On March 10th, 1920, West Virginia became the 34th state to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that recognized every citizen’s right to vote, regardless of sex. Women’s suffrage would officially become legal in the U.S. on August 18th, 1920. While women’s suffrage was a controversial and hot debate for decades, at the time, The Wheeling Intelligencer heavily supported the suffragists fighting for voting rights. Looking back during the 100th anniversary year of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, some of the descriptions of suffragists and arguments both for and against women’s voting rights seem particularly comical to a 21st century audience.
As we head to polls or order our absentee ballots for this November’s election, here are ten of some of the many funny, ridiculous, and entertaining quotes on women’s suffrage from The Wheeling Intelligencer in the early 20th century.
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“Lusty-lunged women held impromptu suffrage meetings at street corners.” – October 16th, 1920
“Woman’s instincts are purer than those of men, and from the very character of her service to the race she is its best friend. The average moral standard is admittedly much higher among women than men.” – May 1st 1916
“There are a great many women who are more intelligent than the average man, and there are a great many men, who, if intelligence were one of the requirements of suffrage, would not be allowed to vote.” – January 25th, 1905
“The men of West Virginia are too chivalrous not to listen to the request of the women for the extension of the suffrage to them.” – May 1st, 1916
“New Zealand reports that her voting women are still beautiful.” – May 1st, 1916
“Municipal politics is largely municipal housekeeping. Men are notoriously bad housekeepers with an appalling indifference to dirt. Dirt means dead children. In our cemeteries are buried thousands of children slain by dirt diseases and each little tombstone is a mute argument for giving the ballot to the women, the natural enemies of dirt.” – May 1st, 1916
“What this country needs is voters who know something about housekeeping.” – May 1st 1916
“If the women run this town I’ll have to leave it.” – January 25th, 1905
For hundreds of years man has been legislating for woman and he has done it badly.” – May 1st, 1916
Recipe for “The Antis’ Favorite Hash in the Equal Suffrage Cook Book: “One pound Truth, thoroughly mangled, one generous handful of Injustice; (sprinkle over everything in the pan); one tumbler acetic acid (well shaken). A little vitriol will add a delightful tang, a string of nonsense should be dropped in at the last, as if by accident. Stir all together with a sharp knife because some of the tidbits will be tough propositions.” – May 1st, 1916
To learn more about Wheeling and West Virginia’s roles in the women’s suffrage movement, click here. Whether or not you try your hand at an “Equal Suffrage” recipe or are concerned that voting will impact your good looks—do not forget to register and vote this November! Do it in honor of your favorite silly suffrage snippet!
• Emma Wiley, originally from Falls Church, Virginia, was a former AmeriCorps member with Wheeling Heritage. Emma has a B.A. in history from Vassar College and is passionate about connecting communities, history, and social justice.