Judy Garrett: Listening to a voice from the past
Guest Commentary

Judy Garrett: Listening to a voice from the past


The women’s suffrage movement was already active in many parts of America in the late 19th century. In 1894, 25 ladies met to form the Ladies Literary Society (now called the Minerva Club). They were hungry for broader knowledge and companionship and sought to elevate the cultural level of the community. Among those 25 ladies were Harriett Sharp Hart (2/1/1844 – 10/7/1896) and her two daughters, Laura Sharp Bryant and Lucy Sharp Haslam. In an old trunk containing the personal effects of Harriett Sharp Hart, her granddaughter Elizabeth Scott (Minerva Club President, 1965-66) found notes written in pencil for a speech very likely given early in the existence of the club in the 1890s. (From the archives of the Santa Maria Valley History Museum)

The Need for Women’s Rights

Why is it men so fear the ballot for their wives and yet allow any disreputable man, be he drunkard, drug addict, or gambler, to vote and help make the laws that his wife and children must abide by, and yet in the city, this is the class of men who control the polls. Banks, churches, and corporations allow women to vote, so surely in this age of reason all fair minded men will grant to woman her right to assist in exploding the shams of society as it is found, as well as to help solve the problem of a better civilization. For in striving to improve her own ideas of justice in government, women cannot help but make the standard of justice more perfect in her sons.

Equal rights in the political field are demanded and justly so. Women have to abide by the laws, and if she owns property, she is taxed the same as men and taxation without representation is unjust as our forefathers said.

It is a disgrace to this great nation and glorious country that sensible and well informed women have not as much privilege granted them as the ignorant man who cannot speak a word of English, and the uneducated man who can neither read nor write. I for one, hope our dear friend and advocate, Susan B. Anthony may live to see the day when women will be allowed the ballot. What a glorious day it would be for her work of a lifetime and self-sacrifice that she has given to the cause and feel that her labors had not been in vain.

Harriett Hart, wife of the “Father of Santa Maria”, Rueben Hart, clearly believed that women were deserving of the same political, economic, and social rights enjoyed by men. Her stirring words should rouse all women to not fail to exercise the hard-won voting rights earned by the Suffrage movement and granted by the 19th Amendment.

Despite their lack of franchise, the Minerva ladies actively pursued participation in community affairs. They were able to exercise considerable influence, including the creation of Buena Vista Park, incorporation of the City, and impressively securing a Carnegie Library for the community of Santa Maria.

Judy Garrett, Secretary, Minerva Club Scholarship Committee, Facebook @ Santa Maria Suffrage Centennial Celebration smvsuffrage@gmail.com



Catch the latest in Opinion

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

GUEST COMMENTARY The current world health crisis shines a light on a part of America we don’t want to see — the homeless. It is time we looked at them and asked ourselves, can’t we do better for our fellow human beings?

  • Updated

GUEST COMMENTARY We all strive to be good stewards of the environment, so how do we know we are recycling right? Do you ever wonder what happens when you place non-recyclable materials in the recycling bin?

GUEST COMMENTARY In his May 17 commentary, (“The Keystone Cops vs. the coronavirus”) local conservative radio show host Andy Caldwell takes a whack at Gov. Gavin Newsom and the ongoing stay-at-home orders that have helped abate the infection rate and death toll from the coronavirus in California.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alert

Breaking News