This is not a real discussion of women suffrage that said, the material available on the work done on the lack of women’s rights and government prejudice prior to 1920 is all over the internet. It does warrant more reading by me, so please tell me what you have found. After the 19th amendment, it became a matter of law but before that, it was a matter of social pressure and just ugly discrimination. This is the period that interests me.
The idea that Susan B. Anthony had died in 1906 a long time before the rights of women were codified into constitutional law is a testament to the far thinking of this remarkable woman. I like her. In a private letter, Susan wrote in part that,
“I wish all the women who would better the world by their living could see how powerless they are to change a condition – moral, social, educational or industrial, any more than political – while women as a class are not a factor in the government of City, State or Nation…I am glad of every disaster coming under our half free and half slave republic, which opens the eyes of the people – especially the women – to see that ‘universal suffrage is the first proof and only basis of a genuine republic.’ When our best men and women come to feel the truth of this assertion of Charles Sumnor, they will, for the time being, hold all other aims and ends in abeyance, while they work together as one mighty power to secure through constitutional guarantees, both State and National, the right of a voice in the government to the half of the people hitherto disenfranchised. While I so feel the utter futility of all efforts by a subject class, I cannot get up interest to work for any other reform. I can only work to get to DO. I rejoice in every movement of women to better the conditions of society, not because I think they can do the thing they start to do, but because by trial and failure they will learn their need of the weapon which in hand makes or unmakes those conditions. So work on in all ways, I say to women, and when you see your need of the ballot, go up higher and join the grand army of women who are making the demand for power to be and do for demand for power to be and do for themselves. In political equality is the key to equality in all other spheres of action .
It would have been nice if more things had changed in 119 years; I transcribed a short article from the Daily Independent September 26, 1889
“Senator Brown says that the ballot could not affect woman’s wages, because these are governed solely by supply and demand. But supply and demand are largely influenced by prejudice. Owing to prejudice, there is no demand for women’s services in many trades and professions, which they could otherwise follow with ease. This crowds the professions that remain. Owing to prejudice, the best-paid places in many professions which women do follow are reserved for men, although women could fill them equally as well. Government sets its official seal on this prejudice by paying women in government clerkships one-third of what is paid to men for the same work, and by making a marked discrimination in the wages of the men and women who teach in the public schools.”