Category Archives: Government

The New York City Sullivan Ordinance was Passed on January 21

On January 21, 1908, the Sullivan Ordinance was passed in New York City by the board of aldermen making it ‘against the law for a hotel or restaurant proprietor, or anyone else managing or owning a “public place” to allow women to smoke in public’ as expressed in the title of a New York Times article from 1908.
Eleven women were present at this meeting, and fifteen men were present, including Katie Mulcahey.
A forward thinking Dr. Charles J. Pease wanted it to be a crime for “any person or persons” to smoke in a public place where women were present who could be forced to inhale the fumes.1 One Alderman opposed it claiming it wouldn’t be legal. They couldn’t prevent the men from smoking if that was what they choose to do. That was their right.
John Henry Smith, a member of the public said they should be paying more attention to the poor rather than wasting time discussing smoking. If they were to do anything why didn’t they stop boys smoking who were under the age of 21?
Alderman Doull claimed that was unconstitutional.
The ordinance passed.
The reporter spoke to the women who attended the meeting to see what they thought about the Ordinance, and they felt the board should not have been passing anti-smoke ordinances.
The board really didn’t think ahead as to whether or not women would break the law. The women were supposed to behave as they were told and that they wouldn’t argue about and they would just obey the law. The worst that would happen is that her husband or father would punish her.
Katie Mulcahey who attended the meeting was later cited for breaking the Ordinance and fined $5. She refused to pay and was arrested. The ordinance never mentioned any fines so she was released the next day. The ordinance also didn’t say anything about women not being able to smoke in public places.
This was definitely an Ordinance written with a play on the word ‘public’. Since anyone managing or owning a place is really privately owned, but opened to the public.
In this case language is everything.
1This is word for word from the New York Times article above published in 1908



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Hattie Caraway became the First Woman Senator on January 12, 1932

English: Portrait of Senator Hattie Caraway

English: Portrait of Senator Hattie Caraway (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hattie Caraway won a special election on January 12, 1932 with the Arkansas Democratic party‘s backing and became the first woman elected to the United States Senate. She was the first woman to serve a full term. She took office after her husband, Thaddeus H. Caraway, passed away. She had originally been appointed by the Arkansas governor Harvey Parnell to take his place.

Caraway helped to bring in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, which were ways plans of recovery during the depression. She voted for anything, which were for the prohibition. She also did not believe in lynching.

When up for reelection in 1938, she beat Republican C. D. Atkinson of Fayetteville. John Little McClellan, another Democratic Senator often challenged her because he felt a woman just was not up to the task looking out for the state’s best interests.

She was known on the floor as “Silent Hattie” because she often let the men do the talking. She believed woman she be at home caring for their families. She was well aware of the families who were suffering.

In 1943, she cosponsored the Equal Rights Amendment although she wasn’t interested in woman’s suffrage.

She did not win the 1944 election but was appointed to the Employees’ Compensation Commission. In 1946 Harry Truman appointed her to the Employees’ Compensation Appeals Board.

She was known to encourage women to take on larger rolls, that may have been considered just for men, because she knew that woman could do more. Women aren’t property belong to men. They can do so much more.

Caraway may have been a conservative in the way she presented herself in office with the other members of Senate, but she let the men carry on as they normally did and voiced her votes as her constituents desired. Her biggest opponent was that men felt women couldn’t handle looking out for the state’s best interest. She worked on economic recovery legislation. Caraway knew people were out of work and needed jobs, needed support to keep their homes, and all the necessities just like we do today. That was why the New Deal was so important in those days.

The New Deal was a Progressive idea. They needed bank reform, monetary reform, securities regulations, and to stimulate the housing industry. There was the Wealth Tax Act (Revenue Act of 1935) which recovered over $250 million in additional funds. The New Deal was claimed by some to be Communism, and their were charges of fascism. These were the reforms that she and others voted on that helped raise the GDP.




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