“Here is a lost cause no longer lost, but come to triumphant success, and if the pioneers of that cause are looking down upon this scene, there will be rejoicing in heaven on the fourth day of March.”
Really, the news that Frances Perkins is to be appointed to the Cabinet of the United States is one of the most inspiring and encouraging events of recent years. My mind is running far back as I write. I am thinking of the pioneers who first declared that woman was man’s equal in all respects and as such entitled not only to vote but to hold any office within the gift of the American people. How they were derided, how they were laughed at, how they were subjected to vile abuse, and even physical assault! No one can realize what such sensitive and lovely women as Lucy Stone and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Angelina Grimké, Lucretia Mott, and many others had to suffer when first they dared to take part in the anti-slavery and woman-suffrage agitation nearly one hundred years ago. Indeed, the famous “broadcloth mob” which dragged William Lloyd Garrison through the streets of Boston with a rope around his waist was roused to violence as much by the fact that a group of Boston women had so unsexed themselves as to organize an anti-slavery society and hold a public meeting as by the fact that the society was to be addressed by an English agitator for human rights, George Thompson. Indeed, in 1840 the first World’s Anti-Slavery Convention in London refused to seat the American “female delegates” on the ground that for any woman to take part in a public meeting was improper and degrading to the sex!
I remember, too, in later years, the first parade for woman’s suffrage held in New York City in which men took part. I was one of the eighty-five members of the sterner sex who were booed and hissed and asked: “Did your wife make you do it?” all the way down Fifth Avenue to Washington Square. Not one of us was sure then that we would live to see the enfranchisement of women, much less be present to rejoice when a woman took her seat in the Cabinet room of the White House. Here is a lost cause no longer lost, but come to triumphant success, and if the pioneers of that cause are looking down upon this scene, there will be rejoicing in heaven on the fourth day of March. And this rejoicing should be doubly vociferous because of the character and achievements of Frances Perkins herself. These the editors of The Nation are treating elsewhere. I can only add my “me, too.” But I am particularly pleased that Frances Perkins is a Lucy Stoner–in other words, she has kept her maiden name although happily married and the mother of a most promising daughter. In this hour of depression when the pernicious doctrine is being preached that married women should be debarred from employment by the local, state, and federal governments if there happens to be a husband or another male member of the family who is also working, it is wonderful, indeed, to have Franklin Roosevelt pick not only an extraordinarily able woman of proved ability in public office, but one whose husband is also a wage-earner. That ought to stop a great deal of the mischievous propaganda which could only work infinite harm if it should lead to the adoption of this proposal as a nation-wide policy. No State has the right to deny a woman a job, not even in times of unemployment, if she wants it, has earned it , and is capable of doing it well. Here we have another one of those real issues of personal liberty that ought never to be abridged by sex, or race, or color.