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Suffragettes focus of Historical Society program

CONYERS -- Sally Fanny Gleaton lived in Conyers as a young woman in the early part of the 20th century. She never married nor did she have children. Instead, she devoted her 20s and 30s to fighting for women's right to vote. Her activism led her North to New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut and out West to Oklahoma, as well as to downtown Atlanta.

Gleaton worked alongside some of the key suffragettes of that time, Carol Bird Buhler said.

A retired Rockdale educator and former Conyers resident, Buhler will speak to the Rockdale County Historical Society about the women's suffrage movement at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Conyers Depot in Olde Town Conyers. The presentation is free and open to the public.

Buhler said her talk will span the centuries beginning with the one of the earliest advocates of the women's suffrage movement, Abigail Adams, wife of President John Adams. In a letter that has become known as the "Remember the Ladies" plea, she pressed her husband to consider women's rights as he and other men crafted the Declaration of Independence.

Buhler will also touch on the first women's rights convention, the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention -- organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and American Quaker Lucretia Mott. Those attending the convention passed a resolution that became the basis for the 19th Amendment, the change granting women the constitutionally protected right to vote.

"The women were so dedicated and they said this has got to happen," Gleaton said of the early suffragettes. "The thinking at the time was that women were not fit to vote, they were not educated, too genteel and didn't need to know about politics."

The 19th Amendment was first introduced to Congress in 1878 and finally passed in 1920.

"It was a long, hard climb to get to that point," said Buhler, who added that marches on Washington met with anti-suffragette protesters who tried to break up the women's voting rights gatherings.

Buhler said the movement gained significant momentum when women began entering the workforce after the Civil War and after World War I.

"They were very brave women because this was against the prevailing attitudes of the time," Buhler said. "They were just remarkable women."