Who compared giving women the vote to giving cows the vote (& in what context)?

Who compared giving women the vote to giving cows the vote (& in what context)?

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I recall hearing (in History class) that when women were campaigning to get the vote, some (powerful?) people suggested that if women were given the right to vote, you might as well give the vote to cows or other animals.

Is this true? If so, who said/implied it? When did they say it? Is there an original source for this?

The only remotely related quote I could find was:

A discussion of the rights of animals would be regarded with far more complacency by many of what are called the wise and the good of our land, than would be a discussion of the rights of woman.

(Frederick Douglass in the North Star, 1848)

It could be that his words were transformed into the statement you heard.

Closest I'm finding is a quote by Henry A. Wise Wood, referred to as a civic leader. Quoting Votes For Women: Woman Suffrage Movement by Marjorie Spruill Wheeler:

Women not only pointed out that women would cease to be womanly, but that male supporters of suffrage ("strong, masculine personalities") were inexplicably seeking to "demasculinize" government by diluting "with the qualities of the cow, the qualities of the bull upon which all the herd's safety must depend… "

There's a similar account in Women and War by Jean Bethke Elshtain.

I can't access the book notes from either reference in Google books, but both references seem to offer a citation for the quote.

Edit 1: Digging a little deeper, it's not entirely clear to me who the quote's author was exactly. Wikipedia references a Henry Alexander Wise Wood and a Henry Wise Wood living at around the same time. The latter seems to have been more politically active. But neither of their entries references anything related to women suffrage debates.

Edit 2: Lars Borsten led me to the precise reference via his comment. The quote appears in the debate over the 19th amendment (p.12 in the doc). It's from Mr Henry A Wise Wood, then President of the Aero Club of America.

Aside: I can't resist throwing in this Gustave Le Bon quote in passing. He was one of the fathers of social psychology and an influential figure at the time. It perfectly illustrates the rampant sexism that prevailed in those days:

"There are a large number of women whose brains are closer in size to those of gorillas than to the most developed male brains. This inferiority is so obvious that no one can contest it for a moment; only its degree is worth discussion. All psychologists who have studied the intelligence of women… recognize today that they represent the most inferior forms of human evolution, and that they are closer to children and savages than to an adult, civilized man. They excel in fickleness, inconstancy, absence of thought and logic, and incapacity to reason. Without doubt there exist some distinguished women, very superior to the average man, but they are as exceptional as the birth of any monstrosity as for example, a gorilla with two heads; consequently, we may neglect them entirely." -- Gustave Le Bon, in a "Revue d'Anthropologie", 2nd Series, Vol. 2, 1879.

There do not appear to be any quotations by anyone specifically saying 'giving women the vote would be like giving cows the vote' although that does not mean that no one did. These words (or very similar) have been used together on a number of occasions, though.

As it is not uncommon for people / sources to be misquoted or misinterpreted (see 6 Famous Literary Quotes Everyone Uses Exactly Wrong and List of Misquotations), misunderstanding may be the root of this 'quote' comparing women and cows in voting.

In addition to the Frederick Douglas quote cited by Wladimir Palanthe, the idea of someone saying something along the lines of 'giving votes to women would be like giving votes to cows' may possibly stem from one of the following:

  1. In Comic Relief: Nietzsche's Gay Science, Kathleen Higgins quotes Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 - 1900) thus:

    By raining themselves higher, as “woman in herself,” as the “higher woman,” as a female “idealist,” they want to lower the level of the general rank of women; and there is no surer means for that than higher education, slacks, and political voting - cattle rights.

    Higgins notes that this has been taken to mean (wrongly, in her view) that “women's votes are discounted by the reference to cattle” by the writer and academic Carol Diethe, so it is not inconcievable that others misinterpreted Nietzsche as comparing women to cows on the topic of voting.

  1. Another possible misrepresentation could stem from this postcard using an adapted Edward Lear limerick published by Suffrage Atelier in 1913, a publication which campaigned for women's suffrage. The postcard “refers to parliamentary procrastination in relation to the introduction of a female suffrage bill.” but without reading the text very carefully, an entirely different meaning is quite possible (and the anti-suffrage movement also produced many postcards).

    image from: https://suffragepostcards.wordpress.com/category/uncategorized/

Giving Day generates record engagement — more than 17,000 gifts from across the globe

More than 17,000 gifts from 28 countries generated close to $1.3 million in donations to student groups and organizations on campus. Northeastern Giving Day exceeded expectations, especially in the context of the year-long COVID-19 pandemic.

“Going into the day, I thought if we can go flat compared to our 2019 numbers, that will be a success,” said Rick Davis , vice president for alumni relations and one of the organizers of Giving Day. “What’s remarkable is we did better than that.”

The record-setting numbers of 17,521 gifts worth $1,298,707 on Thursday amounted to significant gains since 2019, when Giving Day raised just over $1 million on more than 14,000 donations. (Last year, in lieu of Giving Day, donors were encouraged to give to Northeastern’s We Care Emergency Fund , which has been providing short-term financial assistance to students during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

“We have not been able to have in-person events and activities, there’s been no travel, everything has been on Zoom,” Davis said of the pandemic protocols. “And then to have students and alumni around the world make contributions this year, that really stands out to me.”

The 24-hour philanthropic blitz was fueled by more than 50 challenges .

Tired of late school buses? This student just raised $2.5 million to fix that.

“People get caught up in the excitement of competition,” said Giving Day organizer Jennifer Gamache , assistant vice president for annual giving at Northeastern. “The minute you put a competition in front of them where you’re saying, ‘My school is going to beat your school,’ everything changes. It’s the fun of the competition that makes the day unique.”

It brought out the best in Katarina Nilsson , a senior forward on the women’s soccer team, who on Monday called teammate Megan Adams , a senior goalkeeper, to discuss Giving Day strategy. They and their teammates generated 427 donations (the most among Northeastern varsity teams) for a total of $32,562, which will help with team expenses. Only the ice hockey teams—$48,569 for the men, $36,530 for the women—raised more.

In the opening minutes of Giving Day, by 12:06 a.m., the women’s soccer team had already turned $100 in donations into a $5,000 gift via the Student Challenge—among the half-dozen challenges won by the team overall.

“It became a full team effort,” said Adams. “Everybody recognized that the best way for us to show our appreciation for all of our donors was to maximize our funds by going after those challenges and being strategic in that way. We just wanted to show our appreciation.”

Many groups focused intently on Giving Day. When Gamache began gauging engagement at 7 a.m. Thursday, she discovered that the LGBTQA Resource Center was close to meeting its challenge of 50 gifts that ultimately resulted in a $10,000 gift to the center.

Overall, Northeastern’s schools and colleges earned $738,570 for student groups and organizations. The Challenge of the Colleges first prize of $30,000 was won by the D’Amore-McKim School of Business with 8,492 gifts. The Northeastern University School of Law (1,024 gifts) received $15,000 for second place, and the College of Arts, Media and Design (489 gifts) finished third for $10,000.

Rugby dominated the Club Sports competition, with the men’s club generating 912 gifts to earn the $3,000 first prize, followed by the women with 376 gifts for $1,000.

The Roux Institute at Northeastern University met a $10,000 challenge while participating in its first Giving Day.

“The amount of money and the level of collaboration we have is pretty incredible,” said Gamache. “What stands out is the fact that everyone gets excited and involved as best they can. It just all came together really well.”

Susan B. Anthony

Susan Brownell Anthony was a feminist and reformer whose Quaker family was committed to social equality. She began collecting anti-slavery petitions when she was 17 and became an agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society at age 36. In 1869, Anthony, alongside Elizabeth Cady Stanton, founded the National Woman Suffrage Association, and they played a pivotal role in the women’s suffrage movement.

Early Years
Susan B. Anthony was born February 15, 1820 in Adams, Massachusetts to Quaker Daniel Anthony and Lucy Read Anthony, who shared a passion for social reform. Daniel encouraged all of his children, girls as well as boys, to be self-supporting he taught them business principles and gave them responsibilities at an early age.

When she was seventeen, Anthony attended a Quaker boarding school in Philadelphia, but her family was financially ruined in the Panic of 1837. Susan had to return home after only one term. They were forced to sell everything they owned at an auction, but a maternal uncle bought their belongings and restored them to the family.

In 1846, at age 26, Anthony accepted a position as head of the girls’ department at Canajoharie Academy. She taught there for two years and earned $110 a year.

Education Reform
In her speech at the state teachers’ convention of 1853, Anthony called for women to be admitted to the professions and for better pay for women teachers. In 1859 Anthony spoke before state teachers’ conventions in Troy, New York and Massachusetts for coeducation (boys and girls educated together), arguing there were no differences between the minds of males and females.

Anthony fought for equal educational opportunities for all regardless of race, calling for all schools, colleges, and universities to open their doors to women and former slaves. She also campaigned for the right of black children to attend public schools.

In the 1890s Anthony served on the board of trustees of Rochester’s State Industrial School and campaigned for coeducation and equal opportunity for boys and girls. She raised $50,000 in pledges to ensure the admittance of women to the University of Rochester. Fearing she might miss the deadline, she put up the cash value of her life insurance policy. The University was forced to make good its promise and women were admitted for the first time in 1900.

Anti-Slavery Work
In 1845, the family purchased a farm on the outskirts of Rochester, New York, partly paid for with Lucy’s inheritance. The Anthony farmhouse soon became the Sunday afternoon gathering place for local activists, including prominent abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison and former slave Frederick Douglass, who became Anthony’s lifelong friend.

Susan B. Anthony played a key role in organizing an anti-slavery convention in Rochester in 1851. She was also a stationmaster on the Underground Railroad, and her diary entry in 1861 stated: “Fitted out a fugitive slave for Canada with the help of Harriet Tubman.”

In 1856 Anthony became an agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society, putting up posters, arranging meetings, distributing pamphlets, and making speeches. Hostile mobs and flying missiles thrown in her direction did not deter her. In Syracuse her image was dragged through the streets, and she was hung in effigy.

Women’s National Loyal League
In 1863, during the Civil War, Anthony and others organized the Women’s National Loyal League – the first national women’s political organization in the United States. In support of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which would abolish slavery, the League conducted the largest petition drive in American history – nearly 400,000 signatures. Anthony worked to organize the operation of recruiting and coordinating some 2000 volunteer petition collectors.

The League also provided a platform for women’s rights by telling the public that petitioning was the only political tool available to women. With a membership of 5000, this organization developed a new generation of women leaders and provided experience and recognition for newcomers like Anna Dickinson. The League demonstrated the value of a women’s movement that had been only loosely organized up to that point, and a widespread network of women activists expanded the pool of talent that was available to reform movements after the war.

These women’s rights activists supported equal rights for women and people of any race, including the right to vote. They campaigned for the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which granted citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States,” including former slaves recently freed.

They also worked tirelessly for the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment, which prohibits the federal and state governments from denying a citizen the right to vote based on their “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” They were bitterly disappointed when women were excluded from those amendments.

Women’s Rights Activist
In 1851, at Seneca Falls, New York, Amelia Bloomer introduced Susan B. Anthony to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who wrote this about their first meeting:

Walking home with the speakers, who were my guests, we met Mrs. Bloomer with Miss Anthony on the corner of the street waiting to greet us. There she stood with her good, earnest face and genial smile, dressed in gray delaine, hat and all the same color relieved with pale-blue ribbons, the perfection of neatness and sobriety. I liked her thoroughly from the beginning.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Anthony and Stanton became lifelong friends and partners in social reform movements, particularly women’s rights. Their relationship led Anthony to join the women’s rights movement in 1852, and she attended her first women’s rights convention in Syracuse that same year. At that time Stanton was housebound raising seven children, and Anthony often supervised the children, giving Stanton time to write.

There were hardships in the early days. The women’s movement rarely had enough money to execute its programs. And, at that time, few women had an independent source of income those with jobs were required by law to give their wages to their husbands. There were no precedents, so they created them as they went.

In 1853, Anthony organized a convention in Rochester to launch a state campaign for improved property rights for married women. In February 1856 Anthony traveled to Albany and presented petitions to the Legislature, requesting that a new law be passed to allow women to control her wages and have custody of her children. She was referred to Samuel Foote, head of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Mr. Foote’s incredible response:

The committee is composed of married and single gentlemen. The bachelors … have left the subject pretty much to the married gentlemen. … the ladies always have the best place and choicest titbit at the table. They have the best seat in the cars, carriages and sleighs the warmest place in winter and the coolest in summer. They have their choice on which side of the bed they will lie, front or back. …

It has thus appeared to the married gentlemen of your committee, being a majority … that if there is any inequality or oppression in the case, the gentlemen are the sufferers. They, however, have presented no petitions for redress, having doubtless made up their minds to yield to an inevitable destiny.

On the whole, the committee have concluded to recommend no measure, except that they have observed several instances in which husband and wife have both signed the same petition. In such case, they would recommend the parties to apply for a law authorizing them to change dresses, so that the husband may wear petticoats, and the wife breeches, and thus indicate to their neighbors and the public the true relation in which they stand to each other.

In 1860, after years of advocacy by Anthony and otheres, the Legislature passed the New York State Married Women’s Property Bill, which allowed married women to own property, keep their wages, and have custody of their children. Anthony and Stanton then campaigned for more liberal divorce laws in New York.

The Revolution
Anthony and Stanton published a weekly women’s rights newspaper called The Revolution in New York City from January 8, 1868 and February 17, 1872. Its combative style matched its name, and it focused on women’s rights, especially women’s suffrage. Anthony managed the business side while Stanton served as the editor.

After more than two years of mounting debts, Anthony transferred The Revolution to Laura Curtis Bullard, a wealthy women’s rights activist who published the paper two more years. Despite its short lifespan, the paper helped move women’s issues back into the national spotlight after the Civil War and established Stanton and Anthony as public figures whose demands for equal rights were not ignored.

Working Women’s Advocate
While publishing The Revolution in New York Anthony came into contact with women in the printing trades. In her newspaper, she advocated an eight-hour workday for women, equal pay for equal work, the purchase of American-made goods, and encouraged working women to form women’s labor organizations.

In 1870 Anthony founded the Working Women’s Association (WWA), which reported on working conditions and provided educational opportunities for its workers. The WWA concentrated in the printing industry in its early days its members included women who were employed, or self-employed, in print shops.

The Association’s membership grew to include more than a hundred working women, in addition to journalists and other women whose work was more mental than manual. When printers went on strike in New York, she urged companies to hire women. She believed this was an opportunity to show that they could do the job as well as men and therefore deserved equal pay.

Susan B. Anthony also advocated dress reform for women. She cut her hair and wore the Bloomer costume for a year before she realized that this radical dress was detracting from the other causes she supported.

Image: Susan B. Anthony House 17 Madison Street Rochester, New York In 1866, Anthony and her family moved to this house, which was to be her home for forty years. In this photograph from 1891, she and some of her fellow activists gather on the front lawn.

In 1866, Anthony and Stanton initiated the American Equal Rights Association (AERA) campaigned for equal rights for both women and African Americans. The leadership of this new organization included such prominent activists as Lucretia Mott and Lucy Stone. Some abolitionist leaders wanted women to postpone their campaign for suffrage until after African American males were given the right to vote.

The AERA eventually divided into two wings. One group was willing for black men to achieve suffrage first. The wing led by Anthony and Stanton insisted that women and black men should be enfranchised at the same time they wanted to work toward an independent women’s movement that would no longer be dependent on abolitionists. The AERA effectively dissolved in May 1869, leaving two competing women’s suffrage organizations in its aftermath.

Susan B. Anthony was convinced by her work in social reform movements that women needed the vote if they were to influence public affairs. In 1869, after the demise of the AERA, Anthony and Stanton founded the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) and began to campaign for a constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote.

The American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) adopted a strategy of getting the vote for women state-by-state some territories or new states in the West were the first to extend suffrage to women. The territory of Wyoming was the first to give women the vote in 1869, long before it became a state (1890). Anthony campaigned for women’s suffrage in the West during the 1870s.

Anthony, three of her sisters, and a few other women in Rochester voted in the 1872 Presidential Election. On November 18, 1872, a U.S. Deputy Marshal arrested Anthony for illegally voting. She was arraigned in Rochester Common Council chambers along with the other women voters and the election officials who had allowed her to vote .

Susan B. Anthony was tried and convicted in a highly publicized trial, which gave her the opportunity to spread her arguments to a wider audience. The judge fined her $100, and although she refused to pay it, the authorities declined to take further action.

Anthony traveled extensively and gave as many as 75 to 100 speeches per year in support of women’s suffrage. She worked on many state campaigns. By 1877, she had gathered petitions from 26 states with 10,000 signatures, and she presented them to Congress.

Susan B. Anthony Amendment
In 1878, Anthony and Stanton arranged for Senator A.A. Sargent of California to present to Congress an amendment to the U.S. Constitution giving women the right to vote. The women proposed a revision of the Sixteenth Amendment that would read:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

What was popularly called the Susan B. Anthony Amendment became the main lobbying strategy for suffragists committed to winning the vote through a constitutional amendment. Though Congress repeatedly rejected the revision, Sargent continued to propose it. In the years between 1878 and 1906, Anthony appeared at every Congressional session to ask for passage of a suffrage amendment.

Between 1881 and 1885 Anthony, Stanton, and suffragist Matilda Joslyn Gage collaborated on the multi-volume book, History of Woman Suffrage. Anthony and Ida Husted Harper edited the final volume, which was published in 1902.

In 1887 the new National American Woman Suffrage Association was created with Stanton as president and Anthony as vice-president. Anthony became president in 1892 when Stanton retired.

Anthony campaigned in the West in the 1890s to make sure that the territories that had granted women the vote were not blocked from admission to the Union. She also helped to establish the World’s Congress of Representative Women at the World’s Fair held in Chicago in 1893.

Image: Susan B. Anthony circa 1900

Public perception of Susan B. Anthony changed radically during her lifetime. When she began campaigning for women’s rights in the 1850s, she was harshly ridiculed. By 1900, she had established her worth as an activist and champion for women. That year President William McKinley invited her to celebrate her eightieth birthday at the White House that year.

Anthony never married, and she remained active until her death.

I don’t want to die as long as I can work the minute I can not, I want to go.

Susan B. Anthony died March 13, 1906 at her home in Rochester.

The Susan B. Anthony Silver Dollar was minted from 1979 to 1981 it brought a new awareness of her life in activism to the public.


Spanish women did not hold the same status as citizens as men from 1800 to 1931. Single Spanish women enjoyed a few more legal rights than their married peers once they reached the age of 23. At that point, unmarried women could sign contracts and run businesses on their own behalf. Married women needed the approval or involvement of their husbands to undertake such matters as changing their address, accepting an inheritance, or owning property or a business. All women in this period were denied the right to vote or run for political office. [1] [2] [3] [4] Catholicism played a huge role in Spanish political thinking in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Religion required strict gender roles, which led to the repression of Spanish women and fostered ingrained sexism across the whole of Spanish society. [1] Society, through the Catholic Church, dictated that the role of women was to marry and bear children. They were to be invisible in society outside the domestic sphere. Violations of these norms was often met with violence. [1] [5]

Near universal male suffrage in Spain dated only to 1890. The first vote related to women's suffrage came in May 1877, when seven deputies in the conservative congress, suggested giving women the right to vote if they were of legal age, heads of households exercising parental authority. This initiative failed and would not be revisited for another 30 years. [6]

Suffrage as an in issue appeared in women's publications in places like Valencia, the Balearic Islands and Barcelona from the late 1900s to the early 1930s, but were often part of a demand for female emancipation through education and broader changes in laws to protect social changes as women increasingly entered the workforce. Benita Asas Manterola, Pilar Fernández Selfa, Carmen González Bravo and Joaquín Latorre were among the more important voices in newspapers in this regard. [6] Overall, feminists movements were much more concerned with providing women with an education that was equitable to that of men instead of securing the right to vote. Women like Belén Sárraga and Ana Carvia created the Asociación General Femenina in 1897, and other women created La Unión Femenina in 1895 in Huelva, La Federación Provincial in 1898 in Málaga and Hijas de la Regeneración that same year in Cádiz. Their efforts would lead to women having the right to attend university recognized by Ministerio Público in 1910. [6]

During this period, the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE) did not generally want to address women's rights as they saw the movement as bourgeois. They wanted to focus on union organization. This contrasted little from the international socialist movement, which always had problems with feminism and women's rights. The International Socialist Congress, Stuttgart 1907 issued a statement in favor of women's suffrage, but said the movement needed to come from the proletariat. The conditional support was because men believed that women's rights should only come after universal male suffrage. Including women's suffrage more openly would hinder their efforts. [6] [7] The limited inclusion came about as a result First International Conference of Socialist Women which was being held concurrently in the same building. [7]

For a brief time between July 1907, Congressional President Antonio Maura had discussed the possibility of giving women the right to vote under limited conditions, including they be were widowed heads of households and they paid their taxes. Despite being aided by the left and by Republicans, Maura's efforts proved ineffectual even with conditions requiring heads of household status and no possibility of women running for office there was no perceived pressing social need by the conservative majority to give women to vote, and more important domestic problems like a war with Morocco were on the horizons, along with an economic recession. [8] [6]

A year later, Count of Casa-Valencia, this time in the Senate, with support from Francisco Pi y Arsuaga in the Congress, would press the issue again. The 1908 attempt lacked restrictions that Maura had been willing to make to see its passage. It would have allowed all women aged 23 and older to vote. Unlike the 1907 efforts, the 1908 votes came within a few votes of passing. According to Concha Fagoaga, for the first time, those that argued against women's suffrage argued that it would lead to disastrous political results, and women would be overly influenced by Church officials. This was the first time a woman had argued along these lines, and it would soon be taken up by others. Carmen de Burgos wrote in a newspaper that year of the parliamentary debate in 1908, "while the English fight in a devilish way for their civic ideals, while the French claim to affirm in laws the guarantee of their selfishness, while the Russians know how to die protesting from tyranny, we, the Spanish, remain indifferent to everything." [6] Margarita Nelken wrote in El Fígaro at the time that "putting a vote in the hands of women is today, in Spain, performing one of the greater yearnings of the reactionary element so that Spanish women, really lovers of freedom, must be the first to postpone their own interest for the progress of Spain." [6] Nelken did not believe Spanish women were ready to vote as they were not educated enough to do so, a position she continued to hold for more than 25 years. The suffrage topic was brought up again in 1919, with Manuel de Burgos y Mazo, a conservative lawmaker, raising it in Congress, with the goal of tabling legislation to have a vote on women's right to vote. With no support, his initiative did not even come up for a vote though it would inspire feminists over the next two years. [6] A petition then was put before the Cámara in 1919 that Parliament should address the issue of women's suffrage again. This was followed up in February 1920 with Valencia's Progreso de la Mujer also creating a petition for the matter to be considered. Cruzada de Mujeres Españolas, led by Carmen de Burgos, would again try to get parliament to address the issue, by giving equality in the vote and in terms of broader civil and political rights. [6]

National Association of Spanish Women (ANME) was founded in 1918. Headed by María Espinosa, it lobbied for women's right to vote. The Female Republican Union was created by Clara Campoamor to advocate for women's suffrage in Spain. Campoamor, María Lejárraga and Regina García established the Foundation for Women to advocate for women's legal equality in Spain during the Second Republic. [9] [10] [11] Their argument for women having the right to vote was largely based upon ideological grounds. [8]

Starting in the 1920s, the efforts of women to get the right to vote intensified as part of a broader western movement that saw women demanding equal rights. [10] These efforts post-dated efforts in other Western countries like the United States, France and Great Britain because feminism in Spain did not emerge as a powerful movement until much later as a result of a delay in the emergence of a Spanish middle class. [6] Suffrage as a topic among this feminist group would largely disappear from 1918 until 1931, as women focused more on social changes than on political goals. [6]

The socialist Lidia Falcón argued that the Socialist men's position would deter women from adhering to the party, or would result in only including women who believed in subservience to men. Falcón further argued this position would make feminists enemies of the party, a development that was born out by 1921, when Socialist men decided that to stop any attempt to promote the rights of women as they did not believe it was the time to push for electoral reforms. [12]

When political activity occurred by women in the pre-Republican period, it was often spontaneous. Although they were also often ignored by left-wing male political leaders, their riots and protests represented increasing political awareness of the need for women to be more active in social and political spheres to enact change in order to improve their lives. [1]

The 8 March 1924 Royal Decree's Municipal Statue Article 51 for the first time included an appendix which would allow electoral authorities on a municipal level to list women over the age of 23 who were not controlled by male guardians or the state to be counted. Article 84.3 said unmarried women could vote in municipal elections assuming they were the head of household, over the age of 23, not prostitutes and their status did not change. Changes were made the following month that allowed women who met these qualifications to run for political office. Consequently, some women took advantage of this political opening, ran for office and won some seats as councilors and mayors in municipal governments where elections were held. [11] [8] [6] This was a surprise move by Primo de Rivera in giving women the right to vote, and was largely viewed as a way of shoring up his electoral base ahead of scheduled elections the following year. This brief period saw many political parties try to capture the women's vote before the elections were eventually cancelled. [6] [8] Manuel Cordero of El Socialista wrote in June 1924 of a right wing view stating that "the feminine vote supposes a revolutionary act and it seems strange that it is a reactionary who has projected this reform in Spain." [6] Socialist representative María Cambrils was pleased with women being given the right to vote, but balked at the restrictions placed upon female voters. [12] PSOE's leader Andrés Saborit also supported this claiming that socialism needed to expand on how it saw women as transformational agents in society, and not allow the Catholic Church to monopolize on how women were defined in Spanish culture. [12] Some Catholics tried to capitalize on this for their own political interests, achieving success when local elections in some places saw 40% of their total votes come from women. [6] By the time of the next national elections, the constitution giving women the right to vote was no longer in force as a new constitution was being drafted. [8] [6] The arguments made around the 1924 Royal Decree would later play a critical role in the debates around women's suffrage in the Second Republic. [6]

Women gained access to national representation during the 1927–1929 legislative period as a result of the Decree of 12 September 1927. Its Article 15 stated: "to it may belong, without distinction, men and women, single, widowed or married, these duly authorized by their husbands and as long as they do not belong to the Assembly [. ]. Its designation will be made nominally and by order of the Presidency, agreed in the Council of Ministers before October 6 next." [11] [13] [8]

The 1927–1929 session also began the process of drafting a new Spanish constitution that would have fully franchised women voters in Article 55. The article was not approved. Despite this, women were eligible to serve in the national assembly in the Congreso de los Diputados, and 15 women were appointed to seats on 10 October 1927. Thirteen were members of the National Life Activities Representatives (Spanish: Representantes de Actividades de la Vida Nacional). Another two were State Representatives (Spanish: Representantes del Estado). These women included María de Maeztu, Micaela Díaz Rabaneda and Concepción Loring Heredia. During the Congreso de los Diputados's inaugural session in 1927, the President of the Assembly specifically welcomed the new women, claiming their exclusion had been unjust. [11] [13]

The abdication of king of Spain in 1930 would spell the end of the dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera, and usher in the era of the Second Republic. [6]

One of the most important aspects of the Second Republic for women is that they were formally allowed to enter the public sphere en masse. [14] The period also saw a number of rights available to women for the first time, including suffrage, divorce and access to higher education. These resulted from feminist activities that pre-dated the Second Republic and continued throughout its durationg. [14]

One of the first laws implemented in the Second Republic following the approval of a new constitution allowed women to vote and to run for political office. This was covered under Article 36 of Chapter III of the Constitution of the Second Republic, and came into force on 1 October 1931. The first women to win seats in the Cortes were Clara Campoamor Rodríguez, Victoria Kent Siano and Margarita Nelken y Mansbergen. [1] [2] [15] [16] [4] [17] They won these seats in June 1931, several months before women were given the right to vote. They were joined in February 1936 by Matilde de la Torre, Dolores Ibárruri and Federica Montseny. Nelken and Kent had both opposed giving women's suffrage, arguing most women would vote for conservatives because of the influence of their husbands and the clergy, thus undermining the Spanish Republic. [1] [2] [18] [16] [4] [19] Campoamor, in contrast, was a strong advocate of women's suffrage. [2] [4] The duel between Campoamor and Kent over women's suffrage was the most significant of its kind in Spain's parliamentary history. [8] The measure in the constitution passed on 1 October 1931 as Article 36, stating, "Citizens of either sex, over twenty-three years of age, shall have the same electoral rights as determined by the laws." [8] [19] [20] [21] Despite Nelken's opposition to women's suffrage, PSOE members overwhelmingly supported the issue when it came to the vote with 161 in favor and 131 against. 83 of Nelken's fellow 115 PSOE deputies supported the motion. [21] With its passage, Spain became the first Latin country to offer universal suffrage. [8] The inclusion was supported by Article II of the new constitution, which provided equality under the law for both sexes. [8]

Montseny became Spain's first female minister, serving as the Minister of Health and Public Assistance from September 1936 to May 1937. [1]

Elections in the Second Republic Edit

The Spanish monarchy ended in 1931. [22] Following this and the end of the Dictatorship of Primo de Rivera, the Second Republic was formed, with three elections before it was replaced by the Franco dictatorship. [22] [9] These elections were held in 1931, 1933 and 1936. [9]

June 1931 Elections Edit

Following the failure of the Primo de Rivera dictatorship, Spain set about writing a constitution. The initial draft did not give women the right to vote, though it did give them the right to run for office on 8 May 1931 for the June elections. [23] [11] Women would be unable to vote until the following election cycle. [19] Three women won seats in Spain's national congress, the Cortes, in the 1931 elections: Clara Campoamor Rodríguez, Victoria Kent Siano and Margarita Nelken y Mansbergen. [23] [11] [4]

Campoamor, in arguing for women's suffrage before the Cortes on 1 October 1931, that women were not being given the right to vote as a prize, but as a reward for fighting for the Republic. Women protested the war in Morocco, those in Zaragoza protested the war in Cuba, while even larger numbers protested the closure of Ateneo de Madrid by the government of Primo de Rivera. Campoamor also argued that women's inclusion was fundamental to saving the Republic by having a politically engaged populace, so that the errors of the French Republic would not be repeated. [24] Her speech in the Cortes, called the 1 - 0 speech, said, "Women! How can you say that when women show signs of life by the Republic shall be granted as a reward for the right to vote? Have they not fought women for the Republic? Is that in speaking with praise Women workers and university women are not singing their capacity? [. ] How can it be said that women have not fought and need a period, long years of the Republic, to demonstrate their capacity? The men?" [20]

Kent, in contrast, received much more support from Spain's right, including Catholics and traditionalists, during this period of constitutional debate as she, alongside Nelken, opposed women's suffrage. [25] Kent and Campoamor became involved in a grand debate over the issue, receiving large amounts of press related to their arguments around women's suffrage. [25] [4] They, like many others on the conservative side, believed that women were not educated enough to vote, and that their votes would be little more than proxy votes for men and the Catholic Church. [19] Kent stated: "It is not a matter of capacity, it is a matter of opportunity for the Republic. [. ] To become attached to an ideal, time is needed to experience it. [. ] And were women liberated in their conscience, I would rise today in front of all the Cortes to ask for the feminine vote." [19] The day of the vote, Kent said, "It is necessary, honorable deputies, to postpone the feminine vote because I would need to see the mothers in the street as a criterion for supporting it, asking for schools for their children." [21] Nelken compared the need for women's suffrage to that of Prussian peasant women in 1807. They would not know what to do with emancipation, and would tremble with fear at the thought of not having someone tell them what to do. [6]

1933 Elections Edit

For the first time, for the 19 November 1933 elections, women were permitted to vote in the national elections. They had earned the constitutional right to vote after the measure was adopted on 1 October 1931. [25] [19] [20] In many places, the number of women exceeded the number of men at the polls, with over seven million women casting a ballot. [20] The victory of conservative factions in the 1933 elections was blamed on women, and their voting practices in that election. They were viewed as being controlled by the Church. [9] Basque women were able to go to the polls in regional elections 15 days before the national elections on 5 November 1933. La Voz de Guipúzcoa newspaper in Donostia said of the day, "It was Sunday when, for the first time in our city, the women went to the ballotbox, consulted for the issue of their vote in favor of the Statute. And the woman answered, coming in greater numbers than the male at first hour, as soon as the tables were set up at eight o'clock in the morning." [17]

Campoamor, along with Kent, lost her seat in the Cortes following the 1933 elections. [9] [25] The most active of the three women elected in 1931, she had been heckled in the congress during her two-year term for supporting divorce. She continued to serve in government with an appointment as head of Public Welfare later that year. However, she left her post in 1934 protesting the government response to the 1934 Revolution of Asturias. [9]

Nelken faced similar problems in the Cortes. Her mother was French and her father was a German Jew. As a consequence, before she was allowed to sit in 1931, Nelken had to go through special bureaucratic procedures to insure she was a naturalized Spanish citizen. Her political interests were looked down upon by her male peers, including Prime Minister Manuel Azaña. Her feminist beliefs worried and threatened her male colleagues in the Cortes. Despite this, she was re-elected in 1933, facing attacks in the media. She proved a constant irritant to male party members who sometimes resorted to racist attacks in the Cortes to quieten her down. Still, she persevered, winning at the elections in 1931, 1933 and 1936. Disillusionment with the party led her to change membership to the Communist Party in 1937. [9]

Women's political organizations Edit

Female Republican Union Edit

Clara Campoamor created the Female Republican Union (Unión Republicana de Mujeres) during the early part of the Second Republic. [10] [26] The Female Republican Union was interested only in advocating for women's suffrage, maintaining that women having the right to vote was the only ethical option available to the government. [10] [16] It was often polemicist in its opposition to Kent's group Foundation for Women, and its opposition to women's suffrage. [26]

Foundation for Women Edit

Victoria Kent and Margarita Nelken founded the Foundation for Women (Asociación Nacional de Mujeres Española) in 1918. [26] [10] The Foundation for Women was a radical socialist organization at its inception, aligning with the PSOE. The organization opposed women's suffrage, even as its founders sat in the Cortes. The belief was if women were given the right to vote, most would vote as instructed by their husbands and the Catholic Church. This would fundamentally damage the secular nature of the Second Republic, by bringing in a democratically elected right-wing government. [10] [16]

No elections were held during the Spanish Civil War. Following the victory of fascist forces, the rights of both men and women were severely limited. Elections would not be held in Spain until 1977, following the death of Franco [19] [3] [20]

23b. The Expansion of the Vote: A White Man's Democracy

Frances Wright visited the U.S. from Europe. She wrote of the new American Republic: "Women are assuming their place as thinking beings, not in despite of the men, but chiefly in consequence of their enlarged views and exertions as fathers and legislators."

The rise of political parties as the fundamental organizing unit of the Second (Two) Party System represented a sharp break from the values that had shaped Republican and Federalist political competition. Leaders in the earlier system remained deeply suspicious that parties could corrupt and destroy the young republic. At the heart of the new legitimacy of parties, and their forthright celebration of democracy, was the dramatic expansion of voting rights for white men.

Immediately after the Revolution most states retained some property requirements that prevented poor people from voting. Following republican logic, citizens were believed to need an economic stake in society in order to be trusted to vote wisely. If a voter lacked economic independence, then it seemed that those who controlled his livelihood could easily manipulate his vote.

Ironically, just as industrial wage labor began to create dependent laborers on a large new scale, the older republican commitment to propertied voters fell out of favor. As property requirements for voting were abolished, economic status disappeared as a foundation for citizenship. By 1840 more than 90 percent of adult white men possessed the right to vote.

Not only that, voters could now cast their opinion for more offices. Previously, governors and presidential electors had usually been selected by state legislatures as part of a republican strategy that limited the threat of direct democratic control over the highest political offices. The growing democratic temper of the first decades of the 19th century changed this and increasingly all offices were chosen by direct vote. The United States was the world leader in allowing popular participation in elections. This triumph of American politics built upon, but also expanded, the egalitarian ideals of the American Revolution.

This democratic triumph, however, also had sharp limitations that today seem quite shocking. At the same time that state legislatures opened suffrage (that is, the right to vote) to all white men, they simultaneously closed the door firmly on white women and free African Americans. This movement was especially disappointing since it represented a retreat from a broader sense of political rights that had been included in some early state constitutions.

James Monroe nearly shut out his Presidential opponent, John Quincy Adams in the election of 1820. Monroe beat Adams 231 to 1 with 3 abstentions (electoral college votes).

For example, New Jersey revised its state constitution to abolish property requirements in 1807, but at the same time prevented all women from voting (even wealthy ones who had been allowed to vote there since 1776) as well as all free blacks. New York acted similarly in 1821 when its legislature extended the franchise to almost all white men, but simultaneously created high property requirements for free blacks. As a result, only 68 of the 13,000 free African Americans in New York City could vote in 1825. When Pennsylvania likewise denied free blacks the right to vote in the late 1830s, a state legislator explained that "The people of this state are for continuing this commonwealth, what it has always been, a political community of white persons." While he was correct about the prevailing racist sentiment among white voters, free blacks with property had not been excluded from the franchise by the earlier Revolutionary state constitution.

Tragically, the democratization of American politics to include nearly universal white manhood suffrage also intensified discrimination by race and gender. The idea of total democracy remained too radical for full implementation.

Who compared giving women the vote to giving cows the vote (& in what context)? - History

As the United States spread west of the Mississippi River, those who followed their dreams of a better life often included complete families: father, mother, and children taking whatever fit in the wagon or hand cart to a new opportunity across the Rocky Mountains through an opening called South Pass in what is now known as the state of Wyoming. This discovery gave those willing to risk what was familiar for the chance to expand their horizons in a new location with possibly better soil, better climate, or to explore what their own future could be away from the crowded cities they left behind. What a promising idea: expand your horizons.

The features of each new territory became known quickly. These territories grew in population large enough for statehood, meaning the form of government established by the U.S. Constitution could now be organized on local state, county, and city levels. The decision to include women in the governing decisions in these new territories and states caught the attention of those attempting to gain voting rights for women nationally through an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Suffrage organizers visited newly enfranchised women’s groups to help to make the right to vote universal nationally.

This unit will discuss the role of Westward Expansion with the country borders now from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean how Overland Trails, and the transcontinental railroad paved the way for women’s suffrage in the newly created territory and state governments. This unit also helps students use primary documents related to efforts to extend the newly acquired voting rights, any disenfranchisement by federal legislation or an individual state, and the regaining of voting rights already experienced through a constitutional amendment granting women the right to vote universally throughout the United States. This unit will also acknowledge those persons who were not included when the nineteenth amendment was finally ratified.

The Language Arts portion of the Common Core as well as the Reading Standards for Social Studies guidelines will form the instructional basis of this unit plan. Specifically, there is an emphasis on vocabulary skills, literacy in geography through map activities, drawing comparisons, and the use of primary and secondary documents for discussion with peers. Class discussions of video presentations will assist students in building a timeline from the 1800’s to 1920 when the constitutional amendment became law. A readers’ theater activity is also planned to increase student participation. Students will be expected to write short descriptions of the primary document exercise or video presentation at the end of the class session. A short review will prepare students for a formative assessment of the unit contents. This assessment will allow students to use visual art skills or established essay principles to demonstrate mastery of their chosen unit main idea.

The grade 7 format of this unit plan can be adapted for use with U.S. History I, U.S. History II, and U.S. Government and Citizenship course standards established by state and local school boards or charter schools. The reader’s theatre activity has a simpler version website link to give students with limited reading ability a chance to participate without the embarrassment of trying to pronounce complicated words in a public setting.

Course Description:

A unit designed to expand student horizons as they analyze maps and primary documents and share stories of the Westward Expansion relating to gaining women’s suffrage through ratifying the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Each lesson of The Path to Women’s Suffrage unit is designed for a 55 minute lesson.

Woman Suffrage: History and Time Line

Introduction: The resolution calling for woman suffrage had passed, after much debate, at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, convened by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott. In “The Declaration of Sentiments,” a document based upon the Declaration of Independence, the numerous demands of these early activists were elucidated.

The 1848 convention had challenged America to a social revolution that would touch every aspect of life. Early women’s rights leaders believed suffrage to be the most effective means to change an unjust system. By the late 1800s, nearly 50 years of progress afforded women advancement in property rights, employment and educational opportunities, divorce and child custody laws, and increased social freedoms. The early 1900s saw a successful push for the vote through a coalition of suffragists, temperance groups, reform-minded politicians, and women’s social-welfare organizations. Although Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton devoted 50 years to the woman’s suffrage movement, neither lived to see women gain the right to vote. But their work and that of many other suffragists contributed to the ultimate passage of the 19th amendment in 1920.

Brief History:

Suffrage is the right or privilege of voting and is frequently incorporated among the rights of citizenship. However, just as not all people in the United States are necessarily granted the privilege of citizenship, not all U.S. citizens have been uniformly endowed with the right to vote. Written in 1787 and adopted the following year, the U.S. Constitution granted each state the power to decide the voting qualifications of its residents in all elections. Many states restricted voting rights to those who owned land or substantial taxable property. Given the property laws and economic status of citizens at that time, these restrictions meant that most women and persons of color could not vote, and only about “half of the adult white men in the United States were eligible to vote in 1787.”

Most women were prohibited from voting or exercising the same civil rights as men during this time based on the idea that “a married woman’s legal existence was incorporated into that of her husband”. With so few rights, many women drew parallels between their social and political state and that of slaves. This comparison won support of greater numbers of women and men to their cause, among them were the famous suffragettes attributed with founding the woman suffrage movement, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott.

Dedicated abolitionists, Stanton and Mott returned to the United States in June of 1840 highly indignant that they had been denied the right to participate in the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention in London because they were women. Determined to overcome the social, civil, and religious disabilities that crippled women of their day, Stanton and Mott organized the first woman’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York, on 19 July 1848. It drew over 300. Stanton drafted the “Declaration of Sentiments,” a document that stated “men and women are created equal.”

Source: Elizabeth Smiltneek, Graduate Student, Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University–http://learningtogive.org/papers/paper62.html

US Suffrage Movement Time Line, 1792 to Present

1792 British author Mary Wollstonecraft argues for the equality of the sexes in her book, the Vindication of the Rights of Women.

1793 January 3: Lucretia Mott is born in Nantucket, MA.

1815 November 12: Elizabeth Cady Stanton is born in Johnstown, NY.

1818 August 13: Lucy Stone is born in West Brookfield, MA.

1820 February 15: Susan B. Anthony is born in Adams, MA.

1821 Emma Willard founds the Troy Female Seminary, the first school to offer girls classical and scientific studies on a collegiate level.

1828 Englishwoman Frances Wright is the first woman to address an American audience composed of both men and women.

1833 Oberlin College is founded as the first coeducational institution of higher learning.

1837 Mount Holyoke, the first college for women, is founded by Mary Lyon in South Hadley, MA.

1840 The World’s Anti-Slavery Convention is held in London, England. When the women delegates from the United States are not allowed to participate, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton determine to have a women’s rights convention when they return home.

1845 Margaret Fuller publishes Woman in the Nineteenth Century, which has a profound influence on the development of American feminist theory.

1847 February 14: Anna Howard Shaw is born in Newcastle-on-Tyne, England.

1848 July 19: The first woman’s rights convention is called by Mott and Stanton. It is held on July 20 at the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, NY. August 2: A reconvened session of the woman’s rights convention is held at the Unitarian Church in Rochester, NY. Amelia Bush is chosen chair, and becomes the first woman to preside over a meeting attended by both men and women. New York State Legislature passes a law that gives women the right to retain possession of property they owned prior to their marriage.

1849 Elizabeth Blackwell graduates from Geneva College in Geneva, NY with the first medical degree awarded to a woman.

1851 Amelia Bloomer publishes in her Seneca Falls newspaper, The Lily, a description of a comfortable, loose-fitting costume consisting of a short skirt worn over pantaloons. Even though the outfit was first worn by Elizabeth Smith Miller, it becomes known as the “Bloomer.” Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony meet and begin their fifty-year collaboration to win for women their economic, educational, social, and civil rights. Sojourner Truth delivers her “And Ain’t I a Woman Speech” at the Woman’s Rights Convention in Akron, OH.

1853 Antoinette Brown Blackwell, an 1847 Oberlin graduate, is ordained as the minister of the First Congregational Church in Butler and Savannah, NY. She is the first woman to be ordained in the United States by a mainstream denomination.

1855 Elizabeth Cady Stanton makes an unprecedented appearance before the New York State Legislature to speak in favor of expanding the Married Woman’s Property Law.

1859 January 9: Carrie Chapman Catt is born in Ripon, WI.

1863 Stanton and Anthony organize the Women’s Loyal National League and gather 300,000 signatures on a petition demanding that the Senate abolish slavery by constitutional amendment.

1865 The 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified. The amendment officially abolishes slavery in the United States.

1866 The American Equal Rights Association is founded with the purpose to secure for all Americans their civil rights irrespective of race, color, or sex. Lucretia Mott is elected president. To test women’s constitutional right to hold public office, Stanton runs for Congress receiving 24 of 12,000 votes cast.

1867 Stanton, Anthony, and Lucy Stone address a subcommittee of the New York State Constitutional Convention requesting that the revised constitution include woman suffrage. Their efforts fail. Kansas holds a state referendum on whether to enfranchise blacks and/or women. Lucy Stone, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton traverse the state speaking in favor of women suffrage. Both black and women suffrage is voted down.

1868 Stanton and Anthony launch their women’s rights newspaper, the Revolution, in New York City. Anthony organizes the Working Women’s Association, which encourages women to form unions to win higher wages and shorter hours. The 14th amendment to the U. S. Constitution is adopted. The amendment grants citizenship to former slaves, but still does not secure voting rights.

1869 National Woman Suffrage Association is founded with Elizabeth Cady Stanton as president. American Woman Suffrage Association is founded with Henry Ward Beecher as president. Wyoming Territory grants suffrage to women.

1870 Utah Territory grants suffrage to women. First issue of the Woman’s Journal is published with Lucy Stone and her husband Henry Blackwell as editors. The 15th amendment to the U. S. Constitution is adopted. The amendment grants suffrage to former male African-American slaves, but not to women. Anthony and Stanton bitterly oppose the amendment, which for the first time explicitly restricts voting rights to “males.” Many of their former allies in the abolitionist movement, including Lucy Stone, support the amendment.

1871 Victoria Woodhull addresses the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives arguing that women have the right to vote under the 14th amendment. The Committee issues a negative report.

1872 In Rochester, NY, Susan B. Anthony registers and votes contending that the 14th amendment gives her that right. Several days later she is arrested.

1873 At Susan B. Anthony’s trial the judge does not allow her to testify on her own behalf, dismisses the jury, rules her guilty, and fines her $100. She refuses to pay.

1874 In Minor v. Happersett, the Supreme Court decides that citizenship does not give women the right to vote and that women’s political rights are under the jurisdiction of each individual state.

1876 Stanton writes a Declaration and Protest of the Women of the United States to be read at the centennial celebration in Philadelphia. When the request to present the Declaration is denied, Anthony and four other women charge the speakers’ rostrum and thrust the document into the hands of Vice-President Thomas W. Ferry.

1879 Belva Lockwood becomes the first woman lawyer admitted to practice before the Supreme Court.

1880 November 11: Lucretia Mott dies. New York state grants school suffrage to women.

1882 The House of Representatives and the Senate appoint Select Committees on Woman Suffrage.

1887 The first three volumes of the , edited by Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, are published.

1888 The International Council for Women is founded and holds its first meeting in Washington, DC.

1890 After several years of negotiations, the NWSA and the AWSA merge to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Lucy Stone as officers. Wyoming joins the union as the first state with voting rights for women. By 1900 women also have full suffrage in Utah, Colorado and Idaho. New Zealand is the first nation to give women suffrage.

1892 Susan B. Anthony becomes president of the NAWSA.

1893 October 18: Lucy Stone dies.

1895 Elizabeth Cady Stanton publishes The Woman’s Bible, a critical examination of the Bible’s teaching about women. The NAWSA censures the work.

1900 Anthony resigns as president of the NAWSA and is succeeded by Carrie Chapman Catt.

1902 October 26: Elizabeth Cady Stanton dies. Women of Australia are enfranchised.

1903 Carrie Chapman Catt resigns as president of the NAWSA and Anna Howard Shaw becomes president.

1906 March 13: Susan B. Anthony dies. Women of Finland are enfranchised.

1907 Harriet Stanton Blatch, daughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, founds the Equality League of Self-Supporting Women, later called the Women’s Political Union.

1908 March 8: International Women’s Day is celebrated for the first time.

1910 The Women’s Political Union holds its first suffrage parade in New York City.

1911 National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage is founded.

1912 Suffrage referendums are passed in Arizona, Kansas, and Oregon.

1913 Alice Paul organizes a suffrage parade in Washington, DC, the day of Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration.

1914 Montana and Nevada grant voting rights to women. Alice Paul and Lucy Burns organize the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage. It merges in 1917 with the Woman’s Party to become the National Woman’s Party.

1915 Suffrage referendum in New York State is defeated. Carrie Chapman Catt is elected president of the NAWSA. Women of Denmark are enfranchised.

1916 Jeannette Rankin, a Republican from Montana, is elected to the House of Representatives and becomes the first woman to serve in Congress. President Woodrow Wilson addresses the NAWSA.

1917 Members of the National Woman’s Party picket the White House. Alice Paul and ninety-six other suffragists are arrested and jailed for “obstructing traffic.” When they go on a hunger strike to protest their arrest and treatment, they are force-fed. Women win the right to vote in North Dakota, Ohio, Indiana, Rhode Island, Nebraska, Michigan, New York, and Arkansas.

1918 Women of Austria, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Poland, Scotland, and Wales are enfranchised. House of Representatives passes a resolution in favor of a woman suffrage amendment. The resolution is defeated by the Senate.

1919 Women of Azerbaijan Republic, Belgium, British East Africa, Holland, Iceland, Luxembourg, Rhodesia, and Sweden are enfranchised. The Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution granting women the vote is adopted by a joint resolution of Congress and sent to the states for ratification. July 2: Anna Howard Shaw dies. New York and twenty-one other states ratify the Nineteenth Amendment.

1920 Henry Burn casts the deciding vote that makes Tennessee the thirty-sixth, and final state, to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment. August 26: The Nineteenth Amendment is adopted and the women of the United States are finally enfranchised.

1923 At the 75th anniversary of the Seneca Falls convention, Alice Paul proposes an Equal Rights Amendment to remedy inequalities not addressed in the 19th Amendment.

Late 1920s Many states continue to bar women from jury duty and public office. Widows succeed their husbands as governors of Texas and Wyoming. Middle-class women attend college and enter labor force. Anticipated “women’s vote” fails to materialize by end of decade.

1933 Frances Perkins is appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as first female Secretary of Labor. In the New Deal years, at urging of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Democratic women’s leader Molly Dewson, many women gain positions in federal social service bureaus, including Mary McLeod Bethune, director of the Negro Affairs Division of the National Youth Administration.

1936 Federal court rules birth control legal for its own sake, rather than solely for prevention of disease.

1941 United States enters World War II. Millions of women are recruited for defense industry jobs in war years and become significant parts of labor force. WAC and WAVE are established as first women’s military corps.

1947 Percentage of women in the labor force declines as women leave jobs to get married and to make way for returning soldiers. By end of decade, numbers of workingwomen are again on the increase.

1952 Democratic and Republican parties eliminate women’s divisions.

1955 Civil Rights movement escalates in the South Septima Clark and others lead sit-ins and demonstrations, providing models for future protest strategies.

1960 FDA approves birth control pills.

1961 President’s Commission on the Status of Women is established, headed by Eleanor Roosevelt. Commission successfully pushes for passage in 1963 of Equal Pay Act, first federal law to require equal compensation for men and women in federal jobs.

1963 Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique articulates dissatisfaction about limits on women.

1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits job discrimination on the basis of race or sex and establishes Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to address discrimination claims.

1966 National Organization for Women, founded by Betty Friedan and associates, promotes child care for working mothers, abortion rights, the Equal Rights Amendment, and “full participation in the mainstream of American society now.”

1972 After nearly 50 years, Equal Rights Amendment passes both houses and is signed by President Richard Nixon. Civil Rights Act bans sex discrimination in employment and education. Shirley Chisholm is first black American to run for president.

1973 In Roe v. Wade, U.S. Supreme Court affirms women’s right to first trimester abortions without state intervention.

1974 Ella Grasso of Connecticut becomes the first woman Governor elected in her own right.

1981 Sandra Day O’Connor is appointed first woman U.S. Supreme Court justice.

1982 Deadline for ERA ratification expires final count is three states short of adoption.

1984 Geraldine Ferraro is first woman from a major political party nominated as Vice President.

1991 Senate confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas as U.S. Supreme Court justice and testimony of Anita Hill raise awareness of sexual harassment.

1992 More women run for and are elected to public office than in any other year in United States history.

Today The fight for equality is waged on many fronts women are seeking political influence, better education, health reform, job equity, and legal reform. The demands echo those of the movement throughout its history. In 1848 Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and others claimed on behalf of American women “all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens.” What would the reformers from Seneca Falls do today to contribute toward a future of equality? What will you do?

Note: 1792-1920 prepared by Mary M. Huth, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, University of Rochester Libraries, February 1995.
1920-present from the Women’s Rights brochure produced by the Women’s Rights National Historical Park, National Park Service, 1994.

Source: Susan B. Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership, Rochester, NY: www.rochester.edu/SBA/

Resources related to this topic may be found in the Social Welfare History Image Portal.

2 Replies to &ldquoWoman Suffrage: History and Time Line&rdquo

How could you miss California giving women the right to vote in 1911? How could you miss 1878 in US Senate where Aaron Sargent California’s U S Senator from 1872 proposed the language to the U S Senate which was adopted as the language for the Nineteenth Amendment? His wife Ellen Clark Sargent was Pres of CA Woman Suffrage Assoc and Treasurer of National Woman Suffrage Assoc.

Woman Suffrage

On December 10, 1869, the Wyoming territorial legislature granted women the right to vote and to hold public office. This article explains the history of woman suffrage in Wyoming, how it happened, the arguments for and against women's right to vote, and how The Equality State reacted to women at the ballot box.

Anthropology, Geography, Human Geography, Social Studies, Civics, U.S. History

The years 2009 and 2010 mark the 140th anniversary of woman suffrage in the United States. Wyoming passed the first woman suffrage law on December 10, 1869, and women voted for the first time in 1870. The word suffrage comes from the Latin word suffragium, meaning the right to vote.

Women in the United States had fought for suffrage since the time of Andrew Jackson&rsquos presidency in the 1820s. Before the Civil War, women were allowed limited voting in a few states. New Jersey allowed women to vote before their state&rsquos constitution outlawed it in 1844.

In 1869, Congress passed the soon-to-be-ratified 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave all men the right to vote. The amendment didn&rsquot mention women. While the federal government didn&rsquot give women the right to vote at that time, it was still possible for individual states to pass women&rsquos suffrage laws.

Railroads and Rights

That same year, the transcontinental railroad was completed, connecting the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific rail lines. This may seem like it has nothing to do with women being allowed to vote, but it was actually very important.

Thousands of workers had come to the American west to work on the railroad. As the population grew, Congress decided to split off a piece of land in the Dakota, Idaho, and Utah territories to create the Wyoming Territory. In May 1869, the same month that the Union Pacific Railroad was open to the public, President Ulysses S. Grant named John A. Campbell the new governor of Wyoming Territory.

The first elections were held in Wyoming Territory in September 1869. William H. Bright, President of the Council of the Wyoming Territorial legislature, introduced a woman suffrage bill in the legislature&rsquos first session. The bill sailed through the Democratic legislature and was quickly signed by the Republican governor.

Female Suffrage
Chapter 31
An Act to Grant to the Women of Wyoming Territory the Right of Suffrage, and to Hold Office
Be it enacted by the Council and House of Representatives of the Territory of Wyoming:
Sec. 1. That every woman of the age of twenty-one years, residing in this territory, may at every election to be holden under the laws thereof, cast her vote. And her rights to the elective franchise and to hold office shall be the same under the election laws of the territory, as those of electors.
Sec. 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.
Approved, December 10, 1869.

Why Wyoming?

Younger states and territories like Wyoming were more willing to consider fresh ideas about who could vote. Still, people were a little surprised. Wyoming passed the first woman suffrage law in the United States, with almost no discussion or controversy.

There were several reasons why the bill was passed so quickly. Historian C. G. Coutant wrote, &ldquoOne man told me that he thought it right and just to give women the vote. Another man said he thought it would be a good advertisement for the territory. Still another said that he voted to please someone else, and so on.&rdquo

Many legislators voted for the bill hoping to increase the territory&rsquos population. Women were scarce out west, and perhaps men were acting desperately to entice them. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 said territories could apply for statehood once the population reached 60,000. &ldquoWe now expect at once quite an immigration of ladies to Wyoming,&rdquo wrote The Cheyenne Leader, a local newspaper.

One politician claimed women&rsquos suffrage started as a joke. Edward M. Lee, a secretary in the Territory in 1869, wrote, &ldquoOnce, during the session, amid the greatest hilarity, and after the presentation of various funny amendments and in the full expectation of a gubernatorial veto, an act was passed Enfranchising the Women of Wyoming. The bill, however, was approved, became a law, and the youngest territory placed in the van of progress . . . How strange that a movement destined to purify the muddy pool of politics . . . should have originated in a joke . . . All honor to them, say we, to Wyoming&rsquos first legislature!&rdquo

Even though some treated his bill as a joke, William Bright took suffrage very seriously. Mrs. Bright later said that her husband, a Southerner who fought on the Union side in the Civil War, believed that if all men could vote, then there was no reason why his own wife and mother could not vote as well.

William Bright wrote in the Denver Tribune, &ldquoI knew it was a new issue, and a live one, and with strong feeling that it was just, I determined to use all my influence.&rdquo

Some legislators voted for the bill because they believed it didn&rsquot have a very good chance of passing. William Bright took advantage of this opinion. In 1882, Governor John W. Hoyt explained how William Bright cleverly played both sides against each other:

&ldquoHe said to the Democrats: &lsquoWe have a Republican Governor and a Democratic Assembly. Now, then, if we can carry this bill through the Assembly and the Governor vetoes it, we shall have made a point, you know we shall have shown our liberality and lost nothing. But keep still don&rsquot say anything about it.&rsquo They promised. He then went to the Republicans and told them that the Democrats were going to support his measure, and that if they did not want to lose capital they had better vote for it too. He didn&rsquot think there would be enough of them to carry it, but the vote would be on record and thus defeat the game of the other party. And they likewise agreed to vote for it. So, when the bill came to a vote, it went right through! The members looked at each other in astonishment, for they hadn&rsquot intended to do it, quite. Then they laughed, and said it was a good joke, but they had &lsquogot the Governor in a fix.&rsquo So the bill went, in the course of time, to John A. Campbell, who was then Governor&mdashand he promptly signed it!&rdquo

After the bill passed, the Wyoming Tribune wrote that it &ldquois likely to be THE measure of the session, and we are glad our Legislature has taken the initiative in this movement, which is destined to become universal. Better appear to lead rather than hinder when a movement is inevitable.&rdquo

Of woman suffrage in Wyoming, American civil rights activist Susan B. Anthony said happily, &ldquoWyoming is the first place on God&rsquos green earth which could consistently claim to be the land of the Free!&rdquo Telegrams came in from as far away as Britain and Prussia.

The woman suffrage bill not only gave women the right to vote, but also to sit on juries and to run for political office. In February 1870, three women were commissioned as justices of the peace in Wyoming, although only one, Esther Morris, was known to have actually served as a judge. She tried more than forty cases in the territory. She lost none on appeal and was widely regarded as a good judge, but wasn&rsquot nominated for re-election when her term ended.

The first women jurors began their service in March or April of 1870. In T. A. Larson&rsquos A History of Wyoming, the author writes that male jurors stopped smoking and chewing tobacco once women began to serve alongside them. Men stopped gambling and drinking during their jury breaks.

Women in general were more likely to find someone guilty than men would, gave tougher prison sentences, and were less likely to accept self-defense as a reason for murdering a person. Women proved they had the ability to serve as members of the jury. They took their duties seriously, but not everyone approved women jury members. Newly elected judges banned women from jury duty in 1871.

Wyoming women got to vote for the first time in September 1870. Many people were curious about what woman suffrage would actually look like. Would women go to the polls now that they were able to do so?

Approximately one thousand women were eligible to vote in Wyoming, and most of them turned out to vote. Noted Wyoming citizen Bill Nye, when asked what woman suffrage looked like in his state, wrote, &ldquoNo rum was sold, women rode in carriages furnished by the two parties, and every man was straining himself to be a gentlemen because there were votes at stake. A Wyoming election, as I recall it, was a standing rebuke to every Eastern election I ever saw.&rdquo Nye was the editor of the Laramie Daily Boomerang, a Wyoming newspaper.

Democrats lost a lot of seats in the second territorial legislature, replaced by Republicans. The remaining Democrats in the legislature blamed woman suffrage for their losses and repealed the new law. However, the Republican governor vetoed the measure and woman suffrage remained in place.

&ldquoNo legislature has the right to disenfranchise its own constituents,&rdquo said Governor Campbell.

Wyoming applied for statehood in 1889. That year, woman suffragists worked hard to elect delegates that were friendly to their cause. Some members of the U.S. Congress tried to remove the woman suffrage clause in the Wyoming charter. The territory&rsquos voters replied that they would become a state that would let everyone vote equally or they would not become a state at all.

In 1890, Wyoming became the 44th state and the first state to have full voting rights for women. The governor at the time, Francis E. Warren, wrote, &ldquoOur best people and in fact all classes are almost universally in favor of women suffrage. A few women and a few men still entertain prejudice against it, but I know of no argument having been offered to show its ill effects in Wyoming.&rdquo

Wyoming became known as The Equality State. The national suffrage convention in 1891 included this tribute: &ldquoWyoming, all hail the first true republic the world has ever seen!&rdquo

Be a Poll Worker
Becoming a poll worker is a great way to get involved in elections if you are not old enough to vote. Poll workers are important for fair and efficient elections. Go to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission's website to find out how to volunteer on Election Day in your area.

Governor Ross
In 1925, Nellie Tayloe Ross was elected governor of Wyoming. She was the first woman to serve as governor in the United States.

Kiwis Lead the Way
In 1893, New Zealand became the first country in the world to give women the same voting rights as men. Australia did the same in 1902, followed by Finland in 1906 and Norway in 1913.

Beyond Wyoming
These states and territories gave women full or partial suffrage before the Nineteenth Amendment was passed in 1920:

  • Wyoming (1869)
  • Utah (1896)
  • Colorado (1893)
  • Idaho (1896)
  • Washington (1910)
  • California (1911)
  • Oregon (1912)
  • Arizona (1912)
  • Kansas (1912)
  • Alaska (1913)
  • Illinois (1913)
  • North Dakota (1917)
  • Indiana (1919)
  • Nebraska (1917)
  • Michigan (1918)
  • Arkansas (1917)
  • New York (1917)
  • South Dakota (1918)
  • Oklahoma (1918)

Equality State
Wyoming, nicknamed the Equality State, has a fitting state motto: Equal Rights.

Women's Suffrage and WWI

Women picket the White House in 1917, demanding full access to voting rights.

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division

“Mr. President how long must women wait for Liberty?” Thus exclaimed one of the signs protesters held in front of the White House gates in February 1917. Women’s fight for the right to vote was in its final years, but in the heavy sacrifice and a changing understanding of the meaning of democracy the war brought, the movement had found a renewed energy and enthusiasm during World War I. Female protesters initially faced a cordial but outwardly uninterested reception from President Woodrow WIlson, but they were persistent. The protest lasted until November of that year, resulting in many women arrested and jailed for their efforts. Word of the brutal treatment of protestors in prison, including force feeding, caused widespread outrage and ultimately strengthened public opinion in favor of a Constitutional amendment extending all women the right to vote. These protests and their aftermath are the most recognizable events of the suffrage movement. In lesser known events, state suffrage associations had also been working tirelessly to bring votes to women for several decades. For most of the 19th century, suffrage efforts in the states consisted of meetings of like-minded individuals, and unobtrusive lobbying of state legislators. But just after the turn of the 20th century, suffragists in many states began using bolder tactics such as open air meetings, and eventually the more well-known suffrage parade. The parade, in particular, allowed women to claim their right to space outside as well as inside the home, and make their demands in public for a formal political role. It allowed them to define themselves, for all to see, as men’s equals. By the time World War I started in 1914, women in 8 states, all west of the Mississippi except Illinois, had already won the right to vote.

The Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association promotes a 1915 referendum which would have allowed women the right to vote. The referendum did not pass, and women waited another four years before the 19th Amendment guaranteed their right to vote.

Ann Lewis Women's Suffrage Collection

Despite the state victories, general support for a federal amendment was not gaining enough traction. But in the trying circumstances of World War I, proponents found a new rallying cry. American women served as a bulwark for American society during the War, making sacrifices in their personal lives and buttressing the country’s economy suddenly without its male workforce. Their contributions, which enabled the country to pursue the war effort, seemed unfair to many, given their inability to contribute to society as full citizens. To further their cause, American women took lessons from women elsewhere, who argued for universal suffrage as a war measure. American suffragists promoted universal suffrage as the only right path for a civilized nation to take, using as examples other countries involved in the war that had already adopted or were about to adopt universal suffrage, such as Canada, England, Russia, France, Denmark, and Italy. Even before the US entered the war in 1917, American women participated in war-related events such as the International Congress of Women in the Netherlands, in 1915, which argued for an end to the war and peace in Europe. One of the Congress’s “Principles of a Permanent Peace” was the Enfranchisement of Women: “Since the combined influence of the women of all countries is one of the strongest forces for the prevention of war…this International Congress of Women demands their political enfranchisement.”

President Woodrow Wilson, despite his previous position that suffrage should be left to the states, eventually used this very argument to encourage adoption of the federal amendment in his address to the United States Senate on Sept. 30 1918: “I regard the concurrence of the Senate in the constitutional amendment proposing the extension of the suffrage to women as vitally essential to the successful prosecution of the great war of humanity in which we are engaged.” World War I laid bare the unequal nature of American society. In the minds of many, men and women alike, how did it look for the United States to fight for liberty around the world while half its citizenry was denied the right to participate as equals?

This 1915 pin showed support for the movement for a woman's right to vote.

Ann Lewis Women's Suffrage Collection

It was in this gathering storm that Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party sought to harden its approach with tactics such as the so-called “Silent Sentinels” protests outside the White House in 1917. However, while they all shared the same goal of a federal amendment, not all suffrage supporters shared the National Woman’s Party’s confrontational methodology, feeling that it ran counter to established gender roles for women. The New York State Woman Suffrage Party, for example, used the War as a medium through which it could publicly denounce the White House protests, claiming they tend to “harass the Government in this time of great stress.” In the South, the question of universal suffrage was further complicated by racial dynamics, as some feared granting the vote to women would open the door to a flood of African American votes, counteracting the restrictions put in place to limit the ability of African American men to vote, who already had the legal right. The suffrage movement was diverse in its membership, its approach, and its tactics, but its disparate groups shared a common purpose. Galvanized by the spotlight provided by America’s efforts on the world stage of World War I, they ultimately prevailed when the 19th amendment was passed by Congress on June 4, 1919, and ratified on August 18, 1920.

Woman Suffrage in the West

Figure 1. On this scrapbook page, Carrie Chapman Catt commemorated Wyoming Territory’s passage of the first full woman suffrage law in the nation. William Bright was the legislator who proposed the bill, and women’s rights advocate Esther Morris became the first female justice of the peace.

Courtesy of Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections, Bryn Mawr, PA.

Women of the West were the first in the United States to enjoy full voting rights. As new territories and states organized, many considered, and most granted, women the right to vote. Decades before passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, western women voted and served in public office. In the diverse West, woman suffragists campaigned across mountains, plains, and deserts, finding common cause with a variety of communities and other political movements. Though they experienced setbacks along with their early victories, their successes were crucial to the eventual passage of a federal suffrage amendment.

The first attempt to secure woman suffrage in the West took place in 1854, when the territorial legislature of Washington considered a suffrage measure, only to defeat it by a single vote. [1] However, it wasn’t until the Reconstruction era, after the end of the Civil War that the suffrage movement in the West truly began. The abolition of slavery in 1865 prompted a national deliberation about citizenship and voting rights. During the debates on the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, women’s rights advocates lobbied—unsuccessfully—to enshrine woman suffrage in the Constitution. As attention then turned to the states, many supporters saw the West, with its young governments, as fertile territory for experiments with political reforms.

In February 1868, suffragist Laura De Force Gordon created a sensation by lecturing about woman suffrage in San Francisco. Gordon followed up by giving several suffrage talks in Nevada before returning to California to organize suffrage societies. Perhaps inspired by Gordon, the 1869 Nevada legislature passed an amendment to eliminate the words “male” and “white” from the voting requirements in the state constitution. Nevada law required that constitutional changes be passed in two sessions of the legislature suffrage advocates would have to wait until 1871 to see if the amendment would be confirmed. [2]

So, it was the women of Wyoming Territory , on December 10, 1869, who were the first to gain the vote. (Figure 1) Several suffragist women in the territory, including Esther Morris and Amalia Post, likely lobbied behind the scenes for the law. But Reconstruction politics also played a role. Though Governor John Allen Campbell, Territorial Secretary Edward Lee, and other federally appointed Republican officials supported universal equal rights, it was Democrat William Bright who introduced the voting rights bill in the legislature. A southerner, Bright—whose wife, Julia, supported woman suffrage—opposed voting rights for African Americans and had vehemently spoken out against the Fourteenth Amendment, fearing it would enfranchise Black men. If Black men were to be given the vote, Bright believed, women—and particularly white women—should be as well. Once enfranchised, Wyoming women enthusiastically exercised their new rights. They voted, ran for office, and eventually served in elected positions. Esther Morris became the first woman in the United States to serve as a judge, and Amalia Post was one of the first to serve on a jury. [3]

Figure 2. Women’s newspapers played a critical role in building a community of pro-suffrage women in the West. Founded and primarily authored by women, these papers articulated the arguments for suffrage and refuted arguments against it. They also shared news of female activism from around the world

Courtesy of L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT

Utah’s predominantly Mormon territorial legislature enfranchised its women soon after, on February 12, 1870. Though Mormon women generally did not espouse radical views about female equality, they had long held the right to vote within church assemblies. [4] In late 1869, Congress attempted to eliminate polygamy in Utah Territory by proposing the Collum Act, which proposed to deny suffrage to men who supported plural marriage. On January 13, 1870, three thousand Utah women gathered in the Salt Lake Tabernacle at a “Great Indignation Meeting” to protest the law. Fourteen women rose to speak in defense of polygamy and women’s rights, including several who called for the right to vote. [5] After the legislature passed the woman suffrage bill, Utah women immediately began to exercise their rights—they voted in a Salt Lake City municipal election only two days after the bill passed. [6] Eliza Snow, who had been the wife of both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, deemed it “as necessary to vote as to pray.” [7]

These early successes can be attributed partly to lack of organized opposition. In Wyoming, woman suffrage was supported by politicians from both parties, though for different reasons. In Utah, suffragists were supported by the Mormon Church. After these victories, many hoped that the 1871 Nevada legislature would reaffirm the suffrage act it had passed in 1869. But despite lobbying efforts by Laura De Force Gordon and Emily Pitts Stevens, also of California, the measure failed. [8] Nevada’s women would wait until 1914 to vote. In the other states and territories of the West, too, suffragists would encounter active resistance.

By 1870, women who hoped to spread suffrage through the West began to organize. In some areas, suffragists formed chapters of the national suffrage organizations. In others, they worked through women’s clubs. Black clubwomen were particularly committed to the cause, organizing suffrage societies in Idaho , Montana , North Dakota , Nevada, Arizona , Oklahoma , and New Mexico . [9] The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), which had chapters across the West, also supported suffrage. The temperance movement inspired many women to agitate for the vote, but it also motivated well-funded opponents, in particular, the “liquor interests.”

Figure 3. Suffragist Elizabeth Ensley lived in Boston and Washington, DC, before moving to Denver with her husband in 1892. She worked on the successful 1893 Colorado suffrage campaign and founded the Colored Women’s Republican Club and the Association of Colored Women's Clubs.

Courtesy of the Western History Photographic Collections F45641, Denver Public Library.

In the 1870s and 1880s, women’s organizations fought many campaigns, but they had limited success. In 1870, the governor of Colorado Territory , Edward McCook, announced his support for woman suffrage, but after heated debate, the legislature rejected a suffrage measure. [10] When Colorado became a state in 1876, activists’ efforts to include suffrage in the state constitution failed, as did a subsequent 1877 referendum. [11] Two more unsuccessful legislative attempts followed in 1881 and 1891. [12] Opposition of the liquor interests contributed to these defeats. Anti-Chinese racism was also a factor. One anti-suffrage argument warned: “the poor, degraded Chinese women who might reach our shores, would also be admitted to the voting list, and what then would become of our proud, Caucasian civilization?” [13] Better not to enfranchise any women at all.

In California, too, suffragists regularly lobbied the legislature to approve women’s voting rights, but it steadfastly refused. [14] As in Colorado, anti-Chinese racism was strong, even among suffragists. At the 1879 California constitutional convention, suffrage leaders embraced the anti-Chinese rhetoric of the Workingmen’s Party, hoping to gain its support. In the end, woman suffrage was not included in the new constitution, though anti-Chinese provisions were. [15]

Further north, in the Pacific Northwest, Oregon activist Abigail Scott Duniway and national suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony embarked upon a two thousand–mile journey across Oregon and Washington in 1871, delivering lectures and organizing suffrage clubs as they went. [16] Duniway and other suffragists succeeded in getting bills introduced in the Oregon legislature in 1871, 1873, 1875, and 1884, but the only success for Oregon women in this era was passage in 1877 of a school suffrage law. [17]

For a time, the situation in Washington Territory looked brighter. Activist Mary Olney Brown attempted to vote in 1869, and in 1870 a few women successfully voted, arguing that as citizens it was their right under the Fourteenth Amendment. This prompted the legislature to pass a bill forbidding voting for women. Attempts to pass suffrage bills in 1878 and 1881 failed. [18]

Nonetheless, suffragists pressed on, and in 1883 the Washington territorial legislature passed woman suffrage. For four years, women voted. Then, in 1887, Washington’s Supreme Court invalidated the suffrage law on a technicality. When the legislature responded by passing a new suffrage law, opponents, supported by the anti-temperance machine, fired back with a lawsuit. The Supreme Court again declared woman suffrage invalid, on the shakiest of grounds. In 1890, like Oregon women, Washington women were granted school suffrage in place of full voting rights. [19]

Washington women were not alone in losing voting rights. Congress deprived Utah women of the right to vote with the Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887. This law disenfranchised all Utah women, as well as men who practiced polygamy. Utah suffragist Charlotte Godbe and Belva Lockwood, one of the first female lawyers in the United States, tried unsuccessfully to lobby against this bill. When it passed, in the words of Utah suffragist Emmeline Wells, it “wrested from all the women, Gentile and Mormon alike, the suffrage which they had exercised for seventeen years.” [20] In response, women founded the Woman Suffrage Association of Utah.

Despite these frustrations and defeats, in the 1870s and 1880s western activists laid the groundwork for later successes. An important step was their establishment of regional suffrage newspapers (Figure 2). Woman suffrage papers laid out the arguments for suffrage and helped to create a community of activists. They connected western women to the suffrage work that was happening around the world. Western women also wrote for national papers, keeping the women back East informed about progress in the West. In Colorado, for example, Elizabeth Ensley was a correspondent for the Woman’s Era, a nationwide African American women’s paper. [21] Though the achievements of the 1870s and 1880s were limited, the struggles of this period gave activists the experience, networks, and knowledge they would need for later efforts.

Figure 4. This California Equal Suffrage Association flyer shows pro-suffrage arguments used in the early 1900s—traditional American rhetoric around equality before the law, no taxation without representation, and the dignity of labor—that allowed suffragists to build broad coalitions of supporters.

Courtesy of Women’s Suffrage and Equal Rights Collection, Ella Strong Denison Library, Scripps College, Claremont, CA.

By the 1890s, these factors, combined with new political alliances, contributed to new gains. Wyoming entered the Union as a state in 1890 with woman suffrage intact. It was the first state, as it had been the first territory, to guarantee its women the right to vote. The federal government became receptive to Utah’s application for statehood once the Mormon Church outlawed polygamy in 1890. At the Utah constitutional convention in 1895, Utah’s suffragists lobbied to ensure that women were included. When Utah became a state in 1896, Utah women regained the right to vote. [22]

It was not until 1893, however, that the West saw its first successful statewide referendum campaign, in Colorado. There, local and national suffrage societies partnered with new labor and political organizations to win support. In the early 1890s, six Denver women, including African American activist Elizabeth P. Ensley, founded the Colorado Equal Suffrage Association (later known as the Non-Partisan Equal Suffrage Association). Ensley, who served as treasurer of the association during the 1893 campaign, ensured that African American activists were connected to the movement. (Figure 3) Suffragists also made common cause with the Knights of Labor and the Populist Party. These organizations had women leaders and members and were influential in farming and mining communities. The support of national suffrage leaders also contributed to the Colorado victory. Carrie Chapman Catt , who arrived in Colorado to organize on behalf of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), traveled over one thousand miles across the state, lecturing and founding suffrage clubs. Coalition politics proved successful woman suffrage passed in Colorado with 55 percent of the vote. In Idaho, too, woman suffrage passed by referendum and depended on broad support. All three major parties in Idaho—Populists, Republicans, and Democrats—endorsed suffrage, and on election day in November 1896, support from Populists, the labor movement, and Mormons helped the referendum win by a two-to-one margin. [23]

These successes, however, took place against a background of continued setbacks elsewhere. In 1896, a hard-fought referendum campaign in California failed, despite the organizing efforts of Anthony, Catt, and African American suffragist Naomi Anderson. Attempts to re-enfranchise Washington’s women were unsuccessful in 1889 and 1898. In Oregon, suffrage was on the ballot in 1900, 1904, 1906, 1908, and 1910 and lost each time. [24] In other states, women continued to organize. The Montana Woman Suffrage Association, established in the 1890s, grew rapidly under the leadership of Populist Ella Knowles, Montana’s assistant attorney general. Arizona women founded the Arizona Woman’s Equal Rights Association in 1887. In Nevada, educator Eliza Clapp and others formed the Nevada Equal Suffrage Association (NESA) in 1895. In all these states, suffrage organizations lobbied their legislatures nearly every session, with few results. [25]

Finally, after a fourteen-year gap, a wave of enfranchisements took place the 1910s. The western suffrage campaigns of this era often rejected the involvement of NAWSA, whose methods had been unsuccessful in the 1890s and early 1900s. Instead, the new generation formed partnerships with the Progressive and socialist movements, and having learned the hard lessons of earlier failures, disassociated themselves from temperance. [26]

Figure 5. This pamphlet, by the Los Angeles Political Equality League, makes the case for woman suffrage in Spanish. In the successful 1911 campaign, suffrage organizations, which were often led by and centered on the concerns of Anglo women, made efforts to gain the support of the Latinx community.

Courtesy of Women’s Suffrage and Equal Rights Collection, Ella Strong Denison Library, Scripps College, Claremont, CA.

The breakthrough came in 1910, when Washington became the fifth state to grant full suffrage. Led by Emma Smith DeVoe and May Arkwright Hutton, a new generation of suffragists took up the fight. [27] Dr. Cora Smith Eaton led a group of suffragists up Mount Rainer, where they staked a green pennant proclaiming “VOTES FOR WOMEN” at the peak. [28] Campaigners rented billboards, participated in parades, and even sponsored a whistle-stop train tour. Strong links with the labor movement, which was fighting for an eight-hour-day bill for women, were also critical. The campaigners were quick to connect woman suffrage to popular Progressive causes and steered clear of temperance. Finally, fifty-six years after the first attempt to enfranchise Washington women, the measure passed with nearly 64 percent of the vote. [29]

In California, Progressive legislators placed a woman suffrage measure on the 1911 ballot. (Figure 4) The massive campaign that followed favored bold approaches: building suffrage parade floats, presenting stereopticon shows to amazed audiences, and plastering suffrage posters on every available surface. Clubwomen, Progressives, and Socialists all worked for the cause, and the College Equal Suffrage League and the Wage Earners Suffrage League played important roles. California’s diverse communities provided essential support. Suffrage articles appeared in Spanish, Chinese, German, Portuguese, and Italian. Maria de Lopez, a Los Angeles clubwoman, campaigned and translated at rallies in Southern California, where suffragists distributed tens of thousands of pamphlets in Spanish. (Figure 5) In Oakland, members of the Colored Women’s Suffrage League monitored polling stations to prevent fraud. And though hostility to Chinese Americans lingered among some white activists, others courted their support. A majority of Chinese voters supported suffrage on election day. Woman suffrage passed with a mere 50.7 percent of the vote. [30] Once again, coalitions had worked.

Oregon finally enfranchised its women via referendum in 1912, after campaigners embraced parades, publicity, and coalitions. At least twenty-three suffrage clubs existed in Portland alone. Jewish women held key leadership roles on the Portland Central Campaign Committee. The Colored Women’s Equal Suffrage Association organized Black churchwomen. The Chinese American Suffrage Club mobilized Portland’s Chinese neighborhoods. Politicians and labor leaders dominated the Men’s Equal Suffrage Club. Portland suffragists also had a boys’ club, a Quaker club, and a stenographers’ club. Unions, farmers, Socialists, and the WCTU all endorsed voting rights for women. In the end, the measure squeaked through with 52 percent of the vote. [31] As in California, diverse coalitions were essential to overcome the opposition of liquor interests and old guard machine politics.

Women in Arizona and the new territory of Alaska also won the right to vote in 1912. When Arizona became a state in 1912, its constitution did not guarantee woman suffrage. After an attempt to secure a referendum failed, the Arizona Equal Suffrage Association (AESA) gathered enough signatures on petitions to place an initiative on the ballot. The AESA secured the support of both the Republican and Democratic Parties and reached out to Progressives, socialists, and the labor movement. Some suffragists also used racist and nativist arguments, claiming that native-born American white women deserved the right to vote more than foreign-born immigrant men. At the same time, however, the AESA worked with Mexican American organizations, Spanish newspapers, and immigrant miners. The measure passed by a two-to-one margin. Support from Mormons and Progressives was key to its success. [32] In Alaska, things were a bit easier. NAWSA sent literature to legislators of the new territory, who quickly proposed a bill. Woman suffrage was the first law signed by the governor. [33]

Figure 6. A descendant of two of the oldest Spanish families in New Mexico, Adelina Otero-Warren led the New Mexico chapter of Alice Paul’s Congressional Union, organizing and lecturing in both Spanish and English.

Courtesy of Bergere Family Photograph Collection, Image #21702, New Mexico State Records Center and Archives, Santa Fe, NM.

Two years later, Montana granted women the vote. Jeannette Rankin , a Montanan and NAWSA organizer who had worked on suffrage efforts across the country, led the campaign, sending speakers into nearly every mining community in the state. One of her organizers, Maggie Smith Hardaway, delivered fifty-five talks and traveled 2,375 miles over seven weeks. At the state fair in September, the Montana State Men’s League for Woman Suffrage marched in a suffrage parade the WCTU was not allowed to make an appearance for fear of rousing the saloon lobby. The referendum squeaked by, with 52.2 percent of voters approving it. [34]

The Nevada legislature finally passed successive woman suffrage referenda in 1911 and 1913, sending the measure to the voters for a final decision. Anne Martin of the Nevada Equal Suffrage Association (NESA) led the Nevada campaign. Martin, who had been involved with the radical suffrage movement in Britain, led the NESA in establishing new clubs, publicizing the cause in the press, and distributing suffrage literature across the state. Margaret Foley, a labor organizer from Boston, “talked in the depths of eight mines, attended fifty dances, made one thousand speeches, and [wore] out three pairs of shoes.” The Socialist, Democratic, and Progressive Parties endorsed woman suffrage at their conventions. These efforts paid off the referendum passed by a wide margin, finally ending the struggle that had begun in 1869. [35]

With Nevada’s vote, only New Mexico, of the continental western states, did not grant women full voting rights before the Nineteenth Amendment. Attempts to gain woman suffrage failed in 1871 and 1891, and the state constitution of 1910 granted only school suffrage. Hispano delegates to the 1910 constitutional convention secured stringent protections for Spanish American (male) voting rights. To protect themselves against any future attempts at Jim Crow–style disenfranchisement, Hispano delegates demanded measures that made voting provisions practically unamendable. [36] These measures also made it impossible to enfranchise New Mexico’s women by referendum. A different strategy was needed.

The Congressional Union (CU), founded by radical suffragist Alice Paul , began organizing in New Mexico in the early 1910s. In 1917, the CU, by then renamed the National Woman’s Party (NWP), recruited Adelina Otero-Warren, a member of a prominent Republican Hispano family, to oversee its work in New Mexico. (Figure 6) Otero-Warren led the NWP’s New Mexico campaign for ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. Suffrage pamphlets were printed in Spanish, and Otero-Warren, along with Aurora Lucero and other local suffragists, promoted the cause. [37] New Mexico ratified the Nineteenth Amendment in February 1920.

Not all western women, however, received the vote with ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. Many Native American women were not considered US citizens and thus were not able to vote. Nor did state suffrage laws enfranchise indigenous women, unless they had renounced their connection to their tribe. Suffragists only infrequently reached out to native communities however, some indigenous leaders believed that voting rights could be a powerful tool for protecting native rights. In 1924 Zitkala-Sa, a Lakota writer and activist, lobbied Congress to secure suffrage for indigenous Americans. Partly as a result of her efforts, Congress passed the Indian Citizenship Act, which defined Native Americans as US citizens. Even after passage of this law, however, many western states continued to disenfranchise indigenous people. Zitkala-Sa went on to cofound the National Council of American Indians, which focused on civil rights for native peoples. [38]

The Territory of Hawai’i also exemplified the challenges faced by indigenous women. After the last indigenous ruler of Hawai’i, Queen Lili’uokalani , was deposed by the United States in 1893, local WCTU activists lobbied for the inclusion of women in the territorial government. When the Territory of Hawai’i was created in 1898, however, woman suffrage was specifically excluded, partly because indigenous women significantly outnumbered white women in the territory. [39]

For women who were able to vote, enfranchisement paved the way for their entry into politics. Across the West, women won election to office, most often for school boards or as county superintendent of schools. In the 1890s, Colorado, Idaho, and Utah all elected women to their state legislatures. [40] The West produced the first woman governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming, who later served as director of the US Mint. It also sent the first woman to Congress, Jeanette Rankin of Montana.

The enfranchisement of women in the United States began in the West. Early successes there were connected to the complex politics of Reconstruction and polygamy. Later victories stemmed from suffragists’ ability to build partnerships with other movements that shared their desire for reform and increased democratization of politics. Over time, suffragists discovered that campaigns were most likely to succeed when they had the support of broad coalitions and diverse groups of voters. Through decades of campaigning, debating, and lobbying, western women won the right to vote, and they used their experience and knowledge to support the expansion of women’s rights across the country.

[1] Rebecca J. Mead, How the Vote Was Won: Woman Suffrage in the Western United States, 1868–1914 (New York: New York University Press, 2004), 45.
[2] Jean Ford and James W. Hulse, “The First Battle for Woman Suffrage in Nevada: 1869–1871—Correcting and Expanding the Record,” Nevada Historical Society Quarterly 38, no. 3 (September 1995): 174–188.
[3] Jennifer Helton, “So Great an Innovation,” in Equality at the Ballot Box, ed. Lori Lahlum and Molly Rozum (Pierre: South Dakota Historical Society Press, forthcoming).
[4] Jill Mulvay Derr, “Eliza R. Snow and the Woman Question,” in Battle for the Ballot: Essays on Woman Suffrage in Utah, 1870–1896, ed. Carol Cornwall Madsen (Logan: Utah State University Press, 1997), 76–87.
[5] Lola Van Wagenen, “In Their Own Behalf: The Politicization of Mormon Women and the 1870 Franchise,” in Madsen, Battle for the Ballot, 68.
[6] Thomas G. Alexander, “An Experiment in Progressive Legislation: The Granting of Woman Suffrage in Utah in 1870,” in Madsen, Battle for the Ballot, 111.
[7] Eliza Snow quoted in Derr, “Eliza R. Snow,” 61.
[8] Mead, How the Vote Was Won, 158–59 Ford and Hulse, “First Battle for Woman Suffrage in Nevada,” 174–188.
[9] Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote, 1850–1920 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998), 87–88 Lynda F. Dickson, “Lifting as We Climb: African American Women’s Clubs of Denver, 1880–1925,” in Writing the Range: Race, Class, and Culture in the Women’s West, ed. Elizabeth Jameson and Susan Armitage (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997), 374.
[10] Elizabeth Cady Stanton et al., eds., The History of Woman Suffrage, 6 vols. (Rochester, NY: S. B. Anthony New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1881–1922), 3:713–715.
[11] Stanton et al., History of Woman Suffrage, 3:716–725.
[12] Corrine M. McConnaughy, The Woman Suffrage Movement in America: A Reassessment (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 53.
[13] Stanton et al., History of Woman Suffrage, 3:715.
[14] Donald G. Cooper, “The California Suffrage Campaign of 1896: Its Origin, Strategies, Defeat,” Southern California Quarterly 71, no. 4 (Winter 1989): 311–325.
[15] Mead, How the Vote Was Won, 39–42.
[16] Mead, How the Vote Was Won, 27.
[17] School suffrage was the right to vote in elections related to schools, typically school board or county superintendent of schools. Jennifer M. Ross-Nazzal, Winning the West for Women: The Life of Suffragist Emma Smith DeVoe (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2011), 115 Mead, How the Vote Was Won, 46.
[18] Mead, How the Vote Was Won, 46.
[19] Stanton et al., History of Woman Suffrage, 3:663, 666, 675, 4:967, 978 Mead, How the Vote Was Won, 48–49.
[20] Emmeline Wells, “The History of Woman Suffrage in Utah,” reprinted in Madsen, Battle for the Ballot, 33 Beverly Beeton, “‘I Am an American Woman’: Charlotte Ives Cobb Godbe Kirby,” Journal of the West 27, no. 2 (April 1988): 16.
[21] Woman’s Era, November 1894, December 1894. Available at the Emory Women Writers Resource Project .
[22] Jean Bickmore White, “Woman’s Place Is in the Constitution: The Struggle for Equal Rights in Utah in 1895,” in Madsen, Battle for the Ballot, 222–224, 239–240.
[23] Dickson, “Lifting as We Climb,” 374 Mead, How the Vote Was Won, 60–69, 93–94 McConnaughy, Woman Suffrage Movement in America, 69–71.
[24] Mead, How the Vote Was Won, 50, 89, 91–95, 98, 100–101, 105 Donald G. Cooper, “The California Suffrage Campaign of 1896: Its Origin, Strategies, Defeat,” Southern California Quarterly 71, no. 4 (Winter 1989): 317 Ross-Nazzal, Winning the West for Women, 114–115 Kimberly Jensen, “‘Neither Head nor Tail to the Campaign’: Esther Pohl Lovejoy and the Oregon Woman Suffrage Victory of 1912,” Oregon Historical Quarterly 108, no. 3 (Fall 2007): 350–383.
[25] There were a few small successes. In the 1880s, Montana and Arizona passed school and taxpayer suffrage for women (though Arizona’s female taxpayer law was later overturned by the territory’s Supreme Court). Richard B. Roeder, “Crossing the Gender Line: Ella L. Knowles, Montana’s First Woman Lawyer,” Montana: The Magazine of Western History 32, no. 3 (Summer 1982): 64–75 Mead, How the Vote Was Won, 152–155, 159–169 Amy de Haan, “Arizona Women Argue for the Vote: The 1912 Initiative Campaign for Women’s Suffrage,” Journal of Arizona History 45, no. 4 (Winter 2004): 378 Ross-Nazzal, Winning the West for Women, 99–100 Kathryn Dunn Totton, “Hannah Keziah Clapp: The Life and Career of a Pioneer Nevada Educator, 1824–1908,” Nevada Historical Society Quarterly, 20, no. 3 (Fall 1977): 180.
[26] Mead, How the Vote Was Won, 94–98.
[27] Mead, How the Vote Was Won, 108–117 Ross- Nazzal, Winning the West for Women, 123–124.
[28] Tiffany Lewis, “The Mountaineering and Wilderness Rhetorics of Washington Woman Suffragists,” Rhetoric and Public Affairs 21, no. 2 (Summer 2018): 279–315.
[29] Ross-Nazzal, Winning the West for Women, 115, 130 Mead, How the Vote Was Won, 113, 116.
[30] Mead, How the Vote Was Won, 123, 131, 133–138, 141, 147 Eileen V. Wallis, “‘Keeping Alive the Old Tradition’: Spanish-Mexican Club Women in Southern California, 1880–1940,” Southern California Quarterly 91, no. 2 (Summer 2009): 133–154.
[31] Jensen, “‘Neither Head nor Tail to the Campaign,’” 361–370.
[32] de Haan, “Arizona Women Argue for the Vote,” 381, 388–389 David R. Berman, “Male Support for Woman Suffrage: An Analysis of Voting Patterns in the Mountain West,” Social Science History 11, no. 3 (Fall 1987): 281–294.
[33] Stanton et al., History of Woman Suffrage, 4:713–714.
[34] Mead, How the Vote Was Won, 154–158 Ronald Schaffer, “The Montana Woman Suffrage Campaign, 1911–14,” Pacific Northwest Quarterly 55, no. 1 (January 1964): 9–15.
[35] Mead, How the Vote Was Won, 160–169, quote 163
[36] McConnaughy, Woman Suffrage Movement in America, 197 Robert W. Larson, New Mexico’s Quest for Statehood, 1846–1912 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2013), 279.
[37] Ann M. Massmann, “Adelina ‘Nina’ Otero-Warren: A Spanish-American Cultural Broker,” Journal of the Southwest 42, no. 4 (Winter 2000): 877–896 Sarah Deutsch, No Separate Refuge: Culture, Class, and Gender on an Anglo-Hispanic Frontier in the American Southwest, 1880–1940 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), 118.
[38] P. Jane Hafen, “‘Help Indians Help Themselves’: Gertrude Bonnin, the SAI, and the NCAI,” American Indian Quarterly 37, no. 3 (July 2013): 205 Alexander Keyssar, The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States (New York: Basic Books, 2000), 252–255.
[39] Patricia Grimshaw, “Settler Anxieties, Indigenous Peoples, and Women’s Suffrage in the Colonies of Australia, New Zealand, and Hawai’i, 1888 to 1902,” Pacific Historical Review 69, no. 4 (2000): 568–571.
[40] Elizabeth M. Cox, Women, State, and Territorial Legislators, 1895–1995: A State-by-State Analysis, with Rosters of 6,000 Women (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 1996), 66–72, 103–8, 276–228.


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Woman’s Era . Edited by Josephine St. P Ruffin and Florida P. Ridley. Available at the Emory Women Writers Resource Project .

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