One of the dissidents who left the NWP in 1947, Ethel Ernest Murrell wrote Kitchelt from Wyoming to gain her endorsement of a new version of the ERA. This letter reflects Kitchelt's growing national reputation as a leading feminist spokesperson on this issue.
The Connor Hotel
Operated by Plains Hotel Co.
September 5, 1953
Mrs. Florence L. C. Kitchelt
for the Equal Rights Amendment
51 Mill Rock Road
New Haven, Connecticut
Dear Mrs. Kitchelt:
Yes, it is I who having found the Constitutional Status Amendment as Article 10 in the New Jersey Constitution, then had it made into a Bill, and, as you know, it is now S. J. Res. 111. Reason: (1) I know so well the necessity for fluency in matters of this kind, having passed a Married Woman's Act as late as 1943 in Florida. (2) The deplorable wrongness of all NWP methods has been sharply brought home to me. The Hayden Rider was attached this time because the new Administration was too busy prosecuting all who remained from my Administration to watch The Hill. It was not known at Headquarters what was taking place until the morning of the afternoon the Amendment, with attached Rider, was presented on the Senate Floor.
I have long since felt that a rewording was in order. It is the principle that seems to me important, rather than the rigidity of a sentence. This particular Amendment is freed from the rancors, personal enmities, and more important from the personnel which has become identified with the old wording. It has, I believe, a definite chance of passage.
The Wyoming branch of NWP, having as little patience with martyrdom, exclusions, personal feuds, as I, decided it was time to pass an equality measure. They dissolved as NWP, and formed a Constitutional Status Group. They declared themselves in favor of Full Citizenship for American women, and presented S.J. Res. 111 to their legislators. It is a restatement, a clarification, of all previously suggested legislation. It would be wonderful if your group would join us. Florida will do so in the fall. We have no by-laws, officers, etc., only a burning determination to see the American woman take her proper place within the Constitution. We think this wording leaves less room for argument and misinterpretation. It is itself an interpretation of the Constitution. It is everything
[p. 2]that the American woman needs. It puts her on an absolute par with man. She can, as he can, invoke the Constitution. To me it is more American. I am so pleased you like it, too.
I always remember your visit to Miami and the book you suggested I read about Mrs. Catt. It came as a great revelation and helped me later to understand, if not condone, certain developments.
Do you not think this Constitutional Status Amendment, (Full Citizenship Amendment), should be a movement eminating from the states, each state determining how it will organize, etc.? Having one focal point - one only - S. J. Res. 111.
I shall be here another six weeks. It would be heartening news for us to hear that our sisters in Connecticut are with us.
Most cordially yours,
ETHEL ERNEST MURRELL
P.S. Women from all over Wyoming are joining this movement.
Three copies of newspaper articles on the new Constitutional
Three copies of S.J. Res. 111