The Suffragists Got Women The Right To Vote Almost 100 Years Ago
Women have historically either been forgotten or written out of history, but let’s not forget that it was the suffragists who got us the right to vote nearly 100 years ago. It’s so important we exercise that right and make our voices heard today on Election Day.
2018 is being called “The Year of the Woman,” thanks to a record number of women running for the Senate, House of Representatives, governorships and other offices across the country. We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go: Women make up only 20% of Congress, 25% of state legislators, 12% of governors and 22% of mayors, according to Ignite. We need to flip the equation and push for equal representation.
In honor of the women who came before, I asked women’s rights scholar and editor of the upcoming intersectional anthology The Women’s Suffrage Movement, Sally Roesch Wagner, to highlight some monumental moments and untold stories from history that paved the way for women to hit the polls.
Women voted before the United States was formed. The suffragists saw what equality looked like and what was possible by looking to their Native American counterparts. “The women of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) confederacy have had political voice since the founding of their confederacy 1,000 years ago,” says Roesch Wagner. “Suffragists like Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the lesser-known-but-equally-important Matilda Joslyn Gage knew these women, and Stanton and Gage wrote about the position of these women as far superior to their own.”
Native women’s rights also affected the law. Fighting for the right to vote was one of a myriad of basic rights being fought for during this time. “Mississippi passed the first Married Women’s Property Act in 1839, based on Chickasaw Nation law,” says Roesch Wagner. “A Chickasaw woman, Betsy Love, brought a lawsuit to keep her own property after marriage and the court respected the Chickasaw law and she kept her property.”