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[Detail] Preface from Punchinello 1, no.1 (1870).

Women's Suffrage

Women's suffrage was a major reform issue during the latter part of the nineteenth century. While the journal Punchinello published articles and illustrations ridiculing the movement, other periodicals seriously addressed the arguments for and against granting women the right to vote. Rev. William Croswell Doane, Bishop of Albany, responded to the petitions of women to the New York constitutional convention by denying that most women were interested in the vote and advising political representatives not to give into the pleas of "suffragettes:"

Cartoon of Susan B. Anthony marrying with explanatory text above

"Engagement in High Life," Punchinello, Volume 2, Issue 32, November 5, 1870, page 87. This drawing exemplifies the ridicule suffragists faced from some periodicals.

. . . Many a man says: "Oh! Let the experiment be tried; it cannot succeed; it will do no harm to pay women the courtesy of this complimentary vote, and then defeat it at the polls." But this is an experiment too much like playing with fire to be safe.

From "Why Women Do Not Want the Ballot," The North American Review, Volume 161, Issue 466, September 1895, page 259

On the other hand, an article in Putnam's drew an analogy to the well-run family:

. . . Families governed by fathers alone, or mothers alone, are less likely to be well governed than those where their joint authority controls. . . Just so a nation needs a governing power which shall represent the thought and feeling of both men and women . . .

From "Letters on Woman Suffrage II," Putnam's Monthly Magazine of American Literature, Science and Art, Volume 12, Issue 12, December 1868, page 703

Read the two articles cited above or two other articles presenting opposing viewpoints on women's suffrage. What are the strongest arguments on each side? How do the arguments reflect the social and cultural norms of the late 1800s?

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