| Emily Bissell illustrates the
paradox of the anti-suffrage position. Although she was
active and involved in many causes - the sort of person who might
be expected to want the vote - she did not feel it was
necessary. She pointed out that politics had not been
reformed in the states where women could vote. She also felt
that women were already fairly treated because they could practice
almost every profession. In her view, nothing would be
gained by giving women the vote. Miss Bissell became a
national leader of the anti-suffrage cause.
A lifelong Wilmingtonian,
Emily Bissell devoted herself to social service and civic
causes. The West End Reading Room, which she founded in
1889, had Delaware's first free kindergarten and playground, among
other services. She was also involved in the Consumer's
League and the American Red Cross. Miss Bissell wrote prose
and poetry under the name Priscilla Leonard.
But she is best known as the
person who introduced the Christmas seal to America. In
1907, her cousin, Dr. Joseph Wales, needed money to operate his
tuberculosis hospital for the poor. Emily Bissell decided to
sell Christmas seals, adopting a successful Danish practice.
She wanted to raise $300 with her first Christmas seals; she ended
up raising $3,000. The Christmas seals that are still used
every year are the descendants of Emily Bissell's efforts nearly
ninety years ago.
to Suffrage Battle in Delaware