Today in History

Today in History: May 28

Votes For Women banner
Yellow Ribbon from 1911 Suffrage Parade.
Votes for Women, 1848-1921

On May 28 and 29, 1851, the Ohio Woman's Rights Convention met in Akron. Mrs. Frances D. Gage, convention president, began the proceedings with a stirring call to arms:

Are not the natural wants and emotions of humanity common too, and shared equally by both sexes? Does man hunger and thirst, suffer cold and heat more than woman? Does he love and hate, hope and fear, joy and sorrow more than woman? Does his heart thrill with a deeper pleasure in doing good? Can his soul writhe in more bitter agony under the consciousness of evil or wrong? Is the sunshine more glorious, the air more quiet, the sounds of harmony more soothing, the perfume of flowers more exquisite, or forms of beauty more soul-satisfying to his senses than to hers. To all these interrogatories every one will answer, No!

"Opening Address," The Proceedings of the Woman's Rights Convention, held at Akron, Ohio, May 28 and 29, 1851, 5, 1851.
Votes for Women, 1848-1921

The convention's Report on Labor noted the following statistics: the average seamstress earned between $.75 and $1.50 per week for 15-18 hours of daily labor; domestics earned an average of about $6 per month; and a female teacher in Ohio was paid on the average of $21.49 per year, about half that of her male counterpart.

woman sitting at a sewing machine in a factory setting
[Richmond & Backus Co. sewing room, Detroit],
[between 1900 and 1910].
Touring Turn-of-the-Century America, 1880-1920

The convention resolved to work for gradual change urging religious groups, the press, and legislatures to discuss and support women's rights. Mothers were instructed "to teach all children the principles of natural justice which should govern the whole subject of Human Rights…" Women, particularly seamstresses, were urged to form "Labor Partnerships" to strengthen their ability to attain just and equitable wages.

Although not in attendance, Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote to conferees:

The trades and professions are all open to us… As merchants, postmasters, silversmiths, teachers, preachers and physicians, woman has already proved herself fully competent….  But the great work before us is the proper education of those just coming on the stage. Begin with girls of this day, and in twenty years we can revolutionize this nation….  Let the girl be thoroughly developed in body and soul,—not moulded like a pieces of clay after some artificial specimen of humanity, with a body after some plate in Godey's book of fashion… Think you, women thus educated, would be the frail, dependent beings we now find them? By no means…. As educated capitalists and skillful laborers, they would not be long in finding their true level in political and social life.

"Letter from Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton" in The Proceedings of the Woman's Rights Convention, held at Akron, Ohio, May 28 and 29, 1851, 1851.
Votes for Women, 1848-1921

Jim Thorpe

World-class athlete >Jim Thorpe (external link) was born in a one-room cabin near Prague in Indian Territory, now Oklahoma, on May 28, 1888. Thorpe's versatile talents earned him the distinction of being chosen, in 1950, the greatest football player and the greatest American athlete of the first half of the twentieth century by American sports writers and broadcasters.

Carlisle School football team
United States Carlisle Indian School, Football Squad, 1905.
Taking the Long View, 1851-1991
Jim Thorpe played football for Carlisle in 1907, 1908, 1911, and 1912.

Thorpe excelled at every sport he played. The great-great-grandson of an Indian warrior and athlete, Chief Black Hawk, Thorpe's heritage was Irish and five-eighths Indian (Sauk, Fox, and Pottowatomie). He attended Haskell Institute in Lawrence, Kansas, and the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania.

Thorpe took leave of the school in 1909 to play baseball in Rocky Mount and Fayetteville, North Carolina — a fact which later cost him two Olympic gold medals. Back at Carlisle, in 1911, Thorpe played football, baseball, and basketball and trained for the 1912 Olympics in track. Thorpe won the gold medal in both the decathlon and pentathlon events at the Stockholm Olympics, but was stripped of his medals when a reporter revealed he had played semi-professional baseball. It was not until after his death that Thorpe's amateur status was restored, and his name reentered in the Olympic record book.

Back at Carlisle, Thorpe repeated his 1911 accomplishment, being voted a first-string All-American halfback. During his last college season, Thorpe scored 198 points — including 22 of 27 winning points against Army, a team which included Dwight D. Eisenhower.

John T. Meyers and C. Mathewson
John "Chief" Meyers and Christy Mathewson, 1912.
Baseball Cards, 1887-1914

Lawrence Doyle and Fred Merkle
Lawrence Doyle and Fred Merkle, 1912.
Baseball Cards, 1887-1914

Once out of school, Thorpe was signed by John McGraw to play with the National League Champion New York Giants, which included Rube Marquard, Buck Herzog, Fred Snodgrass, Christy Mathewson, "Chief" Meyers, Larry Doyle, and Fred Merkel. From 1913 to 1929, Thorpe played professionally, for many years switching according to the season from baseball to football.

Thorpe was the first president of the new American Professional Football Association (later the National Football League (external link)). His name and skill on the field gave credibility to the sport, which he played professionally until he was forty-one years old. For two of those years, he coached and played for the Oorang Indians, an all-Native-American franchise out of La Rue, Ohio.

As his professional sports career drew to a close, the Depression proved a particularly difficult time for Thorpe. He held a variety of jobs but was too poor to buy a ticket to the 1932 Olympic Games; when he was invited to sit in the presidential box, a crowd of 105,000 stood to cheer him.

Los Angeles Olympic Stadium
Los Angeles Olympic Stadium on the Opening Day of the Games of the Xth Olympiad, Los Angeles, California, July 30, 1932.
Taking the Long View, 1851-1991