Hidden History: Women's suffrage

Hidden History: Women's suffrage

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The women's vote

Women and men exercise their right to vote in this early Clarence E. Bisbee photo. In 1896, Idaho became the fourth state to pass women’s suffrage laws.

Wyoming, Utah and Colorado were the first states to grant women the right to vote. Wyoming and Utah were both territories when their women’s suffrage laws were passed.

Idaho, in 1896, was the fourth state to give women the right to vote.

By 1915, women’s suffrage was a hot topic nationally; by then only eight more states had passed women’s suffrage laws and four more were planning a vote.

Arguments against women’s suffrage by 1912 Nobel Peace Prize winner Elihu Root were printed in the Oct. 1, 1915, edition of Twin Falls Weekly Times.

“I am opposed to the granting of suffrage to women,” said Root, a former U.S. Secretary of War and Secretary of State. “Suffrage is not a natural right, but is simply a means of government, and the sole question to be discussed is whether government by the suffrage of men and women will be better government than by the suffrage of men alone.”

Root was a brilliant lawyer, who, after World War I, helped to develop the Permanent Court of International Justice at the Hague.

“It is not that woman is inferior to man, but it is that woman is different from man,” he said. “Woman rules today by the sweet and noble influences of her character. Put woman into the arena of conflict and she abandons those great weapons which control the world.

“Woman in strife becomes hard, harsh, unlovable and repulsive; as far removed from the gentle creature to whom we all owe allegiance and to whom we confess submission, as the heaven is removed from the earth.”

In 1919, the 19th Amendment gave all woman the right to vote.

Mychel Matthews reports on rural issues and agriculture for the Times-News. The Hidden History feature runs every Thursday in the Times-News and on Magicvalley.com. If you have a question about something that may have historical significance, email Matthews at mmatthews@magicvalley.com or call her at 208-735-3233.


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