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11.2.8 Some reasons why we oppose votes for women ... National association opposed to woman suffrage. New York City [1894].

An anti-suffragist political broadside arguing against voting rights for women.
National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage
1894
Broadside
Library of Congress

National Association Opposed To Woman Suffrage. Some Reasons Why We Oppose Votes for Women. Broadside. New York, New York: 1894. From the Library of Congress, Broadsides, leaflets, and pamphlets from America and Europe. https://www.loc.gov/resource/rbpe.1300130c/

This document from 1894 explains why some women in New York opposed women’s suffrage. The women who produced this document provided several reasons why voting would not be appealing to men, women, and the nation. In fact, they argued several ways that the vote would harm women. Some of the most enduring claims stem from the sentence, “We believe that political equality will deprive us of special privileges hitherto accorded to us by law.” Imagine the writers of this document engaged in an argument with women who did want the right to vote. How might suffragists counter these claims? How does this document, along with suffragists’ response to it, help answer the question, Why did women want the right to vote, and how did they convince men to grant it to them?”

This document from 1894 explains why some women in New York opposed women’s suffrage. The women who produced this document provided several reasons why voting would not be appealing to men, women, and the nation. In fact, they argued several ways that the vote would harm women. Some of the most enduring claims stem from the sentence, “We believe that political equality will deprive us of special privileges hitherto accorded to us by law.” The language surrounding “special privileges” would go on to frame many debates surrounding women’s rights in the 20th century. Ask your students to imagine the writers of this document engaged in an argument with women who did want the right to vote. How might suffragists counter these claims? How does this document, along with suffragists’ response to it, help answer the question, Why did women want the right to vote and how did they convince men to grant it to them?

Some Reasons Why We Oppose Votes for Women

Because the basis of government is force—its stability rests upon its physical power to enforce its laws; therefore it is inexpedient to give the vote to women. Immunity from service in executing the law would make most women irresponsible voters.

Because the suffrage is not a question of right or of justice, but of policy and expediency; and if there is no question of right or of justice, there is no case for woman suffrage.

BECAUSE IT IS THE DEMAND OF A MINORITY OF WOMEN, AND THE MAJORITY OF WOMEN PROTEST AGAINST IT.

Because it means simply doubling the vote, and especially the undesirable and corrupt vote of our large cities.

Because the great advance of women in the last century—moral, intellectual and economic—has been made without the vote; which goes to prove that it is not needed for their further advancement along the same lines.

Because women now stand outside of politics, and therefore are free to appeal to any party in matters of education, charity and reform.

Because the ballot has not proved a cure-all for existing evils with men, and we find no reason to assume that it would be more effectual with women.

Because the woman suffrage movement is a backward step in the progress of civilization, in that it seeks to efface natural differentiation of function, and to produce identity, instead of division of labor.

Because in Colorado after a test of seventeen years the results show no gain in public and political morals over male suffrage States, and the necessary increase in the cost of elections which is already a huge burden upon the taxpayer, is unjustified.

Because our present duties fill up the whole measure of our time and ability, and are such as none but ourselves can perform. Our appreciation of their importance requires us to protest against all efforts to infringe upon our rights by imposing upon us those obligations which cannot be separated from suffrage, but which, as we think, cannot be performed by us without the sacrifice of the highest interests of our families and of society.

Because it is our fathers, brothers, husbands and sons who represent us at the ballot-box. Our fathers and our brothers love us; our husbands are our choice, and one with us; our sons are what WE MAKE THEM. We are content that they represent US in the corn-field, on the battle-field, and at the ballot-box, and we THEM in the school-room, at the fireside, and at the cradle, believing our representation even at the ballot-box to be thus more full and impartial than it would be were the views of the few who wish suffrage adopted, contrary to the judgment of the many.

We do, therefore, respectfully protest against the proposed Amendment to establish “woman suffrage” in our State. We believe that political equality will deprive us of special privileges hitherto accorded to us by law.

Our association has been formed for the purpose of conducting a purely educational campaign. If you are in sympathy with this aim and believe as we do in the righteousness of our cause, will you not send your name to us and pass our appeal on to some one else?

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OPPOSED TO WOMAN SUFFRAGE, 35 West 39th St., New York City.