NH women get the vote
Published: 05/14/2021 9:04:04 AM
Just over 100 years ago, women celebrated victory in a bitterly contested election campaign when the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed in August 1920. It marked the culmination of decades of struggle in the United States. New Hampshire and beyond.
New Hampshire’s role in the suffrage movement was complex and even contradictory. Despite glimmers of progress, like the progressive legislation of the 1870s which recognized the right to vote for women in school elections, New Hampshire was generally viewed by Americans during this period as a conservative bulwark, unlikely to enact reform as well. avant-garde than women’s suffrage.
For academics who study women’s suffrage, New Hampshire has been almost uniformly overlooked. Anyone who relies on the academic histories of the suffrage movement would be forgiven for thinking that nothing happened here. Yet such a conclusion ignores the efforts of hundreds of people in New Hampshire, some of whom may have familiar names, but many more who are virtually unknown to Granite Staters today. New Hampshire has also produced leaders – men and women – of national significance, such as Marilla Ricker, Armenia White, and Parker Pillsbury.
This special edition of Historic New Hampshire addresses an episode in the history of the state that has been largely forgotten. This is the first narrative account of women’s suffrage in the state, and the stories are well worth telling. Articles in this issue explore the work of Armenia White and Marilla Ricker, follow the path of Granite State parades that have faced violent and angry mobs, expose the behind-the-scenes political deals that have thwarted the efforts of suffrage in the first decades of the twentieth century, and finally celebrate the women of New Hampshire who went to jail, challenged the governor and executive council, and ultimately voted in the November 1920 election. And yet, in a curious twist of History, New Hampshire voters did not agree to remove the word “masculine” from the state constitution until 1956, 36 years after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment.
The struggle for the vote for women has been a decisive battle for America’s civil rights. The suffragists created models that would be widely used in subsequent rights movements, while irrevocably changing the political landscape of the country by emancipating more than half of the population. The story of the New Hampshire suffragists for the fundamental right to vote, never before presented, will inform and inspire us today.
Historic New Hampshire is a benefit of membership in the New Hampshire Historical Society. Copies are available on the Company’s online store at nhhistory.org; or by calling 603-228-6688.
Founded in 1823, the New Hampshire Historical Society is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to safeguarding, preserving, and sharing the history of New Hampshire. Nowhere will you find a more extensive collection of artefacts and archives relating to New Hampshire history. The Society shares these vast collections through its research library, museum, website, publications, exhibits and educational programs for youth and adults. The Society is not a publicly funded agency. All of its programs and services are made possible through membership fees and contributions. For more information about the Company and the benefits of membership, visit nhhistory.org or call 603-228-6688.