BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ The Bernards Township Committee, which has two women among its five members, passed a resolution this week marking the 100th anniversary, on Feb. 9, 1920, of New Jersey's ratification of the 19th amendment, granting U.S. women the right to vote.
But Township Committeewoman Joan Harris pointed out that the Garden State still has further progress to make in electing women to political roles. She said that Christine Todd Whitman has so far been the only woman to be elected as state governor, and New Jersey has yet to elect a woman to serve in the U.S. Senate.
"New Jersey has had a long, storied history in the suffrage movement with New Jersey women playing crucial roles in pursing the rights of women to vote," states the Township Committee's resolution, which was unanimously approved. The U.S. Congress has passed the 19th amendment guaranteeing all American women the right to vote in June 1919, and the New Jersey was the 29th state to follow with ratification, the resolution notes.
Township Committeewoman Janice Fields, newly elected to the Township Committee this year to replace Carol Bianchi, said, "I'm really to the women who worked so hard to get the right to vote."
The resolution passed this week does note that shortly after the ratification of the 19th amendment in New Jersey, Margaret Laird and Jennie Van Ness were the first two women elected to the New Jersey Assembly in 1921. Furthermore, in 1925, Rebecca Estelle Bourgeois Winston of Estell Manor was New Jersey's first woman mayor, according to the resolution.
Harris also said she encourages women to run for local office.
Harris also quoted a letter from Abigail Adams to her husband, former president and founding father John Adams, written at the time when the new country was being formed.
“In the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I would desire you would remember the Ladies," Mrs. Adams wrote.
"Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies, we are determined to foment Rebellion and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice or Representation," added the eventual First Lady.