Lena Cameron Mortimer was born into a farming family in St. Vincent, Minnesota. She became a Socialist Party activist and married the Journeyman Tailors Union of America (JTUA) union leader, John Mortimer in Winnipeg in 1901. They had several children before he drowned crossing the Red River near Emerson, Manitoba in an accident, in 1910.
LENA MORTIMER: One Woman's Way of Thinking
As I passed out through the crowd as it was dispersing on Sunday evening after the meeting at which Comrades Pettipiece and Fitzgerald were speaking on the Woman question, I chanced to hear a few remarks from some of the men that had been present at the meeting which struck me as rather amusing. One of the worthy bunch said in a rather sneering way: "What! Give the women a vote? Not much, their place is stay at home and minding their business, let us men do all the voting."
To me, of course, it was the same old yarn. I have heard it so often that I cannot keep silent any longer. Some of the men do not stop long enough to think just what a very important part a woman does fill in this life. If we women are fit to be mothers of their children; fit to teach those same children in the schools, and fit to fill most every position in life, then by all that's good and holy we are able to stand shoulder to shoulder with our noble brothers and cast our vote along with them for the one great cause for which we are both fighting, the only cause that will benefit the working men and women of today.
"Men say that we women do not have sense enough to vote the right way. Ditto, my brother! Could we possibly make it any worse than you have made it by your way of voting?"
Men say that we women do not have sense enough to vote the right way. Ditto, my brother! Could we possibly make it any worse than you have made it by your way of voting? Give the woman a chance. Let her once grasp the situation and see if she won't vote right. Treat her as an equal and try to help her get hold of a few socialistic ideals. Help her to see what it all means. Give her as fair a chance as you would give a man and you will find out that she can grasp the truth just as quick as any man.
I believe it is up to every woman in...any place on top of this old earth, to get busy, and dig down and find out for herself just where she is at and if some of the men turn up their noses at our feeble efforts, go to it with more heart than ever. Prove to them that if given a chance we can at least use our vote to as good advantage as they have in the past. We cannot make matters any worse than they are making them right now. So go to it, my sisters. Show them if we are fit to be mothers of the coming generation of Socialists we are fit to march to the ballot-box and vote the right way just as soon as you men give us a chance. And fit to share equally with you all the comforts that Socialism will bring when the men as well as the women get into their heads sense enough to vote the right way to hasten its coming.
[Source: Lena Mortimer, "One Woman's Way of Thinking," Western Clarion (Vancouver, BC), 27 May 1911.]