“When you see this letter stained with the blood of my husband …”
Of the 1,000 or so original documents and visual images preserved in the Southeastern Native American Documents, 1730-1842 collection, few evoke pathos for the Indians’ plight as “the blood-stained letter” – written by the widows of Creek leader William McIntosh – appealing to the U.S. government for help.
McIntosh was killed by fellow Creeks opposed to the ceding of their sbiancamento denti land to the white settlers. In the letter, Peggy and Susannah McIntosh describe their dire situation and beg the officials to remember their pledge to assist and protect them. A description and transcription of the letter is available here, along with scans of the original.
Most of the documents, dated 1763 to 1842, are from the Cherokee tribe, but other tribes are represented, including Seminole and Creek. The documents include treaties,letters from tribal members, letters to the tribes from state representatives, military orders regarding Native Americans and the first 18 months of the first newspaper published in a Native American language, the Cherokee Phoenix.
The significance of these documents extends beyond traditional political and diplomatic history into the daily lives of Native Americans and their new European neighbors. These collections testify to the richness and continued viability of Native American culture even as it was encroached upon and eroded by European settlement. Letters of complaint to white government officials from Native Americans demonstrate their ability to contend with European institutions with a resourcefulness that belies the commonly held stereotypes from that period of Indians as violent savages or helpless victims.
Today marks the 90th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which granted women the right to vote. To mark the occasion, we would like to highlight portions of our collection dealing with the struggle for suffrage by women in Georgia.
Georgia suffragists used a variety of methods to support their cause. They created organizations that held conventions and rallies, lobbied the state legislature, and published articles in favor of women’s suffrage. One of the most popular and exciting ways of promoting their cause was to participate in parades. To the right is an image from the Vanishing Georgia Collection of a car decorated as a parade float by the Georgia Young People Suffrage Association, sometime before 1920. African American women were often excluded from such activities, and did most of their suffrage work through separate organizations, like the National Association of Colored Women.
The fight for suffrage in Georgia was not an easy one. Opponents of the cause in Georgia were numerous, organized, and vocal. This opposition was so strong that Georgia became the first state to reject the 19th amendment during the ratification process in 1919, and women in Georgia weren’t able to vote until 1922, due a law requiring Georgians to be registered for sixth months before an election. In fact, the Georgia state legislature didn’t ratify the 19th amendment until 1970. One particularly amusing example of this opposition is a pamphlet produced by the Georgia Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage entitled Unchaining the Demons of the Lower World: A Petition of Ninety-Nine Per Cent Against Suffrage. In the pamphlet, the author proposes that the female vote would lead to “the final undoing of our government.” You can read this publication by clicking on the image to the left.
To read more on women’s suffrage in Georgia, take a look at the New Georgia Encyclopedia article on Woman Suffrage. They also have articles on many of the women involved in the suffrage movement in Georgia including Rebecca Latimer Felton, Mary Latimer McLendon, Julia Flisch, and Lugenia Burns Hope. There are also articles on women who opposed suffrage, including Mildred Lewis Rutherford.