Lobbying Congress for a Womens History Trail

 

Two weeks ago, I was a lobbyist in Washington, D.C. I gave a talk and used gentle persuasion to gain access to members of Congress.

What was I doing there? I went to Washington as a member of the Friends of the Susan B. Anthony House, to ask Congress to support a bill that has been introduced by Rep. Louise Slaughter and others in July 2007. This bill calls for "the Secretary of the Interior to establish a commemorative trail in connection with the Women's Rights National Historical Park to link properties that are historically and thematically associated with the struggle for women's suffrage and for other purposes." If enacted, this could be a trail throughout the United States and would be so wonderful.

New York State already has had a women's history trail for several years. When the bill was announced, Louise Slaughter arranged for it to be introduced at the Susan B. Anthony House. I had been invited to participate as the town historian representing the Antoinette Brown Blackwell Historic Site on Pinnacle Road. Catherine and Elmar Frangenburg, as owners of the property, were also invited. It was an exciting time. Officials at the house have told me that this historic trail has brought many people from all over the United States to the Susan B. Anthony house. They saw it advertised in New York State tourist and historic publications.

Members of our Friends group chose various people in Congress to see, and then appointments had been set up for our visit. None of the senators or representatives were in their office that day; most were at home seeing their constituents. However, we saw their assistants or office managers. They gave us good advice that will help us in this effort to get the bill passed. In addition to the trail bill, we also promoted the bill to have Miss Anthony's birthday on Feb. 15 declared a national holiday. This bill was introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York State.

After our appointments, we were able to take a tour of the Capitol building. I was very happy to see that the statue containing the busts of Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton is still in the rotunda. For many years, it was located in the basement of the Capitol. The men in charge then had it removed after only one week in the rotunda.

I roomed with Barbara Blaisdell who is a retired counselor in the Rush-Henrietta school district. She has portrayed Miss Anthony for many years.

We went to the National Portrait Gallery where we viewed a bust of Miss Anthony and a painting of Frederick Douglass. At the Library of Congress, staff has arranged to have important documents of Miss Anthony displayed in town rooms so we could split up to see all of them. There were her letters and other artifacts that were really touching. It was the first time that I had been to the Library of Congress and I was really impressed. It is such a beautiful building, with over a billion books in its collection. My little book on Henrietta is there with its Library of Congress number. We also toured the home of Frederick Douglass where there is a prominent picture of Susan in the music room. The violin he played on trips to the Anthony home was also displayed.

We had arranged a trip to see the White House, but it was canceled, so instead we took a bus ride to see the home of George Washington. We were surprised when we arrived there to find out that there was no electricity. Practically all power was off in the state of Virginia due to terrible storms. Several towns had been hit by a tornado. Our tickets had been repaid so we were able to see the mansion of Mount Vernon. It is one of my favorite places and I have recently joined the Ladies Association. This early group bought the house from the Washington family in the 1800s. Just recently, they opened a new Education Building, but it was closed due to no power.

Since it was 90 degrees that day, I decided to spend most of my time sitting on the front veranda as Washington had done looking over the Potomac River. That was a lovely day. I urge all to see this place as it is so beautiful. Children especially should see and learn what is there.

Washington is beautiful with all its important government buildings. I especially love the National Gallery of Art at the Smithsonian. We took the monument tour and I finally got to see the World War II Memorial with all its gold stars that represent the lives of those who had died for our country, like my brother, Jimmy. He was on the Omaha Beach on D-Day, but lost his life one month later in the battle of St. Lo in France. I shed a few tears for him and the others who had died many years ago.

We had an outstanding historic trip, one that I shall never forget. It gave us another insight to the woman who is our heroine.

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