RACE, REFORM, AND REACTION AT
THE TURN OF THE CENTURY
Southern Suffragists, the NAWSA, and
the “Southern Strategy” in Context
Marjorie Julian Spruill
As the end of the nineteenth century approached, American women were still struggling to gain their full rights as citizens—including the franchise. They sought this reform even as a wave of reaction swept the nation on the issue of who should vote—a wave of reaction particularly obvious in the American South. As a result, many white suffragists adopted arguments calculated to promote woman suffrage as consistent with, rather than opposed to, white supremacy. 1
The accommodation of white suffragists to the racist politics of the turn-of-the-century South is one of the best-known and most frequently debated aspects of the southern suffrage movement. Historian Aileen Kraditor set the stage for this debate in 1965 when she wrote that the “principal argument” of the southern suffrage movement was that “the enfranchisement of women would insure the permanency of white supremacy in the South” and portrayed the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) as reluctantly permitting the use of racist tactics in the suffrage movement as a concession to the racism of southern white women. Anne Firor Scott and many other scholars have challenged Kraditor on the centrality of race as a motive or tactic among white southern suffragists, insisting that these women—like suffragists in all parts of the nation—wanted the vote to advance the status of women and
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Votes for Women:The Struggle for Suffrage Revisited. Contributors: Jean H. Baker - Editor. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 2002. Page number: 102.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.