Centennial Articles

Centennial Articles

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FileHistory of the League of Women Voters  
PDF iconBlack Suffragist's Story Silenced No More

After the 19th Amendment was passed, there have been and continue to be struggles to enable all women to vote.

The 19th Amendment did not guarantee that all women and men in the United States could vote.  Securing this essential right has been a long struggle that for some, continues on to this day.*

  • 1924 Indian Citizenship Act – Native Americans deemed US citizens, but states continue to decide who votes.  Many continue to disenfranchise Native Americans.
  • 1943 Magnuson Act – Chinese in America granted the right to become citizens, and therefore to vote (the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 previously prevented this).
  • 1962 New Mexico is the last state to enfranchise Native Americans.
  • 1965 Voting Rights Act – African Americans and Native Americans continued to face exclusion from voting through mechanisms like poll taxes, literacy tests and intimidation.  The Voting Rights Act of 1965 eliminated many of these.

                           *From “The 19th Amendment:  A Crash Course,” National Park Service, nps.gov
                             
https://www.nps.gov/subjects/womenshistory/women-s-access-to-the-vote.htm

 

As part of an ongoing Profiles of Courage & Persistence series, the Office on the Status of Women is profiling suffragists who had a major & lasting impact in Iowa & the nation throughout 2020. See the 1st one here - Sue M. Wilson Brown


The Fate of Married Women

Alice Fletcher was addressing a women’s rights audience from around the Western world at the 1888 International Council of Women.  Married women, they knew:

  • Had no legal right to their own possessions or property in most states and countries, but that was just the tip of the iceberg.
  • Married women had no legal identity.
  • A wife ceased to exist in the eyes of the law once she promised to obey and uttered the words “I do”.
  • The two became one and the one was the man.
  • A wife lost control of her body.
  • She had the legal obligation to submit to her husband’s sexual demands;
  • Rape laws defined “an act of unlawful sexual intercourse with someone other than the wife of the perpetrator.”
  • Husbands had the legal right to beat disobedient wives, provided they didn’t inflict permanent damage.
  • Children belonged to their father, who dying, could even will away his unborn child to someone other than the mother to raise.
  • With most jobs closed to women and the few available paying half (or less) of men’s wages, marriage was the only option open to women who wouldn’t inherit. 

The founding document of America’s women’s movement, the 1848 “Declaration of Sentiments” summed it up well: “He has made her, if married, in the eye of the law, civilly dead.”

---Women’s Suffrage Movement, Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner 

10 top Centennial Sites to Visit
Women’s Vote Centennial Initiative www.2020Centennial.org
National Votes for Women Trail https://ncwhs.org/votes-for-women-trail/
National Women’s History Alliance https://nationalwomenshistoryalliance.org/
American Journalism – www.SuffrageandtheMedia.org
Turning Point Suffragist Memorial – www.suffragistmemorial.org
Women and Social Movements – https://documents.alexanderstreet.com/VOTESforWOMEN
Women Leading the Way – www.suffragettes2020.com
Suffrage Centennials – www.suffragecentennials.com/ and www.SuffrageWagon.org
Vision 2020 – https://drexel.edu/vision2020/
Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission – https://www.womensvote100.org/
At the U.of Iowa - http://sdrc.lib.uiowa.edu/exhibits/suffrage/suffragehome.html
*From “The 19th Amendment:  A Crash Course,” National Park Service, nps.gov
https://www.nps.gov/subjects/womenshistory/women-s-access-to-the-vote.htm


Purple, white and gold were the colors of the American suffrage movement.

The Suffragist, Vol. 1 No. 4, published on December 6, 1913, describes the symbolism of the colors. “Purple is the color of loyalty, constancy to purpose, unswerving steadfastness to a cause. White, the emblem of purity, symbolizes the quality of our purpose; and gold, the color of light and life, is as the torch that guides our purpose, pure and unswerving.” Simplified, the tri-colors signified loyalty, purity, and life.