Thursday, June 03, 2010

Today -100: June 3, 1910: Of peace, women grads, and the color line


Congress is working on a bill to create a commission to promote the cause of international peace, to be headed by ex-President Roosevelt.

Taft delivers the commencement address at Bryn Mawr, his daughter Helen’s school. He came out in support of higher education for women, which is good because otherwise it might have been a tad awkward. He said “I utterly dissent” from the notion “that the higher education of women rather unfits them for the duties of a wife and mother, that in some way or other it robs them of a charm and gives them an intellectual independence that is inconsistent with their being the best wives and mothers.” It isn’t “essential... that she should make the extent of her knowledge a source of discomfort to those with whom she associates, or that she should lose her interest in the sentiment and emotions of life, or fail to have an appreciation of beauty and romance.” However, he warned graduates against being discontented when they return to their homes; “A young lady with a higher education has much to learn after graduation in the homely details and the drudgery of ordinary life, and the sooner she learns it the happier”. He claimed that women teachers are paid less than men because of the laws of supply and demand.

The D.C. Supreme Court will decide if a white school has to accept a student (with “flaxen hair, blue eyes, a fair complexion”) it tried to exclude because she is 1/128th black. There was a word for that, by the way: mustee.

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