At the May 1863 meeting of the newly formed Woman’s National Loyal League, Lucy Stone reminded the members that while women did not yet have the vote, they had what the U. S. Constitution guarantees to all citizens, the right to petition the government.
The League’s other speakers likened them all to the women of the Revolution who “were not wanting in heroism and self-sacrifice.” They made emancipation their first priority by approving:
Resolution 5: There never can be a true peace in this Republic until the civil and political rights of all citizens of African descent and all women are practically established.
Nine months later, in Feb. 1864, the League’s first 100,000 signatures were delivered to Sen. Charles Sumner in two trunks. Each contained a scroll of the amendment petitions glued end to end. He accepted the petitions with his speech “The Prayer of 100,000.” The League helped to delivery another 300,000 signatures to the Senate and the House, confirming that emancipation had ever-widening popular support and must be an outcome of the Union victory.
Before war’s end, their signatures, combined with other voices and pressure from Lincoln, persuaded the U.S. Senate (April 8, 1864) and the House of Representatives (Jan. 31, 1865) to pass the proposed Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery. It was ratified by enough states to become law in December 1865.
Facts to fiction:
inspired by these historical facts and Edwin Lybarger’s Civil War diaries.