Teri Kanefield @Teri_Kanefield Author, lawyer (U.C. Berkeley). My threads are here: terikanefield-blog.com/ My author website is here: www.terikanefield.com/ Apr. 02, 2019 4 min read

(Thread) Sometimes the wheels turn slowly / Sometimes the wheels turn fast

When Susan B. Anthony was born (1820) coverture laws gave a man total control over his wife and her possessions. Wife-beating was legal.

[Sources from this thread are from the bibliography in👇]

1/ A married woman could not enter contracts, apply for credit, or own property in her own name.

As Susan B. Anthony (SBA) saw the situation, “Women’s subsistence is in the hands of men, and most arbitrarily and unjustly does he exercise his consequent power.”

2/ Women were shut out of well-paid professions. They could work in factories or do domestic work. If they could read, they could be teachers.

“A woman must sell herself for bread, either in or out of marriage," said Susan B. Anthony.

A man, on his word alone, could. . .

3. . . have his wife or daughter committed to an insane asylum. “Difficult” or “hysterical” wives and daughters were thus committed [imprisoned].

At the age of 28, SBA left teaching, moved back with her parents, and spent the remainder of her life working to “reform" society.

4/ She gave speeches, raised money, worked on behalf of oppressed women factory workers, petitioned Congress to redress the injustices, and collected signatures on petitions.
She and Elizabeth Cady Stanton acquired a newspaper, which gave them a louder voice. Masthead:

5/ By the end of her life she had moved the needle. Women were admitted to (many) universities; some states permitted women to vote. Many states allowed women to own property. A battered wife could sue for divorce.

But the grand prize, votes for women, was still out of reach.

6/ At the age of 82, she wrote this to Elizabeth Cady Stanton 👇

She told an interviewer, “If I could but live another century and see the fruition of all the work for women!” She died in 1902.

Sometimes the wheels turn slowly.

But sometimes the wheels turn fast . . .

7/ Sources for facts about Franklin D. Roosevelt from the bibliography in👇 )

When FDR took office in 1933, the U.S. was in the throes of the greatest depression in history.
Income inequality was like today, but with major differences.

8/ There was no social security. There was no 40 hour workweek. There was no minimum wage. Workers who were injured were left to starve. After a lifetime of subsistence wages, workers died in poverty.

Wealthy white men could cheat! (See: )

9/ Wealthy white men could grab! (see: …)

🎶Those were the days🎶

It is often said that WWII spending got us out of the Great Depression. In fact, the New Deal steadily improved the economy through the late 1930s, but FDR could never enact all the. . .

10/ . . .spending programs he wanted because so often the conservatives blocked him.

The spending in WWII completed the recovery, but war spending alone cannot create a strong middle class, which we had for the first time after the War.
 https://www.npr.org/2016/07/05/481571379/a-brief-history-of-americas-middle-class 

11/ Among the most far-reaching of FDR’s legislation was the GI Bill, which educated a generation of returning soldiers and moved a large swath of people up to the middle class.
 https://www.va.gov/education/about-gi-bill-benefits/ 
Legislation moved us out of dangerous levels of income inequality.

12/ When FDR came to office, he was up against an extremely conservative Supreme Court that continually blocked him.

How conservative? They held the minimum wage unconstitutional on the grounds that it interfered with the freedom to enter contracts.
 https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/261/525 

13/ MAGA means roll America back to the 20s, when wealthy white men could do as they pleased.

Because, well, 🎶those were the days🎶

Trump and pals are rolling us backward.

That means we’ll need lots of Susan B. Anthonys and a few FDRs to roll things forward again.

14/ “But we’ve never had such an authoritarian president who rode roughshod over the Constitution, and instituted such cruel policies,” you might say.

“Let me tell you about Andrew Jackson,” would be my response.

None of this, by the way, is intended to comfort anyone.

15/ We have a reactionary president doing his best to take America back to the 1920s.

What makes him dangerous is that he is an effective conman. He has conned lots of people into believing this👇

He promises to protect them from immigrants, while he picks their pockets.

16/ My goal isn’t to offer comfort, but to prevent the paralysis that comes from thinking, “Nothing like this has ever happened before,” which leads to “there’s nothing we can do,” which leads to doing nothing.

The future takes the shape it does because of what we do now.

/end


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