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Wild Women Of The West: Ellen Clark Sargent

Ellen was a homemaker and mother and active in the Methodist Church.  She firmly believed that women could not attain their highest development until they “had the same large opportunities and the same large chance as her brothers have.”

March 17, 2020

When suffragette Susan B. Anthony boarded the passenger car of the Union Pacific Railroad in Ogden, Utah, in late December 1871, the train was filled to capacity.  Men, women, children, livestock, baggage, and crates containing food and supplies were all being loaded onto the vehicle bound for Chicago. Weary and carrying an oversized satchel bulging with clothing, books, and papers, the fifty-one-year-old woman climbed aboard and began the slow procession past the throngs of people occupying various seats and berths.  She snaked her way toward the semi-private compartments until she found the one she was to occupy for the duration of the trip. The pair Susan would be traveling East with had already arrived and made themselves comfortable. She smiled at the congenial looking couple as she entered. California Congressman Aaron Clark Sargent politely got to his feet to help her stow her bag away.  He introduced himself then introduced his accomplished wife, Ellen, to Susan and Susan returned the kindness.

Not long after Susan was settled Ellen admitted to being familiar with her work.  Susan’s crusade to acquire the right to vote for women had been covered in the Sacramento newspapers as well as the publications in Nevada City, California, where the politician and his family lived.  Susan had joined the fight for women’s suffrage in 1851. Since that time, she had traveled from town to town inspiring women to fight for equal rights. The crusade, which initially began in Seneca Falls in New York in 1840, had expanded West.  Once Wyoming granted women the privilege to cast their ballot suffrage rose up in territories beyond the Mississippi to battle for the opportunity to do the same. Crusaders reasoned if women could gain that right state by state the federal government would be persuaded to pass an amendment making it law.

From June 1871 to December 1871, Susan had traveled more than 13,000 miles, delivered 108 lectures and attended close to 200 rallies on the issue of women’s suffrage.  There were others such as Emily Pitts Stevens who helped form the California Woman Suffrage Association and physician and minister Anna Howard Shaw, who had joined the fight and were hosting meetings to inform and educate women about the movement.  It was essential that the message of equality be heard in every mining community, fishing village, and major city from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Women needed to be encouraged to petition for enfranchisement. They needed to be reminded they were entitled to speak for themselves and stand against fathers and husbands voting for them.  Susan and the other dedicated suffragettes had been able to share the message with women in Kansas, Wyoming, Utah, Washington, and Oregon; they had great hope the ladies in California would back reform.

Susan couldn’t have found a more receptive audience for her message than Congressman Sargent and Ellen.  Ellen had founded the first suffrage group in Nevada City, California, in 1869 and Aaron was in full support of giving women the vote.  The Sargents had moved to California from Massachusetts in 1849 and settled in Nevada City in 1850. In addition to owning and operating the newspaper the Nevada Daily Journal, Aaron was an attorney and former U. S. Senator.  Ellen was a homemaker and mother and active in the Methodist Church.  She firmly believed that women could not attain their highest development until they “had the same large opportunities and the same large chance as her brothers have.”

The journey east would prove to be particularly slow.  Several feet of snow covered the tracks and the train took longer to reach its destination.  The Sargents generously shared the food and tea they had brought with them with Susan. According to Susan the kindness the pair showed her made the trip enjoyable.  “Mr. Sargent made the tea, unpacked the hampers and served as general steward,” she wrote in her journal on December 29, 1871. “He drew the line at washing dishes.”

Between Ogden, Utah, and Bittercreek, Wyoming, the trio discussed the influence women such as Laura de Force Gordon was having on the movement.  Laura was a law student and prominent suffragette. She had delivered the first suffrage speech in California in January 1868. She proposed that the constitutions of several states should be amended “so that white and black, red and yellow, of both sexes, can exercise their civil rights.”

It was Laura who helped bring together suffrage society members scattered throughout Northern California.  At her urging, on January 24, 1870, dedicated women congregated in San Francisco to discuss the movement and learn what needed to be done to pave the way for the vote.  Laura delivered a powerful speech which inspired even the most retiring ladies to make their voices heard. Laura and her physician husband had moved from the East Coast in 1867.  Her early influence on the issue of women’s suffrage were Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. She was a powerful speaker and greatly admired by Ellen and Aaron Sargent.

Despite the problems the weather posed for the eastbound Union Pacific Railroad passengers, Susan and the Sargents filled every moment delayed with conversation about all that should be included in everyone’s natural rights.  On the morning of January 1, 1872, Susan, the Sargents and J.H. Hayford, editor of the Laramie Sentinel was sharing breakfast when Susan, Ellen and Aaron learned of a bill to repeal the woman suffrage law in Wyoming.  “The law had been passed by a Democratic legislature as a jest,” Susan wrote in her journal, “but five Democrats voted for repeal and four Republicans against it.  Governor Campbell, a Republican, vetoed this repeal bill and woman suffrage still stands, as a Territorial legislature can not pass a bill over a governor’s veto.” The suffragettes breathed a sigh of relief regarding the veto.  If such a thing were to happen the push for women’s right to vote in California would have taken a serious hit. “Here we are at noon, stuck in snowdrifts five miles west of Sherman, on a steep grade, with one hundred men shoveling in front of us,” Susan added in her journal entry.  “Dined, Mr. Sargent officiating, on roast turkey, jelly, bread and butter, spice cake and excellent tea. At dark, wind and snow blowing terrifically, but a bright sky. The conversation about how to advance the cause continues on.”

One of the elements about the suffragettes’ movements in California that was of sincere concern to Susan and the Sargents was that the women’s groups had split into two factions.  Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were linked to the radical sect of the movement. Henry Blackwell and his wife, orator and suffragist Lucy Stone, two of the founders of the American Woman Suffrage Association, were recognized as the conservatives.  Both were able to recruit members to the cause, but it was important that they be viewed as a unified front and not two separate entities with different goals. Those against giving women the vote accused the radical suffragettes of being socialist and supporting spiritism and free love.  That kind of false labeling threatened to undermine the basis for the movement as a whole.

As January 2, 1872, came into view, Susan and the Sargents explored ways to unify the two movements in California.  The train was still stationary, and the railroad company had supplied the passengers with dried fish and crackers. According to Susan’s journal she and the Sargents tabled their discussion about the suffrage movement long enough to serve tea to the nursing mothers on the train.

“Five days out from Ogden!”  Susan wrote. “This is indeed a fearful ordeal, fastened here in a snowbank, midway of the continent at the top of the mountains.  They are melting snow for the boilers and for drinking water. A train loaded with coal is behind us, so there is no danger of our suffering from cold…  Here, we remained all night and, with the verified air and the smoke from the engine, were almost suffocated, while the wind blew so furiously we could not venture to open the doors which was fine.  Inside we continued to pontificate on the issue at hand and the future of the vote in California.”

Among the issues Susan and the Sargents discussed was the movement’s rising stars.  San Jose, California, resident Sarah Louise Knox Goodrich, was one of those stars. Knox Goodrich was a wealthy and politically well-connected woman.  She had a great deal of influence over her late husband William J. Knox, a physician and political leader who held women in high regard and believed they should be given the same consideration in many respects as men.  While Senator of the Santa Clara county area, William J. Knox secured a bill aiding married women’s property. In 1874, Sarah successfully petitioned the California State Legislature to pass a law that would allow women to hold educational offices such as school boards.

Four years later another force to reckon with in the suffragists movement lobbied the state legislature for the Woman Lawyer’s Bill.  In 1878, Laura de Force Gordon and Clara Shortridge Foltz drafted changes to the bill which read that a “white male” may practice law to a “person” may practice law.

Los Angeles suffragist Elizabeth Anne Kingsbury formed a woman’s suffrage association in 1883 and traveled about the state to recruit women to the movement who believed securing the vote was essential.  There were many more women crusaders who had humble beginnings in similar suffrage organizations throughout the state. All contributed their share to the advancement of women’s right to vote. They stood on the shoulders of the early leaders Susan B. Anthony and Ellen Clark Sargent.

By the time the Sargents and Susan arrived in Washington, D. C. on January 10, 1872, the trio had thoroughly reviewed the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendment and Susan and Ellen had decided the wording in the amendment made it clear that women were already enfranchised.  The Fourteenth Amendment affirmed the rights of freed women and men in 1868. The law stated that everyone born in the United States, including former slaves, was an American citizen. The Fifteenth Amendment affirmed that the right to vote “shall not be denied on account of race.”  Aaron Sargent pointed out that the amendment specified equality for male and slaves and that female slaves were excluded as were all women, regardless of race. Aaron maintained that a new amendment would have to be drafted to secure rights for women. Susan insisted that women should be challenged to vote based on verbiage in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.  Aaron respected her dedication and pointed out the problems inherent with voting “illegally.” During the long train trip, he had already begun working on the text for a new amendment. His early draft consisted of just twenty-eight words. “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”  When the time was right Aaron planned to introduce the text as an amendment.

By the time the Sargents and Susan parted company in Washington, D. C. they had forged a lasting friendship.  Over the next twenty years the three would make tremendous strides in the fight to gain the right to vote for women.  Susan would travel throughout country promoting the suffrage movement. Aaron would go back and forth from California to the Capitol and Ellen would focus her efforts on the northern portion of the California.  Their progress would be marked in the letters they would exchange.

Susan wrote the Sargents in early April 1871 to share that she was soliciting lecturers and organizers to be present at the next convention held in Washington.  “We need to decide upon the best methods of presenting our principles and policies in the different states,” she noted. “At that point we shall be able to recommend to you of California the right woman who can organize all the suffragettes into one force.  It does seem a very great pity to pay the traveling expenses of anybody to go over to California to organize when you have lots of splendid women who could go out and do it for you just as well as anybody imported into the state.”

Susan, the Sargents, and several suffrage leaders in California felt the interest in the cause was in danger of waning.  Many of the women were turning their focus from suffrage to temperance work. For some dedicated crusaders the Women’s Christian Temperance Union movement was problematic.  The agenda for the WCTU was less about women’s citizenship and more about spreading the word that alcohol was a destructive force. Conservative suffragettes believed the anti-alcohol message and that a woman’s right to vote were equally as important.  Radical supporters of women’s enfranchisement were fearful of never acquiring the vote if it was synonymous with prohibition. Regardless of the possible misperceptions, members of the National Woman’s Suffrage Association aligned themselves with the growing number of WCTU members in hopes of promoting women’s issues.

In November 1873, Ellen Sargent sent a letter to Susan expressing her continued enthusiasm for advancing the cause in California through those affiliated with the WCTU.  “I cannot help but reflect on the thousands of women with tender consciences that believe they have a duty not to be shirked, to represent themselves in the affairs of government,” Ellen wrote.  “Take heart. Women in California know votes talk, votes count, votes command respect.”

Aaron Sargent’s letter to Susan in early 1874 further expressed how devoted he and his wife were to women in California gaining enfranchisement.  “During the political campaign, before an immense audience in San Francisco I addressed the audience in the following manner. “Ladies and gentlemen, fellow citizens.  I trust the time is near at hand when the phrase ‘fellow citizens’ will not need the explanatory remark. Ladies and gentlemen, I trust we are nearing the day when our wives and daughters will share with us the duties and privilege of citizenship, and give expression to their principles and views, at the ballot box.  I am in favor of this great reform and hail the day when it shall purify politics by the influence of women, exerted directly and legitimately at elections.”

In the fall of 1875, the California Woman Suffrage Association were holding regular meetings throughout the state and encouraging members to get out the message to the public at large that women deserve the right to vote.  The September 21, 1875, edition of the Los Angeles Herald reported on the efforts of the organization and how the suggested changes were being received by some of the opposite sex.  “Men shudder at the violent innovations in the autonomy of government, and vigorously oppose great changes in the social system,” the article read.  “Not among the least important question which has agitated the minds of the great thinkers of the present century is the social status of women. In the progress of human events she has emerged from the condition of a slave nearly, to that of an equal, but the final step, the complete emancipation of the sex, her elevation to an equal share of the government is far from being accomplished, and, in fact, is so heartily opposed by the great majority of mankind, even in the New World that the weakest demagogues have scarcely considered it worth the advocacy.”

Although women were decades away from gaining the vote, the message the suffragists carried in newspapers, flyers, and in speeches was having an impact as it made its way across the state.  The influence of crusader’s cry could be measured by the victories at the state legislative level. After law student Clara Shortridge Foltz and fellow suffragette Laura de Force Gordon managed to get the Woman Lawyer Bill passed, Clara became the first woman lawyer on the West Coast of the United States.  Women were now allowed to argue a case before a jury, but because they were not allowed to vote they were not allowed to serve on a jury.

By 1881, Ellen and Aaron Clark Sargent were spending more time in California meeting with various women’s clubs and encouraging them to not grow weary in fighting for women’s rights.  The Sargents moved from Nevada City, California, to San Francisco. Aaron opened a law office and Ellen organized the city’s first women’s club called The Century Club. The Century Club was dedicated to raising public awareness of the women’s suffrage campaign.  No matter how busy they were, Ellen and Aaron routinely exchanged letters with Susan, who was making her way through the mid-section of the country delivering speeches about the cause to suffrage associations. On February 27, 1881, Susan wrote Ellen about spending time with fellow activists Laura de Force Gordon and style reformer, Amelia Jenks Bloomer.  Amelia represented advocates in Iowa and Gordon was a member of the National Woman Suffrage Association who had spent a great time in California gathering together fellow believers who were fighting for citizenship.

“How pleased I am to know that Mr. Sargent will continue to introduce a bill granting women the opportunity to vote,” Susan shared with Ellen.  “By the way, a newspaper man in Washington whispered into my ears, as a dead secret, that Senator Sargent was to be a part of Garfield’s cabinet [President Garfield] and such a rejoicing we had.  What good news for the cause! While the Senator is ever and ever so much to us – he without his wife wouldn’t be but the half – would he?”

Any hope that President Garfield would appoint Aaron Sargent to his cabinet and therefore be of further help to the suffrage cause were dashed when Garfield was assassinated in September 1881.  Aaron was appointed Ambassador to Germany by President Chester A. Arthur. The Sargents moved to Berlin and Aaron served in the capacity of Ambassador for two years. All the while Susan, Ellen, and Aaron corresponded.  Susan kept the couple abreast of the fight for suffrage. One of the items she sent the Sargents to show the progress being made for the cause was an article from the July 7, 1882, edition of the Petaluma Weekly.

The reporter for the California newspaper asked Susan what she had accomplished with her work for woman suffrage.  “Well, I should say we had accomplished a great deal,” Susan responded. “Since the beginning of the woman suffrage agitation thirty years ago we have gained school suffrage in twelve states; law, theology and medicine, all the professions have been thrown open to us; all the western colleges and seminaries admit women; there are in this country 1,000 licensed female doctors; there are fifty female lawyers, and women are allowed to practice in the Supreme Court of the United States, although a number of States still shut us out; there are forty female ministers in the Universalist church alone, while hundreds of licensed female ministries are in the Methodist Church doing the best kind of revival work.  Thirty years ago, women could only cook, sew and teach. Now not a trade hardly but has women in it. Women are managers of large stores and business and manage great farms with success. Why, the largest farm in one county in Illinois is owned and managed by a woman. Eastern people ought to go West and see how women are getting along with only a few of their rights.”

Women’s suffrage conventions, such as the one that took place in Omaha, Nebraska, in late September 1882, were routinely held and advocates across the country flocked to the events.  Many influential ladies from California made the trip to learn what advancements were being made and to get reinvigorated by the speeches delivered by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucy Stone.  In Susan’s view the worthy struggle had produced important results. No one involved with the fight for the vote believed the change would happen quickly. It was incumbent upon the leaders of the women’s organizations to keep advocates charged and committed to the long battle.  In a letter written to Susan from Ellen Sargent in July 1884, upon her return to the states after two years in Germany, she expresses her concern that the country’s suffragettes were losing faith in the cause.

“Watch woman!”  Ellen refers to Miss Anthony.  “How is it with our country’s women?  Have we any influence in shaping the legislation of this country?  Have we any power hidden or acknowledged? In short have women anything to do with this present campaign?  Will anybody do anything for us? Will we do anything for ourselves? A man told me last week that the woman’s suffrage question in the country was about dead.  That there are really only a handful of the people who care anything at all about it; that it makes scarcely a ripple in the affairs of the world. Of course, I dissented entirely from viewing things from his standpoint as he never did believe in equal rights for women and never will.”

Susan assured Ellen that advocates were “reaping the harvest from all the long years of work” and that “more and more women are coming together, speaking ably for themselves, and are devoted to the cause.”  That statement not only referred to how women were coming together in the east but west of the Mississippi too, chiefly in California.

Women were making major advancements in California.  Many were being elected to school boards and hospital boards.  They were assuming key positions in the labor market and insisting on equal wages for equal work.  Just as more women were becoming involved in the quest for statewide enfranchisement the suffrage movement experienced a tragic loss.  On August 14, 1887, Aaron Sargent passed away in his home in San Francisco. He had been struggling with his health for more than a year prior to his death.  He died from complications of an old malarial fever. He had never ceased to be a strong proponent for women’s rights and consistently spoke out for women’s right to vote while serving in political office.  His absence would be keenly felt by the National Woman Suffrage Association.

Ellen Clark Sargent and her daughter honored Senator Sargent’s memory by dedicating themselves completely to the suffrage movement.  Ellen accepted the position of treasurer of the National Woman Suffrage Association and represented California at the women’s convention in Washington in early 1888.  She delivered speeches alongside other suffrage leaders such as Laura de Force Gordon and Abigail Scott Duniway. “I’m as earnest as ever for the vote,” Ellen assured Susan Anthony in a letter dated December 5, 1889.  Susan echoed the sentiment in her return correspondence and embarked on a trip through South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, and Kansas to rally advocates around the enfranchisement issue.

Ellen remained in California and in 1896 was meeting with a growing band of women in the state demanding the enfranchisement of their sex.  She was hopeful that the aggressive manner which the unified women were working would result in an amendment giving women the vote to be introduced in the November election.  Ellen, Susan, and other leaders of the movement believed winning in California was crucial to the cause. They reasoned that if California gave women the right to vote, the reluctant, conservative East would follow suit.

The California Woman Suffrage Amendment, also known as Amendment 6, was placed on the ballot on November 3, 1896.

Despite the great strides suffragists had made in California there was a major hurdle they continued to struggle to overcome.  Anti-suffrage activists could not or would not separate women wanting the right to vote with prohibition. Somehow those two issues were intertwined.  Weeks prior to the state legislature’s scheduled review of the amendment that would give women the vote, the Liquor Dealers League aggressively intervened.  League officials launched an appeal to saloon owners, hotel proprietors, druggists, and grocers urging them to defeat the motion. Anti-activists also petitioned Chinese male citizens to vote against such a bill.  The Chinese men disliked the idea of self-governing women and were easy to convince that the measure would give women so much freedom their culture would be threatened. The tactics worked.

The women’s suffrage amendment lost in California.  The amendment prevailed in the Southern portion of the state and in the mining regions of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  The amendment received 80,000 votes in favor while 95,000 were cast against it. Ellen believed that with continued hard work those that voted against could be won over.  Although it was a disappointment to the advocates of the proposition there was reason to be encouraged.

In June 1901, newspaper across the country reported on the actions of both Susan and Ellen in their quest to keep suffrage at the forefront of the population’s thoughts.  According to the June 13, 1901, edition of Ottawa Daily Republic, Susan informed suffragettes at a session of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in Washington, D. C., that the leaders of the American Federation of Labor were supportive of the cause.  After Susan spoke to the Federation the chairman of the revolution let her know that the organization’s president and secretary would support an amendment giving women the vote.

Meanwhile in California, Ellen had filed suit against the supervisors of San Francisco county for collecting taxes from her but not giving her the right to vote on anything for which she was paying taxes.  Her defiant act prompted women who felt the same outrage to join the suffrage movement. The Northern California suffrage groups saw a substantial increase in membership. Advocates participated in public marches, made mass appearances at county fairs delivering impromptu speeches, and joined city parades to spread the word that “without the vote, women had no hope.”

Just before the annual convention the California Woman Suffrage Association held between 1902 & 1909, organization leaders met with leaders of the legislature to advocate that women be allowed to exercise the right of suffrage.  Each time they respectfully requested that Amendment 6 be reintroduced Ellen Clark Sargent, now honorary president of the California Equal Suffrage Association, challenged women to educate themselves about how government worked. She wanted followers to be informed citizens once the right to vote was granted.

“We must step out into the open and make ourselves so well acquainted with government in all its bearings that we will be considered authority upon the points we shall have investigated and thus command the respect of the most intelligent people, men and women,” Ellen Clark Sargent told suffragettes at the 1909 convention.  “Our watchword should be duty – not what we individually want, but what will be for the general good. Victor Hugo has well expressed this sentiment in his admirable book, “Les Miserables” – I quote: ‘It is a terrible thing to be happy! How content one is! How all sufficient one finds it! How being in possession of the false object of life, one forgets the true object, duty!’

“This idea will save us from the pettiness of selfishness and induct us into the true largeness of living.  Not to think only or mostly of ourselves, and how matters affect us individually, but how they may affect the larger outside world – the majority.  This would make us truly but a ‘little lower than the angels’… Speaking with and for women of the present day with whom we hold new and dearer relations than ever before in these glad days of our emancipation from the restricted duties of the past, we look about for a new way in which to express our surplus energy.  We have a duty to replace the old and worn out systems of the past.”

Inspired by Ellen’s words, suffragettes from Humboldt to Happy Valley held rallies, participated in parades, and even went door to door in some cities to explain the importance of allowing women to vote.  By early 1911 advocates managed to gain enough support for enfranchisement that political leaders committed to placing the amendment on the ballot. Senate Constitutional Amendment 4, sponsored by Republic State Senator Charles W. Bell from Pasadena, granting women the right to vote in the state would be considered in a special election to be held on October 10, 1911.

Editorials and opinion pieces against women’s suffrage appeared in the Los Angeles Times between January 1911 and October 1911.  Many Democratic congressmen and legislators opposed the amendment and sited as their reasons that women were too weak to take on such responsibility. “Women are incapable of physically dominating men,” an article from the January 21, 1911, edition of the Los Angeles Times read.  “By their inferior physical strength, they are unable to compete on an equal basis in any line of endeavor where ability is determined by sheer bodily prowess.  All positions of physical power – such as in our police forces, our armies and our navies – will necessarily be filled by men. In other words, the enforcement of all law must inevitably rest with men.  No law or ordinance could be effectually upheld except through the willingness of men to uphold it. And no matter what words were written on the statute books of any State, if the physical power (which is the masculine power) behind it were withdrawn, the law would immediately become void and impotent.  Therefore, in equal suffrage we have the spectacle of women desiring to pass laws which they are physically incapable of upholding, and laws which they admit the men do not want.”

An second editorial in the June 19, 1911, edition of the Los Angeles Times insisted that “Possession of the ballot will not help woman, socially or industrially.  It will make exactions upon her time and strength. It will invade the home and destroy its charm.  It will not result in wiser laws or better government.”

The loyal conductors of the California suffrage movement fought back against such limited thinking, meeting with politicians who believed giving women the vote would be disastrous.  They hoped to persuade those opposed to the amendment to change their minds. Ellen Sargent encourage the action and would have participated in the talks too if not for issues with her health.  A letter from Susan Anthony written on June 2, 1911, encouraged Ellen to “not grow weary in the fight” and to “take heart knowing change is so close.” Susan shared memories of when she and Ellen and Aaron met on the train in 1871 and asked her to recall how far the suffrage movement had come since that time.  “How driven we were,” Susan wrote, “and look what has been accomplished.”

Ellen Sargent passed away on July 13, 1911.  She was eighty-five-years-old. On July 26, 1911, men and women united in a public gathering at Union Square in San Francisco to pay tribute to the suffrage leader.  Among those at the celebrations of life was California Congressman Thomas E. Hayden. Congressman Hayden told the people who came to pay their respects that “Mrs. Sargent was one of those wise elder women who saw years ago that women could not attain her highest development until she had the same large opportunities and the same large chance her brothers have.”

The suffrage movement would miss Ellen Sargent’s influence and work.  Fellow advocates grieved the loss but pressed onward toward the goal of acquiring voting rights.  The passage of the California suffrage amendment would be the ultimate way to honor Ellen’s efforts for the cause.  As the special elections approached suffragettes sought from leading lights on the probable results of ballot. They received numerous messages of support.

United States Senator John D. Works of Los Angeles told reporters at the San Francisco Call newspaper, “I predict a sweeping victory for the woman suffrage amendment, and, moreover, believe that its institution in this state will be national wide in its effects.”  Dr. C. W. Chapman, mayor of Nevada City, California, noted “I consider it but right and just that women should vote, and I want to be listed as an ardent supporter of the cause.  It will certainly carry in this city.” District Attorney Charles Tuttle of Placer County agreed and added that “the cause will win out in this country and I am glad to be able to make the prediction.  My belief is shared by Assemblyman Edward Gaylor, Ben Tabor of Auburn, Dr. Woodbridge of Roseville, Dr. Manson of Lincoln, and many others throughout the county who are in a position to know the weight and trend of local opinion.”

On Friday October 13, 1911, Amendment 8, the women’s suffrage amendment, was narrowly passed.  More than 121, 500 voted for woman suffrage and 118,777 voted against. The effect the Golden State had on achieving women’s rights played an important role in the passing of the 19th Amendment in August 1920.  The way suffrage leaders in California worked together with civic and social clubs to spread the word about women’s fight for the vote was duplicated in the months to come and ultimately helped to gain the vote nationally.  After the ballot was won in California it was the objective of the suffrage leaders there to train other women in an understanding of political responsibility. Women in the Gold Country pressed on to not only see that the 19th Amendment was passed, but fought for improved property, marital, labor, and health rights.  Women voters in California sought to live by the principle Susan B. Anthony shared on her many visits to the state.  “Away with your man-visions,” she told fellow suffragettes. “Women propose to reject them all, and begin to dream dreams for themselves.”

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