It’s nearing the end of Women’s History Month, and I have decided to give tribute to the Suffragettes — my favorite era of Women’s History. I have just finished watching Iron Jawed Angels, which is a must see for anyone interested in the .
Recently, in the American political sphere, we have discussed this issue of transparency with donations to political parties and political movements. This is an ongoing political issue. Why do corporations pay for anti-civil right campaigns? We can trace this back to Suffrage (perhaps further, I’m not a historian.)
Many people who have taken an American history class know that Suffrage was tied to and came out of the Abolitionist movement. After abolition, many people think of the suffrage movement is a political movement without ties to others. However, after the government abolished slavery in 1863 and the civil war ended in 1865, suffrage became tied to another: The Temperance Movement.
NAWSA: The National Women’s Suffrage Association had 4 presidents of the organization between 1890 (when it was founded) until 1920 (when the organization closed and become the League of Women’s Voter’s.)
The presidents of the organization:
- Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) 1890-1892: Cofounder of the Women’s Temperance Movement with Susan B. Anthony
- Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) 1892-1900: Cofounder of the Women’s Temperance Movement with Elizabeth Cady Stanton
- Carrie Chapman Catt (1859-1947) 1900-1904 and 1915-1920: Member of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union
- Anna Howard Shaw (1847-1919) 1904-1915: National superintendent of franchise for the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union from 1886 to 1892
Mind you, the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union did support Women’s suffrage as part of its political agenda. They wanted women to have the right to vote and to ban drinking. The alcohol lobby thought if the government franchised women, they would make alcohol sales illegal (like with the 18th amendment.) The alcohol lobby raised $1,000,000 (or $22,738,815.39 by today’s standards) for an anti-suffrage campaign in Kansas alone. Obviously the alcohol lobby on both counts, given the 18th and 19th amendments.
Obviously, in the last 80 years, the parts of women’s movement has embraced alcohol as a right, while others view it as a tool for female oppression.
This is just an interesting historical perspective. The next time you go out to a bar, to a restaurant, to a liquor store, look around. See the number of women who are present. We have the right to drink. Happily, they are no longer property. They have a right to vote, a right not to be physically or sexually assaulted, and have a right to alcohol.
In this United States, those views were incompatible for generations of women. Just something to think about.
Happy Women’s History Month!
As always, happy and safe drinking.