The Role of the Suffrage Press in the Woman's Rights Movement
Martha M. Solomon
To be bound by outworn customs and traditions, and to be hampered by every known obstacle which could be put in one's path, and then to have the world calmly look on and tell you it was no use it was the divine will, was growing too absurd to be longer tolerated with dignity or accepted with self-respect. The soul within me refused to beat out its life against barred doors, and I rebelled.
-- Anna Howard Shaw, "Select Your Principle of Life," 1917
When Anna Howard Shaw spoke these words to students at Temple University, she had devoted almost thirty years of her life to working exclusively for woman suffrage, eleven of those ( 1904-15) as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Her rebellion had dated from her thirteenth year, 1860, but the general agitation for woman's rights stretched back much further. What became the organized movement for woman suffrage after the Civil War had its roots in the earlier, broader efforts for woman's rights.
In part, identifying the start of the efforts for woman's rights in general and suffrage in particular is a question of definition. Philosophically, modern concern about women's roles and status reached back at least to Mary Wollstonecraft controversial book "Vindication of the Rights of Woman", first published in 1792. Jane Rendall, admitting that the relationship is complex and confused, sees Enlightenment thought as one impetus toward a reconsideration of women's roles.1 Personally, both Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Coffin Mott, two key figures in the early stages of the American woman's movement, traced their dedication to the World Anti-Slavery Con