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Prologued Podcast celebrating the 19th Amendment Centennial

Welcome to Prologued!

Prologued is a serial podcast from Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective. With amazing stories and remarkable guests, Prologued offers in-depth discussions of the historical roots of the world today—a past that has often been lost, ignored, or misconstrued. Each season we reconstruct the history of a major issue that confronts society now: to explain how we got here and to reveal a path forward. Join us for insight and entertainment about the past, present, and future.

Find new episodes here or subscribe to Prologued on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Soundcloud, or where ever else you get your podcasts.

Season 1 premieres August 11, 2020 and will air on Tuesdays through September.

Connect with us!
Twitter: @ProloguedPod and @OriginsOSU
Instagram: @OriginsOSU
Facebook: @OriginsOSU

Season 1 is hosted by Origins historian Sarah Paxton and analyzes the myth of the women's voting bloc. Now, as we wade through the 2020 election cycle and celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment granting American women the right to vote, it is the perfect time to re-evaluate the political and electoral history of women in the United States beginning all the way back with the American Revolution. Join us as we reveal critical conflicts between women's organizations, triumphs and setbacks, the women who were left behind, and what modern political processes can learn from the past.

Trailer

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Episode 1: The Way We Never Were

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Episode 2: "I Have Many Things to Say"

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Episode 3: Equal Suffrage Awaits Trial

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Episode 4: So...What Now?

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Episode 5: A Slut from East Toledo

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Episode 6: Mom and Apple Pie

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Episode 7: "Earn Your Spurs"

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Episode 8: The New Normal

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Trailer Transcript:

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Sarah Paxton 

“What is past, is prologue.”

These words are carved beneath the duelly named statue, “Present/Future,” that greets both tourists and researchers at the National Archives in Washington D.C. The phrase is meant to remind readers that nothing is new, we are in the middle of the long story of human life and all that came before has created the exact world in which we live.

Current events, however dire or exciting or complicated they may be, have been made by history. They have been introduced. They have been, as that statue reminds us, Prologued.

My name is Sarah Paxton and I am a historian with the magazine Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective, a joint venture between the Ohio State University and Miami University history departments. As historians, we know that the phrase “what is past is prologue” is a vital component of our jobs. We recognize that, in order to understand the world in which we live, we must understand the history—however far it goes back—that led us to this moment.

But often, crucial pieces of that history, that prologue, have been lost or buried, leaving holes in the narrative and incomplete explanations of modern events.

As Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winning author Toni Morrison remind us: "For insight into the complicated and complicating events ... , one needs perspective, not attitudes; context, not anecdotes; analyses, not postures. For any kind of lasting illumination the focus must be on the history routinely ignored or played down or unknown."

And that is why we’re here.

Prologued is a serial podcast from Origins that offers thoughtful and fascinating discussions of the historical roots that have been lost, ignored, or misconstrued—leaving us adrift from the past actions that brought us to today and ill-prepared to solve the problems we now face.

With the help of brilliant and engaging experts, each season we will re-construct the history of a major issue that our society is facing, in an effort to not only explain how we got here, but to reveal a path forward.

Join us as we discover what we can learn from the past and how it has prologued present and future.

Coming up on Season 1 of Prologued.

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Now, as we wade through the 2020 election cycle and celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment granting American women the right to vote, it is the perfect time to re-evaluate the political and electoral history of women in the United States.

Has there ever been such a thing a women’s voting bloc?

Joan Flores-Villalobos 

The Cult of True Womanhood was, of course, an ideology and not a reality. So, though many women did—particularly middle class, white women—did often stay at home, this was not the case for the majority of women. Most women still worked, sometimes they still worked in the home. And it was certainly not the case for working class, Black women, for other women of color, who, for example, the home was the workplace, right, for somebody who was a domestic servant.

Susan Hartmann 

On the left was a women's movement that was encouraging women to be more active, that was making women more aware of the rights that they should have, making them more interested in policy that could get rid of sex discrimination. And on the right, women were stirred up in part in reaction against this feminist movement.

Sarah Paxton

What divides women?

Kimberly Hamlin

Women of color have always from the outset been vital to the women's suffrage movement; but, to tell their stories, historians often have to look in different places than the mainstream white suffrage groups and that's because the mainstream white suffrage groups—either the NWSA, AWSA or the reunited NAWSA—were largely segregated.

Lilia Fernandez

So even after the passage of the 19th amendment and women's suffrage, some of them may have been up against those restrictions as well. And again, it would have been primarily middle-upper-class women or women who were in positions of power who would have benefited the most from the passage of the 19th amendment.

Sarah Paxton

What influences them?

Daniel Rivers 

The Onondaga in 1924 told the US Congress that, not only did they not want citizenship, but the US Congress had no right to confer it on them. So, within this context, we have to think about citizenship and the suffrage for Native men and Native women as of questionable benefit in that moment and certainly as a possible tool of colonial domination.

Lilia Fernandez

So, one of the effects of World War Two on those veterans who are coming home, not only in the African American community but among Chicanos and Latinos as well, was to give people a greater consciousness of their rights and what their citizenship meant to United States. They had gone abroad and fought against fascism and against Hitler, and, you know, in defense of the freedoms that Americans enjoyed. So, women became involved along with men in different kinds of civil rights organizations, I guess we could call them, and also veteran’s rights.

Michelle Swers

Phyllis Schlafly was particularly motivated by the campaign against the E.R.A., the Equal Rights Amendment. And largely it's about—in a lot of the social conservatives of the conservative women's movement—is about threats to the family and the family structure.

Sarah Paxton

Perhaps most importantly, what can we learn from the last century of women’s suffrage to better inform our modern expectations and political process?

Nan Whaley

I think…I think we learn more every election cycle and how it's not a monolith. I think it is important to remember that the women, electorate will vote around safety and security first, and always first.

Lilia Fernandez

So, on the one hand, it's been the activism and engagement of Latinas in the past that have made it possible for someone like AOC to come to power; but, at the same time, she's doing really important work along with a number of other Latina elected officials throughout the country. They also I think are doing a really important job of being role models for young women, for other Latinas, who may never have thought of themselves as being important enough or articulate enough to participate in the debates of our time.

Kimberly Hamlin

If you look at some of the debates and discussions around leadership, the composition of leadership, who has the right to speak for women, you know, to what extent are these movements inclusive? To what extent are they intersectional? I think those are the questions that women's rights leaders are grappling with and trying to get right today, in many ways, because we're painfully aware of how our predecessors got them wrong.

Joan Flores-Villalobos

Listen to women of color. That’s it. (laughter)

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Sarah Paxton
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This season of Prologued was brought to you by Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective, an online publication of the Public History Initiative, The Goldberg Center, and the history departments at the Ohio State University in Columbus; and Miami University in Oxford, Ohio with support from the Stanton Foundation. Out editors are David Steigerwald, Steven Conn, and Nicholas Breyfogle. It was written and hosted by Sarah Paxton with research support from Min A Park. Our audio and technical advisor is Paul Kotheimer and our production specialist is Brandon Maclean and Oranjudio. Song and Band information can be found on our website and we encourage our listeners to visit episode descriptions for citations ot background reading and sources that made this podcast possible. You can find our podcasts and more on our website, Origins.osu.edu, on Itunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and Soundcloud, as well as wherever else you get your podcasts. And, as always, you can find us on twitter @ProloguedPod and @OriginsOSU. Thanks for listening.

Trailer Citations

Theme Music: Hotshot by Scott Holmes. 

Episode 1: The Way We Never Were:

Sarah Paxton

The concept of the women's voting bloc, the idea that women will vote in a specific and similar way simply because they are women, has been a persistent narrative in American politics since the turn of the 20th century, when men who opposed women's suffrage based their concern on the fear that enfranchised women would unite and takeover American politics. Of course, that female takeover never happened. While more women do tend to vote than men--and have done so since the 1960s--men arguably remain the dominant political voice and definitely still hold most leadership positions and elected offices. Yet the rhetoric of this formidable block that could make or break a political candidate persists.

Now, as we wade through the 2020 election cycle and celebrate the centennial of the 19th amendment granting American women the right to vote, it is the perfect time to re-evaluate the political and electoral history of women in the United States. Has there ever been such a thing as a united women's block? what divides women? What influences them? Perhaps most importantly, what can we learn from the past century of women's suffrage to better inform our modern expectations and political process? We will be analyzing the history of women's political participation since the nation's founding. I will be speaking with scholars and elected officials from across the United States and, together, we will explore how this exciting history serves as the prologue of the current debate over women's issues in today's elections and the endurance of the myth of a women's voting bloc.

Join me as we discover what modern politics can learn from the past and the way we never were.

For Origins, Current Events in Historical Perspective, I'm Sarah Paxton and this is Prologued

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The idea that women vote together has dominated political consciousness for the majority of the last century unless called into question by an unanticipated election result. The most recent anomaly was the 2016 presidential election.

November 10, 2016, was a surreal day for many Hillary Clinton supporters, who the New York Times reported felt “gutted, shocked, appalled, afraid.” They were waking up in a country they didn't recognize and struggling to figure out how they had been so sure of Secretary Clinton’s success and yet so wrong. Their surprise is understandable. In the lead up to the 2016 election, many major media outlets treated Clinton’s election as a foregone conclusion, not in the least part because of now President Trump's scandals involving women that seemed to constantly be dominating the news cycle. The Washington Post reported that in April 2016, then Republican nominee Trump's low favorability among women spelled trouble for the presidential hopeful—that sexist statements demonstrated just how difficult it would be for Trump to garner “support from female voters.”

With the first female candidate of a major political party and her rival nominee repeatedly being accused of sexism and misogyny, the female vote was the major focus and a reoccurring refrain of both campaigns. In April of 2016, Trump accused future Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton of “playing the woman card,” a gendered statement that gave Secretary Clinton one of her top campaign lines “Deal Me In” and “When there's no ceiling, the sky's the limit.”

So when President Trump won the election in 2016, it sent both Clinton supporters in the political media reeling. But then came the shot heard around the internet. 53% of white women voted for Donald Trump. Think pieces blossomed overnight, denouncing the complicity and betrayal of white women to the feminist cause, horrified that they had betrayed their sisters. And then came the articles about how the racial split within the women's electorate was nothing new, all from the same outlets who had been discussing, with minimal nuance, the struggle candidate Trump would have to gain female support. It was suddenly as if the cracks in the female vote had become visible, as if the mask on the women's voting bloc had been lifted and was suddenly revealed to have been long dead.

But then came the 2017 Women's March on Washington, and then the 2018 midterms in which a record-breaking number of women ran for office and won. And now, in the middle of the 2020 election cycle, we are once again talking about the women vote as a single entity. So what exactly is happening? Do we think that the 2016 election was a fluke and are reverting back to the political expectation that women would vote as a bloc that has dominated women's public history? Or are we just pulling the mask back into place, willfully hiding, again, the fallacy of that voting bloc in favor of jockeying for the female vote?

To find the answers to these questions, we need to go back nearly two and a half centuries back to before women could vote.

Despite being barred from voting, were women still politically involved before the 19th century? Or was it just nothing until suffrage?

Joan Flores-Villalobos

It's nothing. We just cooked.

Sarah Paxton

That is Dr. Joan Flores Villalobos, a professor of history at The Ohio State University, who teaches US women's history and immigration history. She and I had the opportunity to discuss American women before they were legally allowed to vote.

The 19th Amendment, which is the federal amendment to the constitution that granted women the right to vote in all elections, including presidential, wasn't ratified until 1920. Just a reminder, the English landed in Jamestown in 1607 and the American Revolution ended in 1783. So that is well over two centuries of Americans women's history in which they are living, working, and contributing to society without having any formal political voice. And why not?

Joan Flores-Villalobos

So women were not granted suffrage until the 20th century. Part of that was that there was a legal understanding of women's position in the US—it was actually taken from English common law and then appropriated in US law and the Constitution—and that understanding was called coverture. It meant that women were covered under the legal identity of their husband. So women cannot sue, they could not own buy or sell property, they could not enter into contracts. Essentially, husband and wife were considered one person as a legal entity. And so women were not given the right to vote initially, in part, because it was assumed that the husband could vote and the woman was covered by the man's vote.

And, of course, some women, such as black and enslaved women or Native American women, were not given the vote at all because they were not considered citizens. In the case of enslaved women, because they were perceived as property and Native American women, again because of a different kind of legal categorization; but, also, because they were considered to be children…kind of legal children who didn't have the intellect to participate in civic life.

Sarah Paxton

So white women were not the owners of their own citizenship and women of color were not citizens at all before after the American Revolution. First, their citizenship belonged to their father and then it belonged to their husband. And yet, they still actively participated in society outside of the home. And that included the American Revolution.

Joan Flores-Villalobos

Women had a political role during the American Revolution and historians have called this Republican Motherhood. And it's kind of a concept that considers women's really active participation during the American Revolution. They wrote petitions, some of them, such as Deborah Sampson, dressed as a man and fought in the war. But part of the ideology of Republican motherhood was that women had a very specific role to play in the political life of the new nation and that this was specifically as a mother and a wife. That they could influence the opinions of their husbands and their children; and, through that, create better, patriotic citizens. That they would be the mothers to a new generation of Republican citizens that they created through their work in the home.

Sarah Paxton

The rhetoric of Republican Motherhood emerged as a backlash to the social effect of women's public participation in politics after the Revolution. See, women's political participation had benefited the fledgling American government in the beginning. As Dr. Flores Villalobos said, they wrote petitions, they participated in boycotts of English goods, they homespun fabric to avoid English textiles, and, in some cities like Boston, participated in rallies in the street. After this political engagement, this active participation in freeing the New America from England, women expected some inclusion in their country's governance.

Take, for instance, Abigail Adams’s famous “Remember the Ladies” letter, in which she implored her husband, John Adams, to remember all the women who had served the country well, and to recognize them better than the English had. This letter is famous. It's an every textbook in the US and “Remember the Ladies” is still a slogan used in modern politics. Less known, however, was John Adams response to his wife.

“Depend upon it, we know better than to repeal our masculine systems. Although they are in full force, you know they are little more than theory,. We dare not exert our power at its full latitude, we are obliged to go fair and softly. And, in practice, you know we are the subjects. We have only the name of masters and, rather than give up this, which will completely subject us to the despotism of the petticoat, I hope General Washington and our brave heroes would fight.”

So John Adams and his contemporaries were concerned over women's expanding role in politics in the Early Republic, especially as women began engaging in partisan politics. Partisanship was seen as the dirty side of politics, the divisive side. Where women's politics during the Revolution had been supportive of independence, men believed that female participation in partisan politics wasn't helpful. Rather, they saw it as disruptive to the gendered hierarchy of the new nation’s society by bringing partisan disagreements into the home. Rhetoric supporting the Republican Motherhood ideology emerged to provide women a political role, but limiting that participation to the home. As Republican Motherhood rhetoric grew to be the standard, American politics was divided into two distinct spheres, one inhabited by men that had involved public politics, particularly partisan politics, and the other was the private sphere that surrounded the home, making the home and family the domain of women. And this ideology embedded in American culture, defining gender roles and expectations through the 19th century.

Joan Flores-Villalobos

So the ideology of Republican Motherhood evolved throughout the 19th century into what historians now call—starting in the 60s—the Cult of True Womanhood. And this was a pervasive stereotype of the Antebellum Era that said women should cultivate the virtues of domesticity, of piety, of submissiveness, and that their appropriate sphere was in the home—what we call the private sphere, in opposition to the public sphere where men were involved in politics and business. Women were seen as too delicate for the public sphere and part of that evolution occurs because in the antebellum period, economic roles between men and women begin to be separated and, whereas in the colonial Era the home was also the site of labor, that ceases to be the case in complicated ways as we go through the 19th century. And so the home becomes this realm that is only associated with family with certain women's domestic labor, etc.

Sarah Paxton

As the 19th century progressed, the characteristics of mothers and wives, of piety and submissiveness, became expected of American women. However, while the role of mother and wife was considered a role within the home, 19th century women began to reevaluate the implications of possessing these characteristics that define their womanhood. If women were more pious and more virtuous than men, many women began to believe that it was their responsibility to protect the moral health of the nation, taking on roles that were inherently social in nature; but, also, decidedly outside of the home. They stretched the bounds of the private sphere until it began to overlap with the public. So this meant that Republican Motherhood and the Cult of True Womanhood, both ideologies that specifically barred women from public life, were now the justification for women's slow push back into the public sphere.

One of the key areas that stretched the limits of the cult of true womanhood was in social reform movements like the early Temperance Movement, which sought to eliminate the evils of alcohol from American society through the early antebellum period. However, temperance wasn't the only social movement women got involved in. During the first half of the 19th century, developing hand in hand through the 1840s and 50s, were the abolition movement and the women's rights movement.

Joan Flores-Villalobos

Women were really involved in this in particular; they created large scale collective petitions and also went on walking talking tours and spoke to big audiences trying to convince other women to join the abolition movement. The most notorious one of these were the Grimke sisters, Sarah and Angelina, who I always call Angelica, who were both daughters of a slave owning family. They grew up in the south and they spoke to other white Christian women of the South, urging them to join the cause.

Sarah Paxton

So women weren't allowed to vote, but they were politically involved in political issues. They wrote petitions, they organized strikes, and it only escalated through the 19th century as women grew more and more involved in the public realm. Even if they still claimed they were acting in the private sphere, they began advocating for more rights. The women's rights movement itself began in the mid-19th century, most notably with the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848, which resulted in the drafting of the Declaration of Sentiments and the beginning of the formal agitation for the women's right to vote. However, for some women living in the US, just as the private sphere was expanding into the public realm, their rights were actually being restricted.

Daniel Rivers

In terms of Native women's political participation itself, coming up into the 19th amendment nationwide, we'd have to say that this particular period of time is a period of decline of Native women's participation.

Sarah Paxton

That is Dr. Daniel Rivers, a professor of US and Native American history at The Ohio State University and a member of the Oklahoma Choctaw Nation.

Daniel Rivers

Coming into the 1820s and 1830s, many tribes in the United States—in an attempt, in some ways to stave off settler colonial expansion into their world., land grabs on the part of increased American settlement after the Revolution; but, also, out of respect for American political traditions—had adopted American like structures of government. And, as part of this process, many of them—and here many people held the Cherokee up as the classic example—had actually done away with women’s rights within the tribe, that women had previously enjoyed, under the new constitutions. The Cherokee constitution that happens before the Trail of Tears, for instance, Cherokee women don’t have the right to vote. So that, actually, we see patriarchal eliminations of rights that Native women—not in all tribes precontact; but, in many tribes, my own tribe included, the Choctaw--women’s rights in this period are increasingly eroded. So the period from removal in the 1830s, up until the passage of the 19th amendment is, I would say is also a period of decline in terms of Native women’s political rights because of the increasing encroachment of non-Native patriarchal traditions into Native spaces.

Sarah Paxton

Dr. Rivers’s point about the role of Native women being scaled back just as white women were beginning to make inroads into the public sphere brings us to an importnt point about how Americans discuss women’s politics, electoral or otherwise. For the most part, when Americans say “women’s politics,” it has often erased the presence of women of color from the narrative. Women of color and working classes actively participated in political movements, including social reform and suffrage, but they were actively excluded from many of the ideologies that middle class and elite white women used to justify their involvement.

Because those ideologies we just talked about that women use to justify political involvement? Republican Motherhood? Cult of True Womanhood? They were only available to middle class white women.

Joan Flores-Villalobos

The Cult of True Womanhood was, of course, an ideology and not a reality. So though many women did—particularly middle class, white women—did often stay at home, this was not the case for the majority of women. Most women still worked, sometimes they still worked in the home. And it was certainly not the case for working class, Black women, for other women of color who, for example, the home was the workplace for somebody who was a domestic servant.

Sarah Paxton

But despite not having the same access to the public sphere as middle class and elite white women, women of color were both present for, and necessary to, the women's rights movement from the very beginning.

Daniel Rivers

Native American women also impacted the struggle for women's voting in the United States. That happened in a couple of different ways. The first way was the influence that Native American women, their power within tribes, had on US, non-Native suffragists.

So several of the important leaders of the women's suffrage movement and the organizers of the 1848 Seneca Falls convention had, themselves, been deeply influenced by Native traditions and lifeways. Lucretia Mott, in the months leading up to Seneca Falls, lived on the Seneca reservation. She was visiting the Seneca reservation in early summer and was staying there and learned about Seneca customs and was influenced by them, no doubt, coming into the 1848 convention. Elizabeth Cady Stanton in the 1890s, as well as her daughter, Harriet, would occasionally reference the upstate New York tribes as examples of cultural systems where women enjoyed more domestic and political rights than they did in the United States. When activists like Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton looked at the lifeways of the upstate New York tribes, they saw clan based, matrilineal, matri-local systems where Haudenosaunee women enjoyed much more freedom in terms of things like divorce, child rearing, property, and you can see how these principles and ways of thinking about women's power within social structures get woven into the Declaration of Sentiments.

Sarah Paxton

Black woman were also essential to the success of the women's rights movement, which developed both alongside amd in collaboration with many of the social reform movements of the mid-19th century. As emancipated slave Sojourner Truth’s famous speech “Ain’t I a Woman” demonstrates, the antebellum women's rights movement and the anti slavery movement developed hand in hand, making Black women vital, and often overlooked, participants in both movements.

Joan Flores-Villalobos

Black women also participated in abolition, notably Harriet Jacobs, who wrote her autobiography in 1861. Again, to encourage women to join the abolition movement, both white and Black women who participated in abolition did it from the perspective of ”this is our kind of moral imperative as women and we're going to speak as women to women.”

Sarah Paxton

But abolition and women's rights began to pick up steam up to and through the Civil War. Closely connected, when the Civil War ended and the Union had won. Many female abolitionists believed that women were about to be enfranchised along with the newly freed African American men. Most of these women had spent their time in organizations like the American Equal Rights Association, advocating for what they called “universal rights,” which meant that every citizen, regardless of their race or sex, would be considered individual voting citizens. However, universal suffrage created a crucial split in the movement.

By the time of Civil War Amendments, the colloquial name for the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, were being drafted, many of the male abolitionists and Union elected officials begin to balk at the idea of immediate universal enfranchisement. Instead, they expressed concern about trying to complete too much too soon and focused on enfranchising freed men first.

After the Civil War, women's political involvements escalated, due in part to their large role in the abolition movement and in the war itself, issues such as social purity, which aimed to end the commercial sex trade, labor reform designed to protect the increasing number of women in the workforce, and temperance reemerged on a greater, more organized scale in the 1870s and 1880s.

Joan Flores-Villalobos

The most notorious one was the Women's Christian Temperance Union, the WCTU. And it was founded in Hillsboro, Ohio, in 1873 and their main goal was the prohibition of alcohol, which, if you know anything, it succeeds. But they also pursued lots of other political goals such as age of consent laws, helping working class women. And this was a really grassroots and community-based organization that was led by women, run by women, and was hugely popular all throughout the US. And again, so women weren't voting; but, then you have somebody like Carrie Nation, going around to saloons and using a hatchet to break bottles. So in that way they were politically involved. And there were, of course other famous social reform movements. Jane Addams’s Hull House in Chicago, also the most notorious one. These were settlement houses that helped working class women and children find jobs and engage with culture. This was influenced by several evolutionist ideologies of the period that said that the working class could be raised by help from the upper classes who would help them engage with culture and art and education, etc. And then another place where women were really involved politically was in labor reform.

Sarah Paxton

Despite often being left out of the narrative of women's growing role in politics, women of color also grew more politically involved during the 19th century, with Black women actively working with, and without, the local white women to support issues that were important to their own communities.

Joan Flores-Villalobos

Another way that women were involved politically, in particular Black women like Mary McLeod Bethune, Ida B. Wells, Charlotte Hawkins Brown, who were all middle class, educated women from the south, who now historians called club women because they participated in middle class Black women's clubs where they got together and discussed political issues and planned interventions on issues that matter to them. In particular, they promoted education for Black youth and anti-lynching campaigns, and really articulated early vision of racial and sexual equality. A version of intersectionality is what we would call it now.

Sarah Paxton

You should note the role of class in what Dr. Flores-Villalobos just said. Women's political participation was not just hinged on their race, but also the privileges afforded to them by their social and economic standing in society. Dr. Lilia Fernandez, a historian of women and Latinx Americans at Rutgers University, explains that this additional layer of political suppression applies to all women, including Latinas and Chicanos living in the southwest and western states of America,

Lilia Fernandez

You know, most Latina/Chicanas would not have been engaged in electoral politics, obviously, just as most other American woman would not have been either except for elite women. Generally, the kinds of women who would have been involved in political engagement, you know, civic issues, that sort of thing, would have been women from, you know, upper class families, women whose husbands were in positions of power or authority in local communities. But these would have been far and few between. So we're not talking about huge numbers here. We're talking about, you know, a handful of women from one town or city to another, depending on the local population size. And women would have been involved in many of the same issues that men were concerned about in their communities in some cases, whether that was labor/economic issues locally or educational issues, that was another big one, and then protecting and defending women's and children's Rights,

Sarah Paxton

As women's political activism escalated during the 19th century, so to did the push for women's suffrage. Part of the rise of a social movement focused solely on enfranchising women was due to the increased importance of electoral politics through the mid-19th century. While petitions walking tours and social events designed to woo politicians had worked for elite white women during the early reform movements of the 1830s and 40s, they have become significantly less effective. Additionally, many of the women who had worked in the abolition movement were rankled by the split in the movement that sought to exclude women from voting. In fact, some of these activists refused to believe they had been excluded. Instead, they interpreted the Civil War amendments, particularly the 14th Amendment, very differently.

Joan Flores-Villalobos

And it says “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States, nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”’

And, as you might notice, the 14th amendment makes no mention of gender and doesn't gender the subject of “citizen” or “any person within its jurisdiction.” So a lot of activists see the 14th Amendment as a kind of legal and intellectual opening to the question of rights and inclusion. This really becomes the central question of the late 19th early 20th century, in various ways, not just for the suffrage movement; but, it is part of why the suffrage movement takes up this issue after the Civil War.

Sarah Paxton

Advocating that women not only should be allowed to vote, but actually already had the right to vote was only one of a number of strategies used by suffragists in their effort to gain the vote over the next half century between the 14thAmendment and the 19th Amendment. It was a process that would be defined by disagreements and fractures in the suffrage movement over both strategy and ideology.

We'll turn to that story next time, on Prologued.

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Sarah Paxton
(Credits)

This season of Prologued was brought to you by Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective, an online publication of the Public History Initiative, the Goldberg Center, and the history departments at The Ohio State University in Columbus and Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, with support from the Stanton foundation. Our editors are David Steigerwald, Steven Conn, and Nicholas Breyfogle. It was written and hosted by Sarah Paxton with research support from Min A Park. Our audio and technical advisor is Paul Kotheimer and our production specialist is Brandon MacLean and Oranjudio. Song and band information can be found on our website, and we encourage our listeners to visit episode descriptions for citations to background reading and sources that made this podcast possible. You can find our podcast and more on our website origins.osu.edu, on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify and SoundCloud, as well as wherever else you get your podcasts. As always, you can find us on Twitter @ProloguedPod and @originsOSU. Thanks for listening.

Episode 1:The Way We Never Were Citations

Theme Music: Hotshot by Scott Holmes

Barbarao, Michael & Twohey, Megan, "Crossing the Line: How onald Trump Behaved with Women in Private," The New York Times (New York, NY) May 14, 2016.

Del Real, Jose A. & Gearan, Anne, "Trump: If Clinton 'were a man, I don't think she'd get 5 percent fo the vote," The Washington Post (New York, NY) Apr. 27, 2016.

Dubois, Ellen Carol,  Feminism and Suffrage: The Emergence of an Independent Women's Movement in America, 1848–1869, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999.

Lerer, Lisa & Chire, Susan, "'There's a Real Tension.' Democrats Puzzle Over Whether a Woman Will Beat Trump," The New York Times (New York, NY) Jan. 5, 2019.

Letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams, 31 March - 5 April 1776 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society. http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/.

McGill, Andrew, "Trump's 'Nasty' New Insult-Here to Stay?" The Atlantic, Oct. 20, 2016.

Seelye, Katharine & Cain Miller, Claire, "Female Clinton Supporters are Left Feeling Gutted." The New York Times (New York, NY), Nov. 10, 2016.

Episode 2: "I Have Many Things to Say" Transcript:

Sarah Paxton

Last time, we discussed how women emerged in the American political realm well before the 19th Amendment granted them suffrage.

Following the unexpected exclusion of women from the Civil War Amendments, women continued to expand their political influence and work to affect both social and political change in society. However, it quickly became clear to many of these women that the only way to truly have a voice in their society was through electoral power. Women began to push to gain suffrage themselves, ultimately leading to the bitter fight over the ratification of the 19th Amendment and a crucial change in the legal role of women in American society.

At the heart of this movement was a shared belief that women deserve to be full owners of their own citizenship and have the right to exercise that citizenship at the ballot box. But the suffragists agreed on little else.

From the beginning, the suffrage movement was splintered into different organizations that advocated different courses of action and often these organizations were in direct conflict. Should they lobby on the state or federal level? Continue with the Cult of True Womanhood rhetoric or engage in public demonstrations of protest? Include women of color within the white ranks of the movement or save their enfranchisement for later?

Today, we talk about the women who led the charge for suffrage, their successful advocating for the 19th Amendment, and who they left behind along the way.

For Origins, Current Events in Historical Perspective, I'm Sarah Paxton and this is Prologued.

(music)

Kimberly Hamlin

As the majority of reformers advocated for what they called one-reform-per-generation, they thought it would be too radical to ask for women's rights along with the rights of African American men.

Sarah Paxton

For today's episode, I talked with Dr. Kimberly Hamlin, a professor of history at Miami University in Ohio, and a foremost authority on the history of the women's suffrage movement.

Kimberly Hamlin

So after the 14th and 15th Amendments were ratified in 1868 and 1870, respectively, women began having internal and external discussions about the role of women's rights and this is where you see Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony begin to press for a federal amendment enfranchising women.

Sarah Paxton

If the names Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton sound familiar, they should. Anthony and Stanton were leaders of the earliest reform movements and were vital in bringing into the women's suffrage movement tactics that abolitionists employed to end slavery.

Born in 1820, Anthony was a member of the American Equal Rights Association, a universal suffrage organization that I mentioned in Episode 1, and when women were excluded from the Civil War Amendments and the American Equal Rights Association refused to push for an additional amendment that would include women, Susan B. Anthony moved on to form the National Women's Suffrage Association.

Kimberly Hamlin

So Stanton and Anthony and some of their followers in the group they formed, called the National Women's Suffrage Association, started to say that what they needed—what women needed—was a 15th Amendment for women. Before they began advocating for this standalone amendment, however, some of the women in what was again called the National Women's Suffrage Association made a novel argument, which they called the “New Departure Strategy,” whereby they believed that women already had been enfranchised. If you read the 14th and 15th Amendments together, they believed you could make an argument that citizenship inherently included voting rights. So this is why you see, for example, Susan B. Anthony and Virginia Minor of Missouri voting along with dozens of other women in the 1872 elections.

Sarah Paxton

Yeah, women were showing up at the polls nearly 50 years before the 19th Amendment. Anthony and Minor were testing this theory, both showing up at the polls to vote in the first major election after the passing of the Civil War Amendments, and they encouraged other women to do the same.

Anthony herself voted in the first district of the Eighth Ward of Rochester, New York, and she was arrested 10 days later on November 18, 1872, for voting illegally. What followed was a politically fraught criminal trial. Anthony was not the only one arrested that day, there were 14 other women arrested for illegal voting. Yet she was the only one subjected to examination, denied a trial by jury and found guilty by the court. When asked if she had anything to say before sentencing, Anthony delivered what historian Ann Gordon referred to as “the most famous speech in the history of the agitation for women's suffrage.”

But despite this speech, Anthony was fined $100 for the crime of voting illegally. To which she responded, “May it please Your Honor, I shall never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty.” And she never did.

Dr. Hamlin mentioned another name, Virginia Minor. She took it one step further.

Kimberly Hamlin

They were trying to test out this legal strategy that Virginia Minor and her husband, Francis, had developed where they thought we could press the case that women already had been enfranchised because citizenship inherently included voting rights. So this case goes all the way to the Supreme Court, which rules in 1875 in Minor v. Happersett that citizenship does not inherently imply voting rights, and, thus, women are not enfranchised by the 14th and 15th Amendments.

Sarah Paxton

So that didn't work. What now?

For women like Anthony and Stanton, it was time to double down on creating a federal amendment that would formally enfranchise women. They set up shop in Philadelphia in 1876 and wrote what they called the 16th Amendment, what others would call the Anthony Amendment, and what would eventually become the 19th Amendment. But not for a long time.

California Senator Sargent did introduce the Anthony Amendment in 1878; but it failed to get the 2/3s Senate support needed to pass a constitutional amendment. It was becoming less likely that a federal amendment was going to happen.

But the National Women's Suffrage Association wasn't the only game in town. The American woman's Suffrage Association had a more expansive view of women's rights, including issues such as fair employment laws. They also employed a state focused strategy that lobbied state officials to propose state constitutional amendments enfranchising women who lived within their state. As the likelihood of a federal amendment was slipping, the National Association began to reconsider their absolutist position on a federal suffrage amendment. And, with this consideration, they also begin to reconsider their rivalry with the American Association.

Kimberly Hamlin

In 1890, the two rival suffered organizations, the NWSA and the AWSA, merge to form the mouthful NAWSA, the National American Women's Suffrage Association, and NAWSA still sort of tried to advance a both/and approach where they thought they could work for state suffrage amendments and federal suffrage at the same time, but they didn't do either one, you know, wholeheartedly, or they'd also most certainly did not have a budget really to fund such activities.

Sarah Paxton

So then there was this new group, NAWSA, which in many ways mended the early rift over federal and state tactics. Theoretically, NAWSA supported amendments on both the federal and state level. But, as Dr. Hamlin said, this wasn't really possible and NAWSA was stretched too thin.

Because NAWSA couldn't adequately support both campaigns, their state level work operated mostly through local civic clubs, folding the women's club movement into their suffrage campaign. NAWSA president, Elizabeth Catie Catt, referred to this strategy as the “society plan, as they used clubs focused on societal improvement to garner support from middle- and upper-class women of society. Many of these club women were wary of women's political involvement; however, they did see women's role in reforming society. Like we discussed in the previous episode, many women still firmly believed in the Cult of True Womanhood. This was the ideology that held that women's role in society was with the family due to their inherently pious virtue. And this ideology was then used to support socio-political movements aimed at protecting the moral fabric of society. These clubs supported social movements like temperance, child labor reform, education reform, all areas deemed domestic and therefore within the women's sphere of control. Voting, they argued, fit with this Cult of True Womanhood rhetoric, and would only enhance their ability to support these causes. By appealing to these largely middle-class white women, the National Association worked to build a base of support for suffrage among local women.

While NAWSA initially ended a rivalry over the state versus federal, their focus on employing social reform tactics resulted in a new conflict over protest strategy. Enter, Alice Paul.

Kimberly Hamlin

So the rift between NAWSA and Alice Paul begins pretty much as soon as Alice Paul comes to NAWSA. Alice Paul moves back to the United States after having spent time in London and she goes to the NAWSA convention in 1912, reports on her activities, and she proposes a novel idea based on her experiences in London, where she wants NAWSA to begin doing more public protest—to stop just sending letters and polite petitions and to take the movement to the streets.

So she proposes at the 1912 NAWSA convention that NAWSA let her take over the more or less dormant congressional committee and turn it into a vehicle which will organize a massive march to coincide with the first inauguration of President Woodrow Wilson, which is going to happen in March of 1913. NAWSA leaders recognize Alice Paul's brilliance, they recognize her energy, they want to keep her in the fold; but, they also think she's kind of dangerous and they're not 100% sure that they buy into all of her ideas.

So they reluctantly agree to let her take over the congressional committee with the goal of making this parade happen. Alice Paul works together with a small band of volunteers, including a woman named Helen Hamilton Gardner, whose biography I've just written, and they succeed in putting together the largest most successful software demonstration that ever was.

Sarah Paxton

This parade is the women's suffrage march of 1913, which has been cited as one of the inspirations for the massive Women's March on Washington in January of 2017. Alice Paul and her faction of NAWSA had received government permission to hold the parade on March 3, 1913. However, they were immediately met with a wall of angry male protesters who were not deterred by the police escort ordered to assist the suffrage just down the street. In fact, despite being ordered by Congress to keep the road clear for the March, later testimony suggests that the male police force of the Federal City not only failed to clear a path, they themselves often joined in with the angry mob spewing vitriol at the suffragists. It wasn't until a military cavalry was called in that the streets were finally sufficiently cleared and the March was able to be completed.

While the 1913 March sparked substantial public attention and goodwill, it further drove a wedge between the nonpartisan NAWSA and Alice Paul supporters, who believed in order to affect change, you must protest the party in power, who at this point in time was Woodrow Wilson's Democrats. Increasingly frustrated, Paul’s group formally split from NAWSA in 1914 and formed the National Women's Party. The suffrage movement was once again divided, with the two groups employing very different strategies to gain enfranchisement.

Kimberly Hamlin

Alice Paul first tries to meet with President Wilson after the 1913 suffrage March, she does succeed in bringing a small group of women to the White House, but you can tell even from the beginning that Woodrow Wilson does not like Alice Paul, she's very demanding when her letters to him. She says things like “We'll be there Wednesday at four!” and Woodrow Wilson says things like “Oh God, if I have to meet with these ladies, can I at least please pick the time that they come?!”

Into this kind of space enters Helen Hamilton Gardner, who is NAWSA's lead negotiator in Washington. The NAWSA congressional committee referred to her as their diplomatic core because she was a diplomat who kind of worked behind the scenes. So in 1916 Helen Hamilton Gardener had returned to DC from spending the winter in California, where she had seen how Alice Paul's National Woman's Party was stridently targeting Democrats, even Democrats who favored women's suffrage. Helen Hamilton Gardner and NAWSA could not see the logic in this plan. Why would you campaign against Democrats in office when these Democrats favored woman suffrage?

So she came back to DC and she wrote President Woodrow Wilson's Chief of Staff, a guy named Tumulty, Joseph Tumulty, a letter introducing herself and she said, “Hey Tumulty, I write to introduce myself and set the record straight that Alice Paul does not represent the ‘real suffragists of America.’ The real suffragists of America are nonpartisan and we are with NAWSA.” And so, through this letter, she becomes friends with Tumulty, she becomes friends with Woodrow Wilson and his second wife, Edith, and by the 1918/1919, Helen Hamilton Gardner is a welcome daily presence at the White House. She sends apricots from her garden, she sends birthday cards, she sends chummy notes, she calls on the phone. And Woodrow Wilson, and especially his Chief of Staff, Tumulty, works hand in hand with her to get the 19th Amendment through Congress.

Alice Paul, on the other hand, continues to target Woodrow Wilson in public. In 1917, the Silent Sentinels began protesting at the White House and Woodrow Wilson increasingly refuses to meet with her at all. At the same time, you can see his relationship with NAWSA grow warmer as he welcomes Helen Hamilton Gardner and Carrie Chapman Catt into the White House multiple times.

Sarah Paxton

This was a massive split in the suffrage movement and one that Dr. Hamlin tells me continues to define how the suffrage movement is discussed among scholars, with historians aligning themselves depending on who they thought was more successful: Team NAWSA or Team Alice.

Ideological and tactical debates demonstrate that even the earliest women voters, the suffragists, were not a band of sisters pushing for equal rights. However, we can see just how truly divided American women have always been if we look at the characteristics by which the suffragists defined their own ranks and through which they decided who was, and who was not, fully a woman in both their eyes and the eyes of the law,

Kimberly Hamlin

Women of color have always, from the outset, been vital to the women's suffrage movement. But to tell their stories, historians often have to look in different places than the mainstream white suffrage groups. And that's because the mainstream white suffrage groups either NWSA, AWSA, or the united NAWSA were largely segregated. So while some women of color like Mary Church Terrell, Francis Ellen Watkins Harper, did occasionally address these white led suffrage groups, they were not welcomed as leaders or as equals and oftentimes even as members.

Sarah Paxton

But women of color were still leading the suffrage movement. In addition to Mary Church Terrell and Francis Ellen Watkins Harper, Nellie Griswold Francis was an African American woman in Minnesota who founded the Every Woman Suffrage Club, which organized the African American women of Minnesota in the fight for suffrage and subsequently joined, and was active in, the National Association of Colored Women.

However, while activists like Francis were organizing African American women, their white counterparts in both NAWSA and the National Women's Party viewed them as a liability. Catt, in order to have NAWSA appeal to the middle- and upper-class women's clubs, downplayed the role of their Black members and steered clear of controversial issues such as Jim Crow laws in the South. Similarly, Alice Paul suggested that the Black members of NAWSA could march in the back of the 1913 Parade, rather than with their state delegation, a suggestion fame suffragist an anti-lynching activist Ida B. Wells flaunted by proudly marching with her home state of Illinois In many states, including Minnesota, debates raged over whether to support amendments would allow white women's suffrage while explicitly excluding Black women. Many suffragists, particularly those in the Jim Crow South, supported such measures. Southern senators even offered to pass the Anthony Amendment as long as language was injected into the bill that would have prohibited Black women, including Francis and her fellow Black suffragists from voting, thereby only granting suffrage to white American women. To Francis's relief, the white suffragists refused the change to the Anthony Amendment and NAWSA publicly stated that they would not support an amendment that excluded Black women. However, Black activists’ important contributions to the movement continue to be downplayed by white activists. And this exclusion continued right up to the moment the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920. And then white activists largely abandoned Black women thereafter, leaving many Black activists to the limitations of Jim Crow and the deadly dangers of the Ku Klux Klan, who staged multiple protests and cross burnings in front of the Francis household after they moved into a white neighborhood in 1924.

Kimberly Hamlin

So to find the suffrage activism of African American women, it's important to look at places like the AME Church, where women held leadership roles and where they advocated for civil rights and other reforms. And also in the Black woman's club movement, especially the National Association of Colored Women, where you can see the leadership of women like Mary Church Terrell, who was a prominent suffragist, and also in the NAACP, which Mary Church Terrell and other women helped found along with men. So, suffrage activism of women of color was not focused solely on the 19th Amendment, because for Black women to vote, they also needed the 15th Amendment to be enforced, they needed civil rights legislation. They also fought against segregation and lynching. So we see Black woman suffrage activism in more and more venues and we need to look beyond the white led suffrage groups to find it.

Daniel Rivers

In a way that's similar to the impact that African American women, their activism, their struggle coming out of the abolitionist movement, had a huge impact on movements for women's suffrage, Native American women also impacted the struggle for women's voting in the United States.

Sarah Paxton

That's Dr. Daniel Rivers, you may remember him from the last episode. He's a professor of history at The Ohio State University and a member of the Oklahoma Choctaw Nation. Last time, we talked about how Native culture was appropriated in the early women's rights movement, making Native women at least symbolically influential in the early years. But Native women themselves were also involved in the women's suffrage movement as active suffragists.

Daniel Rivers

Two women that I'm thinking about in particular here are Marie Baldwin, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, and Gertrude Bonnin, who was Lakota. These two women were both members of the Society for American Indians, which actually had one of its really important meetings here in 1911 on the Ohio State campus, Marie Baldwin gave a speech here at OSU in 1911. And these two women were very active in the movement for women's suffrage in the United States, Marie Baldwin, in 1913, marches with Alice Paul in Washington, DC.

And I would include both of them in a sort of demographic of Progressive Era Native Americans. And these were Native Americans who came out of the boarding school era, who came out of the era of the Western Wars, when military resistance was obviously no longer a possibility, and saw a new way of upholding their peoples in the United States. And that was largely to use the tools of the system itself as a way to protect Native American culture and tribal customs. So many of these individuals ended up going to law school or medical school—Marie Baldwin herself was an attorney—and they sought to use these knowledges as a way to protect Native American cultures. And you can see here how the vote would be a really important part of this way of thinking through Native American possibilities for cultural protection within the United States.

Sarah Paxton

So what we found is, despite the imagery of the sisterhood of suffragists, the movement was born from the conflict surrounding universal suffrage, immediately divided between a federal or state focus, and was rife with tension over strategy through the early 20th century. Further still, race became a vein of conflict in the cohesion of the suffrage movement, with the voices and impact of suffragists of color routinely downplayed or ignored by the white suffragists of NAWSA and the National Women's party.

But these divisions among women were not limited to just the suffragists. Significant numbers of white women shun the vote altogether and actively campaign against the 19th Amendments ratification. They did so because they could not accept either the turn from a pure interpretation of the Cult of True Womanhood or the inclusion of women of color as their legal equals.

We'll discuss the women who didn't want to be enfranchised next time on Prologued.

(music)

Sarah Paxton
(Credits)

This season of Prologued was brought to you by Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective, an online publication of the Public History Initiative, the Goldberg Center, and the history departments at The Ohio State University in Columbus and Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, with support from the Stanton foundation. Our editors are David Steigerwald, Steven Conn, and Nicholas Breyfogle. It was written and hosted by Sarah Paxton with research support from Min A Park. Our audio and technical advisor is Paul Kotheimer and our production specialist is Brandon MacLean and Oranjudio. Song and band information can be found on our website, and we encourage our listeners to visit episode descriptions for citations to background reading and sources that made this podcast possible. You can find our podcast and more on our website origins.osu.edu, on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify and SoundCloud, as well as wherever else you get your podcasts. As always, you can find us on Twitter @ProloguedPod and @originsOSU. Thanks for listening.

Episode 2: "I Have Many Things to Say" Citations:

Theme Music: Hot Shot by Scott Holmes

Graham, Sara Hunter, Woman Suffrage and the New Democracy. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996.

Ann D. Gordon, The Trial of Susan B. Anthony in Federal Trials and Great Debates in United States History, Washington, D.C.: The Federal Judicial Center's Federal Judicial History Office, 2005.

Ford, Linda G., Iron Jawed Angels: The Suffrage Militancy of the National Woman's Party, 1912-1920, UPA, 1991.

Kimberly Hamlin, "The First Time Women Marched on Washington," Origins Magazine: Current Events in Historical Perspective, October 9, 2018.

Heidenreich, Douglas R., "A Citizen of Fine Spirit" (2000). Faculty Scholarship. Paper 109. http://open.mitchellhamline.edu/facsch/109

Women in the American Politics System: An Encyclopedia of Women as Voters, Candidates, and Office Holders, edited by Dianne G. Bystrom & Barbara Burrell, Santa Barabara: ABC-CLIO, 2019

Episode 3: Equal Suffrage Awaits Trial:

Sarah Paxton

Last time, we discussed women like Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, and Nellie Griswold Francis, all of whom began organizing and agitating for the vote toward the end of the 19th century.

From the beginning, these activists were willing to thwart the restrictions placed on their sex. They encouraged women to vote illegally collaborated with local women's clubs and launched multiyear protests. While sharing a common goal, these efforts were not without internal conflict of our organizing strategy, and the role of women of color in both the suffrage movement and the American electorate itself.

But internal conflict was not the only obstacle suffragists faced. By the 20th century female, anti-suffrage activists became more vocal as efforts to bring about a federal amendment came to the forefront of the women's suffrage campaign. And, as states began granting suffrage themselves, the issue finally has legs.

Today, we'll discuss the crucial 1910 turning point in the suffrage movement, the anti-suffrage women who valued purity over electoral power, and those women who insisted that only white women be granted the right to vote, all of which foreshadow the limitations of debates regarding women's role in American politics for the next century.

For Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective, I'm Sarah Paxton, and this is Prologued.

music

Sarah Paxton

Everything changed in 1910.

Since the close of the Civil War, multiple suffrage amendments on both the state and federal level were proposed and introduced only to languish in committee often without a vote.

Then, in 1910, Washington State became the first state to grant women's suffrage since 1896. Other states quickly followed in the coming years: California in 1911 and then Arizona, Kansas, and Oregon in 1912. The state level amendments encouraged hope in the suffragists. The National American Woman Suffrage Association, or NAWSA, had been struggling to bring about state level amendments, rendering a federal amendment unnecessary. While this rush of states to pass their own suffrage amendments did not necessarily mean that they would successfully convince all 48 states to ratify amendments, it did indicate that public opinion was shifting in their favor, suggesting that a federal amendment was possible. After having suffered for over a decade with no progress, this domino effect revitalized the floundering suffrage movement.

By 1912, Teddy Roosevelt's Progressive Party had adopted women's suffrage as a party platform plank, and the long dormant Senate Committee on Women's Suffrage returned a favorable report on the federal Anthony Amendment, which, as you may remember from last time, was named for the suffrage movement leader, Susan B. Anthony. Suffragists ramped up their own activism as well. Alice Paul took over the Congressional Union Committee of NAWSA and staged the 1913 March on Washington. And, as Dr. Kimberly Hamlin explains, NAWSA increased its efforts to achieve a federal amendment.

Kimberly Hamlin

President Woodrow Wilson had initially supported women voting but only on a state by state basis. He came out and said that—in 1915, I believe—when New Jersey had a referendum on women voting and President Wilson voted yes that women should vote in New Jersey. And he came to the NAWSA 1916 convention in Atlantic City and addressed the group and he said, basically, he favored women voting but he wouldn't take a stand on state by state or a federal amendment.

So, kind of patiently over months and years, Helen Hamilton Gardner and NAWSA prevailed upon him that the federal amendment was the way to go, that the state by state method was inordinately taxing, would basically never work because in many states there was like a twofold process whereby, even if you could get the referendum passed, that had to pass a second time in many states that had passed it was then later rescinded.

Sarah Paxton

The watershed moment in the state of Washington granting women's suffrage was compounded by an escalation in labor reform movements advocating for women's suffrage, highlighting the critical role of class loyalty and women's political decisions.

Class has always influenced women's politics, but it became increasingly divisive during the 19th century, when, as Dr. Joan Flores-Villalobos explains, women began entering the workforce in greater numbers.

Joan Flores-Villalobos

And this was really as early as the 1830s in the mills, like the mills of Lowell, Massachusetts, where women organized strikes and petitioned the Massachusetts legislature for better working conditions. As the 19th century goes on and the early 20th century, these labor reform movements come to be dominated by particularly immigrant Jewish women such as Pauline Newman, Rose Schneiderman, and these women come together and found the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, and they organize strikes and marches and again for better working conditions, particularly in the wake of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911.

Sarah Paxton

While women's labor outside the home had slowly evolved so that some jobs were deemed “respectable,” working class women still did not enjoy the same assumption of true womanhood in American society as elite women; and, as historian Annelise Orleck has so aptly put it, “respectability didn't pay the rent.” Labor reforms that would protect workers’ wages and safety, including women's, relied on political influence, leading many working women, including Pauline Newman and Rose Schneiderman to view the vote as their best form of protection. In the wake of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in which 123 women and girls in 23 men died in a fire due to a lack of effective safety precautions, the International Ladies Garment Workers Union advocated for women's suffrage, arguing that the 123 women who perished in the fire did so because they did not have any political power to implement safety measures.

However, suffragists weren't the only ones encouraged to act after 1910. Women opposed to suffrage also grew louder, and they too cited concern for working class women in their criticism.

Anti-suffragist Josephine Jewell Dodge became the president of the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage shortly after the watershed of 1910.

The daughter of the United States minister to Russia, Jewell Dodge came from both a wealthy and well-connected family like most leaders of both the suffrage and anti-suffrage movements. Dodge attended Vassar College for three years and then married a similarly well-off New York businessmen in 1875, after which she dedicated herself to raising her six children and pursuing her many charitable ventures. This included the Jewell Day Nursery, which aimed to protect the health of New York immigrant and working-class children, while also instilling them with middle class “American values.”

During her 1911 to 1917 tenure as an anti-suffrage leader, she argued that she represented the majority of women and that she and her sisters had “more power in uplifting civilization through the home that man has through his vote.” And that power, she argued, would be lost if women were corrupted by electoral politics.

Dodge’s argument hinged on the Cult of True Womanhood’s presumptive moral superiority of women. Think back for a moment to episode one.

Remember that despite women being politically active in the revolutionary effort, they were not provided equal political and electoral power in the new nation. Rather, their exclusion was justified through the cultural values of what is now called republican motherhood. And later in the 19th century, true womanhood.

Both ideologies were rooted in the idea that women were the privileged gender, that their moral superiority and inherent virtue set them above men, and the dirty world of politics. This provided them with both the aptitude and responsibility to serve as society's caretakers to raise and teach children guide and reform the lower class and, above all, serve as an example to all others.

Over a century later, many upper-class women still clung to these understandings of womanhood and femininity. The ability to prioritize moral superiority and structured life around serving a society's caretakers was a luxury and a distinctly elite prerogative. suffrage leaders use the moral response ability of women to advocate for the vote. Meanwhile, many anti-suffragists argued that women's moral superiority provided them protective privileges, and a persuasive social power through which they would influence men in politics is anti-suffragists were concerned that both the privileges of true womanhood and the persuasive power would be ruined if women became involved in the morally bankrupt work of electoral politics. Josephine Jewell Dodge herself expressed concern that protections not afforded to men like limited work hours and protection from wage garnishment would be forfeited upon the inevitable corruption incurred from political participation.

While these anti-suffragists were concerned that they would lose moral superiority, many white women, particularly in the south, were worried that providing all women the right to vote, especially Black women, would undermine their racial superiority.

The Senate Committee on women's suffrage’s favorable report on the Anthony Amendment should have led to the passing of the amendment by the Senate; but, the legislation was blocked by Democratic legislators from the south who dominated the politics of the region since the end of reconstruction.

These so-called Redeemer Democrats developed in direct opposition to the post-Civil War federal occupation of the former Confederacy and the influx of Radical Republicans, who included Lincoln loyalists and freedman, who took control of southern state legislatures. When former Confederates were barred from office, Redeemers sought to regain their prewar political power and reassert their white racial dominance in the south.

They steadily regained control of the southern states until 1877, when Rutherford B Hayes’s corrupt bargain removed the last of the federal forces from the south in exchange for Southern support of his presidential bid and completed the Redeemer takeover. Reconstruction was officially over.

Redeemers maintained control of Southern politics until the early 20th century and, while their control was slipping, they still had enough influence to block the Amendments quick passage for several years after 1910.

Kimberly Hamlin

In the Senate, men say that—and this is not just Southern senators but also for example, William Borah, the Lion of Idaho—say that they cannot support the 19th Amendment because they don't want to enfranchise Black women in the south and because they feel that the 19th amendment is a rearticulation or reaffirmation of the 15th amendment. And they fear that the 19th amendment will somehow force Congress to uphold the 15th amendment and the southern states, which they have not done since the compromise of 1877. So it's not just about Black women voting, southern states also fear federal enforcement of voting rights across the board, and that they think that that will result from the 19th amendment because now, they would be two amendments that contain a federal enforcement clause of voting.

Sarah Paxton

Federal intervention in the systemic and intentional disenfranchisement of Black voters through Jim Crow regulations that barred voting based on illiteracy, lack of funds, or former familial disenfranchisement was not something that many white southerners—including white southern women—were willing to risk.

Kate Gordon was a native of Louisiana and a strong supporter of suffrage if it came about the right way, and that meant state-by-state and only applying to white women.

Kimberly Hamlin

So in the fall of 1913, NAWSA sends Gardner on this clandestine mission to New Orleans. So NAWSA knows that the southern suffrage leaders lead by Kate Gordon are increasingly upset about NAWSA’s support of the federal amendment strategy over the state by state strategy. And they know that Kate Gordon is thinking of starting her own Southern group focused state by state and for explicitly white women voting. So NAWSA sends Gardener to New Orleans for the meeting that is what starts the southern states women's suffrage group. But Gardner is kind of sent as an emissary, neither NAWSA nor Gardener support Kate Gordon's mission and, in fact, they pretty stridently part ways after Kate Gordon begins making explicitly racist comments about whites only voting, but that's kind of where the rift becomes final is in late 1913. Before that, they had tried to seek ways to work together. But when NAWSA fully endorses the federal strategy, Kate Gordon goes her own way. And then NAWSA does not want to associate or work with her as she becomes increasingly outspoken in her beliefs about whites only voting.

Sarah Paxton

In 1913, Kate Gordon formed the Southern States Woman's Suffrage Conference, which would ultimately turn on NAWSA. While Gordon firmly believed that she and her Southern sisters should be permitted to vote, she was staunchly opposed to any federal action that would inhibit states abilities to affect their own laws and policies.

For those that advocated for states rights, like Gordon, exclusion of Black voters was essential, leading them to completely oppose any measure that would allow for Black suffrage—even if it meant denying themselves the right to vote.

Other Southern activists agreed with Gordon in spirit but largely saw enfranchising Black women as a non-issue. Rather, they argued white supremacy, could be easily protected by disenfranchising Black women in the same manner Black men had been in the aftermath of the Civil War amendments through literacy tests, poll taxes and grandfather clauses. Rather than hurting white supremacy, these “moderate” suffrage activists saw this as a way to increase white electoral control by increasing the size of the white electorate by half.

By 1915, NAWSA had diverged from the Southern Conference as they turned their full support to the federal Anthony amendment, effectively ending any role the state legislation focused Southern Conference could play in the organization, forcing the moderate suffragists to split their support between NAWSA and the Southern Conference.

However, it was becoming increasingly clear to Southern suffragists that Gordon was going to fail to enact state level change in the south. Gordon have been advocating for the National Democratic Party to adopt a party platform that encouraged state constitutional amendments that granted women's suffrage, a policy Gordon hoped would urge state legislatures to pass their own suffrage laws and circumvent the necessity for a federal amendment. In 1916, Gordon succeeded, and the Democratic Party officially supported state level suffrage amendments.

However, despite Gordon's certainty that the state party leaders would follow the National Democratic Party's lead, the southern democratic state legislatures were slow to act and the prospect of circumventing the NAWSA supported federal amendment grew bleak.

With the continuing failure of the Southern conference to convince the southern states to pass suffrage amendments, Southern suffragist support for the Southern Conference waned and turned toward NAWSA, which have been making significant inroads into not only the southern states, but also on the federal level.

Kimberly Hamlin

So the 19th Amendments trajectory through Congress actually starts in 1917 when Helen Hamilton Gardener works behind the scenes to get the House woman's suffrage committee organized, that's like the procedural mechanism, you needed to get the woman's suffrage amendment to the House floor for a vote. So she gets Woodrow Wilson to signal his support for this committee, which he then does, the committee gets created in the fall of 1917. This gives the software just great hope that 1918 will be the year that their amendment passes. So in January of 1918, the house Woman Suffrage committee does report favorably on the amendment which then brings it to the House floor for a vote. This is when Woodrow Wilson first signals his support for the federal amendment and the first time the House passes the federal by a very slim two thirds majority.

Sarah Paxton

Seeing the writing on the wall, many of Gordon's colleagues urged her to cooperate with NAWSA, who have been moving their club-based strategies deeper into the southern states.

Gordon ardently refused—despite being an outspoken supporter of women's suffrage, she actively protested the National Association and the Anthony amendment. As a result, the Southern Conference began a rapid decline as Southern suffragists abandoned the southern conference for NAWSA, their finances were depleted, and they continued to fail to persuade state legislators to pass suffrage amendments.

Even in Kate Gordon's home state of Louisiana.

In 1918, Louisiana finally introduced a suffrage amendment. Gordon was elated and traveled the state, loudly supporting and campaigning for the amendment. Gordon was certain of the amendments victory, declaring that “for Louisianans, a democratic stronghold, to knife the national policy by turning down women's suffrage declared by the President as an essential, will be party treachery that is incomprehensible.” Further, she declared her confidence in Louisiana's “men with political vision sufficient to recognize the significance of carrying the state of Louisiana for women's suffrage, and thereby putting our seal of disapproval upon a federal suffrage amendment.”

Kate Gordon was wrong. The Louisiana amendment failed by 2000 votes. And while Gordon’s state amendment was failing, NAWSAs efforts to achieve a federal amendment were moving.

Kimberly Hamlin

Throughout the rest of 1918, the 19th Amendment languished in the Senate. The suffragists know they're just a couple votes shy and they can't seem to get them. So that's when Woodrow Wilson goes to address the Senate in October and that is not enough. So then Carrie Chapman Catt, the president of NAWSA, famously said something to the effect that, “well, when the men of the Senate can't change their mind, the men in the Senate have to be changed.” So NAWSA targets two Antis in the 1918 elections, one Democrat and one Republican, and successfully ousts both of them. So they are pretty sure that they're going to have the votes to pass the 19th Amendment in the 66th Congress, not because anyone changed their minds, but because the personnel of the Senate has shifted.

Sarah Paxton

On June 4, 1919, the 66th Congress approved the Anthony amendment, sending it on to be ratified by the states. While Gordon would continue to campaign loudly against the Anthony amendment and ultimately succeed in preventing its ratification in Louisiana, in August 1920, the Anthony amendment was ratified, formalizing it as the 19th Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Despite the efforts of anti-suffragists and states rights activists like Dodge and Gordon, women were constitutionally provided the right to vote in 1920. Their century long effort had come to fruition. And the natural assumption is then was that women would begin to vote en masse, exercising this hard won right.

But they didn't.

Whether by choice or by design, the women's rights movement that had championed suffrage for over a century all but disappeared during the 1920s.

We’ll turn to this fading of women's rights activists, and who they abandoned, next time on Prologued.

Sarah Paxton
(Credits)

This season of Prologued was brought to you by Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective, an online publication of the Public History Initiative, the Goldberg Center, and the history departments at The Ohio State University in Columbus and Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, with support from the Stanton foundation. Our editors are David Steigerwald, Steven Conn, and Nicholas Breyfogle. It was written and hosted by Sarah Paxton with research support from Min A Park. Our audio and technical advisor is Paul Kotheimer and our production specialist is Brandon MacLean and Oranjudio. Song and band information can be found on our website, and we encourage our listeners to visit episode descriptions for citations to background reading and sources that made this podcast possible. You can find our podcast and more on our website origins.osu.edu, on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify and SoundCloud, as well as wherever else you get your podcasts. As always, you can find us on Twitter @ProloguedPod and @originsOSU. Thanks for listening.

Episode 3: Equal Suffrage Awaits Trial Citations:

B. H. Gilley "Kate Gordon and Louisiana Woman Suffrage." Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association 24, no. 3 (1983): 289-306. 

Susan Goodier, No Votes for Women: The New York State Anti-Suffrage Movement. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, April 2013.

Elna C. Green. "The Rest of the Story: Kate Gordon and the Opposition to the Nineteenth Amendment in the South." Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association 33, no. 2 (1992): 171-89. 

Annelise Orleck, "Rose Schneiderman." Jewish Women's Archive. https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/schneiderman-rose.

Annelise Orleck, "Pauline Newman." Jewish Women's Archive. https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/newman-pauline.

Armantine M. Smith, The History of the Woman's Suffrage Movement in Louisiana, 62 La. L. Rev. (2002)

"Triangle Factory Fire," The History Engine. The University of Richmond. https://historyengine.richmond.edu/episodes/view/4473.

Episode 4: So...What Now?:

Sarah Paxton

At the turn of the 20th century, women's politics was largely defined by suffrage. It was a fight to gain the right to vote. In an era when even if there were disagreements as to specifics and strategy. The goal is clear, and the only options were victory or failure.

In August of 1920, the 19th Amendment marked victory from the National American Woman's Suffrage Association and the National Women’s Party. Women were legally allowed to vote in the 1920 presidential election. The battle was over, They had won. So…what now?

Now that women were a part of the electorate, they had the opportunity to take advantage of that new right to vote. They could harness the organizing power they demonstrated during the suffrage movement to form the much anticipated women's voting bloc that would exercise the political influence suffragists had argued was their right as both Americans and as society's caretakers.

But that blocc never emerged.

Today we turn to the aftermath of the 19th Amendment, and women's rocky transition from suffrage-focus activists to American voters with disparate political beliefs and deeply entrenched racial and economic divides.

For Origins: Current Events in Historic al Perspective, I'm Sarah Paxton, and this is Prologued.

(music)

Susan Hartmann

Well, in some ways, it didn't represent an abrupt change.

Sarah Paxton

That is Dr. Susan Hartmann, an expert on 20th century women's history and a professor emeritus of American history at The Ohio State University. For this episode, Dr. Hartmann and I sat down to discuss post 19th Amendment America, including how electoral politics changed for the first elections after the amendment passed.

Susan Hartmann

A lot of the polls were set up in barber shops and even bars before women could vote and, after women join the electorate everywhere, the polls were moved to schools and churches and community centers. There was some change in how candidates appealed to voters. They did, at least for a while after suffrage, feel the need to talk directly to women, Warren Harding, who was running for president in 1920, he had a special reception for women at his home and gathered 5000 women to his home so that he could give an election speech. And the Republicans also took out an ad in one magazine, a sewing magazine for women, and it told women why they should vote for Harding. And that ad emphasized peace, that Harding and the Republicans were going to be the party of peace and it addressed them as mothers. So it was very gender specific.

Sarah Paxton

These changes may seem subtle, but they demonstrate a critical evolution in the electoral process in the United States. When electoral politics was an essential facet of white American masculinity, it was expressed in areas strictly inhabited by men. This quickly changed upon the 19th Amendment’s ratification—the electoral process was now in areas associated with women and the home. Churches, schools, community centers, and this continues through to this day. Think about it. Where do you vote?

The power that came with this new access to American elections was not lost on the activists of NAWSA and the National Women’s Party, but their role in post 19th Amendment American politics was unclear. Establishing a coalition of women focused on a single issue during the interwar period was difficult. Following World War One, American politics shifted as the Progressive Era support for expansive measures like suffrage fell out of favor, instead seeing the rise of anti-labor backlash, an increase in racial violence, and, finally, the stock market crash of 1929 that ushered in the Great Depression during the 1930s. This social volatility made coalescing around any particular issue difficult as women's interests and opinions were diverse. The suffrage movement split into multiple, issue-based organizations and each group did not necessarily enjoy alliances with other women run organizations. Perhaps most daunting, despite being of roughly equal number to their brothers. American society expected higher rates of women's participation in elections than they expected of male voters.

Despite these difficulties, both NAWSA and the National Women’s Party moved to transition from a women's suffrage movement to a women's rights movement. In 1919, NAWSA merged with the National Council of Women Voters in an organization founded by Emma Smith DeVoe in 1911 that intended to educate women who had already gained the right to vote through state action. This merger created a new organization dedicated to the education of American voters and lobbying for legislation that promoted women's issues. They named this organization the League of Women Voters.

Susan Hartmann

The League of Women Voters did two things primarily. They tried to get women to the polls, and they tried to educate voters of both sexes, not just women, but they put out educational materials and held meetings and events for both men and women voters. And they continue to do that today. I mean, anybody who's kind of looked around every time there's an election, there'll be the League of Women Voters guide to candidates. They also, after suffrage, worked for jury service for women, because that didn't come automatically with suffrage. And that was one of their key objectives to get women equal rights with men to serve on juries that wasn't finally settled until Supreme Court decision in the 1970s. So that took a long time. And the League is really very active today, not just with the voting guides, but they have been one of the key players in the push to defend voting rights for everybody, not just women.

Sarah Paxton

Many of the NAWSA women recognize that these early years after the 19th Amendment would serve as a referendum on the 19th Amendment and the rhetoric the suffragists had espoused during the suffrage movement, it was time to prove themselves. And the only way to do that was to make sure women voted—regardless of the candidate’s political party.

Susan Hartmann

The League was absolutely and strictly nonpartisan. It never endorsed a candidate. And if you are an officer in the League, and you ran before an elected office, you had to resign from your League position. So it was strictly nonpartisan, but it did give women a lot of training and experience in politics.

Sarah Paxton

The League worked hard to encourage women to vote in the years after the 19th Amendment was ratified. And in doing so, the 1920s League of Women Voters had a large impact on the electoral process and served as a predicate for our modern campaigning. In 1923, they organized an iteration of the modern get out the vote campaign, which they call the “Victory Vote Drive.”

Yet despite their effort, the 1920s marked an era of decline in overall voter turnout.

It is easy to argue a causal link between the 19th Amendment and low voter turnout. The size of the electorate doubled for the 1920 election and yet the turnout percentages were at an all time low, suggesting that the new voters weren't turning out to the polls.

But that is not necessarily a fair analysis.

For one, Dr. Hartmann tells me, we just don't have good numbers on gender breakdowns of voter turnout until the 1960s or 70s. Statisticians can render some estimation, but the information is nowhere near as strong as the data we collect today and the findings not as robust. But what we do know is that women were voting.

Susan Hartmann

Women already had the vote in 15 states before the 19th Amendment was ratified. And these women of course, were all voting So it wasn't that abrupt change. Even in Ohio, women had been voting for school board candidates for years, and they even had won the presidential vote right before the national amendment. But the amendment did bring millions more women into the polls, about 19 million women overall, voted in 1920. It was a little over a third of all women who were eligible to vote and only half the number of men who voted. So women started out slowly. But that often happens with new groups of voters. It takes a while for them to kind of match up with people who have been voting for a long time.

Sarah Paxton

And let's not forget that discussion of voter turnout numbers in the 1920s are not representative of everyone living in the United States. Thousands of people men and women are still barredd from voting, even after the Civil Rights Amendment and the 19th Amendment. While women of color were a critical part of the suffrage movement, fighting for women of color’s right to vote was not a chief concern for NAWSA or the National Women’s Party leaders. That meant that a unified women's voting bloc not only didn't form but couldn't form because the 19th Amendment still did not guarantee universal suffrage.

Susan Hartmann

And, of course, as you know, it was white women who won the vote in 1920. That was not written down anywhere. But the vast, vast, vast majority of women of color did not get to vote until decades after the 19th Amendment was ratified. Most American blacks lived in the south, and their voting was inhibited by all kinds of devices by literacy tests, payroll taxes, and even by violence and intimidation. As late as two decades after white women could vote, only 5% of all blacks in the south were able to cast a vote.

Sarah Paxton

Citizenship and voting rights hold a great deal of power and have been and continue to be a weapon of both race and class supremacy. White supremacy was reinforced in many communities by controlling who was, and who was not, an American citizen. Asian American women were barred from American citizenship due to a variety of race-based laws. Chinese women, for instance, were ineligible for American citizenship under the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, which meant that women like Mabel Ping-Hua Lee, who marched in suffrage parades and fought for women's voting rights was not enfranchised herself under the 19th Amendment. Further, even women of color who were legally American citizens, such as Black women in the south, were barred from voting due to legislation like Jim Crow laws that established poll taxes and grandfather clauses.

Additionally, according to Dr. Lilia Fernandez, Latina and Chicano women faced obstacles to obtaining citizenship and voting as well, so the 19th Amendment had little impact on their ability to participate in electoral politics.

Lilia Fernandez

It would have again, for those elite women for middle upper class women who had been previously engaged politically before the passage of the 19th Amendment, you know, of course, it would have given them the franchise and so they would have felt empowered or emboldened in their work to advocate on behalf of vulnerable or marginal members of their community, to advocate on behalf of women, children and other populations. Now, one of the things that I think we need to remember when we talk about the 19th Amendment and the extension of suffrage to Latina or Chicana women, was that in many places, in the southwest, for example, Mexican Americans were barred from the electoral process more generally. So men would not have been allowed to vote because of things like poll taxes or white only primaries, or, you know, other kinds of discriminatory mechanisms. So even after the passage of the 19th Amendment and women's suffrage, some of them may have been up against those restrictions as well. And again, it would have been primarily middle, upper-class women or women who were in positions of power, who would have benefited the most from the passage of the 19th Amendment.

Sarah Paxton

Barring access to citizenship and voting rights is a powerful act of white supremacy; however, it is not the only way citizenship can be used to reinforce white domination. Not all women wanted to be citizens and refused American citizenship in order to protect their own community sovereignty. Dr. Daniel Rivers, who you may remember from previous episodes, will tell you that for Native American, being made into an American citizen without their consent was actually a legal reinforcement of white domination against tribal culture and sovereignty.

Daniel Rivers

When thinking about the impact of the 19th Amendment itself on Native American women, we have to remember that citizenship for Native Americans in general is a really fraught and complicated issue. My tribe, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, is granted citizenship as part of the taking of our land under the Dawes Act. The Dawes Act, of course is passed in 1887 and pushes for the allotment of Native American lands and the forced assimilation of native tribes into the United States of America. The five tribes, as they're known colloquially, of Oklahoma, however, the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Seminole, Cherokee, and the Creek tribes, were exempted from the 1887 Dawes Act. However, in 1898, the Curtis Act is passed and that allots the five tribes, so the five tribes are only given a brief period of grace before they are forced into allotment. And the Curtis Act not only allots the five tribes, but it also forces citizenship on them.

And this is important because the logic of this was that if the citizens of the five tribes of Oklahoma were made citizens than citizens of the United States, it could possibly be argued, could not be under treaties with the United States. And so this would be added insurance that the members of the five tribes wouldn't be able to contest the theft of their land in any way. This is interesting because it shows us that citizenship, while we tend to think of it as a benefit and a right, actually in many ways can operate as a weapon of colonial control and oppression. In this context, citizenship as it was granted to Native Americans in general by the 1924 Indian citizenship act was seen by many Native Americans as a deep betrayal of agreements that they had had with the US government.

Foremost among them, it must be said to honor them, was the Onondaga. The Onondaga, of course, are one of the six tribes of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy that influenced those early suffragists. The Onondaga in 1924, told the US Congress that not only did they not want citizenship, but that the US Congress had no right to confer it on them. So within this context, we have to think about citizenship and the suffrage for native men and Native women, as of questionable benefit in that moment, and certainly as a possible tool of colonial domination.

And this gets us into a conversation about sovereignty, really what we're looking at, I'm a bi national citizen, as are all enrolled members of US tribes. And for us, I think the question of citizenship is always a question that gets us into questions of sovereignty and tribal autonomy.

Sarah Paxton

While the female electorate was slow to emerge after the 19th Amendment, many sufferagists turned away from voting rights activism and embraced a far more expansive form of women's rights activism, and this included Alice Paul and her National Women’s Party.

In February 1921, six months after the ratification of the 19th Amendment, the National woman's party held a convention to determine the future of their organization. During this conference, Alice Paul endorsed turning the National Women’s Party's attention to eradicating all forms of sex discrimination. The National Women’s Party adopted this plan drafting and advocating for a constitutional amendment that would ensure the equal rights of all Americans, regardless of their gender. This Equal Rights Amendment stated that “men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and at every place, subject to its jurisdiction.” This sweeping amendment would touch on every part of American law and was introduced in Congress in 1923.

However, unlike equal suffrage, equal rights was not universally accepted by women's rights activists and created substantial divides within the movement.

By endorsing universal equal rights. The National Women’s Party alienated important allies from the suffrage movement. Like we talked about in Episode Two, working class women played important roles in the labor movement and the labor movement was a crucial ally of the suffragists. However, labor activists who had previously supported the National Women’s Party balked at the National Women’s Party's view that labor laws should also be gender equal, creating class divisions in the women's rights movement.

Working class women of the labor movement had fought hard for many of the labor protections afforded to women, such as limiting the number of hours they could be made to work. They rejected the National Women’s Party's assertion that sex-based labor laws narrowed the opportunities for economic advancement available to women, and instead viewed them as necessary to defend their role within the industrial world. Further, they argued that the National Women’s Party's stance was based on the views of rich women who had not lived, nor understood, the experiences of working-class women. Many of these women actively organized against the ERA. Mary Anderson was a Swedish immigrant who entered the Chicago workforce at 16 years old, first as a domestic worker, and then a factory worker, and finally a trade union leader before being appointed as the first director of the US Department of Labor's Women's Bureau in 1920. During her 25 years in office, Anderson strove for better working conditions for women, including better hours and wages, and ardently opposed the ERA as failing to protect the already overburdened and vulnerable working women and mothers of America.

Alice Paul's ERA similarly drew the ire of the leaders of other women's organizations, including the League of Women Voters. As Dr. Hartmann said earlier, the League of Women Voters fought for many of the same things as the National Women’s Party, including eliminating sex discrimination. However, like many of the women's labor unions, they were immediately concerned with preserving protective labor legislation.

Further, the League of Women Voters was just as frustrated with the tactics of Alice Paul's National Women’s Party as NAWSA had been during the suffrage movement, seeing them as employing a form of “hysterical feminism” and political trickery that was designed to make all ERA opponents appear to be against women's rights. This personal tension only added to the political divisions. Shortly before the Equal Rights Amendment was introduced to Congress, the League of Women Voters publicly announced their opposition to any universal equal rights legislation.

The ERA would go on to be introduced every year after its 1923 introduction, but its failure to gain traction following the 19th Amendment is often regarded as a failure of the early women's rights movement. It also demonstrates how fractured American women were, and the fallacy of men's fear of the women's bloc. Significant numbers of American women were still barred from voting and those that could vote didn't agree on how to vote, often choosing to vote as their husbands did. Unlike the Civil War Amendments, after the 19th Amendment was passed, it became a relatively uncontroversial part of American law as women's rights activists faded into the background of inter-war politics.

It wouldn't be for several decades, when women of color had substantially more access to electoral politics and protective labor laws were made gender neutral that the ERA would again dominate policy platforms, and women voters would establish themselves as a permanent fixture of American electoral politics.

Next time, on Prologued.

Sarah Paxton
(Credits)

This season of Prologued was brought to you by Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective, an online publication of the Public History Initiative, the Goldberg Center, and the history departments at The Ohio State University in Columbus and Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, with support from the Stanton foundation. Our editors are David Steigerwald, Steven Conn, and Nicholas Breyfogle. It was written and hosted by Sarah Paxton with research support from Min A Park. Our audio and technical advisor is Paul Kotheimer and our production specialist is Brandon MacLean and Oranjudio. Song and band information can be found on our website, and we encourage our listeners to visit episode descriptions for citations to background reading and sources that made this podcast possible. You can find our podcast and more on our website origins.osu.edu, on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify and SoundCloud, as well as wherever else you get your podcasts. As always, you can find us on Twitter @ProloguedPod and @originsOSU. Thanks for listening.

Episode 4: So...What Now? Citations:

Theme Music: Hot Shot by Scott Holmes

"Anderson, Mary," Social Welfare History Project. VirginiaCommonwealth University. https://socialwelfare.library.vcu.edu/people/anderson-mary/.

Nancy F. Cott, "Historical Perspectics: The Equal Rights Amendment Conflict in the 1920s" in Conflicts in Feminism, edited byMarianne Hirsch and Evelyn Fox Keller (New York and London: Routledge, 1990), http://bingweb.binghamton.edu/~hist266/era/cott3.htm.

Liette Gidlow, "Delegitimizing Democracy: "Civic Slackers," the Cultural Turn, and the Possibilities of Politics" The Journal of American History 89, no. 3 (Dec., 2002)

Paul Kleppner, "Were Women to Blame? Female Suffrage and Voter Turnout," The Journal of Interdisciplinary History 12, no. 4 (Spring, 1982)

"Mabel Ping-Hua Lee," Shall Not Be Denied: More to the Movement. The Library of Congress. https://www.loc.gov/exhibitions/women-fight-for-the-vote/about-this-exhi...

Ann  Firor Scott, "After Suffrage: Southern Women in the Twenties," The Journal of Southern History 30, no.  3 (Aug., 1964)

"Triangle Factory Fire," The History Engine. The University of Richmond. https://historyengine.richmond.edu/episodes/view/4473.

Episode 5: A Slut frrom East Toledo Transcript:

Sarah Paxton

Last time, we discussed the aftermath of the 19th Amendment and the limitations of the suffragists’ success. So while women's rights activism certainly continued, it did not compare to the widespread organization of the suffrage movement, and when not again until the 1960s.

Today, we turned to that next era of organized women's rights movement in the aftermath of World War Two. The revived feminist movement was influenced by the civil rights and antiwar movements that came before it, and experienced similar conflicts among the movement’s members. At the heart of these conflicts was the expansive list of goals the feminist movement addressed. These created divisions over strategy, ideology, and the limitations of white feminism.

For Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective, I'm Sarah Paxton, and this is Prologued.

music

World War Two was a critical turning point for gender and race relations in the U.S.. Women and People of Color played vital roles in the war effort. Men of Color, including African Americans, Latinos, Chicanos, and Japanese men, served in the armed forces in large numbers. Meanwhile, women and those who didn't enlist were called on to fill the soldiers’ place in the industrial world, working jobs that have been previously viewed as unsuitable for women, like munitions plants or airplane factories.

And this was seen as a good thing. A patriotic thing. You've seen the pictures of Rosie the Riveter, the tough yet feminine image of a woman and industrial jumpsuit and a red bandana flexing her bicep to show that women were indeed strong enough to perform industrial tasks. And American women did—these female workers not only served the Homefront, they also constituted a crucial piece of the American war effort.

When the war ended, and all the men came back home, it was expected that everything would return to normal: that women would return to their homes vacating their positions as the men came back to take their jobs, and that minority communities would again settle on the fringes of American society.

The integral role women and minority communities played in World War Tw—and the message that involvement in the war effort made them patriotic citizens—radically affected the gendered and racial image of an American deserved equal rights and protection under the law.

Lilia Fernandez

Because so many Latina and Chicana women participated in the war effort during World War Two, either here on the Homefront going into the defense industries, or even offering their service in uniform and the American military, many Latinos have Chicanos did, in fact, I think become much more politically aware and conscious of a number of issues affecting our communities, especially women who had moved into the workforce.

Sarah Paxton

That is Dr. Lilia Fernandez, who you first met back in Episode One. Dr. Fernandez is a professor of 20th century Latino and Chicano history at Rutgers University. He told me that not only were the women in the Latino and Chicano and African American communities less willing to return to the prewar status quo, they organized.

Lilia Fernandez

So, one of the effects of World War Two on those veterans who were coming home, not only in the African American community but among Chicanos and Latinos as well, was to give people a greater consciousness of their rights and what their citizenship meant here in the United States since they had gone abroad and fought against fascism and against Hitler and in defense of the freedoms that Americans enjoyed. So women became involved along with men in different kinds of civil rights organizations, I guess we could call them, and also veterans rights groups.

The American GI Forum, which was founded in Texas right after World War Two, for example, was an organization that started to advocate for and defend the rights of Mexican American Veterans primarily, initially, and this affected women as much as it did man because in many cases, they were fighting for the benefits that veterans were entitled to GI benefits, for example. And so that began to mobilize women at this time. There were also women involved in educational campaigns, trying to fight against the segregation of public schooling working on dismantling segregated public accommodations and other kinds of practices and public spaces.

Sarah Paxton

These efforts of the Latino and Chicano communities mirror those of African Americans in the postwar years. In the immediate aftermath of the war, minority communities lost much of the social and political progress that they had gained during the war, frustrating the African American community who fought to achieve the “Double V”—victory over fascism overseas, and victory over racism at home. The Civil Rights Movement developed through the 1940s, escalated during the 1950s, with victories such as Brown v Board of Education declaring school segregation unconstitutional and exploded during the 1960s.

And Black women were at the heart of it.

Black women have always been a driving force behind African American activism. In earlier episodes, we've talked about important Black female activists like Nellie Griswold Francis and Ida B. Wells. Black woman's role in activism goes back further to women such as anti-slavery advocate Harriet Jacobs, a former slave whose memoir is still used to educate Americans about the horrors of the American slavery institution. After the 19th Amendment, Black women developed organizations like the National Council of Negro women. The NCNW was formed in 1935 as an umbrella organization for the scattered Black sororities and professional Black women organizations and, during the 1940s and early 50s, the NCNW was marginally involved in the Civil Rights Movement by supporting efforts to end lynching and school segregation, and they became significantly more involved in the 1960s.

The Civil Rights Movement also served as both an inspiration and a training ground for feminists. Up until the 1960s, equal rights for women and People of Color were considered separate issues, a belief that by then was accepted as fact by both activists and legislators. But women's discomfort with a post war return to feminine domesticity was already brewing. Many women were disillusioned that their employment opportunities were once again low paying “women's work” after they had experienced more opportunities during the war. And for these women, they struggled with the housewife experience that was the new middle-class definition of success.

Betty Friedan was one of these dissatisfied women. Friedan was well educated and, after turning down an opportunity to pursue her PhD, she worked as a journalist before being fired in 1947 when she was pregnant. After that, she was a housewife. In 1963, Friedan wrote about feeling unfulfilled as a housewife, a blockbuster book, the feminine mistakes discussion of the “problem that has no name” resonated with American housewives and galvanized the second widespread, organized women's movement. And many of these new activists started by participating in the Civil Rights Movement.

Susan Hartmann

The Civil Rights Movement had a tremendous impact in terms of women's mobilizing and women's activism.

Sarah Paxton

That's Dr. Susan Hartmann, who you may remember from the last episode, a historian of 20th century women's history at The Ohio State University,

Susan Hartmann

Some women who became feminists got their start actually in working for women's rights for Black civil rights, but even I think more important, the Black freedom struggle gave women a model—an opportunity to think about how their own rights were limited a model of protests, the different kinds of tactics that you can use to protest. And sometimes they even tried to piggyback women on to Black civil rights legislation. And they did that they did that with what we call Title VII, which is the part of the law that bans discrimination in employment that was actually written to cover African Americans. And it was expanded, being pushed in part by women to include sex discrimination as well as racial discrimination.

Sarah Paxton

Title VII was a section of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, a key piece of legislation that aimed to eliminate discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, or sex. Title VII specifically barred employment discrimination.

Except sex was not initially included in the bill.

Virginia congressman Howard Smith opposed civil rights legislation and added sex as a poison pill, hoping the addition would be a deal breaker for those who supported the bill and ultimately keep it from passing.

But it didn't work. Instead, civil rights activists and women inspired by The Feminine Mystique and rallied by Betty Friedan pushed for Title VII to pass.

And it did. But Friedan supporters weren't finished yet. When the Lyndon B Johnson administration and the newly formed Equal Employment Opportunity Commission began to enforce Title VII, they ignored the clause barring sex discrimination. In reaction Eileen Hernandez, a member of the EEOC, quit in protest and Betty Friedan founded the National Organization of Women. NOW applied pressure to the Johnson administration until finally in 1967, President Johnson issued Executive Order 11357, officially ordering the enforcement of the sex clause.

NOW was the first formal organization of the feminist movement, but others quickly followed. With the rise of the Black Power and antiwar movements, college age women were involved in the Civil Rights Movement in greater numbers. By the late 1960s, some of these women were growing frustrated, but the role of women in civil rights organizations like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC, a civil rights group that organized student activists and protests.

In 1968, Mary King and Casey Hayden, two white members of SNCC, wrote what has become known as the “sex and caste” memo, in which they argue that while the organization fought for equal rights, they relegated their female members to secondary positions. Then, in 1969, famed feminist Gloria Steinem wrote an article in New York Magazine where she stated that women “have marched on Senate Committees, Pentagon hawks, their own college presidents and the Chase Manhattan Bank” but once they were working within their organizations “they found themselves typing and making coffee” It was during this era that a more nuanced feminist movement developed.

Susan Hartmann

The 1960s witness the beginning of women, or at least more and more women, with a concern about their rights and opportunities in the larger world. This was a result of a lot of large-scale developments. One important one being that there were more and more women in the labor force, more and more women had gone to work, even mothers, there were more and more mothers who actually had jobs outside the home, women had greater education. And these experiences contributed to a renewed interest in women's rights. So by the end of the 1960s, you have a burgeoning movement of women ranging from, you know, liberal radical to moderate. It was a very diverse group of women who believed that laws and policies needed to be changed so that they had the same opportunities that men did. So they were no longer discriminated against in jobs in professions in religion in all kinds of areas of public life.

Sarah Paxton

Like the National American Woman Suffrage Association, and the National Women's Party, the feminist movement was fractured into multiple organizations with different ideologies.

Betty Friedan’s NOW represented the early, moderate feminists but the younger women of the late 1960s, like those in SNCC, veered in more radical directions. It was from this era that organizations like the New York Radical Women developed, championing the earliest versions of women's liberation, which called for not only the legal equality of women, but women's freedom from the patriarchal expectations of feminine womanhood. The New York Radical Women famously protested the 1968 Miss America Pageant. Later groups were even more radical, such as the Redstockings, founded in 1969, who objected to what they saw as moderate feminists like now turning a blind eye to men's social power. It was organizations like these that inspired Gloria Steinem who became the face of the feminist movement by the end of the 1960s.

Like Friedan Steinem was a Smith College educated journalist, but she lived a very different life. While Friedan was married, had children, and experienced “ the problem that has no name” in the wake of World War Two, Steinem was younger and single. While Steinem published articles in the early 1960s that touched on issues of women's rights like sexual harassment and divorce settlements. She wasn't a part of organized feminist activism until the end of the 1960s, nearly a decade after Friedan began her work.

Friedan and Steinem clashed immediately, with their personal and ideological conflicts often being conducted through the media, for Friedan maintained a column in McCall's magazine and Steinem would regularly give interviews as she developed an increasingly high profile and glamorous image. Friedan took issue with Steinem's quick ascent to leadership and her evolution into a celebrity figure, especially since she viewed Steinem as arriving late to the movement.

While Steinem maintained that much of their conflict was due to personality differences, Friedan herself acknowledged she was abrasive, there were also major strategic and ideological differences between the two feminist leaders. Freidan may have been brusque, but she didn't want to be too polarizing. Not wanting to discourage men from assisting in the feminist movement, nor wanting to alienate conservative women. Meanwhile, Steinem called for supporting female candidates over male candidates in all political races—Regardless of whether the male candidate was friendly to the feminist cause, a strategy Friedan condemned as female chauvinism. They also clashed over the inclusion of lesbians and lesbian rights in the movement platform, with Steinem supporting their inclusion and Friedan concerned that would potentially derail the feminist movement.

These ideological splits are not surprising.

Unlike the first women's movement, which had a targeted goal of suffrage, it is difficult to pin down the feminist movements specific list of goals. They tackled sex discrimination, violence against women divorce, childcare, and many other facets of the American woman's experience. These myriad issues and ideologies were further exacerbated by the domination of white feminism during the feminist movement—meaning they defined women's issues and oppression by white women's experience and overlooked the oppression experienced by Women of Color. Women of Color struggled to find their place in the feminist movement, and some of them chose to remain under the umbrella of civil rights organizations, like SNCC.

After the Sex and Caste memo, white women split from SNCC; but. Women of Color created their own subcommittee called the Black Women's Liberation Committee, which would eventually become the intersectional Third World women Alliance. Many other Women of Color—including civil rights icons like Florynce Kennedy, Shirley Chisholm, and Pauli Murray—joined organizations like NOW or worked directly with white feminist towards shared goals while simultaneously pushing for a more expansive view of women's rights—one that took into account the nuances in priorities between white feminists and Black feminists.

One such issue was reproductive rights.

Reproductive rights, especially those pertaining to abortion and birth control have been subjects of increasing political debate through the 20th century. Abortion and birth control were criminalized on a state by state basis during the 19th century. But this usually allowed for abortions to be performed if the woman's life was at risk. At a time when childbirth was extremely dangerous for women, middle class and elite women could seek out a sympathetic doctor and obtain a legal abortion. Working Class women and Women of Color often couldn't afford medical care, let alone a sympathetic doctor. This left them to endure an unwanted pregnancy or risk a “back alley” abortion, which was often just as deadly as it was illegal. During the mid-20th century, abortion and birth control rights became a controversial debate point between religious organizations who published articles and pamphlets on the sanctity of human life and feminist activists who saw reproductive freedom as essential to the liberation of women from male domination.

For both white women and Women of Color, reproductive freedom was important. Gloria Steinem herself had an abortion when she was 22, an experience she, and 52 other women, openly declared in Steinem's feminist magazine Ms. In 1972. Francis Beale, the head of SNCCs Black Women's Liberation Committee supported abortion rights by saying it was the right and responsibility of Black women to determine when, or if, having children would benefit the Civil Rights Movement. Further, according to Dr. Fernandez, for Women of Color, reproductive rights meant full control of their own body, a right that had been denied to them for centuries,

Lilia Fernandez

Women were involved in campaigns for women's rights, advocating for reproductive justice, fighting for equal pay, fighting for an end to employment discrimination. There were a lot of Chicanas and Latina women active in these kinds of issues on these kinds of struggles.

One of the probably big differences between Chicana and Latina women's participation and that of white women's participation in reproductive issues, for example, would have been that Chicana/Latina women, probably alongside Native American and African American women, to a certain extent also would have been fighting campaigns also at this time against forced sterilization practices which were happening in some public hospitals, and not only here and in the United States, but in Puerto Rico as well, that had been a long standing practice, I think dating back to the 1940s and 50s. So when it came to reproductive rights and reproductive justice, their activism was not only animated by access to abortion, but also by access to birth control and having the freedom to choose when to have children and having them in a safe environment and being able to make the choice of when women might want to restrict to their own fertility or, you know, have some kind of control over it.

Sarah Paxton

Since women's role in American society was his wives and mothers—going all the way back to the patriotic republican mother we talked about in Episode One—the road to reproductive freedom, especially abortion access was anything but smooth. Unlike with the 19th Amendment, lobbying states and legislatures was proving ineffective. In the late 1960s, several states moved to loosen the criminal restrictions on abortion access, but these reforms faded, and the topic was controversial and politically toxic, with feminists failing to make abortion access a plank in the 1972 Democratic Party Platform. Feminists themselves were also targets of sexual harassment and negative propaganda, with Gloria Steinem being diminished to just “a slut from East Toledo” by one male critic and activists being labeled “bitches” and “bra burners,” derogatory titles that stuck to feminists for decades.

The political failure of legislative efforts turned reproductive rights activists to a more promising venue: the courts. In 1965, Griswold v. Connecticut, which barred government interference in the use of birth control between married peoples, open the door to using the legally ill-defined right of privacy to support ending the criminal ban on abortion. By 1970, abortion rights cases begin to pop up all over the country but it was in Texas where the key challenge would be heard. 21-year-old Jane Roe—who would later reveal herself as Norma McCorvey—challenged the Texas ban on abortion as unconstitutional, using the same amendment invoked by Griswold.

Roe won.

Texas appealed.

And on January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States decided Roe v. Wade, declaring strict abortion bans unconstitutional.

This was a massive win for the feminist movement and one that Women of Color played a huge role in. After Roe, Women of Color continue their work for reproductive freedom, but many moved away from working with NOW. NOW verbally supported measures that challenged the socio-economic oppression that made many poor women and Women of Color unable to care for a child, such as the National Welfare Rights Organizations demand for a guaranteed annual income. However, they did not offer the financial or logistical support that would have demonstrated a true alliance or a commitment to causes that were central to Black feminism and Women of Color’s reproductive freedom. Women of Color’s disappointment with the myopic view of white feminism and feminist organizations extended to other areas of activism, including the resurgence of Alice Paul's Equal Rights Amendment.

Think back to our last episode. Remember that Paul, fresh off the ratification of the 19th Amendment, began campaigning for what became known as the Equal Rights Amendment. But it had languished for decades, reintroduced every session of Congress but never making any significant process towards being passed by both the House and Senate. In 1950, the ERA passed the Senate, but only with an amendment that stated “the provision of this article shall not be construed to impair any rights, benefits or exemptions conferred by law upon persons of the female sex.” With Arizona Senator Carl Hayden defending his amendment with the biblical differences between men and women, the so-called Hayden Amendment would have effectively nullified the intended impact of the ERA. The addition caught the ERA supporters by surprise, and they were enraged when the amendment passed the Senate with the rider attached. Without the widespread support of groups like Paul's National Women's Party, the ERA was again at a stalemate.

After the 1950 failure, the ERA was continuously introduced, but failed to make any movement. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy formed the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women. This committee, staffed almost completely by anti-ERA feminists like Eleanor Roosevelt, recommended against the implementation of the ERA—calling on the courts to address any unconstitutional discrimination. Other compromises were achieved while the ERA hung in limbo in 1963. The Equal Pay Act—which would later become the Fair Labor Standards Act—was passed to confront the gender pay gap and Title VII came closely thereafter. But the EEOC's refusal to crack down on sex discrimination under Title VII suggested that these compromises were merely paying lip service to women's equality. This then spurred the creation of Friedan’s NOW, who made passing the ERA and ensuring women's constitutional equality their first priority.

NOW’s aggressive push for the ERA proved divisive. Many Women of Color saw NOW's focus on the era over a more favorable interpretation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause as ignoring the related struggles of African Americans and, especially, Black women. Some Women of Color, such as civil rights attorney and NOW founding member Pauli Murray split from NOW due to the strategy.

Other women like Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress supported the measure. On July 20, 1970, Michigan representative Martha Griffiths moved to circumvent the committee who had been holding up congressional hearings on the ERA since Hayden's amendment in 1950. Then, on the floor of the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Chisholm advocated for passing the ERA, concluding that “The Constitution they wrote was designed to protect the rights of white male citizens. As there are no black Founding Fathers, there were no founding mothers—a great pity on both accounts. It is not too late to complete the work they left undone. Today, here, we should start to do so.”

The House of Representatives approved the ERA the following year, and the Senate approved the year after in 1972. Nearly half a century after Alice Paul drafted the ERA, it was passed and sent to the states for ratification.

22 states quickly ratified the ERA, success seemed all but assured.

But then a new opposition emerged, not one made of political parties or church leaders, but a group of women staunchly opposed to the ERA and the evolving gender dynamics. And they were led by one Mrs. Phyllis Schlafly of Missouri.

We turned to Mrs. Schlafly and the fate of the ERA, next time, on Prologued.

Episode 5: A Slut from East Toledo Citations:

Theme Music: Hot Shoby Scott Holmes

"Betty Friedan Interview" The First Measured Century. Public Broadcasting Service. https://www.pbs.org/fmc/interviews/friedan.htm.

Shirley Chisholm "For the Equal Rights Amendment - Aug. 10, 1970" Iowa State University: Archives of Women's Political Commentary. https://awpc.cattcenter.iastate.edu/2017/03/21/for-the-equal-rights-amen....

Dierdre Comody, "FEMINISTS SCORED BY BETTY FRIEDAN" The New York Times. July 19, 1872. https://www.nytimes.com/1972/07/19/archives/feminists-scored-by-betty-fr...

"Feminists Who Changed America, 1963-1975," edited by Barbara J. Love and Nancy F. Cott (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2006).

Jo Freeman, "How "Sex" Got Into Title VII: Persistent Opportunism as a Maker of Public Policy," JoFreeman.com, https://www.jofreeman.com/lawandpolicy/titlevii.htm.

Cynthia Harrison, On Account of Sex: The Politics of Women's Issues, 1945-1968 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.)

Susan M. Hartmann, "Closing Gaps in Civil Rights and Womenʹs Rights: Black Women and Feminism." In The Other Feminists: Activists in the Liberal Establishment, 176-206. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998.)

Georgia Jones "Twinkle, Twinkle... the Great Superstar Fiasco." Off Our Backs 3, no. 1 (1972).

Andrew E. Kersten "African Americans and World War II." OAH Magazine of History 16, no. 3 (2002).

"The Long Road to Equality: What Women Won from the ERA Ratification Effort" American Women: Topical Essays. The Library of Congress, https://guides.loc.gov/american-women-essays/era-ratification-effort.

Mark Newman "The Emergence of the Movement, 1941—59." in The Civil Rights Movement, 33-68. (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004).

Loretta J. Ross "African American Women and Abortion" in Abortion Wars: A Half Century of Struggle, 1950-2000, edited by Rickie Solinger (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998)

Gloria Steinem, "After Black Power, Women’s Liberation" New York Magazine. May 7, 2008. https://nymag.com/news/politics/46802/.

Geoffrey R. Stone, "The Road to Roe." Litigation 43, no. 1 (2016).

"Women's Rights and the Civil Rights Act of 1964." The National Archives. https://www.archives.gov/women/1964-civil-rights-act.

Amanda Whiting "Gloria Steinem & Betty Friedan's Friendship Was As Messy As It Looks On 'Mrs. America'" Bustle. April 21, 2020. https://www.bustle.com/p/gloria-steinem-betty-friedans-complex-relations....

Episode 6: Mom and Apple Pie:

Sarah Paxton

Last time, we discussed the emergence of the 1970s feminist movement as it grew from the civil rights movement. We looked at the conflicts over strategy and platform goals. And the internal debates that led to Title VII is inclusion of sex, Roe v. Wade, and the Equal Rights Amendment being well on its way to becoming the newest tenant of the US Constitution.

But it was during the early 1970s that a counter movement developed, consisting of women who directly opposed the redefining of women's roles in society that the feminist movement, radical liberationists, and Black feminists were advocating. This opposition movement played a crucial part in shaping not only women's role in public society, but the modern conservative woman.

Today, we turn to anti-ERA activist Phyllis Schlafly and the lasting impact of the conservative women's movement.

For Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective, I’m Sarah Paxton, and this is Prologued.

Music

Sarah Paxton

In the previous episode, we started by talking about how, in the wake of the Second World War, in which marginalized people of color and women had played an extensive and vital role, the nation attempted to return to normalcy. Women were expected to return to roles as wives and mothers, working only the limited and low paying positions that were deemed suitable for women.

Remember that it was Betty Friedan's lack of fulfillment in domesticity, as a housewife after being fired during her second pregnancy, which inspired her to write The Feminine Mystique, which gave a voice to the emerging feminist movement of the 1960s.

But not all women shared Friedan’s frustration. Instead, for many of these women living the quintessential image of American domesticity that had spurred Betty Friedan’s feminist awakening was a luxury that they had long thought on attainable.

After the war, the classic image of the suburban American family developed. The suburbs grew in the 1940s and 50s, due in part to the post war baby boom, which made more space for increasing family sizes desirable, and veteran benefits like low GI mortgages, that made purchasing large homes outside the city possible. The post war economy rebounded from the 1930s Great Depression and big families could live on dad's single income in the new suburbs, most women didn't have to work. Rather these women were able to stay at home as a wife and mother, living as a “housewife.”

In the 1940s and 50s, suburban conservatives saw the expanding welfare state as pushing America closer and closer to the socialism and communism that they watched develop in the Soviet Union. This was the era of McCarthyism, after all, in the early days of the Cold War.

But some women were also concerned that the expansion of welfare policies would destroy their new way of life in the suburbs. For a substantial number of families, life in the suburbs was far and above what they had experienced growing up working class during the Great Depression. Conservatives saw the expensive programs of the New Deal and the higher taxes that funded them as a threat on their ability to afford their new post more lives.

In the 1960s, the feminist movement also became a threat to the status quo. By the 1950s and 60s owning and tending to a single family home as a housewife was how many women in America defined success. However, as Dr. Susan Hartman tells us, by the end of the 1960s, the feminist movement was growing increasingly radical and threatening the privileges housewives enjoyed.

Susan Hartmann

A counter movement arose, that attacked, not everything, but most of the key goals of the feminists. Conservative women mobilized around the idea that being a wife and being a mother, or God given roles, or at least natural roles, that they did not want to give up their right to be supported and protected by men. And they felt that the feminist movement was chipping away at both their status as wives and mothers and at their right and possibility to be protected and supported by men.

Sarah Paxton

This counter movement of conservative women was led by Mrs. Phyllis Schlafly, a Missouri housewife raised by working class parents who struggled during the Great Depression. Her mother had to work as a librarian, and then a teacher because our father struggled for work during the 1930s. But, like most conservative suburbanites, Phyllis Schlafly’s prospects dramatically improved after World War Two.

Susan Hartmann

Phyllis Schlafly was a very accomplished woman. She grew up in the 20s and 30s. She got a law degree. She worked in a defense plant during World War Two. She married a Catholic, like herself, and their religion played a part in their conservative attitudes. She became very active in Republican policy, but mostly in terms of national defense. She felt that the United States wasn't strong enough against the Soviet Union in the Cold War. She wanted a more—a stronger military system, and her other main goal was limited government. She believed that the government had gotten too big.

Sarah Paxton

After she married Fred Schlafly, Phyllis quit her paperwork and dedicated herself to being a housewife and mother, raising six kids. From then on her nonfamily time was spent volunteering for the Republican Party.

Fred Schlafly was a well-connected businessman who supported his wife's political activities. In 1952, when Fred Schlafly declined to the Republican party's nomination to Congress as a representative from Missouri, the party nominated Phyllis.

While her gender was certainly an obstacle in electoral politics, she focused on issues that she saw as most important to the preservation of the country and that fell under the traditional role of women: protecting the moral fabric of society. Harkening back to the tenants of Republican Motherhood and True Womanhood, two ideologies that we have discussed at length in past episodes, Schlafly relied on her experience as a housewife and a mother to a young toddler as her credentials. She discussed her political platform in terms of wives and mothers organized, efficient, and morally upright nature, declaring that “I feel very disturbed about the corrupt situation in politics. I think that women should get into politics and do something about it.”

Schlafly lost her campaign, but continued in Republican politics, organizing a national, Catholic based anti-communism grassroots movement, and, in 1964, she joined the presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater, the conservative Republican nominee

Susan Hartmann

In 1964 she wrote a book that sold millions of copies, and it was promoting Barry Goldwater for the Republican nomination. And she titled it A Choice, Not an Echo. She felt that the Republican Party had become too moderate, too liberal. And she wanted to bring it back to a firm stance for a limited, very limited federal government and a strong national defense. So she went around and gave political speeches, but she wasn't taken all that seriously by the male leaders of the party. And when the Equal Rights Amendment got into Congress in the late 1960s, she took a look at it and thought that that was an issue that was important for her to take a role in and she started a movement against the Equal Rights Amendment. And that issue was a key solidifier of conservatives Women in opposition to feminism.

Sarah Paxton

So Schlafly organized the anti-ERA movement for several reasons, one of which was to reignite her political career. Following Goldwater's crushing defeat, Schlafly began to lose prominence in the Republican Party. The moderate members had found Schlafly too difficult to work with and began pushing her out. Further, they didn't take her views on foreign or military policy seriously.

But the ERA was an area in which she believed she would be taken seriously by conservatives. In the early 1970s, Schlafly sent out a widespread newsletter, arguing that the ERA would subject women to the draft, eliminate a man's financial responsibility to his family, and would weaken women's position in custody disputes. Further, Schlafly argued, it was unnecessary. Any discrimination that women had experienced was already barred by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963, meaning that women would lose far more than they would gain with the ERA.

Schlafly’s newsletter spread like wildfire, resonating with the other first generation suburban conservatives. Following this success, Schlafly expanded her activities and began organizing the conservative housewives that made up her newsletter demographic. In October 1972, Schlafly established STOP ERA, which stood for stop taking our privileges, and the organization went national in 1973.

Feminists did not react well to Phyllis Schlafly’s conservative activism. By the time STOP ERA was formed, feminist activists thought that they had all but won and that public opinion was on their side. Many found her to be a hypocrite—she preached that women should stay at home while she was almost never in hers, traveling from event to event. Betty Friedan was livid—as we discussed last time Friedan had an abrasive personality and it would come out during debates with Phyllis Schlafly. At an Illinois debate Friedan stated that she would “like to burn [Schlafly] at the stake” and called her a “Aunt Tom,” a reference to an Uncle Tom, a derogatory term for an African American seen as subservient to whites.

But Schlafly’s anti-ERA campaign wasn't just political bluster, like so many of the feminists believed.

Michelle Swers

Well, Phyllis Schlafly was particularly motivated by the campaign against the ERA, the Equal Rights Amendment. And largely it's about this, and in a lot of the social conservatives of the conservative women's movement, is about threats to the family and the family structure.

Sarah Paxton

This is Dr. Michelle Swers, a professor of American government at Georgetown University and a specialist in American Conservative women.

Michelle Swers

So here they were, you know, trying to protect the traditional family structure of a two-parent family with a mother and a father and a mother that stayed home. And they didn't want to see that threatened. And so it was thought that the Equal Rights Amendment could have some unintended consequences. And she felt that in the home, women were already respected, and you want to protect that traditional family structure, and that the Equal Rights Amendment could end up having unintended consequences that would undermine the traditional family structure. And so it was thought that there's this threat to the traditional family structure, there's a threat to Judeo Christian values also, as many of these movements tend to be religiously based. And so those things are what Phyllis Schlafly was organizing against.

Sarah Paxton

By the time STOP ERA was established, Schlafly had an uphill battle to convince state legislators that feminists were actually in the minority. Public opinion was already in favor of the ERA, which was one of the reasons it was already ratified in over 30 states.

To expand its influence STOP ERA teamed up with several other conservative religious organizations, especially those opposed to feminists push for reproductive freedom and the LGBT activists’ push for rights. Religious activism emerged in the 1960s and 70s as a reaction to the feminist goals of reproductive freedom and to cases like Griswold that made birth control, especially the pill, more accessible to women.

Remember last time, when we mentioned that it was during the 20th century that religious organizations became more involved in the rising debate over reproductive freedom, including publishing articles and pamphlets on the sanctity of life. The Catholic Church was the organization that really kicked off the anti-abortion conservative movement following the Roe decision. Catholics loudly protested the court's opinion, picketing the public engagements of Supreme Court Justices Blackmun and Brennan for years.

These religious organizations were a natural ally of Phyllis Schlafly, who was herself a devout Catholic, (and who was drawn to advocacy for the traditional family, in part due to her faith.) Schlafly’s reliance on the ideology of Republican Motherhood was based on a biblical understanding of the role of men and women in society and the traditional family. She ultimately believed that society was required to protect women as the bearers and raisers of the next generation. All pro-ERA feminists found these protections sexist discrimination, Schlafly considered them a privilege.

This Conservative, Christian ideology attracted other women like Schlafly. The conservative women's movement mobilized mostly housewives and mothers from evangelical and Catholic faiths, many of whom were first generation suburbanites like Schlafly. Often, these women would join from other conservative movements. Like Claire Middleton, a conservative housewife in New York State. When Middleton reached out to Schlafly for assistance in establishing an anti-ERA organization in New York, she offered as her conservative credentials that her husband was the chairman of the New York Right to Life. Schlafly accepted that as proof of their aligned ideologies regarding the priority of the traditional family.

So, while Phyllis Schlafly arrived late to the game, she was a master grassroots organizer and effectively organized a conservative Christian coalition under the banner of anti-ERA. They lobbied and took to the streets. While they employed similar tactics to the feminists who had learned they're protesting from the Civil Rights Movement and anti war movement, anti-ERA demonstrations highlighted their image of the American dream of domestic bliss the best way they could: By showing up as wives and mothers.

Susan Hartmann

Well, they used many of the same tactics. The anti-feminist, the conservative women, put a lot of pressure on their representatives—on their mostly male representatives. But they were also clever about it. They would actually go to a state house, for example, that was considering the Equal Rights Amendment, an amendment to the constitution that would guarantee women's equality under the law, and they would bring homemade pies to them. Or they would bring their babies and say “This is my baby girl. I don't want her to be drafted.” They were arguing that the ERA would allow women to be drafted and go into combat. So they were creative, but they were not as dramatic as feminists or some feminists on the radical side, did things like interrupting men In America, beauty contests or going into a bridal show, and actually they did this in New York City. They went to a bridal show, and they released a bunch of mice so that everybody was shrieking. But both sides did pretty much engage in the same political tactics and strategy.

Sarah Paxton

The anti-ERA movement worked—Schlafly’s call to protect the family and preserve the gender status quo influenced the states that had yet to ratify the ERA. While 33 states passed to the amendment, there was a timeframe of 10 years in which a 38-state majority was required to ratify the amendment, and the feminist movements ERA momentum had stalled. The ERA was immersed in conflict, in no small part due to the rapid emergence of STOP ERA, and the feminist movement was unable to rally a cohesive course of action for the remainder states. By the end of the 10 year deadline, the ERA was 3 states short of ratification and ultimately failed to become a part of the United States Constitution.

Phyllis Schlafly had not only been successful in killing the ERA, she had formed a coalition of traditional family organizations that revitalize to the conservative right wing and pushed the National Republican Party further to the right.

Susan Hartmann

And the growth of a conservative women's movement helped to push the Republican party in a more conservative direction in terms of women's issues. The Republican Party was the first national party to endorse the Equal Rights Amendment and did so in 1940. Republicans in Congress supported a lot of the women's rights legislation in the 1960s and 70s. In fact, Nixon signed several women's rights bills including Title IX, that piece of legislation that requires equality in education. But, gradually, the Republican Party moved away from its support for women's rights. It withdrew its support for the Equal Rights Amendment in 1980. It took on a very strong anti-abortion stance and it did so in part, I think, because of this surge of conservatism among women who Phyllis Schlafly was mobilizing.

Sarah Paxton

The development of this new right, influenced by a conservative religious coalition, redefined the conservative woman as a religious woman who was focused on social issues and preserving the traditional family. This became the defining characteristic of the conservative woman and the conservative female politician, as well as shaping the definition of a “woman's issue” for decades to come. Next time, on Prologued.

Episode 6: Mom and Apple Pie Citations:

Theme Music: Hot Shot by Scott Holmes

Dan T. Carter "The Rise of Conservatism since World War II." OAH Magazine of History 17, no. 2 (2003).

Donald T. Critchlow "The ERA Battle Revives the Right." In Phyllis Schlafly and Grassroots Conservatism: A Woman's Crusade (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005).

David Farber "Phyllis Schlafly: Domestic Conservatism and Social Order." In The Rise and Fall of Modern American Conservatism: A Short History (Princton: Princeton University Press, 2010.) 

Elizabeth Kolbert, "Firebrand," The New Yorker, Oct. 31, 2005. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2005/11/07/firebrand.

Stacie Taranto "'Defending ʺWomen Who Stand by the Sink': Suburban Homemakers and Anti-ERA Activism in New York State." in Making Suburbia: New Histories of Everyday America, edited by Archer John, Sandul Paul J. P., and Solomonson Katherine (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015).

Lila Thulin "THE 97-YEAR-HISTORY OF THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT" Smithsonian Magazine, Nov. 13, 2019, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/equal-rights-amendment-96-years-o....

Episode 7: "Earn Your Spurs" Transcript:

Sarah Paxton

So far, we've discussed the role of women in politics, focusing on their position as influencers of their husbands vote, their efforts to develop an organized movement to enfranchise themselves, and on the expansion of their organizing for full equal rights.

However, we have yet to discuss a crucial part of women's electoral politics: getting elected to public office.

Today, we turn to the history of women running for public office and how the concept of women's issues has shaped the political careers of female politicians.

For Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective, I’m Sarah Paxton, and this is Prologued.

(Music)

Public office was a part of the women's suffrage movement from the very beginning. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, an organizer of the Seneca Falls convention that began the women's rights movement, ran for congress in 1866. Victoria Woodhall was the first woman to run for president. She served as the nominee for the Equal Rights party in 1872, with famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass as her running mate. While these candidates showed that suffragists intended for women to not only participate in electoral politics, but in the government itself, 19th century female candidates for federal offices weren't very successful and garnered little support. Stanton herself only received 24 of 12,000 cast votes. However, women on the local and state levels enjoyed some success during the 19th century, especially in states that granted women the right to vote early.

Kansas allowed women to vote in local elections in 1887, during the Height of the late 19th century temperance movement. The Women's Christian Temperance Union was active in Kansas, including in the small town of Argonia. In 1887, the W CTU made a list of men who they thought would support temperance. A group of anti-temperance men, called “wets” formed a retaliatory secret caucus who, unbeknownst to the WCTU, nominated Mrs. Susanna Salter, the only officer of the WCTU eligible for the office because she lived within the town limits, anticipating that the crushing loss Mrs. Salter was sure to face would humiliate the WCTU. When Mrs. Salter learned from early morning voters that her name was on the ballot, she consented to accept the office if elected. What had begun as a prank to humiliate the female fronted temperance movement ended with the election of the first female mayor in America.

On the federal level, women wouldn't hold office until the 20th century when Montana elected Jeannette Rankin as the first woman in Congress in 1916 after she ran on the platform of women's suffrage. Central to many female politicians campaigns were maternalist politics, which use the tenants of true womanhood to argue that women were morally superior and well equipped to care for American society in government office. When running for the Montana State Legislature, Rankin stated that “It is beautiful and right that a mother should nurse her child through typhoid fever, but it is also beautiful and right that she should have a voice in regulating the milk supply from which typhoid resulted.” But maternalist politics proved to be a double edged sword for early female candidates. Rankin's first vote in Congress after being sworn in was to determine whether the United States should join World War One. Rankin, representing the poor rural mothers of her district’s concern for their family members being shipped off to war, voted against the measure. While this aligned with the maternalist politics she had espoused during her career as a politician, it was also viewed as weakening the suffrage movement by suggesting that women were too tender hearted to make such important decisions.

While other women joined the US House of Representatives in the years after Rankin’s election and the passing of the 19th amendment, many of these women inherited their late husband’s seat rather than being elected on their own merits. Part of this was surely because women running as wives of previously elected men fit the supportive wife characteristic of a true woman; but it was also because there was no concerted effort to support and elect female candidates. So, while the women's rights movement faded in the aftermath of the 19th amendment, female candidates failed to pick up steam and, between 1919 and 1970, the average total number of women in the House of Representatives and the Senate was around 13. It wasn’t until the feminist movement in the 1970s that effective lobbying organizations geared toward the election of female candidates to federal office finally emerged

In 1970, the 91st Congress ended before the Equal Rights Amendment was passed by both houses, and feminist activists grew increasingly frustrated with government officials, much as the sufferagists worked to replace congressmen who oppose the 19th amendment, As Dr. Hamlin talked about in Episode 3, prominent feminists believed that the only way to enact real change for women was to increase the representation of women in government, political parties, and public participation.

One of these activists was Dorothy Height, who President Barack Obama referred to as the godmother of the Civil Rights Movement. Born in Washington, DC, Height became involved in the Civil Rights Movement while working at the YWCA in Harlem, New York. It was there that she met famed activist Mary McLeod Bathune and subsequently joined The National Council of Negro women, an organization of black women, of which Height was appointed president in 1957. During her tenure as president of the NCN,W the organization deepened its commitment to the Civil Rights Movement, with Height joining historic demonstrations with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, including the 1963 March on Washington.

In 1971, Height joined with hundreds of feminists, including leaders like Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, civil rights icon Fannie Lou Hamer, native activist Ladonna Harris, and key female figures of both the Democratic and Republican National committees to form the National Women's Political Caucus.

The NWPC was, and still is, dedicated to expanding women's representation in politics, especially seeking out seats at the table as elected officials and party delegates with a great deal of success, especially with the Democratic National Committee. While women made up 13% of DNC delegates in 1958, in 1972, that number jumped to 40%. The NWPC supported the campaigns of women like Bella Abzug. In conjunction with being a founding member of NWPC and a critical advocate for the ERA, Abzug was the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants who ran and won a Congressional seat representing the west side of Manhattan before losing a 1976 bid for the US Senate.

While prominent Women of Color were represented in the founding membership of the NWPC, it was still overwhelmingly white. Another founding member of the NWPC with Shirley Chisholm. She tried to bridge the gap between the white and Black feminists of the NWPC, pushing them to focus on issues impacting women of color and of lower socio economic class, demonstrating a willingness to work with the white feminists of NOW, even becoming the vice president of the New York City chapter in 1967. And, while in office, she hired a staff of mostly women, half of whom were Black. She often found herself having to defend this decision to work within the system during the Black Power movement, arguing that this was a difference in tactics, not ideology. In 1972, Chisholm double down on this dual commitment and announced her bid for President of the United States, again making history as the first woman to vie for the Democratic Party's Presidential Nomination.

While always a longshot nominee, Chisholm garnered diverse support for her presidential bid, earning the endorsements of the Black Panther Party and both Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem running to serve as Chisholm delegates at the convention. Running under the banner of “ unbought and unbossed,” Chisholm continued her advocacy for both racial and gender justice. However, Chisholm was a controversial candidate and did not earn the vocal support of many she expected to back her. The National Black convention declined to endorse her and Black feminists like Dorothy Height and Pauli Murray remained silent. Similarly, while regional and local chapters of NOW enthusiastically supported Chisholm, prominent leaders of NOW, including Bella Abzug, offered tepid support at best and minimal financial backing. Ultimately losing the nomination by a wide margin, Chisholm’s campaign demonstrated the limitations of 20th century feminism. 12 years later, those limits appeared again with the first woman on the Democratic Presidential ticket: Geraldine Ferraro.

In 1984. The Democrats were facing a tough election against an extremely popular incumbent President Ronald Reagan. Further, as Dr. Susan Hartman explains, they had learned that women were now an essential part of the electorate, who could no longer be overlooked.

Susan Hartmann

In 1980, women's turnout actually surpassed men so the percentage of all eligible Women who could vote who voted was higher than men's turnout. And that has continued until today. In the last midterm elections, 8.5 million more women voted than men. So that's a significant difference in voting.

The first time that there was a considerable amount of public attention to what we have called “the gender gap” was in the 1980 election when 54% of all male voters voted for Ronald Reagan, but only 46% of all women voters voted for Reagan. In other words, the majority of men voted for the Republican the majority of women voted for the Democrat. And since then that pattern has continued in every election. A majority of women vote for the Democratic candidate, a majority of men vote for the Republican candidate.

Sarah Paxton

So, by the 1984 election, women were not only voting in higher numbers than men, they were voting more for Democrats, which made securing the amorphous women's vote essential if Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale were to defeat Reagan. Acting on polling data that suggested that a woman on the ballot would capture the women's vote, Mondale chose Geraldine Ferraro to be his running mate, making her the first female vice presidential nominee of a major political party.

Geraldine Ferraro was the daughter of Italian immigrants who worked her way through both college and law school, eventually becoming an Assistant District Attorney of New York, the elected representative of Queens in 1978, and, finally, becoming a part of Democratic Party leadership in 1981. While Ferraro mirrored the campaign tactics of previous generations, playing on traditional gender roles and referring to herself as a “Queens housewife,” the polling data was flawed. The belief that polls showing widespread support for a female vice-presidential nominee also meant widespread support for Ferraro was an error in political judgment. Assuming general support for female candidates meant support for a specific candidate overlooked both partisanship and less overt forms of sexism while radically overestimating the importance of a VP nominee against a popular incumbent like Reagan. The Mondale-Ferraro ticket lost, and a woman did not appear on a major party's presidential ticket again until 2008 with Sarah Palin.

While women's push for the White House stalled, the 1990s are considered the major turning point for the female candidate. 1992 is referred to as the Year of the Woman. 11 women were nominated for the Senate with six winning and 106 were nominated for the House, 24 of whom won the races. It kicked off the rise of women of color in office. This number tripled the number of women in the us senate and As the highest number of women to be elected to the US House of Representatives and a single election, according to Georgetown, Professor Michele Swers, who you heard from last time, this rush of women was due to a confluence of factors.

Michele Swers

So when you think about women getting elected, some of this is just about infrastructure. And the structure of American elections is such that there is a great advantage for incumbents. And incumbents are mostly men, and then come and get reelected it rates of over 90 95%. So if you're coming into an institution that is already filled with male incumbents who are more likely to get reelected, then it's hard to break in. The one thing that happened in 1982, is there are a lot more retirements. Some of that came from the fact that 1992 was after a census year and there's redistricting. And some of that came from the fact that there was some big scandals at the time going on in Congress with a check overdrafting scandal and others, and so a lot of members decided it was time for them to retired, spend more time with family. So that left more open to the opportunities for women to step forward the first place to run.

Sarah Paxton

But it wasn't just retirements that allowed women to both run and win, it was a “women's issue” year. Bill Clinton was running on an economic and healthcare platform that appealed to women, reproductive rights continued to be the biggest single issue voter policy, and the election came on the heels of one of the biggest scandals in American politics.: Anita Hill's testimony that Supreme Court Justice nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her. Hill’s accusations turned the hearing into a national controversy mired in both gender and racial prejudices. Thomas himself, as you will hear, took umbrage with how Hill's accusations were handled by both the Senate and the press. arguing the public nature of these accusations was due to the fact that he was a black man nominated for a powerful position

Justice Clarence Thomas

This is not a closed room. There was an FBI investigation. This is not an opportunity to talk about difficult matters privately or in a closed environment. This is circus. This is a disgrace.

And from my standpoint, as a Black American, as far as I’m concern it is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in anyway deign to speak for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas. And it is a message that unless you cow-tow to an old order this is what will happen to you. You will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured, by a committee of the US senate rather than hung from a tree.

Sarah Paxton

In addition to the references to deeply entrenched racist stereotypes of black men, the hearing was also defined by the gender dynamics it represented. The public image of a woman, especially a Black woman, detailing the sexual harassment she endured to an all-white male Senate committee spurred a new drive to elect women to public office.

Michele Swers

So in those hearings, Anita Hill accused him of sexual harassment. There were certainly more attention to the fact that well, there weren't any women on the Judiciary Committee, why aren't there more women in Congress until you had women explicitly running on that? So Dianne Feinstein had an advertisement that said, you know, 2% is good enough for milk, but not for the number of women being representative legislature. There were only two women in the senate at that time. And so there was attention to the need for women in office, there was attention to issues of sexual harassment where there hadn't been before. So it's just a set of issues that made people think might be more women in elective office. But those issues were issues that tend to favor the Democratic Party and so you saw democratic women candidates getting elected.
 

Sarah Paxton

Note what Dr. Swers just said—1992 spelled the year of the Democratic woman. When we discuss women as a monolith, as a singular unit, we overlook many important fractures in the female electorate, and especially among women in office. One of these is partisanship. As Dr. Hartmann said earlier, a gender gap had gained public attention since the 1980s, in which more women tended to vote for Democrats than Republicans. And as Dr. Hartmann explains, this is for a number of reasons.

Susan Hartmann

When we think about the gender gap, are there a number of things that we need to keep in mind. First of all, it's not just women moving toward the Democratic Party or women favoring them Democrats, but it's also men moving toward the Republican Party or favoring Republicans. And we might also, just as well call it a marriage gap as a gender gap. Women voting Democratic tend to be single, they tend to be women who work outside the home. They tend to be Women of Color. So it's not just that all women of all different shapes and sizes tend to vote Democratic, but particular groups of women do. And then another thing about the gender gap is that it's not so much about women's rights issues. That's part of it. Some women are Democrats because they believe that the democrats will defend Roe versus Wade will defend the right to choose, and some women prefer the republican party for the opposite reason,

Sarah Paxton

A lot of this partisanship is driven by campaign financing. Where's the money coming from? Donor interests directly relate to what the “winning” campaign strategy and candidate is: who represents the right issues? What are the right stances? What characteristics are priorities?

Consider, for instance, two major donor groups in American politics, EMILY’s list and the Susan B Anthony list. EMILY’s list, which stands for “early money is like yeast,” meaning it makes the dough rise, developed in 1985 to support pro-choice candidates and by the 1992 Year of the Woman, was one of the biggest sources of funding for Democratic candidates. In reaction to EMILY’s list, conservative women established the Susan B Anthony list in 1993, aiming to raise money for anti-abortion candidates, initially focusing on women but eventually expanding to support anti-abortion men as well. The incredible amount of money these two organizations have raised has earned EMILY’s list accusations of being a Democratic “kingmaker” and ensured that all candidates, but especially women, always have to declare their side in the abortion debate.

Abortion is one of those issues that, while all candidates’ views are important, women are especially judged on their stance. This is not just because of the money that hinges on their answer, but also because it is seen as a “woman's issue.” We've talked about the concept of women's issues on this podcast for a while now, typically in regards to the characteristics women used to justify their involvement in politics. The same traditional gender roles of a wife and mother that were used to expand women's influence in the political realm have also defined what issues are considered explicitly women's. Further it defined what was not within women's expertise.

Let's go back to Jeanette Rankin again. Remember her vote against World War One. Her argument for a mother's pain was used as proof that a mother's vote was too soft for such weighty concerns. The women's movement of the 1970s tried to broaden this narrow definition of women's issues, expanding into economic and military policymaking. But they were seen as drifting outside their lane and, in some instances, were completely shut out. Take for instance, Bella Abzug’s time as the co-chair of Jimmy Carter's National Advisory Committee on Women.

Susan Hartmann

Bella Abzug, who was leading feminists and was actually appointed to a commission under Jimmy Carter, got fired from her position because she challenged his budget. She was a member of the House of Representatives, very brassy, very in your face, a leading feminist. She worked with Shirley Chisholm, they were in Congress at the same time. Famous for her hats. And she ran for the Senate lost her seat and Carter gave her this appointment as chair of a commission to advise him on women's issues. And they did not get along it. Rosalyn Carter had told him he shouldn't appoint her. She was probably right. And she said, “as a commission representing women, we need to tell you that these budget cuts have a particularly harsh effect on women and children.” So this commission under Abzug were defining women's issues much more broadly to include economic policy, and even military policy because they also said, we're spending all this money on the military and we need to spend it on people who need it here at home

Sarah Paxton

In recent years, while women's issues are still largely defined by women's idealized roles as wives and mothers, expansion of what implicates women's roles as mothers, which Bella Abzug attempted to convince Jimmy Carter of, has become more accepted.

Sarah Palin, who was only the second woman ever to be the vice-presidential pick for a major political party when she joined John McCain on the 2008 Republican ticket, famously coined the line “what's the difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull? Lipstick.” Even after she left political office, she referred to herself and her supporters as “Mama Grizzlies.” And in 2014 speech to the National Rifle Association, she stated that “maybe our kids could be defended against criminals on the spot if more Mama Grizzlies carried,” casting the conservative view of the Second Amendment in terms of a mother protecting her family.

On the other side of the aisle, California Senator Kamala Harris gave a speech at the 2017 Women's March on Washington in which she discussed how, in each office she had held, she was almost always the first woman, especially woman of color, to ever hold that office. She stated that women were always coming up to her, asking her to talk about women's issues and, in a line she would repeat multiple times during her presidential campaign, she responded, “I am so glad you want to talk about the economy.”

This expansion of what is considered a “woman's issue” also forces a reconsideration of the female candidate in modern politics. Now that women's issues and participation touch on nearly every aspect of American politics, a possibility that was barely considered at Seneca Falls in 1848. However, the presence and governing styles of modern elected women shaping the political landscape

Mayor Nan Whaley

Well, I'm from Indiana, and when I decided to go to UD my parents, they weren't like crazy about me going over to Ohio and they were like, “well, if you're gonna go to Ohio, they decide presidents and so the only reason why you're able to go to college is because of Bill Clinton so you better, like, help him out.”

Sarah Paxton

That is Mayor Nan Whaley, the mayor of the city of Dayton, Ohio. Mayor Whaley was elected in 2013 and guided Dayton through the unprecedented challenges of the Ohio opioid crisis and the 2019 mass shooting in the Oregon district of downtown Dayton, which drew national attention and visits from both Ohio senators and President Trump. While she doesn't consider herself as having broken any glass ceilings. She believes that both she and her female colleagues have very different experiences from their male colleagues and bring new necessary perspectives to their offices.

Mayor Nan Whaley

There's all different ways to be a woman leader and like, one of the things I like right now is I'm not a first generation woman elected, right? I'm in the second generation and second wave—just like second wave feminism, there's a second wave of us—and that allows us to be much more broad than, and fill out the role more than, the people that had to break the glass ceiling. So, getting behind the people that break glass ceilings is really exciting.

But it is different. I mean, we are socialized as women in our country and in our communities different than men. And that makes our leadership different and makes our perspective different. And it also, I think, has an opportunity to make the tables we put together more inclusive and more thoughtful around that idea of inclusivity. Because so often, particularly on matters—like in cities, you know, 70% of people that work in cities are men, they've been driven by men most of the time in America, and they're run by men. And so what I noticed, and it's just a natural, I think, it happens is not only you know--for example, I’m the mayor, woman mayor of Dayton, but then our city manager is a woman and our law director is a woman and you start to see a lot more women in leadership throughout the organization. Once that starts happening, and I think that's healthy for the organization has diverse thought process and seeing things in a different set of shoes.

Sarah Paxton

If Mayor Whaley is right, and the election of women to public offices in which they have a broader influence opens the door to a more inclusive elected body and an ever-increasing number of women in office. What does that say about the effects of the 2016 and 2018 midterm elections? Of the record number of women, both conservative and liberal, running for office in 2020? Of the third woman to be a vice presidential nominee of a major US political party? What does the future of women's political involvement look like?

We'll explore these questions next time, on the season one finale of Prologued.

Episode 7: "Earn Your Spurs" Citations:

Theme Music: Hot Shot by Scott Holmes

Carroll, Susan J. "Woman Candidates and Support for Feminist Concerns: The Closet Feminist Syndrome." The Western Political Quarterly 37, no. 2 (1984)

Curwood, Anastasia. "Black Feminism on Capitol Hill: Shirley Chisholm and Movement Politics, 1968–1984." Meridians 13, no. 1 (2015)

Day, Christine L., and Charles D. Hadley. "Feminist Diversity: The Policy Preferences of Women's PAC Contributors." Political Research Quarterly 54, no. 3 (2001)

Deckman, Melissa. "Guns Are the Great Equalizer: Mama Grizzlies and the Right to Bear Arms." In Tea Party Women: Mama Grizzlies, Grassroots Leaders, and the Changing Face of the American Right, 214-41. (New York: NYU Press, 2016.)

Dolan, Kathleen. "Do Women Candidates Play to Gender Stereotypes? Do Men Candidates Play to Women? Candidate Sex and Issues Priorities on Campaign Websites." Political Research Quarterly 58, no. 1 (2005)

Frankovic, Kathleen A. "The 1984 Election: The Irrelevance of the Campaign." PS 18, no. 1 (1985)

Gallagher, Julie A. "On the Shirley Chisholm Trail in the 1960s and 1970s." In Black Women and Politics in New York City, 157-90. University of Illinois Press, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hannagan, Rebecca J., Jamie P. Pimlott, and Levente Littvay. "Does an EMILY's List Endorsement Predict Electoral Success, or Does EMILY Pick the Winners?" PS: Political Science and Politics 43, no. 3 (2010)

Holland, Jennifer L. "Redefining Women’s Rights." In Tiny You: A Western History of the Anti-Abortion Movement, 121-47. (Oakland: University of California Press, 2020.)

Ladam, Christina, Jeffrey J. Harden, and Jason H. Windett. "Prominent Role Models: High-Profile Female Politicians and the Emergence of Women as Candidates for Public Office." American Journal of Political Science 62, no. 2 (2018)

Murphy, Mary. "When Jeannette Said "No": Montana Women's Response to World War I." Montana: The Magazine of Western History 65, no. 1 (2015)

Paolino, Phillip. "Group-Salient Issues and Group Representation: Support for Women Candidates in the 1992 Senate Elections." American Journal of Political Science 39, no. 2 (1995)

Rudin, Ken "Geraldine Ferraro Broke A Barrier For Women, But Roadblocks Remain" NPR. Mar. 26, 2011. https://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2011/03/28/134882628/geraldi...

Schaffner, Brian F. "Priming Gender: Campaigning on Women's Issues in U.S. Senate Elections." American Journal of Political Science 49, no. 4 (2005)

"Year of the Woman, 1992" U.S. House of Representatives, https://history.house.gov/Exhibitions-and-Publications/WIC/Historical-Es...

Episode 8: The New Normal Transcript:

Sarah Paxton

Last time, we ended our discussion of women in public office with an important question. As women's participation and influence in American politics expanded to include all avenues of American policy. have women fulfilled the promises of previous generations and effected change in modern government? And if the role of women in public office continues to expand, what does the future of American women's politics hold?

This is different from the previous questions this podcast has explore. both I and most of my guests are historians. We look back and study what has come before and this…this is a decidedly forward looking question. However, as we have been striving to make clear for seven episodes now: the past directly informs our present and future.

Today, we analyze if the promise of women's rights activists have come to fruition and what we can learn from the last 200 years of women's political history to better inform our present, and future.

For Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective, I’m Sarah Paxton and this is Prologued.

(Music)

Mayor Nan Whaley

I have this belief and I think I'm right, I said this after the 2016 election up at Ashland university, that I believe Hillary Clinton's loss will be the change that has put more women into office than we've ever seen before and I think the 2018 election bore that out.

Sarah Paxton

That's Nan Whaley, the mayor of Dayton, Ohio, whom you met at the end of the last episode. And like the rest of us, she watched closely the wave of women running for office in 2018 and the rapid increase in Congresswomen. And she doesn't see the rise of women stopping there.

Mayor Nan Whaley

When you have 35,000 women across the country signing up to run for election, we are seeing a dramatic shift again, and we have these waves they happen and they seem to be, you know, through this modern era, they get bigger each time. So you saw it like kind of in the, I think was like in the late 90s. Like you saw one of these. And then 20 years later, now, you see another one that's even larger. So really, it's become very easy for women to decide to run and there's more and more of us that do it and are successful. And so I think that's been a great, a great addition, the more people at the more women that do it, the more women that decide to step out and not be asked. I think that's even changing. You know, when I mean not even on the same way I had to be asked to run for office, you know, 15 years ago, now, women are so much more comfortable in the public space. They're like “I'm going to run!” Specifically younger women and I think that we're seeing a big change in the way that women believe the role should be in the public space. That's very, very exciting. So I don't think it's that hard, you know, to get involved anymore because it's almost that that's, that's, that's becoming more normalized. And it's very exciting. And I think we'll probably have to think, in a strange way, the loss of the woman president for making that happen.

Sarah Paxton

Last time, Mayor Whaley remarked that in Dayton, women were heading up more offices and creating space for more women in public service. And this is especially poignant in the wake of 2018, which has been dubbed the 2018 year of the woman due to its similarities to 1992.

In 2018, on the federal level, another record breaking number of women ran in one congressional office so that women now account for nearly a quarter of the Federal legislature. This included an uptick in LGBTQ community members and women of color in Congress, including two native Congresswomen, representatives Deborah Holland and Sharice Davids. It also included four high profile victories in the 2018 midterm, collectively referred to as “The Squad,” comprised of representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, and Rasheeda Talib of Michigan.

These elections will likely be critical to increasing women of color’s access to public office and political practice. According to Dr. Lilia Fernandez of Rutgers University, the election of Representative Ocasio-Cortez is simultaneously inspiring to the next generation of Latina Chicanos while also being representative of the work of Latina and Chicanas that came before her.

Lilia Fernandez

I think the visibility of high profile Latina politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is both a product of increased Chicana and Latina political engagement. But I think it's also inspiring other women, and providing them a model of how they too can become involved in their local communities—in civic life and in electoral politics. So, on the one hand, it's been the activism and engagement of Latinas in the past that have made it possible for someone like AOC to come to power. But at the same time, she's doing really important work along with a number of other Latina elected officials throughout the country, either holding some type of federal office or in local positions. They also, I think, are doing a really important job of being role models for young women, for other Latinos who may never have thought of themselves as being important enough or articulate enough to participate in the debates of our times and, you know, the issues that really are most affecting us as members of the society and as citizens in this country.

Daniel Rivers

I celebrate the election of Holland's and David's in 2018. 

Sarah Paxton

That voice should sound familiar. That is Dr. Daniel Rivers, a historian of the Ohio State University, whom you have heard from a lot on prologues. Similar to Dr. Fernandez, he finds a connection between the inspirational aspect of electing Holland and Davids, and the native female leaders that came before them.

Daniel Rivers

I think having the first two Native American women elected to Congress is a powerful precedent. And I think it sends a message to Native American girls and women, that they can be a part of the polity, and they can make a difference. I think of it in the same way that I think also of the election of Wilma Mankiller to the first principal chief position in the Cherokee. Mankiller paved the way for others after her so that I think that, as Native American women make inroads into the US government at all levels, and also are represented more fully within tribal governments, we make a step forward to correcting the erasers of their historical political participation in the nations in the influence of Anglo-colonial settler patriarchy.

Sarah Paxton

The rise of women in American public life is undeniable. And as Dr. Fernandez and rivers said, this expansion is both built on the shoulders of women who came before and serves as an inspiration to future women. But it begs the question, does representation of women in government have an observable impact on American life? This is a crucial question. suffragists post 19th amendment activists, black activists, white activists, Latina activists, Asian activists, female candidates, they all argued that women should be provided political Access because they provided a different non male perspective that would ensure issues that were ignored or improperly handled, would be addressed. This was their major selling point. And according to Dr. Michelle swears, an expert on Congress women at Georgetown University, They were right.

Michele Swers

So a lot of my research is about—once you account for party affiliation, ideology, all the rest--Do women focus any differently on particular issues, and there is evidence that the women would pay more attention to—issues related to women, children, and families—and try to put that on the agenda more. So right from when they got elected in 1992, some of the bigger changes were that there was now open an office of women's health in the NIH and a greater focus on issues related to women's health, because there had been an article that was out that showed that an aspirin a day, you know, would help prevent heart attacks. But then it was found that that study was done only on that, then they went and found that a lot of studies are done only on men, because women, it'd be more of an insurance risk. Because, you know, dealing with the reproductive system and everything. So a lot of studies were done only on men. And so then you wouldn't know how the effect would be on women. So they put a focus on that. They put a focus on all kinds of women's health research in the early 90s. Under the Clinton administration, this is also when they passed as part of the crime bill, the Violence Against Women Act. And that was the spearheaded, of course, by, you know, Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer as the heads of the Judiciary Committee, but also big forces behind this and pushing this were new female legislators. So women in the House, the Senate, Connie Morel on the Republican side, Pat Schroeder on the Democratic side. So there were a lot of women involved in terms of influence for women in Congress, you get more influence, both as numbers increase, but also as seniority increases and you reach positions of power. So Nancy Pelosi as speaker has a lot more power to steer the agenda and put issues that she thinks are important to women. So she was the driving force behind President Obama's health care plan getting passed.

Sarah Paxton

So if the presence of women in Congress, and especially in leadership, is changing the political landscape of modern politics and policy priorities, it suggests that the more women there are in Congress, the more they will affect legislative output to advocate for women's issues. But as the concept of women's issues gets brought in to encompass all of American policy, is the concept still useful in analyzing women's impact on modern politics.

According to elected officials, like Mayor Whaley, women will vote for their and their family's well being first. And that's across the board. Not just on specific women's issues,

Mayor Nan Whaley

I think I think we learn more every election cycle and how it's not a monolith. I think it is important to remember that the women electorate will vote around safety and security first. And always first. And I think when people think about gun violence and gun violence prevention, that's the safety and security issue. And that's where I think women are first to define their vote. And I think that's a really important mark, because a lot of times people will say “Well, you know, I'm gonna get the support of women because I'm pro choice. And, you know, I'm a feminist.” And I think because there's a large portion of women that don't define themselves as feminists, first of all, which is, you know, in itself troubling but the motivation around women's vote is around the safety and security of their family and themselves. And that's, I think, the most important lesson about the woman electorate,

Sarah Paxton

And many scholars agree that women are divided on what is best for them and their community. Dr. Swers says that while there are issues that are considered more closely associated with women, what those issues are all depends on who you're talking to

Michele Swers

women's issues is very broad. So on the one hand, there are certain issues that you would say are definitely women's issues and others issues that you would say, maybe these are not. Or you could say all issues are women's issues, because women care about the economy and jobs, right, just as much as women care about health care. But there does seem to be a set of issues that maybe the parties believe that women care more intensely about, they have certainly reached out to women voters. And so the concept of women's issues is one that's very fluid because it depends on who's using it and how they're using it. But there is a sense that there are some category of issues that women voters should be more to.

Sarah Paxton

And this gets to the crux of the issue. While female representation is critical to government developing a more responsive set of priorities, as Dr. Swers argues, the focus on female elected officials cannot be limited to simply electing women for the sake of electing women. Rather, it is what those female candidates view as women's issues that should drive their candidacy. Dr. Joan Flores-Villalobos is a historian of women's history who recently joined the University of Southern California's history department. And she found that her students were more focused on which candidate supported the issues important to them, rather than the gender of the candidate.

Joan Flores-Villalobos

I teach a class on U.S. Women's and Gender history. And we always have a section about, obviously, we talked about suffrage quite a bit and ended with a consideration of what women's political participation has been, right? I mean, suffrage did not align exactly with the growth of women voting and it certainly has not aligned with commercial growth in women as politicians, right? So we still don't have a kind of equal gender representation in politics.

And I always ask my students why they think that is, and if they think that's a problem, and I will say for the most part, my students all said that they cared more about who supports the issues rather than the gender of the candidate, despite the fact that they saw it as a problem that women were not as well represented politically. And I think part of it is that they've been thinking so much about issues like abortion, like trans rights, that are so important to them, and they don't necessarily see those aligning with candidates who are women, and they think those are much more important things to be addressed rather than women's political representation. So I think it was an interesting response. It wasn't necessarily what I asked from them, oh, except for one student who had worked on Hillary Clinton's campaign, and he was very adamant that we needed more women.

Sarah Paxton

While this does call into question a focus on electing women for representation sake, it also demonstrates that women are not necessarily limited to be candidates of just specific issues. They need to speak to the needs of their community, including both male and female voters.

And that brings us to the final and central question of our podcast.

What can we learn from the last 200 years of women's activism and last century of women's voting to better engage women voters, establish policy priorities, and understand the modern political landscape?

Lilia Fernandez

Tough question. I think it's a broad one, too. I mean, I think that what is most important for them to recognize is that Chicana and Latinas are an important part of the electorate that they do come out on election day and vote whether for local office or for higher positions. And they come and vote just like everyone else based on the concerns that they have in their communities, pocketbook issues, I guess, that are affecting people on a day to day basis. They're concerned about health care about, you know, public schools, about student loan debt, about violence against women, about the environment, labor issues, wages and economic concerns. So, I think that probably the most thing that folks might want to take away is that they need to take Latina and she got a voter seriously listen to them on what their concerns are in their local communities. And just as with all other voters, engage them and try to address the things that they are most worried about on a day to day basis.

Susan Hartmann

I do think if I were a republican or in the republican hierarchy, I would say we have got to do more. To get women candidates, we need more republican women in elective office, we need to show female voters that this party respects women and their abilities and their ability to lead and to represent their country.

Joan Flores-Villalobos

I think some of what we can learn from the lessons of even early activism right before the suffrage movement, but certainly during the suffrage movement as well, was that there were really intense racial and ethnic divisions within these movements that created a lot of difficulty. And that part of this was that white women suffragists were often not responsive to the intersectional critiques that black women, for example, brought, right? But they saw anti-lynching campaigns as deeply involved with issues of gender, right, issues of gender and sexuality and not everybody agreed.

And I think you see some of that now, as well, particularly with the issue of immigration. So I'm a Latina, and a lot of people in my community vote on the issue of immigration, right. That is the number one issue that they will vote for no matter what. And that doesn't necessarily align with female candidates or candidates who are concerned with issues of gender at all right. But to a lot of immigrant communities, it is seen as an issue of gender, because families are the ones that are being really attacked by some of the kind of anti-immigrant legislation of recent years.

Daniel Rivers

As someone deeply influenced by the work of Audre Lord, the great black lesbian writer, I think that all political work of necessity is work of coalition and coalition is really difficult. It's not easy and involves working with people that disagree on some of the most fundamental issues. And I think if there is ever large scale women's voting Coalition's they will have to be deeply mindful of the toxic impact of homophobia, racism, transphobia, ableism, classism, if these deep structural hatreds that manifest in the everyday as much as they manifest in large scale institutions are not dealt with at every moment, then it makes coalition impossible.

Kimberly Hamlin

So while there are many issues that women's activists are engaged in, I think kind of the most direct legacy should be for us to think about universal voting rights and the various ways in which women's voting rights, the voting rights of people of color, are still infringed upon today, especially since the 2013 Shelby v Holder decision, which dismantled key provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, because it wasn't until the Voting Rights Act that the 15th amendment in the 19th amendment became reality for all women in America. And to see that it has since been, in many ways dismantled, I think should be a concern for us all and should be a thing that we focus on, especially in these 2020 discussions about the suffrage centennial.

Joan Flores-Villalobos

Listen to women of color. That's it.

Sarah Paxton

The concept of the women's voting bloc, the idea that women will vote in a specific and similar way, simply because they are women, has been a persistent narrative in American politics since the turn of the 20th century. Yet, as we've seen over the last eight episodes, there has never been a cohesive bloc of women.

If you take nothing else from the last eight episodes of women's history, remember this. American women are complex—their values, their experiences, and their priorities, they're all shaped through individual lenses, not just a gendered scope. I know it is tempting to pull back down the mask of the women's voting bloc and begin vying for a generalized women's vote. And I understand this is especially true in the middle of an election cycle, during which a diverse field was whittled down to a final race between two white men. However, history requires a more nuanced view of the female electorate, and a more expansive view of female candidates who are shaping the new normal of American politics.

Currently, we have the third female vice presidential nominee of a major political party, a female Speaker of the House, and an unprecedented number of both liberal and conservative women running for federal office. It is fitting that such a monumental time in American history falls on the centennial of the 19th amendment granting women the right to vote. And we are not only reminded that this political access is built on the over 100 years of activism of those that came before, but also that our current actions serve as the prologue for the next 100 years.

For Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective, I’m Sarah Paxton, and thank you for listening to Prologued.

(Credits.)

This season of Prologued was brought to you by Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective, an online publication of the Public History Initiative, the Goldberg Center, and the history departments at The Ohio State University in Columbus and Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, with support from the Stanton foundation. Our editors are David Steigerwald, Steven Conn, and Nicholas Breyfogle. It was written and hosted by Sarah Paxton with research support from Min A Park. Our audio and technical advisor is Paul Kotheimer and our production specialist is Brandon MacLean and Oranjudio. Song and band information can be found on our website, and we encourage our listeners to visit episode descriptions for citations to background reading and sources that made this podcast possible. You can find our podcast and more on our website origins.osu.edu, on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify and SoundCloud, as well as wherever else you get your podcasts. As always, you can find us on Twitter @ProloguedPod and @originsOSU. Thanks for listening.

Episode 8: The New Normal Citations:

Theme Music: Hot Shot by Scott Holmes