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We March On Celebrating 100 years of Women's Suffrage

part 3: THE STRUGGLE

The campaign for women's suffrage directly challenged those who firmly believed in traditional gender roles and the place of women as wives and mothers.

In 1911, many state and local anti-suffrage organizations joined together as the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage (NAOWS), initially led by Josephine Jewell Dodge.

Women and men joined the anti-suffrage movement for a variety of reasons. Some feared that women's votes would destroy the traditional family unit and therefore governmental structure as a whole. Others argued that equality would mean the end of laws designed to protect women, such as gender-specific labor statutes. Many of the "antis" also believed that the enfranchisement of women would lead to the disruption of society and trigger more progressive social reforms, such as the elimination of Jim Crow laws.

The fears of the "antis" were often depicted in newspapers, cartoons, and pamphlets, including, for example, claims that women lacked the intellectual capacity to understand civics or offer useful political opinions.

Other propagandizing took the view that women's votes would cause unnecessary expense without any reward, since wives would simply repeat the votes of their husbands. Groups like the NAOWS tried to specifically appeal to women by combining helpful household hints with anti-suffrage messaging.

Anti-Suffrage Pamphlet, c. 1911
Anti-Suffrage Pamphlet, c. 1911
We are here, not because we are law-breakers; we are here in our effort to become law-makers.

Emmeline Pankhurst

★☆★☆★☆★☆★☆★☆

You cannot be neutral. You must either join with us who believe in the bright future or be destroyed by those who would return us to the dark past.

Daisy Elizabeth Adams Lampkin

★☆★☆★☆★☆★☆★☆

In late 1916, the now-combined National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), under the leadership of Carrie Chapman Catt, unveiled a new plan designed to coordinate work in the states with more aggressive lobbying for a federal Constitutional amendment in Washington, D.C.

Led by Paul and Burns, however, the NWP began to picket the White House, a controversial and dangerous practice, given that at the time criticism of the government was considered treason. As the first political activists to picket the White House, suffragists were frequently arrested, imprisoned, and subjected to brutal treatment. Nonetheless, nearly 2,000 women traveled from 30 states to take shifts on the picket line.