Suffrage in Sixty Seconds

Various Times, Daily
  • Hosted by Sharon Silzell

On July 28th, 1919, Arkansas became the twelfth state to ratify the nineteenth amendment, giving American women the right to vote. Suffrage in Sixty Seconds celebrates the centennial of Arkansas’s ratification and recounts the long journey to women’s suffrage and the state’s role in that journey.

Suffrage in Sixty Seconds is a production of the Arkansas Women's Suffrage Centennial Commemoration Committee and KUAR. It's written and hosted by Dr. Sharon Silzell, Assistant Professor of History at the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

For more information, visit ARvotesforwomen.com

Suffrage In Sixty Seconds: Battle Hymn Of The Suffragists

Oct 22, 2019

On August 6, 1890 the Arkansas Woman Suffrage Association held its annual meeting in the Hall of Representatives at Little Rock.

The meeting opened with a rousing rendition of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

This choice of song is emblematic of the attitudes of Arkansas women at the heart of the suffrage battle. But there was another reason for the musical selection. This Civil War-Era song was written by Julia Ward Howe, an ardent suffragist and much sought-after speaker at women’s rights events.

Suffrage In Sixty Seconds: The Arkansas Equal Suffrage Association Grows

Oct 22, 2019

Although small when it formed, by February of 1889, the Arkansas Equal Suffrage Association had grown significantly. The Little Rock chapter now boasted sixty-seven members including some gentlemen whose wives refused to join.

Suffrage In Sixty Seconds: The Early Arkansas Equal Suffrage Association

Oct 21, 2019

When Clara McDiarmid established the Arkansas Equal Suffrage Association in Little Rock in 1888, the organization was small but young and energetic.

Miss Ida Joe Brooks, then a professor of Mathematics at Little Rock University, described those early days of the movement in Arkansas.

“There were thirteen of us” in the original association, three of whom were under the age of twenty-one. Five women were not even residents of the city. It was not a formidable party,” Brooks commented.

“We are few in numbers, weak in influence, poor in purse, but valiant in spirit.”

Susan B. Anthony is, perhaps, the most famous name in the American women’s suffrage movement, and with good reason. Born into a family of reformers, Anthony was active in the temperance movement and she was also an ardent and tireless abolitionist. But she was most passionate about gaining for women the right to vote.

Suffrage In Sixty Seconds: Susan B. Anthony Speaks In Little Rock

Sep 1, 2019

On Thursday, February 21, 1889, national suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony spoke at the Capital Theater in Little Rock. The following day, the Arkansas Gazette reported on the event.

Electing not to include or describe any of Anthony’s remarks, the writer claimed that “No very large percent of the women of America embrace Miss Anthony’s radical view [and]…It is a truth that suffrage is a boon not desired by a very heavy majority of the most refined and intelligent women of the country.

Early in February of 1889, the Woman’s Chronicle began advertising the upcoming visit to Little Rock by Susan B. Anthony. The newspaper billed the event as “Miss Anthony’s First Visit South.” After her lecture on “What Woman Wants,” the Chronicle reported that “Miss Anthony proved very conclusively…that what women needed was the ballot."

The 1883 Eclectic Society’s debate on women and the right to vote reveals several prominent pro-suffrage Arkansas men. S.F. Clark, a Railroad director, said the notion that “the right to vote would unsex a woman was absurd,” calling the argument “weak, shallow – and mere poppycock.”

The February 1883 debate by the Little rock Eclectic Society sheds light on a variety of male attitudes about suffrage for women. One of the debaters, Rabbi Benson of B’nai Israel in Little Rock, said this: “It is woman’s [duty] to love, cherish, and obey,” and “These masculine women traveling about the country crying for woman’s rights are a disgrace to their sex.”

Suffrage In Sixty Seconds: C.B. Moore And The Eclectic Society Debate

Aug 6, 2019

On Tuesday, February 6, 1883, the Little Rock Eclectic Society held a debate on women’s suffrage. This debate provides a snapshot of the attitudes of a variety of male Arkansans. It began with an essay presented by Major Charles B. Moore, a former Confederate soldier and current State Attorney General.

Suffrage In Sixty Seconds: Woman’s Chronicle Established

Jul 1, 2019

In March of 1888, Kate Cuningham launched the Woman’s Chronicle in downtown Little Rock. With associate editors Mary Brooks and Haryot Cahoon, page one of the first edition announced the paper’s deep dedication to Temperance, but in the same paragraph coyly asked, “Is suffrage essential to happiness? Who can decide? Who indeed – save time?”

After the passing of Lizzie Fyler, there appears to have been a three-year lull in suffrage activity in Arkansas. It was not until February of 1888 that Little Rock resident, Clara McDiarmid founded the Arkansas Equal Suffrage Association. In her announcement in the national Woman’s Journal, McDiarmid described their activities. “We are distributing leaflets,” she wrote, and “have a committee on program[e] and are to have two papers at each monthly meeting. Innumerable obstacles to overcome, but ‘onward’ is the catchword.”

Suffrage In Sixty Seconds: Women’s Rights In Magnolia

Jul 1, 2019

Although the struggle for the right to vote began in Eureka Springs and would be centered in Little Rock, women throughout Arkansas were agitating for suffrage. Unfortunately, documentation of these activities is scarce. We know that women in Magnolia were active because of this brief note in a February 1882 issue of the Arkansas Gazette. It reads, “We are sorry to hear that some of our ladies are advocating women’s rights, which has been a consuming cancer on the body politic of our country for many years. Can’t the curse be eradicated?”

Suffrage In Sixty Seconds: Lizzie-Dorman-Fyler Obituary

Jul 1, 2019

The year 1885 saw a number of serious blows to the suffrage movement in Arkansas. That year, the Arkansas Woman Suffrage Association established by Lizzie Dorman Fyler in 1881 had dissolved. Reporting in the November 21st issue of the national Woman’s Journal, Fyler laments the absence of an organized suffrage society and speculates that the state is not yet ready for it.

In March of 1884, Eureka Springs resident Lizzie Dorman Fyler became the first Arkansan to attend the annual National American Woman Suffrage Association convention. Fyler, one of the first female lawyers in the state, took the lectern on the fourth day of the convention and detailed the extensive legislation recently passed expanding the rights of women in Arkansas.

The “crowning glory,” Fyler believed, was the 1882 act giving Arkansas women the right to vote on the prohibition of alcohol.

Suffrage In Sixty Seconds: Woman's Christian Temperance Union

Jun 24, 2019

The Arkansas branch of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union was founded in Little Rock in 1879 as part of the national drive supporting the prohibition of alcohol.

Because of the link between drunkenness and domestic violence, temperance was considered a women’s issue and was an obvious partner for the women’s suffrage movement. The Temperance Union had a national organizational network that suffragists could both emulate and draw on for support. At the same time, suffrage would give women the opportunity to vote for temperance legislation.

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