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Why Women Led Anti-Suffrage Campaigns Against Themselves

Women achieved the right to vote in the United States nearly 100 years ago, after an exhausting fight that lasted decades. It may be surprising that some of the leaders of the anti-suffrage movement were women themselves. Why would women campaign against their own right to vote? Some of them truly believed that voting rights for women would upset the natural order and damage families.

An anti-suffrage petition published in the New York Times in 1894 railed against the granting of voting rights beyond men, framing such a shift as “the imposition of political duties upon women.” With so many domestic tasks to contend with already, it argued, women should not be further burdened with the responsibility of participating in elections.

These domestic duties went beyond caring for children, keeping the house clean, and serving up hot homemade meals to the family. The home realm that women ruled extended beyond the fall walls of one's house, incorporating activist pursuits like community organizing, fundraising, and grassroots advocacy.

The last line of that quote also pointed to another reason some women campaigned against suffrage- they didn’t want to share the activist power they had with lower-class women. Read about the women who campaigned against women’s suffrage at Atlas Obscura.

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