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

By Martha M. Solomon | Go to book overview

howsomever, for it sint, an' never kin be, wimmins spear to rite for the papers, an' they allus make a mess on't if they try. But I've been thinkin' o' givin' in a few o' my ideas, which I'm sure'll prove a sort o' eye opener to these misguided sistern. I, for one'd just like to go back to the good old days when wimmin knowed their place.41

Juxtaposed against the rhetoric of Allen, Garside, McCormick, and the others, and even against Lathrop's home kindergarten, old Zacharian's ideas were "eye-opening" indeed!


Conclusion

Efforts of Kansas woman's rights advocates to gather support for woman suffrage were partly successful. The state legislature placed a suffrage referendum on the ballot for the 1894 election. In June of that year, the People's party of Kansas drafted a platform plank supporting the amendment. That action sparked a flurry of prosuffrage activity in the Farmer's Wife. But Populist victories in the elections of 1890 and 1892 in Kansas had been accomplished through cooperation or "fusion" between Populists and Democrats, for whom woman suffrage was anathema. When the Populists declared for woman suffrage in 1894, the Democrats walked out of the coalition. As a result, Kansas Republicans swept nearly every race, and the woman suffrage amendment was rejected. With that defeat, the Farmer's Wife ceased publication.

Nevertheless, the Farmer's Wife stands as an interesting and illustrative case study of the effort of farm women to gain equal rights in the nineteenth century. Their efforts to raise a prairie consciousness represented a distinct application of consciousness-raising strategies. Through the articles, essays, speeches, and letters published in the Farmer's Wife, woman herself became proof of the claims she raised. She enacted the role that was her primary aim: personhood. She became an advocate, capable as any man. She argued for woman suffrage and woman's rights. By linking her natural rights as a person and a citizen to the cause of Populism, she produced discourse unique to the woman's rights movement on the prairie. The Farmer's Wife filled a gap left by the mainstream suffrage press. Both argued for suffrage and woman's rights. But the Farmer's Wife adapted those arguments to the particular needs of frontier farm women.

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