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Elsie finally gets justice

Photo courtesy of Daniel Swalm.

Remember Grandma Elsie? Our readers first heard the Two Harbors woman's story in 2013 (read that article here), when her grandson Daniel Swalm began a campaign to get the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to apologize for a law that stripped her of her citizenship.

After more than a year of hard work, Swalm convinced Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) to introduce a resolution in the Senate in April (read that article here), apologizing to Elsie and other women like her. The resolution was approved unanimously today by Senate.

Elsie was born on the Iron Range. She married Carl Moren in 1914 and moved to Two Harbors, where her husband worked at the DM&IR rail yards. She was a homemaker and raised three children until 1926, when she died of complications of childbirth. The 35-year-old woman died a noncitizen in her home country thanks to a little-known act passed by the U.S. government in the early 1900s. The Expatration Act of 1907 stripped any woman who married an unnaturalized, foreign-born man of her citizenship.

It wasn't just Elsie -- the act was applied retroactively, and affected thousands of women with foreign-born husbands. It barred many American women from voting when they gained the right in 1920 and caused some women to face deportation or lose their jobs.

The resolution (read it here) expresses the Senate's regret for the act and "reaffirms the commitment to preserving civil rights and constitutional protections for all people of the United States."

LaReesa Sandretsky
LaReesa Sandretsky is a Two Harbors High School graduate and Duluth native who began working at the News-Chronicle in 2012 as a reporter. She took over as editor in 2014. She covers County Board, including the Lake County broadband project.
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