The Anti-Suffrage Campaign
It may be difficult for Americans in the twenty-first century to comprehend how a sizable group of women could spend a half century in organized opposition to the right of women to vote. The notion of refusing to embrace political equality is the antithesis of history's direction since the American and French Revolutions. Yet the saga of America's female antisuffragists reveals not only the subtleties of our political tradition but also the evolution of women's place in U.S. society.
The women who opposed woman suffrage did so for decades. Both the individuals involved and the reasons for their opposition changed over time. Antisuffragists saw the female franchise as a threat to the United States and to themselves as women. Thus, they banded together to publish and lobby and debate in a protracted struggle to stop female enfranchisement. Antisuffragists established state organizations and, eventually, a National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage. Some of the local affiliates were dynamic and well developed, while others were organizations in name only. In the end, when the Nineteenth Amendment became the law of the land in 1920, some antis adjusted with remarkable ease. Others found the new political world of the twentieth century more than they could accept and continued a belated fight to turn back the clock.
Throughout their half-century of activism, antisuffragists remained consistent in their perceptions of what could be tolerated as appropriate political behavior for women, but they changed over time in their ac-