|Mark Twain at Hebrew Tech|
On January 21, 1901, legendary American humorist Mark Twain addressed members of the Hebrew Technical School for Girls at their Annual Meeting on the issue of female suffrage. Speaking to a packed audience at Temple Emanu-El, Hebrew Tech’s then-President Nathaniel Myers introduced Twain, starting the ceremony off with an update about the school’s ongoing expansion efforts and an explanation of its unique purpose as the single society in New York City offering a vocational education to Jewish girls. Explaining women’s role in society as vulnerable in comparison to men’s, President Myers declared the work of the school to be vital in a world where girls were too often forgotten.
When Twain took center stage, he said that he had been an advocate of women’s rights for many years and that he saw in this school "a hope for the realization of a project [he had] always dreamed of.” Women, he felt, were equally competent to vote. He went on to say that women had been making great progress in their crusade against discriminatory laws, but that what was needed next was for women to be the makers and enforcers of laws.
As he saw it, men’s corruption in party politics was a disgrace to democracy, but he said he believed that if women were given the ballot, they would use their strength to vote down unworthy candidates and restore the morals on which states are built. Optimistic about the movement’s progress, Twain insisted that if he lived long enough he would surely see women receive their voting rights and use them to enact positive change.
Return to our history page.