unknown land and future.
French trappers spread throughout Canada often marrying into Indian tribes. Look locally — LeLoup (the wolf), Marais des Cygnes (marsh of swans), Bodark (Osage orange tree), the strong wood which Native Americans used for their bows. Spanish women rarely accompanied Spanish conquistadors who invaded southern climes.
The first European settlers who came to New England and Virginia expected women and often children to labor and fight side by side with their men. I would like to suggest an excellent book, which should be a must read for Women’s History Month. Long ago Mary Swan gave it to me. "Gentle Tamers — Women of the Old Wild West" by Dee Brown tells of amazing feats performed by women in peace time and in wars. The true stories of women and children surviving alone on the trail are amazing. They often contrived to fortify a wagon against roving wolves or mountain lions, kill an ox for food, dry the meat to feed children or cut hay to stuff inside a wagon for warmth in weather often far below zero. A few settled on claims of their own and made a go of it!
In spite of their heroic contributions making it possible to build and maintain a new country, they fought long and hard for the right to keep their own wages if they obtained a job “on the side,” they had to fight for equal rights to keep their children — the list goes on.
We are the only major country in the world who has never had a woman president.
Go for it Hillary! Colin Powell had his own separate message center at home. “What Is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.” Will we continue to discriminate?
Kansas missed the honor of being the first state to grant women the right to vote. In 1867 the resolution was defeated and the honor fell to Wyoming. In the late 1860s, Esther Morris was elected as justice of the peace in South Pass City, Wyo., the first woman in the world to ever hold that office. To every one’s surprise, wild Wyoming was finally tamed by a woman’s hand. Peace and order prevailed and the men declared she ruled with justice. None of her 40 cases was appealed. It was 1912 before Kansas women were finally granted the right to vote.
It is interesting to note that Western states whose women were often full partners with men in their endeavors soon followed, granting women the right to vote and hold office. We often see this on re-runs of old westerns. Miss Kitty owns and runs the saloon in Dodge City in Gun Smoke. Chuck Conners' sometimes love interest in The Rifleman owns and runs a store and eating place. Western women did more than entertain and entice men to buy more liquor and gamble. They were enterprising and often had to survive on their own.
Yes. March was Women’s History month, although ignored by the media who salute St. Patrick’s day with hoopla and parades. We should give a salute to women who have contributed and continue to give so much to our country the United States of America.