ITHACA, N.Y. — Tompkins County Legislature has proclaimed that 2017 will be “The Year of the Woman in Tompkins County.”
The declaration coincides with 2017 being the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in New York.
On Tuesday, surrounded by female legislators and staff, legislator Martha Robertson presented the proclamation with County Historian Carol Kammen. The proclamation urges residents “to recognize and celebrate the crucial role that women of all races and ethnic and political backgrounds have played in our county’s history, as well as their important place throughout our county today.”
The last push for the suffrage movement in New York was a petition brought door to door. Citing historian Robert Cooney’s book, “Winning the Vote: The Triumph of the American Woman Suffrage Movement,” Robertson said to answer charges by opponents that women did not want to vote, suffragists went door to door across the state to collect signatures from more than a million women who did in fact want to vote.
“The result was the largest individually signed petition ever assembled, eventually totaling 1,030,000 names, a majority of the women in the state, ” Robertson said.
Suffrage had failed in New York two years prior, but in 1917, after the petition and heavy advocacy, suffrage won in every borough of New York City, which overcame a slight loss upstate, Robertson said. Suffrage did pass in Tompkins County, Kammen noted. The Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified three years later in 1920.
Women in Tompkins County worked hard for their right to vote, Kammen said.
“When the vote failed for suffrage in 1915, the women in New York said ‘We will fall forward’ and they did,” Kammen said. “They took the whole issue of suffrage forward.”
Kammen thanked Tompkins County Legislature “on the behalf of women of the past who are mostly unsung and women of today striving to care for those they love and making this a more harmonious world and for all those girls nurtured by fathers and mothers and teachers in our care for such a short time to whom we send out strong and healthy into a world now made a bit more insecure.”
Kammen also thanked the legislature for its “bold statement of respect and appreciation for its female citizens and commemorating the centennial of Women Suffrage in the state, and marking Tompkins County as a place of greater safety in an uncertain world.”
Read the proclamation in full below:
WHEREAS, 2017 is the one hundredth anniversary of the passage in New York State of the Suffrage Act, granting women in New York the right to vote in local and state elections, and
WHEREAS, New York was the first eastern State to pass women’s suffrage, an act that led to the passage of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution recognizing the right for women to vote across the nation, and
WHEREAS, true and full citizenship for women was not accomplished merely by achieving suffrage; for example women were not permitted to serve on juries in New York State until legislation passed in 1937, and
WHEREAS, not until federal Civil Rights legislation was passed in the 1960s was the full range of citizenship rights legally mandated to include women, and people of every and any race, and of any political suasion, as a right of that citizenship, and
WHEREAS, even today, women still must struggle for full and equal participation in the labor force and in political and economic life, and
WHEREAS, women have the right to make decisions about their lives to determine their physical and psychological well-being, yet they often suffer in a climate of sexual innuendo and/or physical harm, and
WHEREAS, the contributions of women to the progress of our nation often go unacknowledged, and
WHEREAS, if we wish to protect the rights of women in our democratic society, it is important to recognize, declare, and uphold those rights, and
WHEREAS, as the dignity of all persons must be protected, women have the right to live without fear for their physical or emotional safety and the right to pursue their own dreams in a society that recognizes their value,
NOW THEREFORE, The Tompkins County Legislature does hereby proclaim 2017 as
THE YEAR OF THE WOMAN IN TOMPKINS COUNTY
and urges our residents to recognize and celebrate the crucial role that women of all races and ethnic and political backgrounds have played in our county’s history, as well as their important place throughout our County today.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused to be affixed the great seal of Tompkins County, State of New York, on this 3rd day of January, 2017.
Michael E. Lane, Chair
Tompkins County Legislature