The Postwar Decades: Suffrage and Politics
In the postwar period, increasing numbers of American women hoped to play a greater role in the political realm. Although the majority of both sexes probably still felt that women did not belong in politics, prewar and wartime experiences had politicized many more members of the female sex than in past generations, and surely a considerable percentage wished to maintain their political connections or even enhance them. Reformers of all kinds wanted to use their established ties to help carry out further reforms. Others caught up in the ongoing conflict between Republicans and Democrats had no desire to sever their links as the party struggle continued. However, some women's rights advocates became ambivalent toward the major parties not too long afterward when neither of them, despite some encouraging words on the subject, proved willing to take any tangible steps to promote female suffrage.
Clearly one sign of women's desire to be included in the political process in the early postwar years was the growing demand for equal suffrage. Women reformers who had contributed to the war effort in various ways truly believed that the men in power should reward the female half of the population for their service. As the now dominant Republican party had come to see the justice and necessity of granting recently freed black men full citizenship status, many of these women concluded that the party ought to do the same for them. While some