A Voice of Their Own: The Woman Suffrage Press, 1840-1910

By Martha M. Solomon | Go to book overview

The Column assured the reader that she was not alone in her struggle for justice and that help was available. The newspaper contributed to a sense of community for the suffragist, and it assured her that the community was substantial and growing. Readers of the Woman's Column could conclude from reports of suffrage clubs and campaign progress that a great number of people actively supported suffrage. In addition, the inclusion of powerful legitimators (politicians and clergymen) as members of the suffrage community provided the reader with a perception that important and influential agents were joining the movement, increasing the force she perceived surrounded her.

The Column furnished ample evidence of a growing suffrage movement, noting increasing support of one of America's most well- established institutions, the press. The Column frequently reported endorsements from daily newspapers: the Aiken Journal and Review praised woman suffrage efforts in South Carolina; the Waltham, Massachusetts, Evening News "pronounced the anti-suffrage movement 'a mistake and a stumbling block in the march of ages'"; the Australian Herald called for woman's suffrage in Victoria; and the New York Daily Press satirized antisuffrage arguments ( 6 January 1894; 4 September 1897; 3 September 1904). The Column indicated that during the campaign for woman suffrage in 1896 in California "not one prominent newspaper in the entire State has taken a stand in opposition to woman suffrage. . . . The city dailies have reported the meetings with the greatest fairness and have allotted ample space [to the issues]" ( 23 May 1896).

The acceptance of suffrage by major newspapers assured suffragists that the movement had gained impressive strengths and resources, allowing it to reach a broader audience than lectures, pamphlets, and petitions could attain.52 The reader perceived that the suffrage network was enlarged tremendously by the addition of the mainstream press as a vehicle for suffrage news. The endorsements also attracted potential converts, proving that although "woman suffrage was not yet generally accepted . . . it was no longer considered the province of eccentrics and crack pots."53


Conclusion

The Column was a part of a force leading the women's movement toward pragmatic goals. It addressed middle-class readers and continued the recruitment of conservative and liberal women began by Lucy Stone and the AWSA during the 1870s. To this end, the news-

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