Not all women supported woman suffrage—not even all women who believed in the essential equality of the sexes. Some argued that women would be sullied by such a direct involvement in politics or would lose their status as disinterested parties and the supposed influence that went with it. Others argued that since men and women had essentially different roles to play in society, it was only fitting for them to have different political rights.
Opponents to suffrage were not at first as organized as the pro-suffrage groups, but beginning in the late 1880s, local and state groups of “antis” began to come together. By the 1890s, the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage was meeting and publishing materials to attempt to dissuade voters and legislators from giving women the vote.
Source: National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, Some Reasons Why We Oppose Votes for Women . . . (New York: National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, 1894), available at Library of Congress,
Because the basis of government is force—its stability rests upon its physical power to enforce its laws; therefore it is inexpedient to give the vote to women. Immunity from service in executing the law would make most women irresponsible voters.
Because the suffrage is not a question of right or of justice, but of policy and expediency; and if there is no question of right or of justice, there is no case for woman suffrage.
BECAUSE IT IS THE DEMAND OF A MINORITY OF WOMEN, AND THE MAJORITY OF WOMEN PROTEST AGAINST IT.
Because it means simply doubling the vote, and especially the undesirable and corrupt vote of our large cities.
Because the great advance of women in the last century—moral, intellectual, and economic—has been made without the vote; which goes to prove that it is not needed for their further advancement along the same lines.
Because women now stand outside of politics, and therefore are free to appeal to any party in matters of education, charity, and reform.
Because the ballot has not proved a cure-all for existing evils with men, and we find no reason to assume that it would be more effectual with women.
Because the woman suffrage movement is a backward step in the progress of civilization, in that it seeks to efface natural differentiation of function, and to produce identity instead of division of labor.
Because in Colorado after a test of seventeen years the results show no gain in public and political morals over male suffrage states, and the necessary increase in the cost of elections, which is already a huge burden upon the taxpayer, is unjustified.
Because our present duties fill up the whole measure of our time and ability, and are such as none but ourselves can perform. Our appreciation of their importance requires us to protest against all efforts to infringe upon our rights by imposing upon us those obligations which cannot be separated from suffrage, but which, as we think, cannot be performed by us without the sacrifice of the highest interests of our families and of society.
Because it is our fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons who represent us at the ballot-box. Our fathers and our brothers love us; our husbands are our choice, and one with us; our sons are what WE MAKE THEM. We are content that they represent US in the corn-field, on the battle-field, and at the ballot-box, and we THEM in the school-room, at the fireside, and at the cradle, believing our representation even at the ballot-box to be thus more full and impartial than it would be were the views of the few who wish suffrage adopted, contrary to the judgment of the many.
We do, therefore, respectfully protest against the proposed amendment to establish “woman suffrage” in our state. We believe that political equality will deprive us of special privileges hitherto accorded to us by law.
Our association has been formed for the purpose of conducting a purely educational campaign. If you are in sympathy with this aim and believe as we do in the righteousness of our cause, will you not send your name to us and pass our appeal on to someone else?
A. Why do women not need the vote? What problems might woman suffrage pose for individual women and for society?
B. How would the authors of the Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States respond to this document?
- Women received the right to vote in school elections in Colorado in 1877.