Wednesday, September 19, 2018

How Midwestern Suffragists Used Anti-Immigrant Fervor to Help Gain the Vote


Here is an interesting historical tidbit that I did not know. A recent essay on Zocalo Public Squareby Sara Egge on the roots of the suffrage movement showcases how suffragists used nativist arguments, as far back as 1914, to create the political leverage that ultimately won women the right to vote in South Dakota. Renowned suffragist Anna Howard Shaw was instrumental in this campaign. She spoke at rallies, presenting “undeniable truths” that American women were “more deserving” than “ignorant male immigrant neighbors,” mostly German immigrants at the time.  the concluding paragraph:

"While Shaw’s speech was meant for an audience living in an important historical moment and place, it also resonates today. Suffragists had no qualms about using nativism to open democracy to women. They were willing to skewer immigrants in their decades-long quest for political equality. Shaw’s remarks also remind us how many assumptions Americans have made—in 1914 and today—about the rights and responsibilities that accompany citizenship."


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