100 Years since the 19th Amendment
Deep River’s notable women are celebrated with new exhibit at the Historical Society.
Pictured left: Daphne Seldon (1917)
When the Declaration of Independence was ratified by Congress in 1776 it stated “All men are created equal.” This statement did not include Native Americans, African Americans or women. Abigail Adams, in a letter to her husband, President John Adams, said “ please don’t forget the women”. But the government ignored all pleas for women’s suffrage.
The cries for women’s suffrage grew stronger in 1870 after the passage of the 15th Amendment allowing men of all races to vote but not women. Women such as Susan B. Anthony, Carrie Chapman Catt and Elizabeth Stanton Candy reached national attention in the quest for women’s suffrage.
The women of Deep River played a role in the fight as well. Speakers for and against the issue of women’s suffrage gave speeches in the Town Hall Auditorium. State Legislator Simon R. LaPlace held meetings with women from all over the state to produce a bill allowing women to vote.
Daphne Seldon graduated from Deep River High School in 1909 and later Vassar College. She worked with Katherine Ludington of Old Lyme to organize the New London Chapter of the Ct Woman’s Suffrage Association. Working tirelessly for the cause, Daphne was elected to head the Ct Women’s Suffrage Association in 1917 and represent the State of Ct at the National Convention in Washington D.C.
During World War I Daphne continued her efforts for women’s suffrage and volunteered on summer vacations as a “farmette” in Middletown helping produce food for the troops. She also traveled to England to serve as a “canteen helper.”
The 19th Amendment was ratified in August of 1920 stating that the right to vote will not be denied due to race creed or gender. It’s interesting that it took 30 years after women were allowed to vote for the first women to be elected to a municipal office in Deep River. It took 50 years before a woman, Lorraine Wallace, was elected to our town’s highest office of First Selectman in 1971 and served two terms.
Commemorate With Us
The Deep River Historical Society is preparing an exhibit to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the passing of this historic amendment and recognizing those notable women in our town that have contributed over the last 100 years to improve daily life in Deep River. Stop in this summer to see what the fuss was all about.