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Exhibition Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote

Western States Pave the Way

It is to the strong, courageous, and progressive men of the western States that the women of this whole country are looking for deliverance. . . It is these men who must start this movement and give it such momentum that it will roll irresistibly on to the very shores of the Atlantic Ocean.

—Ida Husted Harper, 1905

As the nineteenth century ended, women had achieved full suffrage in Wyoming (1869/1890), Colorado (1893), Idaho (1896), and Utah (1896) and “partial” voting rights elsewhere on bond issues and municipal and school board elections. Alternately aided and hindered by national suffrage organizers and local Woman’s Christian Temperance Union chapters, suffragists in seven more western states secured victory by 1914. Little progress, however, occurred at the federal level. Committee hearings were held every few years, but the amendment came up for vote only once, in 1887, when it was soundly defeated. Congress would not vote on it again until 1914. Major opponents included midwestern liquor interests, southern conservatives protecting their region’s disenfranchisement of black men, and eastern and southern business leaders who relied on child labor and unregulated working conditions.

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