I came across this article on Chronicling America and thought it would be an interesting addition to my archives. Since I have been adding articles about suffrage in the District of Columbia, I figured it was due time to include an article about Woman’s suffrage, which, as most people know, came into being with the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1920; a full sixteen years after this article was published.
The Representative Woman’s Point of View
Susan B. Anthony Talks of Her Life-Long Efforts in Behalf of Her Sex— Doesn’t Despair Yet of Ultimate Winning of Suffrage Victory — Man’s Life Broader Than Woman’s
By Emma Horn Smith
The Saint Paul Globe, May 01, 1904
You almost feel a reformer yourself when you enter the parlor of Miss Susan B. Anthony’s spotless home; the walls are veritably crowded with pictures of America’s famous reformers– Garrison, Mrs. Stanton and Wendell Phillips, Lucretia Mott and Channing, the Cary sisters, Anna Dickerson and Greeley. And in a corner is a picture of those five famous women who lectured to me centuries ago in the university at Bologna. The one with the veiled head was so beautiful that her face was always covered that men might know her wisdom.
In an upper room, before the fire of her quiet study, you find Miss Anthony herself. You think of the tranquility of Whistler’s portrait of his mother, as she insists that you take her own high-backed chair and slips a little footstool under your feet.
You are wondering, after reading her life and finding how continually women failed her and politicians deceived, that she is still an optimist. “You seem to have kept right on believing when it was raining cats and dogs,” you say. “How could you ever do it?”
“Oh, that was because I knew that the sun was shining and must prevail, no matter what came between,” she replied. “The cause was too just a one for me to believe in anything but its final triumph. The first work was, of course, all propaganda. The idea of women was so new that we had to go up and down the land, and sow and harrow, and be harrowed. We had to create and educate a sentiment for our reform.”
“Didn’t the progress seem more rapid from, say 1848 to 1865, or up to the time when the New York State laws were amended, than it has since?”
“Well” – and Miss Anthony smiled- “I guess if you had done the work, and been through the weariness and stress of it, you wouldn’t have thought it very rapid- no, nor the results of fifty years compared with efforts and earnestness put into it.”
“Are the men who are interested in suffrage to-day to be compared to those anti-slavery men who looked for it?”
“Oh, they never really worked for it. They believed in it abstractly, but there was always something else to be done first.”
“Doesn’t it seem strange that we haven’t got more influence with our husbands, fathers, and sons in getting suffrage- they are so willing to give us everything else?”
“Yes, that is just the point. They give us, like to have us ask for, things. We must look pretty, ask prettily. Those women who have too much self-respect to do so are called shrews,” she said, with a twinkle of humor in voice and eyes.
“Just think of the years that we have our sons before they become voters. Why don’t we influence them more?” I asked.
“That is because we have no real power, after all,” Miss Anthony replied. “A boy may think his mother lovely, have the greatest admiration for her character, but when he goes out in the world and sees the respect shown his father’s opinions, even through he drinks, smokes, and swears, he isn’t going to be influenced greatly by what his mother thinks. This father can, if he chooses, help to make and enforce the laws that regulate conduct and shape life. What can his mother do?”
“Do you think men’s lives to-day are really so much broader than those of women?”
“A ditch digger has a broader life than a woman,” was the emphatic answer.
“But, Miss Anthony, he only digs his ditch, comes in contact with one or two of his kind, drinks a little with them perhaps, talks over the political situation after his light, and now and then votes as his is bidden.”
“But don’t you see that even then he comes into more direct relations with life?” she insisted. “The labor and wage question, the tariff, the character of the man who is boss, the liquor laws, all these vital things are talked over and reasoned about by the handful of diggers.”
“Then you don’t think that women’s contact with the grocer, the butcher, the baker, the candlestickmaker, the food question, the money problem, the tariff as it affects the family purse, and our church and charitable connection is real life?”
“Oh, yes, but how can women help or hinder social conditions that they don’t like, and that they know are wrong?”
“Here are the federated club women, most of whom believe in suffrage. Why? They find out, for instance, that they want to modify or amend the laws regulating child labor, or some other evil. What can they do? Either wait years for a changed opinion, or go to the law makers, be treated politely and laid on the shelf. They cannot vote, and more than all, they have no constituents. That’s a word our grandmothers didn’t have in their lexicons. Their interests were in their homes and church, and what people called society. But as the interests of women broaden, and they go into business, manage their property, and study civic questions, they find that they have special interests to protect and special wrongs to remedy.
“Then they realize the disadvantage of having no political influence. They discover to their surprise that politics concerns them. Do you know that since the Federation of Clubs was organized in 1890 it has applied to more legislatures to secure the passage of bills than has the Suffrage Association?”
“You surely think club life broadening, Miss Anthony?”
“That depends on the woman, the questions she is interested in, and the thought she gives to them.”
“Are young men and women interested in woman suffrage?”
“I should say they are. Every few days high school boys and girls, and college men and women, and others send to me for statistics and arguments to be used in their debating societies.”
I asked Miss Anthony if she had a message to send to the young women of the country who are interested in suffrage- a word of advice, perhaps of caution.”
“A word of advice?” she repeated, smilingly. “Why, there never yet was a young woman who did not feel that if she had had the management of the work from the beginning of the cause, she would have carried it long ago. I felt just so when I was young.”
“Annie Nathan Meyers seems to think woman in politics a question of the Lady or the Tiger. Which do you think it will be?”
“The Lady, beyond doubt,” said Miss Anthony, emphatically, as she closed the interview.