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The Movement Comes of Age


Holland's Magazine, March - May, 1913

In 1913, Holland's sponsored an essay contest on the women's suffrage question. This page presents excerpts from the winning essays, along with illustrations from Holland's short stories of the same era.

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Holland's, January 1913

Until now I have never cared to vote, but today I want the ballot. I want better schools for my children, and the voters think those we have are good enough as they are. Our schoolhouse, which is one among many, ignores the principles of heating, lighting, and ventilation. I have seen children grow weak and sick from spending so many hours in these unsanitary conditions. The halls are narrow and the stairs are steep, which endangers the lives of the children in case of fire or panic. Perhaps this is so because of ignorance and perhaps of greed, I do not know which. - Anna E. Shapleigh

 

I have used my indirect influence to the utmost of my ability. Not one condition has changed. If I had the ballot, what could I do? I could vote for men who would not tolerate such conditions. Not only that. While I can urge better conditions now, and remind a few people that reforms are needed, when the time comes that I hold a vote in my hands, I shall interest not only many people, but the legislator. A voter, I am to be considered. A voter, the poor woman dying for air is to be considered. - Mary DeWolfe Newcomb

 

I am too busy with much more important work for women to do and the time has not yet come when women are far enough advanced in 'women's rights' to vote -- we must be educated up to it. -- Mrs. T.M. Fly

 

I don't want to vote because I don't want to be considered man's equal. At least I don't want him to consider me his equal. I want him to keep right on considering me his superior. I'm used to it and I like it. Every woman does, whether she admits it or not. -- Mrs. Roy M. Nicholson.

 

Anything that weakens women's interest in the home is detrimental to her and society. This is the first and greatest reason why I do not want to vote. - Mrs. Edw. L. Manson.

Holland's, March 1916

I do not want to sit in high places. I want the right to say what I shall do with my property, myself, and my children. If women would only try they could throw off the yoke of servitude they have endured for ages. - Mrs. T.E. Lane

 

I want to vote because for more than a decade I have been deprived of this, my right as an American citizen, a property owner and an educated, intelligent human being.


- Mary Madison Lee

 

I want to vote, because the states of equal suffrage have proved that it is not the silly women, influenced by a handsome male candidate, who take the time to study into and work for the time to study into and work for the political reforms and noble men of might and of action. No, these same sillies are too busy with their dressmakers, milliners and beauty doctors to bother with politics; but the busy and faithful mothers and school teachers, the successful business women, and careful housewives are the ones who find time, or make time, to give intelligent interest and help in things political. And the world is going to be the better for the admission of women into politics. - Mrs. Addie Hull Doerr

 

I desire to live in a state where prison reform is not a mouthing of catchy campaign clauses in any plank, or board, of any party or candidate, but a real reform; where beating until blood spouts from the body of one freeman by another freeman will be a hideous impossibility, a relic of medieval atrocity. You don't believe this? Have you ever visited a South Texas plantation, employing convict labor? I have; I know. The knowledge is the haunting horror of my childhood. - Calista Troth.

 

I do not feel that two wrongs make one right. It was wrong to permit the Southern negro, before he had acquired intelligence or civic virtue, to vote. It made a cleavage between white and black which is a serious menace to both. I cannot therefore feel that we should cure the evil by duplicating it, i.e. admitting his wife to the privilege of franchise. - Katherine Girling

 

There are always instances of great victories for the right to be found in various regions and, in most cases, they are due to the efforts and indirect influence of good women. But such instances have little to do with the actual balloting of the women. They existed long before the question of suffrage was agitated. - Olive A. Smith

 

In the first place it is very hard to engage in politics and keep our aims sublime. It is a murky atmosphere and no number of women will ever purify it. - Lillie R. Wager

 

If women vote, their ardor will equal if not surpass that of the men, and if they show the same carelessness to home duties the homes will be better off with them out of politics. - Bessie Krentzman

 

Our little lady was still snoozing away in the mental atmosphere of the year 1820, congratulating herself that she had the good taste not to want to vote. And she never woke up long enough to discover just why it is that the vice squad and the ward leaders and the "hinky-dink" brotherhood so thoroughly approve her good taste. - Zoe Hartman

 

There is no harm coming to woman with the act of going to the polls and casting her vote; vice will not contaminate her skirts.. - Mrs. Charles A. Smith

 

No, I do not want to vote. If there is any reverence left in man for me, as a representative of those women who have invaded his business world, I am not going to run the risk of having it wiped out at the polls. - Bert Rowe

 

Suffragettes are trying to make themselves and others believe that they will never be unduly influenced in casting their votes, and that they will vote only for good laws. No self-seeking, no personal aims or interests. Can a thoughtful man or woman imagine this possible when they know of the jarring and the quarreling and wire-pulling and even hair-pulling that goes on in the majority of clubs and societies controlled by women? - Harriet L. Peckham

 

I am a plain country woman, once a school-teacher, just now a wife and mother and homesteader in a pleasant little valley in New Mexico. I never in my life was a member of a woman's club nor am I well known as a suffragette or in any other way. I am just a plain woman -- but I want to vote. - Mrs. R. Bedicheck

 

I want to vote in order that I may be ready, when the time comes, to help avert the terrible epidemic of socialism which is beginning to spread over the land. - Mary Tarney

 

The world is marching on. There is no going back. Woman has learned that man's burden is no heavier than her own. That it has compensations her own life has lacked. - Mrs. L.W. Bartlett

 

I cannot state too forcibly that home surroundings should be pleasant in order that men's brains may act most ably. Let a woman ask no more glorious work than to run the home properly and to minister to her husband's needs and to the wants of the little lives that have been sent to her. - Anna E. Bley

 

The delicate, everlasting question of sex might also have a family bearing. Should a woman suffragist, with soulful eyes and fluffy hair, come out for office, could the plain, hollow-cheeked wives stand back and see their husbands rave over her, and vote for her? Could any amount of sophistry convince them that beauty and sex were not the secrets of her success? Should some of those husbands, as "captains of finance," insist that their wives vote for her also -- well! - Ella M. Paquin

 

Women as I know them want to go to the bottom of things and then decide for themselves. Perhaps that is one reason for the reluctance to give us the vote -- we may not prove quite tractable. - Clara E. Espey

 

I want the ballot because I believe that with it women would exert an influence for peace that would be more effectual than any peace conference ever convened. - Tabitha Milner

 

I want to vote because I am sorry for the men who have been running politics alone so long and have got things into such a mess both in monarchies and republics that they surely need help from some source. - Ida Hibbard

 

One most favorable thing is the serious way in which women are fitting themselves for politics. Everywhere there are study clubs where everything in politics is taken up and discussed. - Viola A. Dillon

 

If there are communities in which women are treated as inferiors I am sure that not the ballot but better education of both men and women would lead to a juster attitude. - Edith T. Clapp

 

If just placing a vote in a ballot box were all, I might not object to voting; but the logical sequence of woman suffrage means women on juries, and in the legislature, and, perhaps, the cabinet, a situation which, I firmly believe, will eventually destroy family life and ruin the nation. - Mrs. Frank J. Hazen

Holland's, March 1916

I cannot help thinking that it would be better if the American woman would select a decent father for her children, make him a home to be proud of, and then let him attend to its protection. - Edna Paschall

 

Surely no intelligent observer can deny that already much of the charm of womanhood has passed away because of this everyday contact with the selfish, struggling, hustling world. - Clara J. Denton

 

While not wholly in sympathy with the modern Boston Tea parties they are holding in England, I feel that "taxation without representation is tyranny" as much today, applied to women who are not enfranchised, as in those old days of the colonies. - M.P. Lindsley

 

I do not, personally, wish to rob man of any of his proud prerogatives by my voting, nor would I even rob him of his "personal liberty" to drink whatever he pleases and as much as he can hold -- but when it comes to fighting for the rights of the unborn generation I can feel the ferocity which makes a tigress a worse foe than her mate. Childhood must be protected at any price, and if the voting of women will hasten the day when the test of parenthood shall be "clean hands and a pure heart," by all means let us have it.


- Alma Paschall

 

For myself, I do not care to vote, because I consider it so much effort wasted; and I need all my strength, first, for my husband's happiness; next, for my children's equipment for life; third, for aid such as I may be able to give my neighbor, towards better living, and lastly, for help for all those that need help. This I believe will keep me busy enough without trying to get something which is of no earthly use when it is won. - Mrs. E.L. Lord

 

I am no shirk. If it would settle great matters and settle them right, I'd vote as many times as they would let me. But there are some things I do not want to do -- such as ride in a balloon, tame a lion, go to the North pole or to the polls. When woman measures up to present day duties and demands, even approximately, it will be time enough for her to ask for another responsibility. But some of us know when we have enough. - Lee McCrae

 

There are five states in the Union in which the negro vote is in the majority, so surely those of us who are proud of our Anglo-Saxon origin would shrink from being instrumental in acquiring a black man's rule. - Regina Smith

 

The woman's vote tends to put good men in office. That is one reason. Her vote upholds the good official after he is in, and removes the snares and pitfalls from his path. That is a second argument. The woman's vote means political education for herself, and through her for the boys and girls of the coming race. - Mrs. Louise B. Innes

 

Is there any creature already so free on this round earth as the American woman? Is there any created thing that has greater opportunities for power, along the best and highest lines, than a good woman? Then why not be content?


- Kate W. Buck

 

The anti-suffragist knows that the ballot in her hand is death to the things for which he stands. Hence all our worst classes are opposed to woman suffrage.


- Mrs. Martha Swepson

 

I don't want to be bothered with politics, any more than I would wish to try to understand banking, manipulating stocks, or laying sewer pipe! - Mrs. M.S. Noble

 

Think of a home where the husband takes one side in politics and the wife the other. ... How much harmony or unity of feeling, think you, would there be in that home while the battle was raging? - Mrs. C.W. Stiles

 

As non-voters, large numbers of women -- picked women -- can be held together in an effort to the public good, commanding the respect which disinterested intelligence always commands, and seldom finding the women of the wrong side organizing to oppose them. - Lily Rice Foxcroft

 

Since the beginning of time, the mothering and training of men have been in the hands of women, and if they have not been able to rear a race of statesmen worthy of representing their highest interests then their duty has been but inefficiently performed. - Caroline Putnam

Holland's, May 1913

The socialist movement that is gaining ground so fast is being helped by woman's vote largely, and the thought of promoting such a state of affairs, if nothing else, should keep woman from voting. - Mrs. Bryan D. Beck

 

I will never forget Billie's looks of surprise and joy when I first began to ask intelligent questions upon the matters so near to his heart, and one of the memories my heart holds most precious is that of the tender, happy kiss he gave me when he learned that I was studying politics. - Harriette Hilton

 

I grant that putting woman in the arena of struggle, in an atmosphere tense with degeneracy, that she may purify the laws, is a gigantic undertaking; yet, given the opportunity, she will be as she has always been, unflinching in purpose, and, with her high ideals and noble aspirations, she will begin a vigorous campaign against the vices of today tolerated by men in power. - Mrs. M.J. Killgore

Holland's, May 1916

The campaign is on. Mother (if she has time to be a mother) is running for mayor of the little village, out six days of the week making stump speeches telling people what a fine, orderly town they will have when she runs things. But look! Where is the order in the home? How does it fare while she is away? Children running helter-skelter, everything wrong side up, meals half served, dishes unwashed, servants off on a vacation and father driven to distraction, locked in his study, his face buried in his hands, wishing he had died before women ran for office. - Mrs. M.A. Harkins

 

Later in life, when I was married and a new baby came every two years until there were seven, I learned that there are many election days when it is immodest, unwomanly, inconvenient and often impossible for a married woman to even buy a dress on that day, not to mention the duties which prevent a thorough study of political conditions preceding a wise casting of the ballot.


- Mrs. Caroline S. Parker

 

In the first place, let me state frankly that I believe I have right to vote. I think, too, that I have a right to wear short hair, dress like a man, build sky-scrapers, sail ships, or serve on the police force. I do not wish to do any of these things; my time is fully occupied in ways I like better, and I do not think my doing them would contribute in any way to the comfort and happiness of the world in general. Precisely for the same reasons, I do not want to vote. - May Ellis

 

I do not want to vote because I believe my own ballot and those of others of my sex fail to further either my welfare or happiness; that the act works a hardship on some, benefits few and is positively harmful to many. - Florence Martin Eastland

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Holland's Magazine, March - May, 1913, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Page last modified: June 17, 2011