The women’s suffrage movement started back in the 1840’s. Since then, numerous advances have been made for women’s rights. It’s obvious that women’s suffrage was one of the most successful Progressive reforms, even though it took 80 years in the making, doesn’t mean it wasn’t successful. In The Great Water, Professor Thick provides an excerpt by Sojourner Truth where she states that women should have the same rights as men. “I have plowed and reaped and husked and chopped and mowed, and can any man do more than that?” This is what she asks. What makes women any different from men besides their sex?
At this time, section four of Civil Rights states that a woman is bound to obey her husband. It’s states if a women was to disobey her husband, he had a right to “restrain her of her liberty”. Which in short, means he had a right to “bind her with cords” and “lock her in closet” (Foster 131). It even goes as far as to say “if she makes opposition, and in enforcing his demands, her arms should be broken.” It is ludicrous to think that there was a time in our history that allowed such abuse. It also states that a woman’s property becomes her husbands after marriage, but if the husband dies, the widow only has a legal right of one third of his estate. But if the wife dies, the husband has a legal right to her entire estate. This shows that women’s suffrage is one of the most powerful reforms in history.
As many people know, women gained the legal right to vote in national elections in August of 1920. But in Michigan, tax paying women were allowed to vote for school trustees in 1867. But the state rejected total woman suffrage. But what many people don’t know is that there were boards of women who were against giving women the right to vote. The Michigan Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage was made up entirely of women. In 1913, Helen Keep wrote to Governor Osborn saying “we have formed this organization because we do not believe the majority of women of Michigan wish to vote.” They were written back with that Governor Osborn was currently in Europe and that he is is a strong believer in woman suffrage and that he would be no help to them.
This reform was so successful because it paved a path for women today. People don’t think twice this day and age when they see a working mother or a woman doctor. They don’t see the harm with a women running for office. We almost had our first woman president (let’s hope for 2020, 100 years after the right for women to vote). The facts are here, and it is a beautiful thing. I’m not saying that in this day and age women have it perfect, but today, women have the same rights as men.
- ”The Great Water” Sojourner Truth. Ain’t I a Woman? pg 129-130.
- “The Great Water” Theodore Foster. Notes on Women’s Rights. pg 131.
- “The Great Water” William Webb. No Benefit to Women’s Suffrage. pg 139.
- “The Great Water” Helen Keep. Michigan Association Opposed to Women’s Suffrage. pg 139-140.
- “The Great Water” Office of Governor Chase S. Osborn. A Response to Helen Keep. pg 140.
- “Women’s History Timeline” http://www.michiganwomenshalloffame.org/womens_history_timeline1.