Charlotte Woodward Pierce

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Charlotte Woodward Pierce was the only woman to sign the Declaration of Sentiments at the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention and live to see the passing of the 19th Amendment in 1920.[1] She was the only one of the 68 women who signed the Declaration to see the day that women could vote nationwide.[2] On July 19, 1848, 19-year-old Pierce travelled to Seneca Falls with 6 of her closest friends by wagon upon hearing about the Convention.[3] It was not for many years, until 1920 when Pierce was 91 when she was able to witness the first election in which she was eligible to vote.[4]

Teenage years[edit]

Charlotte Woodward Pierce

Charlotte Woodward Pierce was born in 1829 in Waterloo, New York to a Quaker family. After working as a schoolteacher at the age of 15, she became an independent seamstress, working out of the home of Moses and Hannah Chapman in 1848. All of the wages she earned from sewing gloves from leather went to Moses Chapman in exchange for her living arrangements.[5] This working situation ignited in Pierce an awareness for the oppression of the women of her era.[6] As a result, she participated in the Seneca Falls Convention to fight for greater opportunities for women. Because she was working at the time, she wanted all women to be able to choose their area of work and wages, which was something she and many other women could not do at the time.[7]

Political work after 1848[edit]

In the years after Seneca Falls, Pierce continued her work to further women's rights. She joined the American Women's Suffrage Association (AWSA) and was also acquainted with famous suffragist and social reformer Susan B. Anthony.[8] In addition, she became active in the Association for the Advancement of Women.[9] Pierce outwardly opposed the creation of the National Woman's Party (NWP), expressing her belief that women should join existing political parties instead of consolidating their votes together in their own party.[10]

Despite her original disapproval of the NWP, she sent a trowel to the NWP to be used to help place a cornerstone for the party's headquarters in Washington.[11] The trowel read, "in memory of the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848: presented by its sole survivor, Mrs. Charlotte L. Pierce, in thanksgiving for progress made by women and in honor of the National Woman's Party, which will carry on the struggle so bravely begun."[12]

1920 election[edit]

After the ratification of the 19th Amendment, the 1920 presidential election of Warren G. Harding was American women's first opportunity for enfranchised political engagement.[13] Charlotte Woodward Pierce was the only remaining woman from Seneca Falls present and excited for the election, but unfortunately for Pierce, who was 91 at the time, her deteriorating health kept her from exercising her right to vote.[14] She was bedridden and going blind, which kept her from going to the polls that day and voting for a candidate. Because of her health issues, Pierce was never actually able to exercise the right to vote that she and her deceased peers worked so hard for.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Eschner, Kat. "Only One Woman Who Was at the Seneca Falls Women's Rights Convention Lived to See Women Win the Vote". Smithsonian. Retrieved 2018-12-16.
  2. ^ Falls, Mailing Address: 136 Fall Street Seneca; Us, NY 13148 Phone:568-0024 Contact. "Charlotte Woodward - Women's Rights National Historical Park (U.S. National Park Service)". www.nps.gov. Retrieved 2018-12-16.
  3. ^ Falls, Mailing Address: 136 Fall Street Seneca; Us, NY 13148 Phone:568-0024 Contact. "Charlotte Woodward - Women's Rights National Historical Park (U.S. National Park Service)". www.nps.gov. Retrieved 2018-12-16.
  4. ^ Falls, Mailing Address: 136 Fall Street Seneca; Us, NY 13148 Phone:568-0024 Contact. "Charlotte Woodward - Women's Rights National Historical Park (U.S. National Park Service)". www.nps.gov. Retrieved 2018-12-16.
  5. ^ Eschner, Kat. "Only One Woman Who Was at the Seneca Falls Women's Rights Convention Lived to See Women Win the Vote". Smithsonian. Retrieved 2018-12-16.
  6. ^ Eschner, Kat. "Only One Woman Who Was at the Seneca Falls Women's Rights Convention Lived to See Women Win the Vote". Smithsonian. Retrieved 2018-12-16.
  7. ^ Eschner, Kat. "Only One Woman Who Was at the Seneca Falls Women's Rights Convention Lived to See Women Win the Vote". Smithsonian. Retrieved 2018-12-16.
  8. ^ Eschner, Kat. "Only One Woman Who Was at the Seneca Falls Women's Rights Convention Lived to See Women Win the Vote". Smithsonian. Retrieved 2018-12-16.
  9. ^ Eschner, Kat. "Only One Woman Who Was at the Seneca Falls Women's Rights Convention Lived to See Women Win the Vote". Smithsonian. Retrieved 2018-12-16.
  10. ^ Falls, Mailing Address: 136 Fall Street Seneca; Us, NY 13148 Phone:568-0024 Contact. "Charlotte Woodward - Women's Rights National Historical Park (U.S. National Park Service)". www.nps.gov. Retrieved 2018-12-16.
  11. ^ MAKERS. "This Woman Was the Only Signer of the Declaration of Sentiments Who Lived to See Women Vote". MAKERS. Retrieved 2018-12-16.
  12. ^ "Déclaration de sentiments et Résolutions, adoptées par la Convention sur les droits de la femme à Seneca Falls, 19 au 20 juillet 1848", Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Naissance du féminisme américain à Seneca Falls, ENS Éditions, 2009, pp. 105–110, doi:10.4000/books.enseditions.4370, ISBN 9782847881790
  13. ^ "Presidential Election of 1920". www.270towin.com. Retrieved 2018-12-16.
  14. ^ Falls, Mailing Address: 136 Fall Street Seneca; Us, NY 13148 Phone:568-0024 Contact. "Charlotte Woodward - Women's Rights National Historical Park (U.S. National Park Service)". www.nps.gov. Retrieved 2018-12-16.
  15. ^ Falls, Mailing Address: 136 Fall Street Seneca; Us, NY 13148 Phone:568-0024 Contact. "Charlotte Woodward - Women's Rights National Historical Park (U.S. National Park Service)". www.nps.gov. Retrieved 2018-12-16.