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Women's Suffrage Movement: Pacific Nw History

1622 words - 7 pages

The women’s suffrage movement was a long and arduous battle in which many women and even some men fought for nearly their entire adult lives. Luckily, at that time, the women of the Pacific Northwest resided in an area far more progressive than it was in other parts of the country, and therefore those who lived in Washington were granted the right to vote much earlier than women in the more easterly states. “The West and Northwest became identified as places where one could innovate more readily” (2). But reform was not so easily achieved. Many long hours were spent campaigning and petitioning by politically- minded individuals paid to achieve women’s suffrage and ordinary citizens ...view middle of the document...

Nonetheless, campaigning continued on fervently for over fifty years, until finally women’s suffrage was officially added to the United States Constitution as the 19th Amendment in 1920.
The women’s suffrage movement was set in motion primarily by Susan B. Anthony and Abigail Scott Duniway, who aided in forming the Washington Women Suffrage Association in 1871. “Due to the group's constant protesting and pushing, full voting rights were given to women in 1883 by a bill that passed through the Territorial Legislature” (1). This law applied to both white women and also women of color. Disappointingly, this law was to be reversed by the Supreme Court in 1887 in the case of Harland v. Washington. The documented reason for the legislation being overturned was that the Supreme Court found it to be "unconstitutionally vague".
Yet another measure was approved by legislature in 1888 entitled "An Act to Enfranchise Women" which was also voided by the Territorial Supreme Court.
It is speculated that these invalidations to elected reform by the U.S. government are directly related to the fact that by large, women were voting against any and all liquor sales at that time. Lobbyists had numerous financial supporters, and many of them in positions of power. These parties undoubtedly sought to ensure that the production of their liquors would continue to create copious amounts of revenue. Washington state's liquor lobby battled fiercely to remove women’s voting rights throughout the late 1800‘s and into the early 1900‘s.
In 1889, Washington achieves statehood. Even so, male Washington voters defeat the suffrage referendum by 2-1 margin. Again in 1898, the second suffrage referendum campaign was defeated. With consideration to the struggle of women, including an incredible amount of resistance, some activists did at last begin to acknowledge the contributions of women as a force of labor to the community. Finally, in 1910, the Washington State Constitution was permanently amended to grant women the right to vote which made Washington the fifth suffrage state in America. It would be ten years before the rest of the country's women would be granted this right.
Republican Emma Smith DeVoe was a fundamental and integral part of the Washington state women’s suffrage movement. Through her efforts, she became the President of the Washington Equal Suffrage Association and also the Washington state organizer for NAWSA. “Well-known eastern suffragist Susan B. Anthony recognized her attractive appearance, singing voice and talent as an organizer and her “feminine” political style” (3). Born in 1848 into a family of abolitionists, DeVoe was afforded a high-quality education while growing up in her hometown of Roseville, Illinois. But DeVoe had a great deal of passion and determination that would lead her far from home, and take her all the way to the yet largely untamed region of the West known as Washington state.
She first began...

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