The Ladies' Tea Guild

Monday, October 10, 2011

100 years of voting rights for California women!

South Bay Ladies' Tea Guild celebrating the Woman's
Suffrage Centennial at Satori Tea Bar!
San Jose joins the rest of California in celebrating an important milestone: the centennial anniversary of women being granted the vote in California!  In 1911 the Women’s Suffrage Amendment was finally passed by both houses of the California Legislature, and it was signed into law on October 10, 1911 by the governor, under the eye of Clara Foltz, the first female lawyer on the Pacific coast of North America, who lived and practiced in San Jose.

The work began in 1840, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, along with other female American delegates to the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London, were not allowed to sit in the convention hall and participate, because of their gender.  They realized the many similarities between the conditions of racial slavery and gender inequality, and resolved to address the issue on their return to the U.S.

In June of 1848 the Liberty Party included woman’s suffrage in its camplaign, and in July of that year, Stanton and Mott called the first Woman’s Rights Convention in a church in Seneca Falls, NY where the 300 attendees discussed women’s role in society.  They believed women should have the same social, educational and professional opportunities as men, and that giving the vote to women would allow them to have a say in the laws that they would have to obey, thereby enabling them to change provide themselves and their children with fair treatment and protection by the law.  Many women thought of voting rights as a natural extension of their roles as guardians and shapers of the home and family; how could they protect their family if they had no power or authority to shape their family's environment?

Throughout the 19th century, many women (and men) worked tirelessly to promote the idea of women having the same rights as men, and to secure those rights and opportunities step by step: from the right to own property and get higher education, to the right to work in occupations outside domestic service and prostitution, to the right to be on school boards and vote in local school board and charity work elections, to the ultimate goal of complete voting rights as full citizens of the United States. Many other reform groups, as well as churches and synagogues, joined the work, giving speeches, writing supportive articles and essays, and giving money and other valuable goods and services to the effort.

Several of the Western states started giving women full voting rights, starting with Wyoming in 1869; California followed Wyoming and 5 other states by giving women the vote in 1911.  72 years of constant work and education, struggling against negative attitudes in wider American society which were spurred on by the media through propaganda and destructive editorials, finally resulted in the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which extended voting rights to all American women in 1920.

“Suffrage Timeline” from The Susan B. Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership
“Declaration of Sentiments” from Wikipedia


Bernideen said...

What a fun looking bunch of ladies!

South Bay Ladies' Tea Guild said...

Thanks, Bernideen! We had fun, and I'm glad that we all dressed up. We got lots of compliments.

Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)