Thursday, January 3, 2019
1798 No Women in Congress...Some Things Change, Some Things Don't...Congressmen behaving badly...
This cartoon of "Congressional Pugilists" depicts a heated partisan debate in the interior of Congress Hall in 1798. A fight on the floor of Congress between Vermont Representative Matthew Lyon (1749-1822), a Jeffersonian Republican, and Roger Griswold (1762-1812) of Connecticut, a Federalist.
Griswold had accused Lyon of cowardice during the American Revolution and Lyon responded by spitting tobacco juice in Griswold's face. Griswold, armed with a cane, kicks Lyon, who grasps his arm and raises a pair of fireplace tongs to strike him.
Of course, there were no women in Congress in 1798. Women did not even get to vote until 1920. The 1st woman elected to the United States was Jeannette Pickering Rankin (1880-1973) from Montana in 1916, and again in 1940. After being elected in 1916, she said, "I may be the first woman member of Congress but I won’t be the last."
Below are the verses printed under the cartoon:
"He in a trice struck Lyon thrice
Upon his head, enrag'd sir,
Who seiz'd the tongs to ease his wrongs,
And Griswold thus engag'd, sir."