Saturday, January 13, 2018

Well Done, Sister Suffragette

On the home front, America's editorial cartoonists had much to draw about in January, 1918. The federal government nationalized the railroads. Because of a coal shortage, Congress ordered businesses to close shop every Monday for a month. Not coincidentally, knitting sweaters was promoted as the latest fad sweeping the nation, for men and women alike.

And then there was the plot by women to unman the federal government.

One day after announcing his Fourteen Point plan to end all wars, Wilson declared his support for a constitutional amendment to extend federal voting rights to women.

"Both Are Mine!" by Charles "Bill" Sykes in Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger, January 9, 1918
You might recall that during the 1916 presidential campaign, Wilson's support for women's suffrage was grudging and negligible, in contrast to Charles Evans Hughes's and most other Republicans' whole-hearted support. Wilson's January announcement persuaded just enough reluctant Democrats for the the amendment to pass the House on January 10 — with only one vote more than the required two-thirds majority.
"How Can He Refuse?" by C. F. Naughton in Duluth Evening Herald, January 12, 1918
From the House, the bill passed to the Senate...
"Another Dark Alley to Go Through" by Kenneth Chamberlain in Philadelphia Evening Telegraph, January, 1918
...where it languished until its defeat in September.

These cartoons (prematurely) celebrate the emancipation of the female electorate, but it's only fair to present the other side. Since I led off with that fear-mongering banner headline in the Special Night Edition of the El Paso Morning Times, I feel obligated to share that Associated Press story with you.
Washington, Jan. 7. — Hearings on the federal suffrage amendment resolution to be voted on in the House Wednesday were closed by the House Woman's Suffrage Committee today after listening to arguments by representatives of the National Association Opposed to Woman's Suffrage, and final appeals for favorable action by officials of the Nation Suffrage Association.
Former Senator Bailey of Texas contended that women are incapable of performing the three principal duties of citizenship, military service, sheriff service, and jury service, and should not help enact laws they are incapable of obeying. He insisted the suffragists constitute a small percentage of the women of the country, and added:
"There are too many ignorant voters now, and I would not add to the number."
"Shattering the Chains" by Harry Murphy in Chicago Examiner, January 11, 1918
Hentry A. Wise Wood, New York, formerly an advocate of woman suffrage, said women would insist on holding government offices, invading Congress, the Supreme Court and the White House and would succeed in womanizing the government and blocking the country's military program.
"The Feminine Way" by Nelson Harding in Brooklyn Eagle, January 11, 1918
Mrs. James A. Wadsworth Jr., president of the National Association Opposed to Women Suffrage, and other speakers denounced methods used by the suffragists in their efforts to put the resolution through Congress, particularly by public demonstrations of the militants and threats of political defeat to opposing legislators. The Suffragists, Mrs. Edwin Ford of Boston said, are "well organized, over-financed, and already have a split in their ranks."
"Father Gives His Blessing" by Jay "Ding" Darling, by January 18, 1918
Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt and Mrs. Maud Wood Park, officers of the National American Women Suffrage association briefly replied, saying they were before the committee to present "facts, not theory."
The national association made public today a number of telegrams and letters advocating the passage of the resolution, including one from Theodore Roosevelt.
Because of a crowded court calendar, argument of the appealed cases of the women convicted of picketing the White House was postponed until tomorrow. --30--
"Hands Across the Seas" by John McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune, January 11, 1918
(Me again.) Across the Atlantic on the same day as the House vote, the House of Lords, considering what would become The Representation of the People Act of 1918, rejected an amendment by Earl Loreborn which would have denied British women the vote. Speaking in favor of the amendment, Lord George Curzon alleged that wherever women had the right to vote, it promoted socialism.

Even without Earl Loreborn's amendment, the Act would not give British women equal voting rights with men, however. Whereas any man could vote after his 21st birthday (or his 19th if he had served in the military), a woman had to wait until the age of 30, and moreover had to be either a member a member of the Local Government Register, a property owner, a British university graduate, or the wife of any of the above.

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