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Apr 23

Women’s Suffrage by Nancy Morse

Author photo 1735I’m delighted to welcome fellow Love Historicals author, Nancy Morse.

Thank you for having me as your guest today, Anna. When you asked why we should care about historical events, I immediately thought of the next full-length novel I’m planning to write and how the events of that time impact the women we are today.

I was excited about the idea of BENEATH AN IRON SKY, the next historical romance in my Native American series. I had the essentials all figured out. The hero is Crow Eagle, a Lakota warrior with a tragic past. The time and place are the turbulent 1880s on the Great Plains. The only thing missing was the heroine. For some reason she eluded me.

As a member of my community History Club, I was asked to give a talk on the events leading up to the passage of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution enfranchising women with the right to vote previously only afforded to men. In my research I looked for little known facts and events that would make my talk more interesting, particularly about the women who drove the suffrage movement. And that’s when I had a light bulb moment. Suddenly, I knew exactly who my heroine is. She’s a suffragist, of course. And don’t ask me why, but her name came to me in the next instant. Philadelphia Stratton. That’s a mouthful, but everyone calls her Del.

Del grew up in Pennsylvania. In 1879 her father was a teacher at the Carlisle Indian School. Carlisle was a federally funded boarding school for Indian children. The idea was to Americanize them and give them the skills to advance in society. The children were taken from their families and forced to give up their culture, language, religion, and even their names. It was at Carlisle that 11 year old Del met a 15 year old Lakota boy. The bond between them was instantaneous and strong. But knowing how desperately he craved his freedom, Del helped him escape from Carlisle, saddened that she would never see him again.

The story opens ten years later when Del has taken up the cause of the women’s suffrage movement. Her efforts to gain the right to vote have taken her west, to South Dakota on the verge of statehood, where the US Cavalry is waging war against the Sioux. Crow Eagle, now a strong warrior, leads a war party on an attack against an emigrant wagon train. In the attack he is wounded and found near death by  Del.

The friendship that began ten years earlier heats up to full-blown passion. As Del and Crow Eagle fight for their forbidden love, she faces dangerous close-minded adversaries in her campaign for women’s rights, while the Lakotas are caught up in the Ghost Dance movement spreading like wildfire among the western tribes and drawing the ire of the US Government. Can their love survive the forces uniting against them that culminate along a little creek called Wounded Knee?

The course of women’s rights and Indian rights run parallel in this story. It wasn’t until 1920 that the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution was finally ratified by the states and women received the right to vote. Today, we have women like my fiery heroine Philadelphia Stratton to thank for the right most of us take for granted, and the Lakota people can look to warriors like my fictional hero Crow Eagle who fought to keep their culture alive.WHERE THE WILD WIND BLOWS

BENEATH AN IRON SKY will be available in 2015. I can’t wait to get started on it. Meanwhile, readers who enjoy historicals with a Native American hero, might like WHERE THE WILD WIND BLOWS, available at these e-tailers:

Smashwords    Amazon    B&N    Apple   Kobo

Google Play/Books  And in print through CreateSpace

My other historical titles include

SEA MISTRESS
FIREHAWK
SILVER LADY
THIS TENDER PRIZE
BELOVED BETRAYER
BLOOD RHAPSODY (Soul Searchers Series Book I)
TAINTED LOVE (Soul Searchers Series Book II)
THE PRINCE’S PASSION (novella)

As for me, I’m a New York transplant living in South Florida with my husband and our Alaskan Malamute, Indio, also known as Big Fur.

I love hearing from readers. You can follow on Twitter @NancyMorse or contact me through my website http://www.nancymorse.com – Where Love Is Always An Adventure

16 comments

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  1. Cynthia Woolf

    Very interesting Nancy. I’d never heard of a school like that for Indian children.

    1. Nancy Morse

      Hi Cindy,

      I have to assume the intentions were well-meaning, but looking at photographs of Indian children who attended Carlisle, it breaks your heart to see them with their beautiful hair shorn off and dressed in the garb of the white man. They also tried to turn the buffalo-hunting tribes into farmers.

  2. Linda Andrews

    One of the streets in our city is named Indian School Road because it was the location of the local Indian School. It is still the subject of many protests even though the school is long gone. How many books do you plan to write in the series?

    1. Nancy Morse

      Hi Linda,

      I’m going to write as many of them as I have in me.

  3. Vicki Batman

    Nancy, I love your heroine her name and her cause. I knew an elderly woman who got to vote for the first time. She was thrilled. She also liked driving a wagon really fast, couldn’t wait to drive a car or fly in a plane.

    1. Nancy Morse

      Thanks, Vicki. That elderly lady sounds like my kind of woman. She had the stuff of a feisty heroine.

  4. Lana Williams

    How very interesting, Nancy! The new story sounds wonderful. Researching all these facts makes you even more anxious to write the story, doesn’t it?

    1. Nancy Morse

      Hi Lana,

      Yes, I’m really itching to write this one. Native American history is dear to my heart. But it has to wait in line.

  5. Jill Hughey

    It is so fun when a character finally reveals herself! Sounds like you are just about at the fun part of writing a book: the actual writing. Good luck with your new project!

    1. Nancy Morse

      Hi Jill,

      Yes, Del Stratton was being very elusive, but when she finally showed herself, she came fully formed. Funny how the mind of a writer works.

  6. Melissa Keir

    The story of the Carlisle school broke my heart. I couldn’t imagine being taken from your family, having your name changed, told you couldn’t speak your language and having your hair cut.

    The Ghost Dance was an interesting piece as well. The Native People thought that they could bring back the past and in no way were their actions really threatening.

    I can’t wait to read your books. The time period thrills me.

    1. Nancy Morse

      Thank you, Melissa. So much of Native American history is heartbreaking. I also write contemporary Native American romances, and even today, statistics on a reservation (alcoholism, suicide, unemployment, etc.) are higher than the national average.

      I, too, am fascinated by the 1800s on the American Great Plains.

  7. Margaret Tanner

    Hi Nancy,
    Great Blog. I don’t think the women of today realize how hard, or at what costs our forebears fought for a woman’s right to vote.

    Regards

    Margaret

    1. Nancy Morse

      Hi Margaret,

      Thanks for stopping by. Sometimes, we have to take a look back to see just how hard-fought those rights were that we take for granted.

  8. Adrienne deWolfe

    Yay, Nancy! You always have the coolest ideas! Love that your heroine is a suffragette — and her name is GREAT! (Don’t you just love when characters name themselves for you?)

    I, too, explored the Woman’s Suffrage movement in my last novel. Can’t even IMAGINE what it must have been like to wander around the prairie all day in 20 pounds of underwear — much less having no right to own property or to the guardianship of a child in the event that your husband was unfit.

    All of the things that we take for granted today (hygiene, child-rearing, voting, sitting on juries, owning property) came from the AMAZING women of the reformation movement. Thanks for reminding the world how important — and inspiring — these lady suffragettes were! Good luck with your novel! Hugs!

    1. Nancy Morse

      Hi Adrienne,

      It was certainly a long and winding road for women’s rights. Even today women are still fighting for equality in the workplace. We owe those suffragists and suffragettes a big debt of gratitute for their bravery and for giving us things we take for granted. It’s interesting to note that after the 19th amendment was signed into law, 2 out of every 3 women failed to vote in the 1920 election.

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