The mid 1800s to the early 1900s in Michigan saw many uplifting pieces of legislation, such as the ten-hour work day, no work on Sundays, and a commission for minimum wage for women. Even a law that removed the husband’s retention of his wife’s earnings (Women’s Suffrage). Even though these reforms and legislations were huge in the progression of ourselves as a state and a country, none had more of an effect on us as a nation than Women’s Suffrage. Early stages of legislation across the country for women’s right to vote saw defeats at the hands of the government as well as the ballot. This was especially common in Michigan.
The first real fights for Women’s Suffrage occurred in the 1840s with Ernestine Rose and the Universal Suffrage Movement. Both Ernestine Rose and the Universal Suffrage movement proposed legislation to Michigan about Women’s right to vote, and both were denied. In the 1860s, another bill for Women’s suffrage was sought, but denied again. The Michigan State Suffrage Association, formed in 1870, proposed a bill in 1874, which was again, denied. The relentlessness of the people of Michigan to achieve voting rights for women was beginning to show.
Women’s Suffrage movements took Michigan by storm in the 1880s. The Michigan Equal Suffrage Association (MESA) was created in 1884 in Flint, became very active around the state, and attracted many national leaders of Women’s Suffrage, including Susan B. Anthony. Combined, they were the closest at the time to achieving the goal of Women’s Suffrage. Senator Thomas Palmer, of Detroit, gave one of the first major speeches to the Senate about Women’s Suffrage. Anthony called it, “A masterful Argument.”
The early 1900s saw opportunity like no other for suffragists. In 1908, Michigan was revising the state constitution and the bill for Women’s suffrage was included, however at the last second, the bill was pulled due to conflicts in adoption if it was included. November 5th, 1918, Women’s Suffrage became legal in Michigan. In 1920, the 19th amendment was ratified, which guaranteed the right to vote regardless of sex. This paved the way for many future decisions as a state and as a country through the process of voting (Professor French Video).
“Women’s Suffrage.” Michigan: a History of the Great Lakes State, by Bruce A. Rubenstein and Lawrence E. Ziewacz, Wiley Blackwell, 2014.