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About Frances Payne Bolton: Political Causes

Mrs. Bolton did not hesitate to take on some of the tougher issues of the times. She was opposed to segregation within the military, and her advocacy during the 1950s of the drafting of women led her a decade later to sponsor an equal rights bill for men discussed below. Later, during the civil rights debate, when she was in her 80s, she fought to include women in the anti-discrimination clauses of the proposed legislation. During her last 12 to 13 years in Congress, Mrs. Bolton focused her attention on other areas of concern: social security, safety, ecology, consumer protection, and youth problems. Clearly she was a person of vision who identified and acted on these problems long before they became fashionable or pressing.

The reminiscences included humorous episodes also. Former Representative Del Clawson wrote that he served in Congress at the same time that Mrs. Bolton and her son Oliver were serving. "With the letter 'B' the Boltons were called early, Frances being first and Oliver immediately following in alphabetical order. Most of the time this mother and son team voted the same way. After all, Oliver was raised in her home.   Each represented a district, in the same state, Ohio, and naturally shared the same political persuasion. On one occasion when a vote on a controversial issue was called, Mrs.Bolton and I were sitting quietly together enjoying the proceedings. She listened for her name and answered with a soft but audible 'AYE'. The clerk called, 'Oliver Bolton?' Booming across the House floor was an unmistakable 'NO.' With a slight twinkle in her eye, Mrs. Bolton turned to me, 'Mr. Clawson, that is my adopted son."'

Mrs. Lillian Turjanica, a friend in Cleveland, provides a graphic illustration of how important nursing was to Mrs. Bolton. "Whenever Congressman Bolton addressed us at our Republican Women's events she never forgot to mention the importance of professional nurses to our society. She often cited that when she became ill she would only want a professional nurse at her side. Congressman Bolton reminded us women that we are givers and nurturers of life and we should conduct ourselves as such in all our contacts with other women. She reiterated the need for professionalism in the nursing profession so much that many times we wondered if she had forgotten that we were Republican women, a political group. However, she was always at home with us, and being at home allowed her the privilege to talk freely of her loves; the family, public interests and especially her nurses. Her nurses at the Frances Payne Bolton School were her children. Her pride in professional nursing nationwide never diminished.

Mrs. Bolton did not just publicly discuss her interest in nursing. She was actively involved in promoting the profession at the national level. In 1942 a bill was passed at the instigation of Mrs. Bolton to give the nurses in the military regular officer status, including pay equal with that of male officers. Prior to that they held the same rank and received less pay and fewer privileges. In 1943 she promoted the Nurse Cadet Corps, public law #74, known as the Bolton Act, which Dr. Faye Abdellah called "the most significant nursing legislation in our time." It was the largest experiment in federally subsidized education in the history of the country to that time, and it represented the most dramatic example of the war's intensification of the relationship between nursing and the federal government. In 1951 she renewed the effort to provide federal aid to nursing education. Representative Bolton introduced a bill providing for scholarship aid and direct aid to nursing schools. This was opposed by the American Medical Association and the representatives of hospital schools of nursing. It did not pass.

In 1955 she sponsored the equal rights bill to eliminate discrimination against male nurses who, prior to that time, were serving as enlisted men and were not permitted to function as nurses. When the bill was passed, male nurses were commissioned as officers and became members of the Army and/or Navy Nurse Corps. In 1964 the Nurse Training Act was passed, after perseverance by Mrs. Bolton, to give nurses financial assistance for advanced education.

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