Votes for Women: The Struggle for Suffrage Revisited

By Jean H. Baker | Go to book overview

3
NEW YORK STRATEGY
The New York Woman's Movement and
the Civil War
Faye Dudden

The traditional story of woman suffrage has been shaped by the assumption that women had to win the vote before they could hope to exercise political power or influence. In this account, the Civil War figured as a mere hiatus in women's activism or at best a prelude to the flurry of suffrage agitation that marked the Reconstruction era. During the war, it was argued, women's rights activists, who had hitherto shunned formal organization, learned its value through an organization called the Women's Loyal National League (WLNL) through which they mounted a massive petition campaign for the final abolition of slavery in the Thirteenth Amendment. At the end of the war, emancipation accomplished, these abolitionist women sought recompense for their patriotic labors in the form of woman suffrage. But the women were, in Eleanor Flexner's words, “so inexperienced in politics” that they failed to realize that in the 1860s woman suffrage was “far ahead of practical political possibilities.” 1

The New York woman's movement during the Civil War provides a case study that challenges this traditional account: it reveals that prominent women's rights activists in fact entered politics before suffrage. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony and their coworkers in New York State were anything but naïve about politics, and the war years were not really a hiatus. Their political activities before and during the war, which were organized around what I will term a “New York strategy,” gave them an advanced education in legislative maneuver and partisan politics. They

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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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