Inside the Archives

Inside the Archives – Autumn 2018 – Volume VII Number 3

Autumn 2018
Volume VII. Number 3.

Your New Issue of the Accessible Archives Newsletter Continues Our Blogathon!

The impact of Women’s political and social activities throughout American history has been the focus of increasing scholarly attention for many years. Accessible Archives recognizes this and helps to stimulate interest and research in our primary source databases by maintaining an extremely active blog presence. In the Fall newsletter, we are continuing our Blogathon and have pulled together a selection of seven postings highlighting 19th and early 20th Century Women’s Rights and Suffrage events and thinking. We have asked our guest writer Jill O’Neil to wrap a narrative around them. We’re sure you will find her coverage both insightful and informative.

Contemporary Coverage of Women’s Historical Events and Thinking

By Jill O’Neill

Jill O’Neill

Jill O’Neill is the Educational Programs Manager for the National Information Standards Organization

Incremental shifts in attitudes held regarding a political movement or social cause can frequently only be seen in retrospect. The variety of Accessible Archives collections of primary source materials allows users an excellent means of observing attitudes that may have existed at a specific point of time, but which are subsequently modified. The same set of publications may allow users to note differences in those attitudes on a regional basis or other point of differentiation.

As an example, in this issue of the Accessible Archives newsletter we reference published items from 1870 through 1919 that show efforts to legalize votes for women in the United States. In a piece dated 1911, the Western Woman Voter notes the following with some pride:

“In five states of the Union, Washington, Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming and Utah, women vote for President, Vice-President, Congressmen and all state, county and city officials.”

Users may well be surprised at that listing of five states ahead in granting the right to vote.

The datelines provided before each item below indicate the publication in which the piece was published. We also indicate the collection from which each item was drawn.

Dateline: January 1870, The Revolution – Suffrage: The Women in Washington

Hannibal Hamlin

We have met this morning for the purpose of considering two petitions which have been presented, I believe, only to the Senate Committee of the District of Columbia. The first one is a petition, very numerously signed, I think, by both ladies and gentlemen of this city; and, in a few brief words, it adds that: “The undersigned, residents of the District of Columbia, earnestly, but respectfully request that you extend the Right of Suffrage to the women of the District of Columbia.” The other memorial, very nearly as brief, is in these words: “The undersigned citizens of the United States pray your honorable body that in the proposed amendments to the Constitution which may come before you in regard to Suffrage, and in any law affecting Suffrage, in the District of Columbia or in any Territory, the right of voting may be given to the women on the same terms as to the men.

Some of the testimony was reported in The Revolution on January 27, 1870.

Mrs. HOOKER: The fifth commandment, “Honor thy father and thy mother,” could not be obeyed while boys are taught by our laws and constitutions to hold all women in contempt. She felt it was not only woman’s right but duty to assume responsibility in the government. She thought the importance of the subject demanded its hearing.

Madam ANNEKE: You have lifted up the slave on this continent; listen now to women’s cry for freedom.

Mrs. GAGE: Liberty is an instinct of the human heart, and men desirous of creating change in governments or religion have led other men by promising them greater liberty, more freedom, and better laws. Nothing is too good or too great for humanity—nothing is too sacred for humanity—and, as part of humanity, woman, as well as man, demands the best that governments have to offer. Woman demands the ballot equally with man. Honorable gentlemen have spoken of petitions. For twenty years we have petitioned, and I now hold in my hand over three thousand names of citizens from but a small portion of the state of New York asking that justice shall be done women by granting them suffrage. But people have become tired of begging for rights, and many persons favoring this cause will not again petition. We but ask justice, and we say to you that the stability of any government depends upon its doing justice to the most humble individual in it.

Mrs. DAVIS: We are tired of petitioning. It is time our legislators knew what was right and gave us justice.

Dateline: April 1880, National Citizen and Ballot Box – Never Heard of Susan B. Anthony

Never Heard of Susan B. Anthony (1880)

However startling, incredible and surprising it may appear, it is yet an actual fact that there is a so-called intelligent woman in this town who has never heard of Susan B. Anthony. A woman, too, who lives in luxury, wears satin de Lyon and sealskin and diamonds, a woman who can command leisure enough to read all the papers and no end of books, and yet she said she had never heard of Susan B., and confessed it, too, with all the nonchalance and coolness in the world. Good heavens I Maria, said her friend, do you never read the papers? Oh, yes, she answered, but I never read anything but the marriages and deaths and the “wants.” It is a great waste of time, you know, to read newspapers. Think of it! A woman so given over to tucking, ruffling, embroidering, tatting, pillow-shamming and crewel work, that she cannot read the papers. Think of a woman so given over to dressing, visiting, shopping, tea-partying and “sick,” that she knows nothing of the everyday history of the world she lives in, except as regards the marriages, deaths and

“wants” of our own dirty little corner of the earth. Think of a woman content to live along without knowledge, without reading, without a desire to know. Think of a woman who in these days of woman’s rights, has never heard of Susan B. Anthony. Surely, she must be one of those dear, delightful ignoramuses—the angelical ideal of many men—who is shut up in that awfully hallowed spot which they call a “woman’s sphere,” and without a thought beyond. What a sweet, delightful, interesting, entertaining companion such a woman must be.

Dateline: March 1884, History of Woman Suffrage, Volume III – Letter from Henry Bowen Anthony on Women’s Suffrage

United States Senate Chamber,
Washington, March 4, 1884.

Henry Bowen Anthony

Henry Bowen Anthony

My Dear Cousin:

I am honored by your invitation to address the National Woman Suffrage Association at the convention to be held in this city. I regret that it is not in my power to comply with your complimentary request.

The enfranchisement of woman is one of those great reforms which will come with the progress of civilization, and when it comes those who witness it will wonder that it has been so long delayed.

The main argument against it is that the women themselves do not desire it. Many men do not desire it, as is evidenced by their omission to exercise it, but they are not therefore deprived of it. I do not understand that you propose compulsory suffrage, although I am not sure that that would not be for the public advantage as applied to both sexes.

A woman has a right to vote in a corporation of which she is a stockholder, and that she does not generally exercise that right is not an argument against the right itself. The progress that is making in the direction of your efforts is satisfactory and encouraging.

Faithfully yours,

H. B. Anthony.

Note with letter: Senator Anthony was one of the ever-to-be-remembered nine senators who voted for woman suffrage on the floor of the United States Senate in 1866. He also made a most logical speech on our behalf and has ever since been true to our demands.

From History of Woman Suffrage, Volume III, Edited by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Matilda Joslyn Gage.

The full text of this book, History of Woman Suffrage, is open access from Accessible Archives for all of their customers. This extensive record of the woman suffrage movement in the 19th century provides a better understanding of the news found in the Women’s Suffrage Collection.

Dateline: April 21, 1887, The Christian Recorder – Shall Our Women Vote?

Shall our Women Vote?

Shall our Women Vote?

There are many spheres in life to which women have been admitted in which she was expected to make a successful failure, but instead she has been a success. In school as a student or as a teacher; in the pulpit, at the bar, or issuing medicine to the sick and dying — in any of the above women has won laurels for herself and so far, she has not failed to wield that sweet and refining influence over men. Yet it is thought that this influence would immediately be sacrificed should she go to the polls and cast her vote…

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible ArchivesAfrican American Newspapers Collections. This collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.

Dateline: January 1894, The Remonstrance – Suffrage Not A Natural Right

Suffrage Not A Natural Right

Suffrage Not A Natural Right

It is further urged that discriminating against women at the polls is an implication of inferiority and an indignity to her sex. Not so is it generally regarded by women. The average woman deems her duties respectable, and about as onerous as she cares to assume, and feels no need of the honor the ballot would confer. Thirty years of faithful missionary labor have failed to make her realize that she is suffering for want of it.

Woman, it is further claimed, is a citizen having natural right to the ballot, and as all just government rests on the consent of the governed, it is unjust to deprive her of all share in choice of rulers and to exact obedience to laws in making which she has no part. This is absurd and atheistic. The right to govern does not rest upon the consent of the governed. The divine authority, to which all rightful human authority is subordinate, rests on no such basis. God never asked permission to reign.

The right of the parent to govern does not rest on the consent of his children. Right to punish the criminal does not rest on his consent to be punished. Governments were ordained to govern, not to be governed. The right or duty to govern rests on the same foundation on which every other obligation rests—the claims of the highest good, the supreme law of the moral world. It is his duty and right to govern who can do it best. He is the right ruler whose services, in that capacity, the highest interest of all demands.

—The Rev. John M. Williams,
in Bibliotheca Sacra.

Dateline: September 1911, Western Woman Voter – Twenty Facts About Woman Suffrage

Twenty Facts About Woman Suffrage

Twenty Facts About Woman Suffrage

Fact No. 1: Half a million women in the United States have full political rights

Fact No. 2: In five states of the Union, Washington, Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming and Utah, women vote for President, Vice-President, Congressmen and all state, county and city officials.

Fact No. 5: Women are only 42 percent of the population of Colorado, but they cast 45 per cent of the vote.

Fact No. 9: In Wyoming, 90 per cent of the women vote.

Fact No 11: In Idaho women cast 40 per cent of the vote though they are in the minority.

Dateline: October 1919, Frank Leslie’s Weekly – An Amazing Line Up of Women Voters

Whether or not the Federal Suffrage Amendment is ratified by a sufficient number of the States in time to permit the women of every State to vote in the next Presidential campaign, there will be 15,492,751 women eligible to vote in 1920. Leaders of women in this country are endeavoring to increase the number to 29,000,000, by securing the ratification of the Federal Amendment by thirty-six States within the next few months.

An Amazing Line Up of Women Voters

An Amazing Line Up of Women Voters

Sixteen States have ratified the amendment since its passage by the Sixty-sixth Congress last June, within two weeks after the Republicans returned to power when eighty-six percent. of the G. O. P. members of the Senate voted “for” the resolution, and forty-six percent of the Democrats voted “against.”

Ratification within a month of passage was affected by Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Texas, States in which the legislatures were in session last June, the month which marked the passage of the Federal Amendment by Congress after nearly seventy years of struggle. Of these, all but Texas and Ohio had Republican Governors.

Of the ten States which called special sessions to ratify—New York, Kansas, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, Arkansas, Montana, Minnesota, and New Hampshire—four had Democratic Governors and six Republican executives.

In Alabama, the Senate defeated ratification twice but the Republican element (which is also the minority) came out with an open letter putting itself on record as being for the amendment.

In the sixteen States having ratification records, four of the legislatures are Democratic and twelve are Republican.

On August 22, the Conference of Republican Governors in Salt Lake City passed a resolution in favor of special sessions to ratify the Federal Suffrage Amendment. It was a woman, Mrs. John Glover South, of Frankfort, Ky. (daughter of the only Republican Governor Kentucky ever had), who went west and appealed to the Western Governors to take this action.

The interest of the politicians in the woman vote is plain when it is remembered that the fifteen and one-half millions of women of voting eligibility in this country live in States which will choose 306 of the 531 Presidential electors in the campaign of 1920.

Frank Leslie’s Weekly, published from 1855 to 1922, was an American illustrated news publication started by the publisher and illustrator Frank Leslie.  Accessible Archives provides access to the complete run of Frank Leslie’s Weekly.

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