Remember the ladies
While Hillary Rodham Clinton’s defeat in her run for the presidency may be a setback in the march toward breaking the ultimate glass ceiling, her candidacy—and her victory in the popular vote—can be celebrated as an historic milestone coming less than one hundred years after American women first got that vote.
In her comprehensive survey of the cause, REMEMBER THE LADIES: Celebrating Those Who Fought for Freedom at the Ballot Box, journalist Angela P. Dodson documents one of the longest, most hard-won struggles for civil rights in our country’s history.
“As a woman who went to school from the mid-1950s to the late 1970s, grade school to grad school, I knew little of the suffrage movement and the women behind it,” Dodson writes. “Women received almost no mention in our history books, and women’s studies courses were not in our college catalogs.”
REMEMBER THE LADIES explores the many obstacles encountered on the rough road to suffrage, and also places the movement in the context of the other social and political upheavals unfolding during the decades.
Dodson recounts how women hoped in vain that their considerable contributions to the war efforts during the Civil War and World War I would gain them the support they needed to win the vote. She looks at schisms within the movement that sometimes set back the cause, including the ideological conflict that arose between abolitionist and women’s rights faction when black men who had been slaves gained the right to vote but women, both white and black, did not. Resentment only grew when a wave of uneducated immigrant men had the right to vote as naturalized citizens while educated native-born women did not. A new approach, shifting the efforts to gain the vote to a federal rather than merely at the state level would be a key development.