League in the Spotlight: Centennial Edition

League in the Spotlight: Centennial Edition

Historical photo of Carrie Chapman Catt

In the Words of Carrie Chapman Catt

January 9th marked the 161st birthday of Ripon-born, second-generation suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt, who arose to great prominence as a leader in the women’s suffrage movement and founded the League of Women Voters. She led the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association (NAWSA) to exceptional affect with her “Winning Strategy” that integrated previous conflicting suffrage campaigns. Catt’s political savvy helped realize the 19th Amendment resolution, which passed out of Congress June 4, 1919 for ratification by the states. 

A few months prior, with the resolution almost in hand, Catt convened the opening of the 50th Jubilee Convention of the NAWSA by proposing that a living memorial dedicated to the first generation suffrage pioneers take shape in the formation of a League of Women Voters:

"What could be more appropriate than that such women should do for the coming generation what those of a preceding period did for them? … Let us then raise up a League of Women Voters, the name and form of organization to be determined by the voters themselves; a League that shall be non-partisan and non-sectarian in character.” 

On February 14, 1920, 6 months before final passage of the 19th Amendment, at the NAWSA’s “victory” convention, the new League of Women Voters was officially mandated and started work on a program of education in citizenship for new voters and advocacy for the protection of women, children and the home. Writing in 1923, Catt recalled the birth of the League in her memoir,  Woman Suffrage and Politics; The Inner Story of The Suffrage Movement (pg 386):  

"Before the convention ended, the phoenix of a new organization, with fresh ideals, aims and programs, had arisen from the old.”
League to which this content belongs: