American Women’s Suffrage is the newest edition in the Library of America’s incredible collection of American literature and historical writings. In this collection, advocates and opponents of women’s suffrage from 1776 to 1965 are heard once again. It’s an extensive anthology and took me quite some time to read as I tended to read one or two pieces and then read something else.
We first hear from Abigail Adams as she fruitlessly encouraged her husband to ensure women’s rights. We also hear from him citing the still common, and false, assertion that women actually are in charge. “We are the subjects. We have only the Name of Masters, and rather than give up this, which would compleatly subject Us to the Despotism of the Peticoat.” There is, indeed, nothing new under the sun.
The last person we hear from is Fannie Lou Hamer who described how she was dispossessed of her home, arrested, and beaten for registering to vote to the credentials committee of the Democratic National Committee.
In between, many women write of their desire for suffrage, to be full citizens in their country. We hear from Black women organizing and speaking for women’s suffrage even before the Civil War, not just during the Civil Rights Era. This book does an excellent job of restoring women to their place in history. We also hear from the men, the editorials moaning about all the terrible consequences. Seriously, Rush Limbaugh is unimaginative compared to the 1852 “New York Herald.”
American Women’s Suffrage is excellent. It has the comprehensive coverage I expect from the Library of America. It fills in the gaps and erasures in the story of organizing for the vote. In this year where turnout exceeded all expectations in spite of so many things that could have suppressed the vote, it seems an ideal time to study how women won the right to vote.
I received an e-galley of American Women’s Suffrage from NetGalley.