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Suffrage: Women's Long Battle for the Vote

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Honoring the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment to the Constitution, this exciting history explores the full scope of the movement to win the vote for women through portraits of its bold leaders and devoted activists. Distinguished historian Ellen Carol DuBois begins in the pre-Civil War years with foremothers Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, an Honoring the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment to the Constitution, this exciting history explores the full scope of the movement to win the vote for women through portraits of its bold leaders and devoted activists. Distinguished historian Ellen Carol DuBois begins in the pre-Civil War years with foremothers Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Sojourner Truth as she explores the links of the woman suffrage movement to the abolition of slavery. After the Civil War, Congress granted freed African American men the right to vote but not white and African American women, a crushing disappointment. DuBois shows how suffrage leaders persevered through the Jim Crow years into the reform era of Progressivism. She introduces new champions Carrie Chapman Catt and Alice Paul, who brought the fight into the 20th century, and she shows how African American women, led by Ida B. Wells-Barnett, demanded voting rights even as white suffragists ignored them. DuBois explains how suffragists built a determined coalition of moderate lobbyists and radical demonstrators in forging a strategy of winning voting rights in crucial states to set the stage for securing suffrage for all American women in the Constitution. In vivid prose DuBois describes suffragists’ final victories in Congress and state legislatures, culminating in the last, most difficult ratification, in Tennessee. DuBois follows women’s efforts to use their voting rights to win political office, increase their voting strength, and pass laws banning child labor, ensuring maternal health, and securing greater equality for women. Suffrage: Women’s Long Battle for the Vote is sure to become the authoritative account of one of the great episodes in the history of American democracy.


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Honoring the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment to the Constitution, this exciting history explores the full scope of the movement to win the vote for women through portraits of its bold leaders and devoted activists. Distinguished historian Ellen Carol DuBois begins in the pre-Civil War years with foremothers Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, an Honoring the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment to the Constitution, this exciting history explores the full scope of the movement to win the vote for women through portraits of its bold leaders and devoted activists. Distinguished historian Ellen Carol DuBois begins in the pre-Civil War years with foremothers Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Sojourner Truth as she explores the links of the woman suffrage movement to the abolition of slavery. After the Civil War, Congress granted freed African American men the right to vote but not white and African American women, a crushing disappointment. DuBois shows how suffrage leaders persevered through the Jim Crow years into the reform era of Progressivism. She introduces new champions Carrie Chapman Catt and Alice Paul, who brought the fight into the 20th century, and she shows how African American women, led by Ida B. Wells-Barnett, demanded voting rights even as white suffragists ignored them. DuBois explains how suffragists built a determined coalition of moderate lobbyists and radical demonstrators in forging a strategy of winning voting rights in crucial states to set the stage for securing suffrage for all American women in the Constitution. In vivid prose DuBois describes suffragists’ final victories in Congress and state legislatures, culminating in the last, most difficult ratification, in Tennessee. DuBois follows women’s efforts to use their voting rights to win political office, increase their voting strength, and pass laws banning child labor, ensuring maternal health, and securing greater equality for women. Suffrage: Women’s Long Battle for the Vote is sure to become the authoritative account of one of the great episodes in the history of American democracy.

30 review for Suffrage: Women's Long Battle for the Vote

  1. 5 out of 5

    Teri

    This book is a comprehensive look at the American suffrage movement from pre-civil war to 1920 and beyond. Within its 300+ pages, Ellen Carol DuBois gives an overall look at the women who championed the effort for equal voting rights for women and also for African-American men, while also looking at the dissenters and obstacles both faced throughout the decades. Dubois also spends quite a bit of time discussing the struggles for African-American women who were oftentimes not included in the main This book is a comprehensive look at the American suffrage movement from pre-civil war to 1920 and beyond. Within its 300+ pages, Ellen Carol DuBois gives an overall look at the women who championed the effort for equal voting rights for women and also for African-American men, while also looking at the dissenters and obstacles both faced throughout the decades. Dubois also spends quite a bit of time discussing the struggles for African-American women who were oftentimes not included in the mainstream movement, having to forge their own way to gain equal voting rights. There are a plethora of books on the suffrage movement; however, this is one that is more encompassing of the whole movement in a concise overview, without getting bogged down in too many details. It's the perfect review to be published during the 100th anniversary of the passage of the nineteenth amendment.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Flannery Crain

    I’m in between a 4 and 5 rating for this book. It is written in a way that shows pride in the women who fought for the right to vote, but also acknowledges the struggles that they had within and outside of their own groups. It sometimes gets bogged down in names of people and organizations that slow down the chapter, which is the only reason I wouldn’t go white to a 5. I would highly recommend this to anyone who is interested in learning about the nuances, struggles, and victories that the suffr I’m in between a 4 and 5 rating for this book. It is written in a way that shows pride in the women who fought for the right to vote, but also acknowledges the struggles that they had within and outside of their own groups. It sometimes gets bogged down in names of people and organizations that slow down the chapter, which is the only reason I wouldn’t go white to a 5. I would highly recommend this to anyone who is interested in learning about the nuances, struggles, and victories that the suffrage movement went through. The importance and effects of this fight are continuously changing; to quote the final sentence, “Our understanding of what the women suffrage movement really means for American history continues to provoke and challenge us.” I couldn’t agree more!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Keith Akers

    Suffrage. Women's Long Battle for the Vote. Ellen Carol Dubois. Simon and Schuster, 2020. This is an excellent overall history of the whole history of women's suffrage. It traces the history including the earliest generation of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton down to Alice Paul and Carrie Chapman Catt, and everything in between and on either side. It covers pretty much everything, but is readable and doesn't drag on forever. I like nonfiction books where you are left at the end with a Suffrage. Women's Long Battle for the Vote. Ellen Carol Dubois. Simon and Schuster, 2020. This is an excellent overall history of the whole history of women's suffrage. It traces the history including the earliest generation of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton down to Alice Paul and Carrie Chapman Catt, and everything in between and on either side. It covers pretty much everything, but is readable and doesn't drag on forever. I like nonfiction books where you are left at the end with a vague complaint that the book wasn't long enough. "Leave them wanting more" is the way to write. One minor omission: Anthony's famous quote in her final speech, "failure is impossible," is never mentioned. This leaves me with a question, what is the history of this quotation? Was it famous in the period from 1906 to 1920, used as a battle cry in the final push for a constitutional amendment? Or perhaps the author doesn't mention it because even though Anthony's words were duly recorded, that particular quote didn't become well-known until after the period the author covers, perhaps not until the 1970's? It did leave me with some questions about the whole history of the period and a curiosity to know more about the period and the movement. First of all, it is somewhat amazing to me that women's suffrage was ever in doubt after the Civil War. The book leaves me with the urge to go back in history and, uh, thoroughly chastise the judge in Anthony's trial. The book has the "dirt" on the suffrage movement as well as the heroic stuff; the failure of the suffragists and the African-American leaders to come to terms is just as puzzling as the inability of society to enfranchise women a lot earlier. To really answer this would require psychology and sociology and would perhaps help us to understand what's still driving sexism and racism today. Second, suffrage seemed to change so little. The author, discussing the aftermath of suffrage, outlines the problem well. What happened, exactly? Everyone was "afraid" that votes for women would mean prohibition, because of the connection of suffrage with the temperance movement. But the prohibition amendment passed without suffrage, and after suffrage, prohibition was repealed. On top of that, while you did see women getting into politics (mostly local at first), it's really rather slow. To really answer the prohibition questions you'd have to look at male and female self-perceptions of their relationship to alcohol, and alcohol's relationship to society, as a "fun" but dangerous activity. Evidently if you let women drink in public as well as vote, temperance isn't as big of an issue. To answer the questions about why suffrage seemed to change so little, policy-wise, you'd have to look at the structure of society in relationship to the political process. It's the same problem with blacks; after slavery is "repealed," the same relationships continue, but the window-dressing has changed a bit. The Civil War delayed the end of slavery for most blacks. Same thing with women's suffrage; men were somewhat listening to women before suffrage, just because they associated with their female family members and others they met socially. But the underlying relationships were slower to change, and giving women a formal role didn't really change the underlying assumptions that both sexes had. Now blacks have the vote and we STILL have racism and at times, like now, it seems to be getting worse. Ditto with sexism. Women have the vote, yet here we are with two candidates (Trump and Biden) who both have problematic relationships to women. It's as if there is an informal network of personal relationships in which we form ideas and opinions about politics. Smoothing out the relationship between the informal working-out of opinions, and their formal expression in the political decision-making process, is only part of the problem. If the informal network is still sexist or racist, the end result will still be sexism and racism. Suffrage dealt with the relationship between this informal network and the political process. It's part of the problem, but not the whole problem.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Paul Pessolano

    “Suffrage” by Ellen Carol Dubois, published by Simon & Schuster. Category – History Publication Date – February 25, 2020. This is probably the most comprehensive work on Women’s Suffrage. It spans the time from 1848 to the present, although most of the book is concerned about 1848 to 1920. The book not only concerns itself with the trails and tribulations in getting the women’s vote but it goes into great detail about the women and men who championed the cause of women. The detail is not only the p “Suffrage” by Ellen Carol Dubois, published by Simon & Schuster. Category – History Publication Date – February 25, 2020. This is probably the most comprehensive work on Women’s Suffrage. It spans the time from 1848 to the present, although most of the book is concerned about 1848 to 1920. The book not only concerns itself with the trails and tribulations in getting the women’s vote but it goes into great detail about the women and men who championed the cause of women. The detail is not only the people involved but the effort that was made by these individuals. History skirts over this subject and little information is given to the reader until Ellen Carol Dubois takes it step by step from beginning to end. It is hard to image that it took this many years to complete the process and even then it was unsure of what exactly happened, and if suffrage would hold. This book was written with the student of history in mind and one who is obsessed with the plight of women’s suffrage. It goes way beyond a short history but is full of names, places, and all the frustration and maneuvering that it took for these courageous women to obtain voting rights. The modern woman owes these women a monumental “Thank You” for their efforts.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kate Lawrence

    To celebrate the 100th anniversary in 2020 of the 19th amendment, I've read several books about the women's suffrage movement, but this new one is easily the best! Its one-volume objective coverage of the entire movement is just right for the average reader. Such a variety of interesting people and stories, but it keeps one's interest because it is not weighted down with too much detail. Published just as COVID-19 was closing bookstores and libraries, I hope it is not overlooked.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Porter Broyles

    Great introduction on the issue of women's suffrage in America. Introduced the key figures and how they interacted. Discussed the battles in different states and between white/black suffrage movements. Definitely worth the effort.

  7. 5 out of 5

    David Cooke

    On the one hand, I learned a lot from this book. On the other hand, I urge anyone seeking to read a book on the history of women's suffrage to find something else. I don't even have another recommendation, but there HAS to be something better. The book probably suffers first and foremost from trying to be a compact and comprehensive history--interesting and dynamic fights are frequently summed up in a couple of glossed over paragraphs. It should easily be twice as long for the amount of material On the one hand, I learned a lot from this book. On the other hand, I urge anyone seeking to read a book on the history of women's suffrage to find something else. I don't even have another recommendation, but there HAS to be something better. The book probably suffers first and foremost from trying to be a compact and comprehensive history--interesting and dynamic fights are frequently summed up in a couple of glossed over paragraphs. It should easily be twice as long for the amount of material contained (and honestly, there are many things that could have been axed entirely, IMO, not the least of which is probably the editorial final chapter, though I understand the desire to say something about what has transpired 100 years hence). This book also suffers from the worst type of history writing/focus, that of the praise of individuals. As a result, even while this book is ostensibly about a movement, it is written with a focus solely one what individual people did, rather than the whys or much in the way of specific power dynamics/political realities. It is exactly the type of writing that turned me off from history in high school. The biggest and worst impact of the author's tendency to highlight individuals is the kid gloves used around Cady Elizabeth Stanton and, more generally, the discussion of universal v. women suffrage. Because she focuses on glorifying individual effort instead of recognizing political power, she blames politicians for exaggerating and exacerbating the divide for political gain (which no doubt they did) without really coming to terms with Stanton's own statements on the issue. These types of issues get even worse later, when the women's suffrage movement leans into "Negrophobia" as a political tactic. While it's acknowledged in the book, its discussion until the last couple years before suffrage amounts to some serious both-sides-ism, ignoring any moral or political issues around this fact. In general, there just doesn't seem to be a desire to engage in the evaluation of anything about the movement, which is just frustrating to no end because it misses a chance to discuss about the relative successes or failures of movement building in different time periods, or a deeper look at the counter-movement, or how this fit in with Reconstruction or Jim Crow, both of which are acknowledged but only barely. I mean, reading this you wouldn't even know a Civil War happened, it's so glossed over. Because the book seems to adhere to DuBois' academic work, it is broken up into time periods and events (this then this then this...), without a greater sense of specific dynamics. Even the splintering of the suffrage movement into multiple factions isn't really given a lot of weight--it's still woven as a NAWSA did this, and then NWP did that, and then NAWSA .... That is just not a remotely interesting way of framing history. While some of this was able to get at the way in which the movement eventually evolved to include more blue collar women, the refusal to examine the faults of the originators of the movement meant a missed opportunity to tell this evolutionary narrative. And it is truly the universal suffrage chapter which suffers the most from this unwillingness to give a critical eye. For only being 300 pages, I learned a lot of facts. But for only being 300 pages, this book was far too tedious to read, and I recommend something, anything else to read on suffrage in its place if you, like me, are interested in brushing up on a movement 100 years after ratification of the 19th amendment.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Andréa

    Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.

  9. 4 out of 5

    David V.

    Received as an ARC from the publisher. Started 12-13-19. Finished 12-21-19. Well-researched history of the suffrage movement in the US. I had no idea that the rallies, parades, petitions, and speeches went on for so many years. I also did not know about the in-fighting among rival women's organizations, how many men participated in attending their rallies, but how few Congressmen supported them, and how resistant several presidents were to their demands for full citizen rights. The relationship Received as an ARC from the publisher. Started 12-13-19. Finished 12-21-19. Well-researched history of the suffrage movement in the US. I had no idea that the rallies, parades, petitions, and speeches went on for so many years. I also did not know about the in-fighting among rival women's organizations, how many men participated in attending their rallies, but how few Congressmen supported them, and how resistant several presidents were to their demands for full citizen rights. The relationship between voting rights and racial rights was also revealing. Should be required reading in every Poli Sci class.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Chris Jaffe

    This is a very good book that covers the entire suffragette movement from the 1848 Seneca Falls conference to the amendment passage in 1920 - and even goes a little beyond. It's interesting seeing how the movement transformed multiple times over the course of its existence. It began with some educated white women in the north who'd been active in causes like abolition. That gave the first wave of the movement an association with political radicalism. The movement had a falling out with the cause This is a very good book that covers the entire suffragette movement from the 1848 Seneca Falls conference to the amendment passage in 1920 - and even goes a little beyond. It's interesting seeing how the movement transformed multiple times over the course of its existence. It began with some educated white women in the north who'd been active in causes like abolition. That gave the first wave of the movement an association with political radicalism. The movement had a falling out with the cause of black rights during Reconstruction. Instead of one cause to promote rights, the causes fell into two, with some suffragettes feeling abandoned as the 15th Amendment only covered blacks. (They tried to push for an intepretation of the amendment that would let women vote, but that failed). That also set the stage for the first shift toward broader respectability - at least in the North. Frances Willard, the WCTU head, came out in favor of suffrage in order to help spread temperance. This served to bring more conservative women aboard, and even gave the movement its first support in the South. The movement continued to shift in the late 19th century. The main thing by this time was that a new, post-Civil War generation was coming of age and joining the movement. They never new the pre-war radicalism of it, and so the movement was more respectable and professional than ever before. Also, there were more professional women in the industrialized society, and these women tended to support the movement. Now that they'd failed in federal courts, they focused on trying to win the right to vote at the state level. When they suffered losses, they blamed immigrants for it. The movement was increasingly conservative as it tried to advance. That said, I don't want to make all suffragettes sound the same and exclusionary. Ida B. Wells tied female suffrage to her anti-lynching campaign. That said, the NAWSA engaged in some explicitly racist campaigns to win support from southern states. But this proved to be not only bad in the eyes of history, but utterly futile. They didn't get any souther states to change, and so shifted directions away from racism. You also had Jane Addams and Hull House activism from a more left-wing direction. There was also (eventually) more outreach to Jewish and Catholic women by the early 20th century. It feels like the movement had to get more acceptance from mainstream society before it could make an outreach to minority groups. In the 20th century, the rise of progressivism helped the movement, as it was in keeping with the tenure of the times. They started winning over some worker support, even. California became the 6th state to give women the vote in 1911, joining Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, and Washington. It's victory was after several failures and so all the sweeter. The movement began pushing for change in eastern states more successfully. Alice Paul came to the fore, inspired by radical British suffragettes. The move for a national amendment was underway. Catt and Paul helped lead it. Some picketed the White House and were thrown in jail, where people like Paul began hunger strikes, leading to forced feedings. Paul, unlike earlier ones, was less concerned with appearing ladylike and mostly concerned with making her mark. WWI caused feminists to go different directions, but the movement gained strength during the war. Finally, it passed. There is a brief epilogue which traces the movement after 1920. By 1924, people called suffrage a failure because women didn't vote as a block and didn't vote as often as men. They tended to vote GOP, but that began to change in 1928 and more fully in 1932, as it was with men. By 1952, women were closing the gap on men, 55% for women voted vs 63% of men. The chapter goes up to the 1960s/70s feminist movement and then .... stops. I found the end very weird. In the 21st century we're living through a new feminist movement, we're seeing a larger gender gap in voting than ever before, and we're seeing more women get into politics. If you're going to write this book and take it past 1920 - maybe ya don't stop 40 years ago? Aside from that, the only problem I have is that I thought the later chapters got bogged down in the process of passing the amendment. It's understandable, but the pace shifts considerably. The first 200 pages covers 65 years, and then it takes 100 more pages to go the final 5 years. Still, an effective book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

    4.5 stars. I’ve read a bunch of books on the suffrage movement, but this is the most comprehensive and I learned some new things. It moved slower for me in the second half because it gets into the different suffrage organizations that sometimes I confuse along with the back and forth of working with states to try to get suffrage passed.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    With Women's History Month last March and the 100th Anniversary of Women's Suffrage I wanted to learn more about it. I did the audio version and it was easy to get distraction and will probably read this again in the future. There is a lot of information to absorb.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    A well done account of the long road from Seneca Falls to passage of the 19th amendment. It's especially strong regarding the complicated relationships between the suffragists and advocates for racial justice.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Judi

    One of the most comprehensive works on the fight for suffrage that I've read to date. I was arrogant enough to think I knew quite a bit about the fight and the fighters, but this book introduced me to so much I didn't know previously. IMO, a must-read for feminists and women's history fans.

  15. 4 out of 5

    PWRL

    A

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tina

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly McClure

  18. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

  19. 4 out of 5

    Elisabeth Davis

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lyndsey Jenkins

  21. 5 out of 5

    Amy

  22. 5 out of 5

    Yvonne Obzejta

  23. 5 out of 5

    Holly

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

  25. 5 out of 5

    Annie

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mary

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jen

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jess Braith

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lindy

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

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