By Gail Collins, The New York Times, 11/13/16
It took Hillary Clinton a while to talk about the first-woman-president idea. She didn’t stress it early in her 2008 campaign. But people kept coming up to her with pictures of their grandmothers who got to vote for the first time in 1920. Others begged her to get the job done so they could see a woman in the White House before they died.
The dream sank in.
“Now, I — I know — I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling,” Clinton told her grieving supporters. It was already late Wednesday morning by the time she gave her concession speech, winner of the popular vote but loser all the same. She told all the little girls who were watching — and there probably still were little girls watching, since the excitement had been so grand — “never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”
And so it ended. But when we look back on the Clinton campaign as part of history, we’ll see something different from the abrupt, shocking defeat her backers experienced last week. It was a big step in a journey that’s been both inspiring and really, really long.
When history teachers want to include women in the story of the American Revolution, they often have their students read the famous letter Abigail Adams wrote in 1776 to her husband, urging him to “remember the ladies” and write laws for the new country that would “put it out of the power of the vicious and the lawless to use us with cruelty.” The kids are not generally encouraged to move on to John Adams’s reply: “As to your extraordinary code of laws, I cannot but laugh.”