Saturday, November 4, 2017

An Amazing True Story

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Happy Saturday! . And you are about to hear some amazing stuff.  We’re delighted to have Victoria Thompson with us again, (here we are at Malice when she was Guest Of Honor!). And wow-- what she has to tell us today is so timely.
You probably know her as the author of the Gaslight Mystery Series, set in turn of the century New York City with midwife Sarah Brandt and detective Frank Malloy.  (If you don’t, whoa, you are in for a treat!) But grab your coffee or tea--and listen to this.
VICTORIA THOMPSON:  I’m thrilled to be invited back to Jungle Red because I get to tell you about the first book in my brand new Counterfeit Lady Series, City of Lies, which will be out on November 7. 
(Now, before anyone panics, this will be my second series, and I’ll continue to write the Gaslight Mysteries as long as readers will read them, but now my fans will have two books a year from me instead of just one.)
I’d been wanting to write a second series for a long time, so I’d been researching the early nineteenth century in hopes of finding inspiration.  One day, almost miraculously, all that research (and a few odds and ends I hadn’t even considered part of the process) suddenly fell into place and the idea for City of Lies and my heroine, Elizabeth Miles, came to me, full blown.
In the research, I’d learned a lot about the Women’s Suffrage Movement that they don’t teach in school. I learned that in 1917, women had demonstrated outside the White House every day for the right to vote. Every day! By November (that’s right, November 1917, exactly 100 years ago from when the book comes out!), President Wilson was getting annoyed, so he started having the demonstrators arrested. He thought that would scare them off, but it only made them mad, and even more women came to demonstrate. Finally, he had them sentenced to three months in a workhouse where they were physically abused and served rancid food full of maggots.  They went on a hunger strike and endured abuse for weeks until a judge finally released them.
The stories of the suffragists were amazing, but I’d never heard them before, and nobody I knew had ever heard them before, either. I wanted to put them in a book, but these honorable ladies hardly seemed likely to commit a crime worthy of a mystery novel.  How could I tell their story in an interesting way?
This is where the “odds and ends” came in.  When a writer does research, she often comes across interesting information she can’t use on that particular book, so she files it away in a “just in case” folder, or at least I do.  I thought it might be interesting if a woman joined the demonstrators outside the White House just as they were being arrested in order to escape someone dangerous. Who could this woman be and who was chasing her?
Years ago, I’d researched con men for another story, and I had several books in my library on the subject.  Were there con women, too?  Not many, it turned out, but a few, and Elizabeth Miles was born.  Elizabeth lies well and knows exactly how to pretend to be someone she is not, so she pretends to be a lady and a suffragist. Her deception ends up lasting much longer than she’d planned, however, when she and the others are sentenced to the workhouse.  How long can she be a counterfeit lady?
Like every woman in every age, Elizabeth must pretend to be what others want to see in order to safely navigate her world. She must risk everything—the respect she has earned from the women she admires, the new love she has found, and the one safe place where can finally be her true self.  And, she must trick all these honest, upright citizens into helping her run a con to save her very life.
Remember I told you I learned a lot about the Women’s Suffrage Movement?  One important thing I realized when I saw the date when the 19th Amendment passed is that when my mother was born, women didn’t have the right to vote!  That’s how recently women achieved this precious right.  Women have come a long way in a hundred years, but in many ways we often still pretend to be something we are not in order to be safe, just like Elizabeth did.
I hope my fans enjoy City of Lies as much as they have loved the Gaslight Mysteries.

HANK: Well, indeed! I can say first hand that this book is terrific! I loved it, and (just between us) was envious of Vicki’s brilliant idea and the execution of it.
So do you think now, 100 years later, and after all that, we take voting for granted? I can say I have never missed an election. Even our little town elections. And I was so angry last November (whoa) when they ran out of I VOTED stickers! I love the see the diligent election workers, and the devoted people with signs, and I love to mark the ballot.
How about you, Reds and readers?

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Victoria Thompson:  Edgar®  and Agatha Nominated author Victoria Thompson writes the Gaslight Mystery Series, set in turn-of-the-century New York City and featuring midwife Sarah Brandt. Her latest, Murder in the Bowery, was a May 2017 release.  City of Lies is the first book in her new Counterfeit Lady series, a November 2017 release from Berkley.  She also contributed to the award winning writing textbook Many Genres/One Craft. Victoria teaches in the Seton Hill University master's program in writing popular fiction. She lives in Illinois with her husband and a very spoiled little dog. 
Visit www.victoriathompson.com or follow her on Facebook at Victoria.Thompson.Author or on twitter @gaslightvt.  (That’s not a typo!)






for suffragette magazine: Copyright: gameover / 123RF Stock Photo

73 comments:

  1. Victoria, the Counterfeit Lady sounds like such an exciting series! I’d never heard those stories about the suffragists demonstrating and being sent to a workhouse . . . I am really looking forward to meeting Elizabeth in “City of Lies.”

    I suppose we do tend to take voting for granted these days . . . it’s good to be reminded how recently it was that women were granted the right to vote.
    Like Hank, I never miss voting . . . .

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    1. It's fun, isn't it? Our little voting place is in on the basketball court of a community center, and there's always a bake sale and coffee...

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    2. Wow . . . we vote at a fire house where there's no bake sale and I have to bring my own coffee, but the voting is the most important thing . . . .

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    3. It's outrageous that more people don't know what the suffragists went through, so I'm glad for the opportunity to help spread the word! I had to vote by absentee ballot in the last two elections, and I have to say, it wasn't nearly as much fun as going to the polling places and seeing everyone exercising their rights!

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    4. Yes, I was touring last election day--ahhhh, not the best plan, but pretty interesting--and worried that my absentee ballot wouldn't get counted properly.

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    5. Victoria, welcome to Jungle Reds! We met at Malice Domestic 2016. I enjoyed reading your Gaslight series and I look forward to reading your new series! 1917 was during the Great War! I am doing research on the first World War for my WIP.

      Diana

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    6. The Great War is fascinating, Diana.

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  2. I try to vote in every election, although I'll have to admit that I've missed a few. None of the big ones, though, and I never take it for granted. I worked on a congressional campaign, many years ago, and I know first hand how every vote counts. (We lost, but it was close.) Somewhere along the line I have heard about the suffragists and their hunger strike, so I am particularly thrilled that my friend, who actively volunteers for voter registration campaigns and local elections, tells me that we have a record number of women running for office in Texas in 2018 at all levels of government.

    And isn't it ironic that President Wilson, who dragged those suffragists off to prison and fed them maggots, depended on his wife, Edith, to keep his administration going after his stroke?

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    1. CNN online has an article this morning on how many more women are running, thinking about running, and training for leadership roles in politics right now. If there's one thing this administration has done right, it's to encourage more involvement of women in the political process. Which is a super positive outcome, to my mind.

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    2. Yes, Gigi, that "every vote counts" mantra becomes so anxiety-inducing when you work on a campaign... What if you could find that "one more person"--where are they? What did you miss? (and I've worked for several campaigns, back in the 70's. My candidates always lost.)

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    3. It's so great to see so many women stepping forward. Having the vote isn't enough if we don't also have power. We can only get that by having more women in leadership roles.

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    4. Hank,

      I definitely like to mark my ballot and vote!

      Diana

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  3. Facebook recently reminded me of one of my memories. It was a black and white photo woman holding up a worn smock that she had worn in prison when she had been arrested in the demonstrations in front of the White House. That was the first I'd heard of women arrested in the suffrage battle. The photo wasn't contemporary, but since my dad was born in November 1917, I had a personal frame of reference that seemed, current somehow. As Gigi pointed out, Wilson seems to have had an encounter with karma...

    Victoria the Counterfeit Lady sounds fantastic. I am so looking forward to learning Elizabeth's secrets. And to meeting a female con. It's such an intriguing concept.

    Voting? I have missed a few, mostly local when I lived out of the country, but national, not if I could help it. Although having lived in Florida during one notorious election (and for years before), I wonder if all those years of votes counted.

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    1. Oh, gosh, Kait, that's a chilling-and realistic---thought. Love to see that photo..Is it on your facebook?

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    2. I love those photos of the suffragists. I used their personal accounts for research for the scenes where they're in the workhouse and I didn't have to make anything up! It's amazing what they went through.

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    3. I didn't repost the memory, but I'll see if I can find the original and post it again. I'll tag you.

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    4. Done, tagged you and the Jungle Reds -- if I did it correctly - there is some room for speculation about that.

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  4. I have only missed one election and it was a local primary and I was so sick I couldn't get out of bed. Not a bad record for 60 years of voting.

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    1. What a great record! I skipped a few local elections because I literally did not know who to vote for and I didn't want to make a mistake!

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    2. We have a trusted pal who knows EVERYTHING--she gives us the scoop on aldermen and school committee. Otherwise--we'd have no idea. :-)

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  5. As you know, Vicki, I also loved this book and am so glad it's the start of a series! I loved researching the late-1880s suffragists for my 2018 historical, looking at pictures of the slogans they put on the protest placards, reading about the lives of people like Elizabeth Cady Stanton (she gets a bit part in the book!). Some courageous women.

    I never miss voting, either. It's a privilege, and in the current atmosphere, a necessity.

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    1. Thanks for your kind words, Edith! Those women were indeed amazing.

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  6. The premise of this sounds so intriguing. But you had me with "counterfeit lady." And I'm fascinated by the suffragettes.
    I vote every year, national and local. And I'm so grateful to my local citizens who run for office.

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    1. Big election coming up in my town of Newton--yesterday, our mailbox was STUFFED with campaign fliers. (

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    2. I think local elections are so much fun because you can really see the results. It's even more fun when you know the candidates.

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    3. In local elections, I'm sometimes acquainted with both candidates. This can be interesting, because I've sometimes changed my opinion of a candidate's character because of the person's behavior throughout election season.

      DebRo

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  7. Victoria, your new series sounds wonderful! Great idea for a storyline, too.

    I've voted in all but one election since I was old enough to vote, and I only missed that one because I had to go to New York for business that week. Back then (1970's) you could get an absentee ballot, but you had to apply for it weeks ahead, and I didn't have enough time to get an application in. I've also been an election judge, on Election Day, and for a couple of primaries. It's a long day for the pollworkers, and they don't get paid much. Please remember to thank them for helping to facilitate the democratic process. A kind word goes a long way.

    But my mother is almost proud of not voting. Which infuriates me. But then I think of who she would vote for, and I'm mollified somewhat. Sheesh.

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    1. Yes, it's much easier to vote now! (and yeah, sometimes you wanna say--that's okay, Mom, you just sit this one out...)

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    2. I used to work the League of Women Voters booth at fairs and offer people the opportunity to register to vote. Some women would actually say, "My husband doesn't allow me to vote." Seriously?

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    3. Vicki, my mom's second husband got her to register to vote for the first time, back in the 70's, and then he told her who to vote for, thereby doubling his own vote.

      My mother is not stupid, and she watches the news religiously, so none of this makes sense to me.

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    4. I've known at least one woman-and she was only in her thirties, who would not discuss her opinion on a particular issue "because my husband doesn't want me to have this opinion." I sometimes wonder how/if she voted.

      DebRo

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  8. My birthday present when I turned 18? A trip to register to vote with my BFF, who had also just had a birthday. I haven't missed many elections--always get my sticker! Best voting experience--when you still used the machine and pushed the lever after you were done--with two toddlers peeking out under the curtain, and lifting them up so they could push that lever for their first 'vote'. They got stickers, too!

    I knew a bit about the suffragettes' ordeals--it wasn't only in DC where they were arrested and beaten and abused. This new series sounds like a winner! I love it when a book is really enjoyable and you put it down with a happy sigh--knowing that there will be another one and another one and....!

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    1. Flora, I miss the voting machines too! CT returned to paper ballots a few years ago. It's just not the same as cranking that curtain open after registering my choices. Pulling the lever to open the curtain made it feel like "yes! I have made my contribution to society!"

      And I always make sure I get my sticker before I leave!

      DebRo

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    2. LOVE the machines. They felt so real, like you were really doing something powerful. Filling in a little dot is a lot less dramatic in the execution--although not in the outcome.

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    3. I miss the machines, too. I'm always afraid I'll poke a hole in the wrong place or color in the wrong dot. But maybe the paper ballots provide a nice backup in case someone really does know how to hack the computers.

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  9. One of the poll workers were I voted many years ago had been a suffragette. She would say “you girls don’t know what we went through so you could vote and now too many of you don’t even bother.” I’m glad those stories are being told.

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    1. Oh, I love that! And she's so right..

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    2. What a great story! Thanks for sharing. And she was so right!

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  10. I missed voting once and damned if Reagan didn't get elected. I was up on the Navajo reservation and hadn't requested an absentee ballot. Never again.

    Welcome Victoria. I look forward to learning more about the suffragists. I heard tales from my grandmother who was one of those who fought for voting rights for women. My mother was three years old when the 19th amendment was passed. Voting is a right and a privilege, and this was pounded into me from infancy.

    While national elections get most of the press, there is no where my vote counts more than in local races. It is where one vote really can make a difference. This was our dinner table conversation last night, and I was impressed at the level of knowledge about local and state issues. Unfortunately I doubt more than 10% of the populace will bother going to the polls on Tuesday. The rest deserve what they get.

    Jumps off soap box

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    1. We love your soapbox! You really think 10 per cent? Yeesh.

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    2. I meant 20% but still, just a fraction. Warning: Old WASP conservative men vote.

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    3. Every vote certainly does count in local elections, but they really counted in the last presidential election as well. When you see how few districts would have had to shift by a very small amount to change the outcome, you really realize how important every vote really is.

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  11. This new book sounds like a lot of fun. I'm badgering my library into buying some copies. My wife and I are reliable voters--usually we go early when it's so easy. It's hard to imagine why so many people don't participate.

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    1. Agreed--it seems so odd when people don't bother. xoxo

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    2. Finding out why people don't vote would be a great research project.

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  12. Thank you, Victoria. I vaguely remember hearing that the suffragettes were arrested but I had no idea of what happened to them afterwards. I think I always thought that they had to pay a small fine and then were released. It's appalling what happened to them!

    I have voted in every election since I became old enough to vote. Three of my grandparents were immigrants. One grandmother told me "grandpa and I became citizens as soon as we were able to because we wanted to be Americans and we wanted to be able to vote." She went on to say that it was a privilege to vote and that I should never take it for granted, and to never forget that I am an American, And that responsible Americans vote. She was very adamant about it. It just shocks me when I run into people in their 70s and 80s who never bothered to register to vote and then complain about local/ state/federal government.

    Victoria, I'm not only interested in reading the first book in that series but interested in seeing what route you take with your characters in future books. Sounds like it's going to be an exciting read for all of us!

    DebRo

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    1. Exactly! Wonder how often the non-voters are the ones who complain?

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    2. thanks, Deborah! I'm working on the second book in the series now. Elizabeth will be fighting for her rights in a very personal way in the next book. Winning over our loved ones is often the hardest step!

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  13. Victoria, your book sounds fascinating. And, Gigi, I love that President Wilson had to depend on his wife. Karma, all right. I knew a bit about the suffragettes but not as much as I should, so very much looking forward to reading your book, Victoria.

    And thanks for reminding me to vote on Tuesday!

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    1. I think women have always played a much larger role in everything than has ever been acknowledged. I think the problem with business today is that these men at the top no longer have secretaries who are smarter than they are to catch the mistakes. Those women have much better jobs now, although they still aren't the CEO.

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    2. Oh, that's another great plot, Vicki!

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  14. As anyone who knows me, I have lots of opinions and am grateful to be able to express them. Vote. We have five granddaughters, all but one who can vote now. But you can only imagine my dismay when one of them was so lackadaisical about last year's election that she said, "why bother?" I was horrified and told her so too. I wonder if other young women are similarly turned off by ugly politics. "But, this is your future! It's not mine because I'll be gone by the time the real effects of this election happen." I hope that my insistence that she get involved had an effect. She lives in the Midwest so I don't really know. it's still upsetting to me as you can probably tell.

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    1. It IS upsetting! "Why bother" is so very sad...

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    2. Perhaps your granddaughter is beginning to see why she should bother now. I think a lot of women are.

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  15. City of Lies sounds wonderful, Vicki! I am pre-ordering it right now as I know I will love it as much as your Gaslight series. When I was nine, I did my first biographical book report on Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She died in 1902 so she wasn't one of the suffragettes to get the vote but she started my interest in the women's movement and I actually did know about the marches on Washington, the workhouses, the being branded as insane, etc., that the women trying to get the vote were forced to endure. Because of that, like Hank, I have never missed a vote (even local). It's too precious of a right to be taken for granted. I'm just thrilled that you're writing this series! More people need to appreciate the sacrifices that were made for the rights we have now. Elizabeth Miles sounds like a superbly complex heroine.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, Jenn! I'm having a wonderful time with Elizabeth. She's a very sassy heroine.

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  16. I'm about 60 pages away from the end, and I'm loving this book! I will definitely stay current on this series while desperately trying to catch up on the Gaslight mysteries. (Only 17 to go, but who is counting?)

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    1. How did you get it early, Mark? so glad you're enjoying it.

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  17. Vicki, I had no idea that abuse the suffragists had to withstand! Thanks for educating me! I always vote, and I always bug my loved ones to vote. I attribute this to being a political science major in college and learning about all the political systems in which people don't have the right to vote. It's harder to take this right for granted when you learn that people all over the world don't have the right to vote, and many die fighting to get it. I feel like not voting (obviously, there are life circumstances that may preclude it) is an affront to those who are fighting for the chance. Congrats on the new series!

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    1. Hardly anyone knows this story, so don't feel bad! I hope this book will help raise awareness and maybe convince some women how important voting is.

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  18. I already have City of Lies on my TBR list and on my Amazon wish list, Vicki. I find the women's suffrage movement fascinating, and my mother was born before women had the right to vote, too. My favorite piece in the Capitol rotunda in D.C. is the "Portrait Monument," a large marble piece with the busts of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucretia Mott. I can remember standing and staring in awe at this monument the one and only time I visited the rotunda, around twelve years ago. This marble tribute has an interesting story, which can be found at https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2016/09/19/suffrage-movement-susan-b-anthony-portrait-monument-us-capitol-hillary-clinton/88317362/ It is the only piece honoring women there.

    I admit that in my early days of being eligible to vote, I didn't always appreciate the right and vote in elections that weren't of national consequence. Of course, now I realize that all elections are of national consequence in the end. These days, and for quite some time, I've taken my right to vote most seriously, and I'm in step with Hank in being proud of that "I Voted" sticker and wanting it.

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    1. They say all politics are local, and we are seeing that more and more.

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  19. I rarely miss an election, even when I am less than thrilled with the candidates. If you don't vote you can't gripe. My mantra. I knew the British suffragettes were treated horribly. I shouldn't be surprised American women were too. I believe they had Wilson on the ropes to the extent he managed a "truce" for while we were at war. I do not remember if he kept his promises after the Great War ended. I love reading about this time period so I'll be looking for City of Lies.

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    1. Wilson did convince the House to approve the amendment in Jan. 1918, but the Senate didn't pass it until after the war.

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  20. Looking forward to this book -- soon! The more I read of the Suffragists' struggles, the more determined I am to exercise the right to vote . . . and perhaps get an Equal Rights Amendment as well? I used to stump my students when we read Abigail Adams' plea to "remember the ladies" by asking when it passed -- such shock when I said we're still waiting.

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    1. It's hard to believe we've never passed the ERA.

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  21. Oh, I forgot about the ERA, VIcki! Amazing!

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