Amer­i­can Suf­frag­ists and the Bat­tle for the Bal­lot

Foreword Reviews - - Foresight Women’s Voices -

Winifred Con­kling, Al­go­nquin (FE­BRU­ARY), Hard­cover $18.95 (240pp), 978-1-61620-734-2

Winifred Con­kling’s Votes for Women! de­tails the ar­du­ous strug­gle for women’s suf­frage in Amer­ica with com­pelling bi­o­graph­i­cal pro­files of some of the move­ment’s key fig­ures.

Be­gin­ning with the ear­lier part of the suf­frage move­ment, Votes for Women! com­bines strong his­tor­i­cal re­search and spir­ited nar­ra­tive, spot­light­ing the lives of El­iz­a­beth Cady Stan­ton and Su­san B. An­thony, two re­mark­able women who for­tu­itously crossed paths and be­gan a decades-long friend­ship and a cru­sade for fe­male equal­ity.

Though they had their dif­fer­ences in life­style, opinion, and gen­eral tem­per­a­ment, Stan­ton and An­thony worked tire­lessly to­ward the shared goal of women’s suf­frage. Sadly, nei­ther would live long enough to legally cast her own vote, but as Stan­ton sug­gested, their seeds of “win­ter wheat” would be reaped by gen­er­a­tions to come.

Mov­ing into the early twen­ti­eth cen­tury, Votes for Women! fol­lows the wave of en­thu­si­asm that brought re­newed en­ergy to the move­ment. Alice Paul, from a New Jersey Quaker fam­ily, trans­formed the lessons of her so­cially con­scious up­bring­ing into ac­tion, ral­ly­ing sup­port­ers to march on Wash­ing­ton and de­mand ac­tion from Woodrow Wil­son. Mem­bers of this later, more di­verse suf­fragette group were ar­rested, force-fed in prison, sent to dis­mal work­houses, or cursed at and as­saulted by drunken men de­mand­ing to know who was “mind­ing the ba­bies.”

Other aspects of the suf­frage quest, such as the con­tri­bu­tions of African Amer­i­can so­cial jus­tice ac­tivists So­journer Truth and Ida B. Wells, and the ten­u­ous bal­anc­ing of civil rights with women’s rights, are also well de­tailed. Through letters, jour­nals, bi­ogra­phies, pho­to­graphs, and news­pa­per ac­counts, the ef­forts of the known and un­known women who took up the cause of suf­frage are vividly sto­ried, con­clud­ing how Seneca Falls’s crop of “win­ter wheat” con­tin­ues to grow and bring in its col­lec­tive har­vest.

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