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Women and Nineteenth-Century Reform

The problem for Dix and other women reformers of the nineteenth century was how to engage in social causes without losing their femininity. Opponents of women’s suffrage argued that political engagement would make women “mannish” and thereby undermine the social order. Even Catharine Beecher argued that women should not receive the right to vote because it would destroy their feminine virtues. Instead, Beecher believed that women could best exert their moral influence through their roles in the Christian home and neighborhood.

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5,000 Women March for Equality: 1913

In a woman’s suffrage demonstration to-day the capital saw the greatest parade of women in its history. In the allegory presented on the Treasury steps it saw a wonderful series of dramatic pictures. In the parade over 5,000 women passed down Pennsylvania Avenue. Some were riding, more were afoot. Floats throughout the procession illustrated the progress the woman’s suffrage cause had made in the last seventy-five years. Scattered throughout the parade were the standards of nearly every State in the Union. It was an astonishing demonstration.

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Rose Schneiderman: N.Y. Senators vs. Working Women

Rose Schneiderman, an organizer for the New York Women’s Trade Union League, worked to bring together middle and working-class women in support of women’s right to vote. She makes a good case here against male politicians’ opposition to woman suffrage and she supports working women’s efforts to reduce the hours of labor and secure protective legislation.

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Brown, Mary E. (1865 — 1948)

In January, 1919, Mary E. Brown was one of the suffragists who picketed the White House during President Woodrow Wilson’s Administration. She was arrested for her efforts advocating for the 19th Amendment designed to allow women the right to vote. Mrs. Brown was subsequently sentenced and spent five days in the District of Columbia’s jail.

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How To Interest Women In Voting

“…Of course, no one woman has the right to say what the mass of women want to accomplish with their vote, but I can at least say what I hope the Democratic women wish to achieve.

First: Honest, clean administration in party organizations, coupled with a real desire to have the people understand fundamental issues. The trouble is the means for knowing the truth are very few, and I consider that it is one of the real duties of political parties to state clearly and plainly their belief and the things for which they stand….”

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Women Must Learn to Play the Game as Men Do

“…To many women who fought so long and so valiantly for suffrage, what has happened has been most discouraging. For one reason or another, most of the leaders who carried the early fight to success have dropped out of politics. This has been in many ways unfortunate. Among them were women with gifts of real leadership. They were exceptional and high types of women, idealists concerned in carrying a cause to victory, with no idea of personal advancement or gain. In fact, attaining the vote was only part of a program for equal rights–an external gesture toward economic independence, and social and spiritual equality with men…”.

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What Ten Million Women Want

“…My fourth point is the woman’s desire to see government lighten her burdens. The first of these burdens is the taxes. On the whole when women see that taxes which they pay bring direct returns in benefits to the community, I do not think that they are averse to paying them, but I do think that our ten million women want much more careful accounting for how their taxes are expended in the local, state or national government. They want to see the actual good which comes to them from these expenditures.

They feel very strongly that governments should not add to their burdens but should lighten them. They are gradually coming to grasp the relation of legislation to the lightening of these burdens, for instance, in such questions as the regulation of public utilities and the development of the water power of our nation. They realize now that cheaper electricity means less work in the home, more time to give to their children, more time for recreation and greater educational opportunities….

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The 19th Amendment

The 19th amendment guarantees all American women the right to vote. Achieving this milestone required a lengthy and difficult struggle; victory took decades of agitation and protest.

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