Discovery Set: The Anti-Suffrage Movement

The idea that women should concern themselves with political decision-making by voting was a notion that challenged both the established social order and many people's sense of identity. Women, as well as men, argued that woman suffrage was neither wanted nor needed. Anti-suffrage groups such as the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage and numerous state organizations were formed and often led by well-spoken, educated women. 

With so much at stake, discussions surrounding the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment were passionate. Anti-suffrage voices appealed to male voters' desire to protect women from the corrupting influences of politics and the additional burdens of "political duties" outside the home. They argued that men and women were already equal, but that their appropriate roles in society differed. 

Anti-suffrage forces also launched propaganda campaigns, focusing on Americans' fears and prejudices. These campaigns predicted dire consequences of social upheaval, arguing that woman suffrage would bring about racial equality, intermarriage of the races, socialism, the decline of religion and the destruction of the family

In the South, the "antis" were particularly opposed to a federal amendment that would diminish the states' power to control voting.  Many Southerners remained outraged by the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870, which prohibited denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen's "race, color, or previous condition of servitude." The "Susan B. Anthony Amendment" (as the woman suffrage amendment was nicknamed) was viewed as yet another example of federal overreach and Northern interference, usurping the rights of the states to regulate and control suffrage and elections. 

Alongside the many pamphlets and broadsides distributed by anti-woman suffrage groups, postcards were a popular medium for satire and humor. Some of these anti-suffrage postcards were derisive, even cruel in their humor. Suffragists were hags or shrews, their husbands were emasculated, and their children neglected. 

For further reading: 

Goodier, S. (2012). No Votes for Women. The New York State Anti-Suffrage Movement. Urbana : University of Illinois Press 

Anti-Women's Suffrage Cartoons (2016, November 8). Twin Cities Arts Reader 

Anti-Woman Suffrage Postcard, Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Behring Center 

National Anti-Suffrage Association, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

Parkman, F. Some of the Reasons Against Woman Suffrage. Boston, Mass. : Issued by the Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Further Extension of Suffrage to Women.

The Woman Patriot. "A national newspaper for home and national defense against woman suffrage, feminism and socialism." HathiTrust.org

Discovery Set: The Anti-Suffrage Movement

The Anti-Suffrage Movement