Votes for Women: The Struggle for Suffrage Revisited

By Jean H. Baker | Go to book overview

“[do] not determine the question of whether they shall vote anywhere else.” 41

In the 1870s, the twin premises of the New Departure—that suffrage was a right of citizenship and that this right was national in character— were rejected by legislators and jurists alike. In the 1880s, however, the task of bringing new states into the Union renewed legislative attention to the political status of Indians, Mormons, and enfranchised women within the territories, making voting rights a subject of national concern and debate. The legacy of expansionist politics on the woman suffrage movement was, however, mixed. While territorial expansion reopened the possibility of legislating voting rights at the national level for the first time since Minor, it also brought the woman question to a premature life and death in the Senate. Embroiled within the ongoing tensions of American federalism, suffrage politics in the 1880s points our attention toward some of the contradictions within a political consensus that treated the character of the electorate as an issue of national concern— increasingly policed through immigration and naturalization law into the twentieth century—but left control over voting rights in the hands of the states.


NOTES
1
See Chapter 5, Rebecca Edwards, “Pioneers at the Polls: Woman Suffrage in the West,” in this volume.
2
Susan B. Anthony to George Frisbee Hoar, 21 Feb. 1882, George Frisbee Hoar Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
3
Congressional Record, 51st Cong., 1st sess., (26 Mar. 1890), p. 2671.
4
The United States government held allotted lands in trust for a period of twenty-five years. Although the law stated that “Indians to whom allotments have been made shall have the benefit of, and be subject to the laws, both civil and criminal, of the State or Territory in which they may reside,” the twenty-five year patent kept Indian allotees in a condition of wardship. 8 Feb. 1887, Statutes at Large of the United States, 49th Cong., 2nd sess., chap. 119, sec. 6.
5
3 Mar. 1887, Statutes at Large of the United States, 49th Cong., 2nd sess., chap. 397, sec. 20.
6
Sarah Barringer Gordon, “‘The Liberty of Self-Degradation’: Polygamy, Woman Suffrage and Consent in Nineteenth-Century America,” Journal of American History 83 (Dec. 1996): 815–847.
7
United States v. Anthony, 24 F. 829 (U.S.C.C.N.D.N.Y., 1873).

-87-

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