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Suffrage

  • There are no such things as divine, immutable or inalienable rights. Rights are things we get when we are strong enough to make good our claim to them.

    • Helen Keller,
    • "Why Men Need Women Suffrage," New York Call ()
  • ... her secret feeling was, I expect, that of many anti-suffragist women I have known, who, for some reason or other on the pinnacle of man's favor themselves, had no objection to the rest of womenkind being held in contempt.

  • Woman stock is rising in the market; I shall not live to see women vote, but I'll come and rap on the ballot-box.

  • 'You want the vote so badly that you think it worth while to become hysterical over it.' 'There is not much hysteria in the movement, only hysteria is the thing that strikes a hysterical press as most worthy of note.'

  • The vote, I thought, means nothing to women. We should be armed.

  • ... it was the United States which first established general suffrage for men upon the two principles that 'taxation without representation is tyranny' and that governments to be just should 'derive their consent from the governed.' The unanswerable logic of these two principles is responsible for the extension of suffrage to men and women the world over. In the United States, however, women are still taxed without 'representation' and still live under a government to which they have given no 'consent.'

  • For two generations groups of women have given their lives and their fortunes to secure the vote for the sex and hundreds of thousands of other women are now giving all the time at their command. No class of men in our own or any other country has made one-tenth the effort nor sacrificed one-tenth as much for the vote.

  • ... the system which admits the unworthy to the vote provided they are men, and shuts out the worthy provided they are women, is so unjust and illogical that its perpetuation is a sad reflection upon American thinking.

  • The vote is a power, a weapon of offense and defense, a prayer.

  • We must get rid of the habit of classing all women together politically and thinking of the 'woman's vote' as one and indivisible.

    • Laura Ingalls Wilder,
    • 1919, in Stephen W. Hines, ed., Little House in the Ozarks: A Laura Ingalls Wilder Sampler, The Rediscovered Writings ()
  • [The way she ended most of her letters:] Most heartily yours for woman suffrage and all other reforms.

    • Louisa May Alcott,
    • in Eve LaPlante, Marmee and Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother ()
  • The single most impressive fact about the attempt by American women to obtain the right to vote is how long it took.

    • Alice S. Rossi,
    • "Along the Suffrage Trail," The Feminist Papers ()
  • Men are too emotional to vote. Their conduct at baseball games and political conventions shows this, while their innate tendency to appeal to force renders them particularly unfit for the task of government ... Man's place is the armory.

  • How can this Congress, which voted for war to make the world safe for democracy not allow women this small measure of democracy.

    • Jeannette Rankin,
    • to the House of Representatives (1918), in Louise Bernikow, The American Women's Almanac ()
  • A gentleman opposed to their enfranchisement once said to me, 'Women have never produced anything of any value to the world.' I told him the chief product of the women had been the men, and left it to him to decide whether the product was of any value.

    • Anna Howard Shaw,
    • in Susan B. Anthony and Ida Husted Harper, eds., History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 4 ()
  • [On suffrage:] For the fuss made ... one would think it took a week to put a small slip of paper into a medium-sized box. Why, we have known of men who could put in half a dozen in less than half that time, and no one suspects women to be less clever than men.

  • It's not the vote women need, we should be armed.

  • '... take it from me, nice women don't want the vote.' His voice dripped fatness.

  • [Honoring 'a hundred gallant women' who had been imprisoned for their suffragist activities:] The suffrage pickets stood at the White House gates for ten months and dramatized the women's agitation for political liberty. Self-respecting and patriotic American women will no longer tolerate a government which denies women the right to govern themselves. A flame of rebellion is abroad among women, and the stupidity and brutality of the government in this revolt have only served to increase its heat.

  • [On women getting the vote:] The newspapers, poor dears, looked of course for something very spectacular. But then newspapers are always apt to be more interested in phenomena like meteors than in the slow growth of a mighty tree. Wait ten years, and the politicians will one day wake up and say, 'Look who's here!'

  • The story in American history I most like to tell is the one about how women got the right to vote 90 years ago this month. It has everything. Adventure! Suspense! Treachery! Drunken legislators!

    • Gail Collins,
    • "My Favorite August," in The New York Times ()
  • I am prepared to sacrifice every so-called privilege I possess in order to have a few rights.

    • Inez Milholland,
    • 1909, in Louise Bernikow, The American Women's Almanac ()
  • The militants differed from the pure propagandists in the woman suffrage movement chiefly in that they had a clear comprehension of the forces which prevail in politics. They appreciated the necessity of the propaganda stage and the beautiful heroism of those who had led in the pioneer agitation, but they knew that this stage belonged to the past; these methods were no longer necessary or effective.

  • Ma can sew and Ma can bake — / Every sort of thing can make / ... / But our Ma she cannot vote / Any more than Bill, our goat.

  • [On the English suffragist movement before WWI:] For two years of wild and sometimes dangerous adventure, I worked and fought alongside vigorous, happy, well-adjusted women who laughed instead of tittering, who walked instead of teetering, who could out-fast Gandhi and come out with a grin a a jest. I slept on hard floors between elderly duchesses, stout cooks, and shopgirls ... We shared a joy of life that we had never known. Most of my fellow fighters were wives and mothers. And strong things happened to their domestic life. Husbands came home at night with a new eagerness ... As for children, their attitudes changed rapidly from one of affectionate toleration for poor, darling mother to one of wide wonder. ... they discovered that they liked her. She was a great sport. She had guts ...

  • We woman suffragists have a great mission — the greatest mission the world has ever known. It is to free half the human race, and through that freedom to save the rest.

  • ... there were some Labourists saying that other things must be dealt with before women got the vote. It was humanly natural that they, as men, should say so. Our business as women was to recognize this and act accordingly.