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Exhibition Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote

The Women’s Political Union. Membership pledge, reproducing Herbert Johnson’s sketch “The Enemies of Votes for Women,” from the Philadelphia Saturday Evening Post, ca. 1913. Harriot Stanton Blatch Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (046.00.00)
William Henry Dethlef Koerner. “Spring House Cleaning—Why Not?” ca. 1914. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (047.03.00)

“Forces of Evil” Oppose Women’s Votes

Membership pledges, including this one for the Women’s Political Union, which focused on the commercialization of prostitution in New York City, often represented suffrage as part of a larger reform movement to improve society. They depicted the vote as a means to end women’s oppression and safeguard against the graft and corruption of male-dominated politics—the “forces of evil.” Suffrage would extend women’s accepted housekeeping superiority into the public sphere and help sweep out prostitution, gambling, and drunkenness.