Women Moving Forward


Social change was in the air, and in 1867, Michigan passed legislation that enabled tax paying women to vote in school election and later in 1908 to vote on bond issues. Obviously there were objections to women voting with a host of excuses and political rhetoric about “rights” what is, and isn’t a right for another person. I’ve always found it so simple and sweet to know and understand what is a natural right, and how the constitution doesn’t create but simply protects those rights. Men often thought of the woman as unable to understand issues, as they did not go to war, or dig canals, or explore or build railroads, and therefore could not understand the complexity of voting on legislation that would directly effect the country that they live in and love. Another lovely argument was that women physically was not competent to become a part of the law enforcing power of the country. In addition, there were groups forming in Michigan (made up of women mind you) that were against Woman’s suffrage entirely.

From child labor laws to work place safety, the most ground was covered in voting right laws. Now, the country as a whole was going through many changes, and Michigan was no different. A lot of these rights were being talked about nation wide. There was a change in these areas around the nation but here in Michigan, woman’s suffrage appeared on several different ballots, being defeated in 1907-8, 1912, and again in 1913. It wasn’t until 1918 that woman’s suffrage finally passed.

it wasn’t until 1870 that the university of Michigan admitted women into the university, and it wasn’t until much later that work environments improved for both men and women. As of 1900 the federal census estimated 2 million children in the workforce. There was still much to be done.

10 thoughts on “Women Moving Forward

  1. I like how in your first paragraph you mentioned “Men often thought of the woman as unable to understand issues…..” That was very true for the time, even though it was completely false. Women make up about 50% of the population, so if we refuse to have input of half the population, how can we make things better for everyone?

    1. It is unbelievable to me that half of the population, if not more, was unable to vote due to gender. “Not understanding issues” is a very lame excuse for women not being able to vote as some women were just as involved with the government as most men at most time, such as Sojourner Truth.

  2. There is still much work to be done. There is no simple answer to create equality. The different attitudes from the 1700’s to today, make it very difficult to understand what our rights should be. The Constitution was written in a very vague matter in order to allow man to interpret it based on its time. This built in ability of The Constitution to different interpretation is the beauty of the document. If The Constitution was purely black and white, right or wrong, type of document, the country would never be able to grow and change. This 240 year old document is as relevant today as it was when it was first written.

  3. Women faced a lot trying to get equal rights. Men of power made it very tough to keep them from positions of power. Women weren’t allowed to vote for so long which i thought was wrong. Men and women make up the population, so why weren’t they able to have any say. I believe you can compare African- Americans and women, because they were both sort treated like peasants to an extent. Women not as harsh facing slavery as African Americans, but in terms of rights they didn’t have none at all. I figure 1918 was a grace period for women when women’s suffrage finally passed.

  4. Unfortunately back in the 1800’s to the early 1900’s women were to be seen and not heard. A woman was to stay at home and take care of the house and kids. Now in this century women are just as powerful as many men. I was shocked when I heard University of Michigan did not let women in to the school until 1870. I had no idea there were Universities that had such limits.

  5. It is hard to fathom that women and minorities were held back from holding jobs and enjoying such basic rights as voting back in the 19th and early 20th century. It was interesting to read that Progressivism was not a highly organized movement, but a spontaneous and sympathetic response to basic human rights issues.

    The fight to bring about reform in several areas by the Progressives reminds me of the national movements this past year, namely the gun control march started as a result of the Parkland High School shooting and the the Women’s March, both fighting for change in our country.

  6. It cannot be denied that we are extremely lucky for the foundation of rights that was established for us as women, however there is still more work to be done. It is incredible to think of women like Alice Chaney who in 1900 was the first women to be licensed to be a ships captain on the Great Lakes, but she could not vote. I find this similar to some of the obstacles that we still have to overcome for others in our communities.

  7. The women suffrage movement was in full swing in the state of Michigan during the early 1900’s. Although it took almost two decades after the initial surge of women suffrage to pass in the state of Michigan, it was still a tough sell within the state. I like the points you made in the first paragraph that stated the thoughts that went through most mens heads before women were allowed to vote. Even though the gap between men and women has decreased, there still is a lot of work to do.

  8. It is crazy to think that it took 3 quarters of a century for women to achieve the ability to vote. The only way our country can move forward in the right direction is at the polls and limiting the people who could do that only begs for corruption. Our entire government is based off of voting and to literally cut the voting population in half would be catastrophic today, I couldn’t imagine it back then.

  9. It has always cofused me that people had the thoughts in their heads that women were inferior to men. This seems crazy to me. I’m glad that I live in a time where men and women are given equal rights and opportunity.

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