Becoming the First in Woman’s Politics

September 17, 2010 in 1920s-30s, Political history

Mary Elliott Flanery

Mary Elliott Flanery

From the research one does on the topic of woman’s suffrage and women in the 20th century it is easy to spot a number of amazing figures.  For example, Emma Guy Cromwell and Mary Elliott Flanery — both women were firsts in holding public office.  Although it was an amazing stride for women, it is truly hard for us today to grasp what it took and what it was like to be there.

Emma Guy Cromwell, Kentuckiana Digital Library

Emma Guy Cromwell

Rebecca S. Hanly’s article, “Emma Guy Cromwell and Mary Elliott Flanery: Pioneers for Women in Kentucky Politics” gives us a little more insight to what being the first really meant. Hanly points out in the article, “Most people simply were not ready for women in public office. Even leaders of the woman’s suffrage movement were ambivalent about the issue.”  These thoughts make the feats of these women in my opinion even more impressive.

This is the definition of a true pioneer. To be able to push through and persevere when even the people fighting on your side with you aren’t truly sure that the ultimate goal you are setting out for, is indeed the right thing.  In my life as I am sure in many others I have let others words change my thoughts and actions.

In psychology there is a study where a person is put in a room with a group of people (the control) who will all raise their hand for the wrong answer on purpose to sway the lone individual.  Although the person knows his answer is right, because everyone is telling him otherwise he goes along with the pack in choosing the wrong answer.

I feel that this goes along with what might have been going on in these two’s minds.  They knew what they were doing was right, but they had been told otherwise for so long and so repeatedly that it would have been easy to give up and believe that they indeed did not belong in politics.

Resource: Rebecca S. Hanly, “Emma Guy Cromwell and Mary Elliott Flannery: Pioneers for Women in Kentucky Politics,” Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 99 (Summer 2001), 287‐301.

2 responses to Becoming the First in Woman’s Politics

  1. That is very interesting that through the adversity they were able to hold public office. In there days living in a patriarchal society that they were under, it was hard for them to have a voice and for them to actually go beyond what everybody was telling them to hold office positions.

  2. I like your application of this psychological study as a way to examine the actions of these women. Although, I do believe that a determined woman is not easily discouraged, as she can be resolute in her faith and/or belief. Something to keep in mind when looking through the eyes of these women is their age. Life experience has a way of sorting through values and ascertaining priority. On an informal note, I want to quote my mother as an example: “I pull the weeds because it cleanses my soul.”

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