Women, Suffrage, and Society Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

Women’s push for a voice in politics through the vote, or suffrage, surged ahead during the period covered in this volume, although it was not until passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920 that women finally achieved their goal. In this section we include a number of documents related to women’s suffrage. One is an early (1874) petition to Congress by Susan B. Anthony, in the wake of her having been arrested for attempting to vote. Another document, from 1915, presents a well-considered argument by Anna H. Shaw on the democratic necessity of allowing women to vote. A third one (1891), by the Christian temperance activist Frances Willard, speaks more broadly about the role of women in society and the injustice of treating them as second-class citizens. We hear, too, from a group of anti-suffrage women activists at the dawn of World War I about the need to cease discussing the vote altogether in order, they say, to focus society’s attention on the war.

Women’s push for a voice in politics through the vote, or suffrage, surged ahead during the period covered in this volume, although it was not until passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920 that women finally achieved their goal. In this section we include a number of documents related to women’s suffrage. One is an early (1874) petition to Congress by Susan B. Anthony, in the wake of her having been arrested for attempting to vote. Another document, from 1915, presents a well-considered argument by Anna H. Shaw on the democratic necessity of allowing women to vote. A third one (1891), by the Christian temperance activist Frances Willard, speaks more broadly about the role of women in society and the injustice of treating them as second-class citizens. We hear, too, from a group of anti-suffrage women activists at the dawn of World War I about the need to cease discussing the vote altogether in order, they say, to focus society’s attention on the war.

Filling out this section are two additional documents of interest: 1) a statement by Theodore Roosevelt on the value of motherhood in society, and the need to keep matters between men and women on an equitable basis; and 2) an excerpt from a book of etiquette for young people, wherein correct behavior and proper relations between men and women in high society are described.

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