If you read any American history textbooks or watch anything on TV (with the exception of a few networks), you’d think the GOP was nothing more than knuckle-dragging Neanderthals!

Contradictory to popular opinion, most major changes for the better have been led by Republicans — the abolitionists movement (Freeing of the Slaves), women’s right to vote, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, along with many other notable reform actions in our country.

Let’s focus on the “Women’s Suffrage” Movement (which incidentally celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2020).   The AWSA (American Woman Suffrage Association) aimed for close ties with the Republican Party, hoping that the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment would lead to a Republican push for women’s suffrage. The AWSA, while determined to be politically independent, Republican Lawmakers played a large part in the passing of the 15th Amendment to the US Constitution.  Conservative icon Clare Booth Luce was hired by Alva Belmont to work for the National Woman’s Party in Washington, D.C. 

Clare Boothe Luce

clare boothe luce
Rep. Clare Boothe Luce

Jeannette Rankin from Montana, the first woman in the House of Representatives, paved the way from Conservative icon Clare Boothe Luce.  Born in New York City in 1903, Luce attended the cathedral schools in Garden City and Tarrytown, New York, graduating first in her class in 1919 at age 16. Her mother’s initial ambitious plan for her was to become an actress. Clare studied with Mary Pickford on Broadway at age 10, and had her Broadway debut in Mrs. Henry B. Harris’ production of “The Dummy” in 1914, a detective comedy.

In 1942 Luce was elected as a Republican to represent Connecticut’s 4th Congressional District (in Fairfield County).  She made a sensational debut in her maiden speech, coining the phrase “globaloney” to disparage the administration of President Franklin Roosevelt and Vice President Henry Wallace (who was later exposed as a Communist) on issues such as infant-care and maternity appropriations for the wives of enlisted men. Nevertheless, Roosevelt took a dislike to her and campaigned in 1944 to attempt to prevent her re-election, publicly calling her “a sharp-tongued glamour girl of forty.”  Interestingly, this is a line that’s been omitted from most history books.  Despite FDR’s many attempts at smearing Luce, she was re-elected to Congress in 1944. In her 2nd term, Luce was instrumental in the creation of the Atomic Energy Commission.  She also toured the battlefronts during the war in Europe.  One of her many signature legislations was the Luce-Celler Act of 1946, which permitted Indians and Filipinos to immigrate to the US with a yearly quota of 100 from each of the countries.

In 1953 she was named Ambassador to Italy by President Eisenhower and confirmed by the US Senate.   As Ambassador, her principal achievement was playing a vital role in negotiating a peaceful solution to the Trieste Crisis of 1953, a border dispute between Italy and Yugoslavia that she saw as potentially escalating into a war between East and West. Her sympathies throughout were with the Christian Democratic government of Giuseppe Pella, and she was influential on the Mediterranean policy of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, another anti-communist. Although Luce regarded the abatement of the acute phase of the crisis in December 1953 as a triumph for herself, the main work of settlement, finalized in October 1954, was undertaken by professional representatives of the five concerned powers (Britain, France, the United States, Italy, and Yugoslavia) meeting in London.

In 1973, President Richard Nixon named Luce to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB). She remained on the board until President Jimmy Carter succeeded President Gerald Ford in 1977. By then, she had put down roots in Washington, D.C. that would become permanent in her last years. In 1979, she was the first woman to be awarded the Sylvanus Thayer Award by the United States Military Academy at West Point.   Luce was also the first member of Congress to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which was awarded by President Reagan.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

In 1981, President Reagan nominated the very first woman to the US Supreme Court – Sandra Day O’Connor.   President Reagan nominated another Conservative icon Jeane Kirk Patrick, who I had the immense pleasure of meeting her at the Indian Springs Country Club in 1993, at a Lincoln Day Dinner for the Montgomery County Republican Party.  In addition to her role as a UN Ambassador, she served as NSC advisor to President Reagan.

So what does all of this have to do with 100 years of Women’s Suffrage?  It takes a Republican with new ideas to move the ball forward.   The first woman elected to US Congress was a Republican.  The first woman on the US Supreme Court was a woman appointed by a Republican, President Ronald Reagan. 

Amb. Jeane Kirkpatrick
Amb. Jeane Kirkpatrick

Republican women have helped moved the ball forward, making great accomplishments to shape American History.   Rep. Clare Boothe Luce, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Amb. Jeane Kirkpatrick are just a few examples of Republican women influencing and shaping American history.   

Phyllis Schlafly, Founder Eagle Forum
Phyllis Schlafly, Founder Eagle Forum

I’d be remiss if I failed to mention the many trailblazer Republican women in Maryland.  Rep. Marjorie Holt was the first elected Republican woman from Maryland to the House of Representatives.  Rep. Holt represented Maryland’s 4th District.   In addition, many unelected women of the Maryland GOP over the years have moved mountains.   One of my first political mentors in Maryland, Katja Bullock, is the Iron Lady of Montgomery County GOP politics.  She has been very active within the Maryland national Republican circles.  She was President of the largest Republican Women’s clubs in the state of Maryland, The Chevy Chase Women’s Republican Club.   As well as my other mentor Amb. Ellen Sauerbrey, she was the leader of Maryland Republicans in the State House.  In addition, she was the first elected Republican Governor in my lifetime, until the dastardly democrats stole the election from her in 1994.  I’d really be careless, bordering on malpractice, if I failed not to mention that the Republican women’s clubs are the backbone of every political campaign.  It is the Republican women who are out knocking on doors, making phone calls and stepping up to run for office.

Thank you, Republican women, for 100 years of moving the ball forward for all Americans.