Votes for Women: The Struggle for Suffrage Revisited

By Jean H. Baker | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION
Jean H. Baker

In the years before the Civil War, American women began a campaign for the vote that lasted nearly seventy-five years. Their battle finally ended in 1920 when the Nineteenth Amendment prohibiting the denial of the right to vote “on account of sex” was adopted. Initially, suffrage was one of several reforms intended to end the significant legal, political, religious, and cultural discriminations against nineteenth-century women. In the 1840s and 1850s, activists targeted injustices ranging from child custody laws that favored fathers to prohibitions against women speaking in public, the denial of equal education, and the existence of a double sex standard. In language and vocabulary familiar to a generation whose parents had lived during the American Revolution and who remembered the Declaration of Independence, women at the 1848 Seneca Falls convention resolved, among other injustices, that “all laws which … place her in a position inferior to that of man are contrary to the great precept of nature and therefore of no force or authority.”

A necessary transaction in any democracy between the people and those to whom they delegate authority, suffrage emerged in the 1860s as both a powerful symbol of equality with men as well as an instrument of reform. Voting became the essential political utility by which women could achieve other improvements in their status. If women could vote, went the argument of this first generation of suffragists, they would end barriers at the state level that prevented married women from controlling their wages and attending state universities. If women could vote, given their acknowledged position as moral guardians of their homes, they would

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Votes for Women: The Struggle for Suffrage Revisited
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Contents ix
  • Contributors xi
  • Votes for Women *
  • Introduction 3
  • Notes 20
  • 1 - The Case for Reform Antecedents for the Woman's Rights Movement 21
  • Notes 40
  • 2 - Sojourner Truth, Frances Watkins Harper, and the Struggle for Woman Suffrage 42
  • Notes *
  • 3 - The New York Woman's Movement and the Civil War 56
  • Notes 72
  • 4 - American Expansion and the Politics of Federalism, 1870–1890 77
  • Notes 87
  • 5 - Woman Suffrage in the West 90
  • Note 101
  • 6 - Southern Suffragists, the Nawsa, and the “Southern Strategy” in Context 102
  • Notes 114
  • 7 - The Anti-Suffrage Campaign 118
  • Notes 129
  • 8 - The Winning Plan 130
  • 9 - America and the Pankhursts 143
  • Notes 156
  • 10 - Harriot Stanton Blatch and Grassroots Politics 159
  • Note 173
  • 11 - Alice Paul and the Politics of Nonviolent Protest 174
  • Notes 186
  • Epilogue 189
  • Notes 194
  • Bibliography 197
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