With the election less than a month away, now is a good time to look back at arguments made against woman suffrage in Nebraska.
The following was published by the Nebraska Association Opposed to Women Suffrage, Omaha, and is featured in Laura McKee Hickman’s article, “Thou Shalt Not Vote: Anti-Suffrage in Nebraska, 1914-1920,” which appeared in the Summer 1999 issue of Nebraska History.
So, ladies, consider carefully these ten arguments, which people actually took seriously less than a century ago. Then make sure your voter registration is up to date.
Ten Reasons Why the Great Majority of Women Do Not Want the Ballot.
- BECAUSE they have not lost faith in their fathers, husbands, sons and brothers, who afford full protection to the community, there being no call for women to relieve them of the task.
- BECAUSE women realize that when they become voters they will in consequence have to serve as jurors, and be compelled to hear all the repugnant details incident to murder trials and trials for other crimes disclosing unspeakable wickedness. Jury service is abhorrent to every normal woman.
- BECAUSE in political activities there is constant strife, turmoil, contention and bitterness, producing conditions from which every normal woman naturally shrinks.
- BECAUSE the primary object of government is to protect persons and property. This duty is imposed by nature upon man, the women being by nature absolved from assuming a task to-them impossible.
- BECAUSE when women noisily contest and scramble for public office—woman pitted against woman—they write an indictment of womankind against which all rightminded women strenuously protest.
- BECAUSE women can accomplish more through counselling than they ever can attain through commanding.
- BECAUSE woman suffrage will not enhance peace and harmony in the home, but, on the contrary, in the heat of a campaign, it is sure to bring about dissension and discord.
- BECAUSE Nebraska women are already enjoying a greater measure of protection and privilege under the law than do women of any state where women vote.
- BECAUSE the woman worker wants rest and quietude—not political excitement.
- BECAUSE every reason supporting the claim of women to vote supports also the right of women to be consulted as to whether they shall or shall not be given the ballot.
The rest of the article examines the reasons why anti-suffrage was strong in Nebraska. Issues such as religion, immigration and ethnic identity, and prohibition of alcohol were major factors. Nebraska women did not achieve full voting rights until 1920, when the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified.
Want to know more about the suffrage movement in Nebraska? Need a research topic for a school paper? We have many more articles online to get you started. From Nebraska History: “Striving for Equal Rights for All”: Woman Suffrage in Nebraska, 1855-1882; Barkley vs Pool: Woman Suffrage and the Nebraska Referendum Law; The Nebraska League of Women Voters; Sixty-Five Years Till Victory: A History of Woman Suffrage in Nebraska; The German-American Alliance in Nebraska, 1910-1917 (which vigorously opposed woman suffrage as a threat to the German lifestyle).
—David Bristow, Associate Director / Publications