Linda Johnston is today’s guest blogger from Write by the Rails – the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club‘s Endless Blog Tour 2014. In the coming weeks, you will find here posts from additional guests. Enjoy!
In researching my book on Kansas, I came across many wonderful historic tidbits, like the original documents from the founding of the Moneka Women’s Rights Association.
Boasting forty-two members from a population of two hundred, the Moneka Women’s Rights Assocation of Moneka, Kansas Territory, committed themselves early on to fight for equality for women. Chartered in February 1858, the group organized themselves in a town that had itself been founded in Linn County in eastern Kansas just the previous year. The group included several male members. The dedication of the membership to their cause showed the character of a community still struggling to provide the basics for its citizens.
Here are words from the Association’s Preamble:
Because, Woman is constituted of body and mind and has all the common wants of the one and the natural powers of the other
Because she is a progressive being ever out-growing the past and demanding a higher and greater future – or in other words,
Because she is a Human Being and as such is endowed by her Creator with the full measure of human rights whether educational, social or political . . .”
The group petitioned the Territorial legislature to enact laws to protect women’s rights, including a woman’s right to retain any property that she possessed before marriage and a woman’s right to a “just proportion of the joint property of the husband and wife acquired during marriage.
One of the Association’s credos, adopted at the February 27, 1858 meeting, read:
Whereas women can not vote and yet feel the necessity of just laws, therefore Res. that every woman in Kansas who believes that equal rights belong to women should consider herself a committee of one whose duty it is to do all in her power to convert to her views at least one legal voter.
Those legal voters to be targeted? Men, the only legal voters.
National Women’s History Month brings attention to many prominent women in our history. But let us not forget groups like the Moneka Women’s Rights Association who played an important part in the struggle for women’s equality.
Writer and artist Linda S. Johnston enjoys combining history, art, and nature in her writing. She began reading reading pioneer diaries in 1986 and never stopped. Her first book Hope Amid Hardship: Pioneer Voices from Kansas Territory, is a collection of pioneer writings about the happy side of life in early Kansas and includes watercolor sketches throughout. To learn more about Linda and her writing, please visit www.lindasjohnston.com