“I do not wish women to have power over men; but over themselves.”

–Mary Shelley – 1797-1851

The Sullivan Ordinance of 1908 discriminated against women by barring the management of a public place from allowing women to smoke within their venue. The law was widely interpreted as disallowing women from smoking in public. Due to this, Katie Mulcahey was arrested the day after the law was introduced, in the New York City Board of Alderman by Alderman Sullivan. She had smoked in public out of rebellion and was arrested after she refused to pay the fine. However, she had not done so in an enclosed public space nor had the law even been passed as of then. She was released a day later.

The Ordinance never provided a reason for the enactment of such a law. It was vetoed two weeks later by Mayor McClellan who said “I know of no provision of law which gives the Board of Aldermen the power to enact an ordinance of this kind.”