The Smithfield Community Association (SCA) in Peterboro, Madison County, NY, is set to ring the bell in the tower of the Smithfield Community Center (SCC) nineteen times on Wednesday, August 26th, to celebrate the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The Nineteenth Amendment stated that “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged…on account of sex.” The Peterboro United Methodist Church bell will join the SCC bell ringing. Jacob Donovan-Colin will climb stairs and a ladder to reach the SCC clock tower to ring the bell nineteen times beginning at 6:19 pm on Equality Day 2020. Donovan, Vice-President of the Smithfield Community Association, also winds the clock in the tower.
Elizabeth Cady (Stanton), who spent her summers in Peterboro with her cousins, social reformers Ann and Gerrit Smith, included women’s suffrage in the Declaration of Sentiments presented at the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention in 1848. Efforts led by Stanton and Susan B. Anthony in the next half century did not accomplish a national suffrage law for women. It was on May 21st, 1919, that the U.S. House of Representatives passed Amendment XIX followed by the Senate’s passing on June 4th, 1919. New York State was the sixth state to ratify the amendment – doing so on June 16th, 1919. On August 18th, 1920, Tennessee approved the amendment providing the thirty-six states needed for ratification.
In 1971 and 1973 New York Congresswoman Bella Abzug introduced a resolution to designate August 26th as Women’s Equality Day. On August 16th, 1973, Congress approved the resolution and specified that “the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation in commemoration of that day in 1920 on which the women in America were first guaranteed the right to vote.”
Groups and individuals in the county are invited to join the bell ringing at 6:19 pm on Wednesday. For more information or to join the Equality Day bell ringing, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (315) 280-8828.
Photo of Smithfield Community Center provided.