Women’s Suffrage

The road to Suffrage
– officially began 1848 in Seneca Falls, NY, though A. Adams asked her husband to “remember the women” in 1776
– National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA)
– Prior to NAWSA many rights had been won (buying & selling & willing property)
– Struggle against social roles – women at home
– Myra Bradwell denied a state license (IL) to practice law, Supreme Court upheld: “wide difference in the respective spheres and destinies of man and woman”
– Women became involved in volunteer organizations: lobbying officials, publicizing their cause, social work, picketing, unions, & getting arrested
– Anti-suffragists: women were powerful enough without the vote, right to vote would blur distinctions between men & women – make women masculine
– Liquor lobbyists opposed suffrage, worried that women would establish prohibition
– Two strategies:
– 1- state by state, individual states grant voting rights (effective in the West)
– 2- amendment to the constitution  1868 amendment proposed (Susan B. Anthony)
– 1887 – 16 for / 24 against / 26 absent
– brought before congress every year thru 1896, disappeared until 1913
– revitalized by a more accepting population in the early 20th century
– Carrie Chapman Catt & Alice Paul (part of the English suffrage movement)
– Re-organized the NAWSA – worked precinct by precinct – parades
– Wilson’s pre-inauguration – no one there to greet him
– Paul forms Congressional Union to by-pass NAWSA (she was expelled)
– CU more aggressive (burned Wilson’s speeches, protested in front of the White House, burned a life sized dummy of Wilson, hunger strikes, prison)
– NAWSA condemned them
– 1917, NAWSA had 2 million members (NY accepts suffrage – 172 electoral votes)
– WW1 helps to change public opinion as women take jobs left by men
– Prohibition occurs, liquor lobby drops opposition to suffrage
– 1918, amendment formally proposed again
– political forces of states already accepting suffrage & embarrassed by treatment of Paul’s CU women in jail
– Finally, ratified in 1920 – Tennessee
– Passed state legislature by one vote (an anti changed his mind at the last minute, following a letter from his widowed mother)