Path Breaking: An Autobiographical History of the Equal Suffrage Movement in Pacific Coast States

Path Breaking: An Autobiographical History of the Equal Suffrage Movement in Pacific Coast States

Path Breaking: An Autobiographical History of the Equal Suffrage Movement in Pacific Coast States

Path Breaking: An Autobiographical History of the Equal Suffrage Movement in Pacific Coast States

Excerpt

This account of Abigail Scott Duniway's leadership of the woman suffrage movement in the Pacific Northwest was first published more than half a century ago. It is being reissued at a time when still another group of Americans is being enfranchised, those between eighteen and twenty-one years of age. Although this step has been under discussion for several years, it seems to have come about almost by itself, naturally and gradually, out of the changing roles in our society, the earlier maturing of youth, its search for new responsibilities, its participation in the bloodiest external war in our history.

The enfranchisement of this latest group has little in common with earlier such advances. Black Americans supposedly received the vote after the war that was also supposed to "free" them; yet they had to wait for an entire century before a beginning was made at implementing the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution in the southern states.

Most Americans are not even aware of when American women were given the vote and the circumstances that led to their enfranchisement. We are so used to women sitting at the Board of Elections tables in our polling places, to women's names (however few) on the ballot, to women serving (even if infrequently) in community, state, and national bodies, that the idea of their not having the vote simply does not occur to us. Nor will it occur to most eighteen-, nineteen-, and twenty-year-old women, as they line up outside the polling place to vote in their first election, that, had it not been for long effort and many sacrifices, only the young men would be waiting there to cast their ballots.

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