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This year marks the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment, which on its face granted all American women the right to vote. Even within the larger suffrage movement, Black women had to take their own steps toward voting rights—for example, by establishing suffrage organizations that specifically focused on their needs.

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I n FebruaryFrances Willard, along with other members of the newly formed Illinois Woman Suffrage Association, traveled to the state capital in order to convince the Illinois Constitutional Convention to include universal suffrage into the proposed document. Buoyed by petitions to the General Assembly which favored female suffrage, Willard declared: "The idea that boys of 21 are fit to make laws for their mothers, is an insult to everyone.

Constitution and drafted a document that provided suffrage for all adult males in Illinois, including Negroes, but not for women.

When Illinois entered the Union inits constitution, like those of the other 20 states, expressly gave the vote only to "white, male inhabitants above the age of twenty-one years. The state's first documented speech in favor of women's suffrage was made by Mr. Grover, editor of the Earlville Transcript. His talk inspired Mrs. Susan Hoxie Richardson a cousin of Susan B. Anthony to organize Illinois' first woman suffrage society. Another transplant to LaSalle County who supported the suffrage cause at the same time was Prudence Crandall. A school teacher in Mendota, she had been forced to flee Connecticut because she taught Negro girls in her school.

Crandall worked in Illinois as an early advocate of the enfranchisement of both black and white women.

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But the Civil War and its upheaval of society brought an abrupt end to the efforts of the fledgling suffrage movement. Women all over the county and in all social positions took on even more responsibility of running the household, managing money, and being involved in public affairs. Many of the early suffragists turned their energies and organizational skills to assisting the government with war relief. In Illinois, abolitionist Mary Livermore and Jane Hoge both board members of the Chicago Home for the Friendless were appointed co-directors of the Northwestern branch of the Sanitary Commission, a relief agency which provided supplies to soldiers and operated battlefield hospitals.

During the war, Mary became "aware that a large portion of the nation's work was badly done, or not done at all, because woman was not recognized as a factor in the political world. I nLivermore organized an Illinois woman suffrage convention, while at the same time one was being held a block away by "Sorosis," another newly formed woman's organization.

The Chicago Tribune reported that women obviously didn't have the capacity to govern since they couldn't even agree on planning a common convention. The paper predicted that "The public will now be annoyed for six months by the characteristic ill humor of a lot of old hens trying to hatch out their addled productions. The Livermore faction, full of distinguished clergymen and educators and hearing addresses from both Susan B.

Within a month she created the Agitatora suffrage newspaper, and by September she had established local associations in Aurora, Plano, Yorkville, and Sandwich. However later that year, the Agitator was merged with the Woman's journalpublished in Boston, and in.

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B ecause another state constitutional convention could not legally be called in Illinois for twenty years, members of the women's suffrage movement began a push for changes in individual laws. While universal suffrage was set back, gains in specific woman's rights were accomplished. Through the efforts of Alta Hulett, Myra Colby Bradwell, her husband Judge James Bradwell, and others, laws passed between and included women's right to control their own earnings, to equal guardianship of children after divorce, to control and maintain property, to share in a deceased husband's estate, and to enter into any occupation or profession.

This included becoming an attorney Hulett was the first woman admitted to the Illinois bar even though women could not legally sit on Illinois juries until based on a bill sponsored by Lottie Holman O'Neill, Illinois' first woman state representative.

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In Judge Bradwell secured the passage of a statute which allowed any woman, "married or single, " who possessed the qualification required of men, to be eligible for any school office in Illinois created by law and not the constitution. Even though they couldn't vote for themselves, in November ten women were elected as County Superintendents of Schools.

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Probably the two most important people in the Illinois suffrage movement during this time were Elizabeth Boynton Harbert and Frances E. Harbert helped keep the Illinois association alive by serving as president for a total of twelve years. She was a prolific writer as well as founder and first president of the Evanston Women's Club.

Her early writings stated that both women and society were injured by pushing children into stereotypical sex roles that confined females to the "women's sphere. However, Harbert's later writings admit that perhaps women did have some virtues and traits that were typically characteristic of her sex, such as purity, charity, and fidelity. She wrote that women were "born to soothe and to solace, to help and to heal the sick world that leans upon her.

In essence, Harbert's writings exemplified the whole movement's shift. Officers and delegates at the 44th annual convention of the Illinois Equal Suffrage Association, held in Galeshurg on October She is pictured standing, fifth from the left. Illinois' most famous reformer of this period was undoubtedly Frances Willard. In she reed her position and became totally immersed in the temperance movement then sweeping the country.

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She became a believer that giving women the sacred ballot was the only was to get rid of the demon spirits that were ruining the American family. O n March 24,seventy women of the Illinois WCTU presented the General Assembly in Springfield a petition ed by 7, persons asking that no s to sell liquor be granted that were not asked for by a majority of citizens of location.

Failing their efforts to influence the legislature, they returned in and presented petitions ed bywho favored what was termed the "Home protection" bill a proposed law that would put liquor sales under local control and allow women to vote in these referenda. Although the bill eventually was defeated, on March 6 of that session, Frances Willard became the first woman ever to stand at the speaker's podium and address an official session of the Illinois General Assembly.

Despite these defeats, the suffrage and temperance movements kept coming back every two years in an effort to obtain some form of female franchise. Inthe Illinois legislature was informed by a petition from Jackson County women that they and the "vast majority" of Illinois women did not want the vote.

Since ''they belonged to that class of women who.

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However, other petitioners agreed with the women citizens of Pittsfield who demanded "the right and privilege of voting in municipal elections "as a means to better government and that we may no longer be subject to the control of besotted men and the vicious classes. I llinois women finally received limited franchise rights on June 19,when the state legislature passed a bill that entitled women to vote at any election held to elect school officials.

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Since these elections were often held at the same time and place as elections for other offices, women had to use separate ballots and separate ballot boxes. Subsequent Illinois Supreme Court cases also allowed women to serve as and cast ballots for University of Illinois Trustees. This resulted in Lucy Flower becoming the first woman in Illinois to be elected by voters state-wide in A little known side-light in the history of Illinois suffrage is the story of Ellen Martin of Lombard. Many Illinois towns had special charters of incorporation written into law just before the state constitution forbid "private laws.

Accordingly, Martin "wearing two sets of spectacles and a gripsack," went to her polling place with a large law book and fourteen other prominent female citizens.

When they demanded their right to vote, allegedly the judges were so flabbergasted that one was taken with a spasm and another "fell backward into the flour barrel. In she became the legislative superintendent of the Women were given the franchise to vote for school officials in Illinois inresulting in Lucy Flowers' election to a state-wide office in Courtesy Abrahm Lincoln Presidential Library. One apparently frustrated man wrote the Illinois Senate expounding on his view that all suffragists secretly hate men and that giving them the vote would ruin the family.

Women were, he wrote, "the sex which has accomplished absolutely nothing, except being the passive and often unwilling and hostile instruments by which humanity is created.

Representing the distaff side of the anti-forces was Chicago homemaker Caroline Fairfield Corbin who founded the Illinois Association Opposed to the Extension of Suffrage to Women in She believed that women should stay in their "sphere" of home life and allow their husbands and fathers to legislate for their protection. She viewed women sufferage akin to socialism and fought both movements with religious zeal. Every time the suffragists tried to advance she and her organization tried to push them back, arguing that most women were opposed to obtaining the vote. A fter 20 years of fruitless petitioning to change the state's laws, the Illinois association began to change their tactics and allies.

Aftermore and more women's clubs and labor organizations endorsed some form of woman suffrage legislation.

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Between andthe Illinois Federation of Women's Clubs endorsed several municipal suffrage bills, including one that exempted women who couldn't vote from paying taxes. A special section of the July 10th edition of the Chicago Tribune detailed the plan of four women speakers accompanied by two reporters, to visit 16 towns in 7 northern Illinois counties in 5 days.


Chicagoan Trout was supposed to give the opening address and make the introductions. The other women were to speak about the legal aspects. Reflecting the tension that often existed between different factions, McCulloch later criticized Trout for speaking much too long and dominating the tour. I n Trout, head of the Chicago Political Equality League, was elected president of the state organization.

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She abandoned the confrontational style of lobbying the state legislature and began to strengthen the organization internally. She made sure that a local organization was started in every senatorial district. One of her assistants, Elizabeth Booth, cut up an Illinois Blue Book government directory and made file cards for each of the members of the General Assembly. Trout only allowed four lobbyists in Springfield and tried to persuade one legislator at a time to support suffrage for women.

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During the session of the General Assembly, a bill was again introduced giving women the vote for Presidential electors and some local officials. With the help of first-term Speaker of the House, Democrat William McKinley, the bill was given to a favorable committee. McKinley told Trout he would only bring it up for a final vote if he could be convinced there was sentiment for the bill in the state.

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Trout opened the flood gates of her network, and while in Chicago over the weekend, McKinley received a phone call every 15 minutes day and night. Passing the Senate first, the bill came up for a vote in the House on June 11, Trout and her troops counted he and literally fetched needed men from their residences. Trout actually guarded the door to the House chambers and urged members in favor not to leave before the vote, while also trying to prevent "anti" lobbyists from illegally being allowed onto the House floor.

Getting the votes of all 25 first-term Progressives and the 3 Socialist Party members, the bill passed with six votes to spare, Women in Illinois could now vote for Presidential electors and for all local offices not specifically named in the Illinois Constitution.

However, they still could not cast a vote for state representative, congressman, or governor; and they still had to use separate ballots and ballot boxes. But by virtue of this law, Illinois had become the first state east of the Mississippi to grant women the right to vote for President. National suffragist leader Carrie Chapman Catt wrote:.