7 Women Who Fought To Keep America Free
There's about a million women in American History who have fought for our freedoms and gone almost entirely unacknowledged. Here are seven women who have made history — a few who have become recent household names and others who aren't but should be.
1. Albert D.J. Cashier, AKA Jennie Irene Hodgers
At 19, Cashier enlisted in the Union army during the Civil War. At 5'3" Cashier was one of the shortest soldiers and was also one of the only women in the army at that time. An Irish immigrant, Cashier was born Jennie Irene Hodgers, and decided to live life as a man after the war ended so he could enjoy all the benefits men received such as a personal bank account, paychecks double the size of women's and overall freedoms not afforded to women. After years of masquerading as a man, Hodger's true identity was discovered and her army veteran status and pension were threatened on grounds of identity fraud.
2. Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman escaped slavery and became a leading abolitionist before the Civil War through her creation of the Underground Railroad, which lead enslaved black people in the south at least 90 miles north to Pennsylvania. Once passage of the Fugitive Slave Act meant that escaped slaves would have to be returned to their owners, Tubman re-routed the Underground Railroad even further north to Canada, where slaves were free indefinitely.
3. Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Stanton is often seen as a leading force behind the Seneca Falls Convention, the first women's rights conference. With many other women, including friends Lucretia Mott and Susan B. Anthony, Stanton made the case for women's suffrage. Eventually Stanton began to focus on other social issues regarding women's rights, not just the right to vote, but has been credited with helping to start the women's rights movement.
4. Clara Shortridge Foltz
After divorcing her husband, Clara Shortridge Foltz decided that her previous job of teaching was not going to be enough to support her children and embarked on a mission to become a lawyer. Before becoming the first female lawyer in California, Foltz lobbied the Woman's Lawyer Bill through state legislature since she was not even allowed to apply for bar admission. Foltz practiced law for 50 years while also working to make it easier for women to become attorneys, in addition to conceiving the idea of a public defender.
5. Fannie Lou Hamer
The daughter of sharecroppers, Fannie Lou Hamer started out working in the fields at an early age. During the summer of 1962, she attended a protest meeting where she encountered other activists who encouraged her to join the fight for civil rights. After this, she became heavily involved in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and eventually helped found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party in efforts to combat the all-white delegation. Hamer used her political activism to bring civil rights issues in Mississippi to the attention of the nation.
6. Sandra Day O’Connor
Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor made history by becoming the first female justice appointed to the court. Throughout her time as a Supreme Court Justice, O'Connor weighed in as a key vote in many cases, one of the most important being the landmark Roe v. Wade. O'Connor opened the doors for women like Sonia Sotomayor, the third female justice and first Hispanic to be appointed, to continue the fight for integrity.
7. Wendy Davis
Texas Senator Wendy Davis would not stand for SB 5, the bill that would have made abortions after 20 weeks illegal and eliminated 37 out of the 42 abortion clinics in Texas. After filibustering for 13 hours, her efforts had paid off and the bill was not passed into law. Her colleague, Senator Leticia Van De Putte spoke in support of Davis' work when many Republican members attempted to end the filibuster. Davis' work has proved itself as a major step in the right direction for women's rights.