Does "citizen" mean "white male"? This question, posed by the women's rights movement of the 1800s, sought to challenge this commonly accepted notion and create public debate and discourse regarding the rights of women. Up until the 1880s, many state laws treated the possessions of a woman as the property of her husband upon marriage. Beyond voting rights, the women's rights movement of the 1800s sought to address these and other issues. Not all women, however, were party to the organizations striving for greater women's rights. Often, women from minority and immigrant groups were excluded from these organizations and often created their own groups. Learn more about five important African American suffragists from this fascinating blog post from the Smithsonian Institution.
True democracy is neither class government nor sex government, but a government of all the people by all the people. -Eau Claire Leader, October 27, 1912.
The above quote appeared on membership cards for The Political Equality League, which organized in 1912 with fifty members. The league became the first significant women's suffrage organization in the Eau Claire area. The organization held tea parties to recruit members, elected ward captains to organize door-to-door canvasing, arranged speeches from pro-suffrage voices, and worked diligently to advertise pro-suffrage announcements in the region.
Prior to The Political Equality League, women found opportunities to express their views, political and social, through other organizations. Social clubs, temperance groups, and other organizations for women created a forum for women to express their views. These organizations established a foundation for later groups, like the Political Equality League, that would mobilize and organize women to campaign for suffrage and other women's rights.
Check out the gallery of items below to learn more about The Political Equality League.