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.

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Suffrage In Sixty Seconds: Arkansas Gazette Report On Couzins' Lecture

Apr 15, 2019

On January 3, 1870, Phoebe Couzins delivered the first public lecture on women’s suffrage in Little Rock.

The majority of the Arkansas Gazette’s report on the lecture described Couzins’ physical attributes declaring her “decidedly handsome,” and detailing her dress, her jewelry, and even her hair style. The reporter lauded Couzins for delivering her talk from memory and noted, “Some of its sentences produced an unmistakable sensation.”

Suffrage In Sixty Seconds: Phoebe Couzins Lecture Announcement

Apr 15, 2019

On January 1, 1870, the front page of the Arkansas Gazette included an invitation to Miss Phoebe Couzins to deliver a lecture to the citizens of Little Rock.

Interestingly, the invitation was signed by twenty-five men claiming “a deep interest in every movement calculated to improve and elevate the human family.”

Miss Couzins acceptance was also included in the notice and stated her belief that “the enfranchisement of women is to be the next question before the country, and that with it a very important step toward the elevation of the human family will be accomplished.”

Suffrage In Sixty Seconds: The Fifteenth Amendment

Apr 15, 2019

In March of 1869, Arkansas became the tenth state to ratify the fifteenth amendment which declared that the right to vote shall not be denied “on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

While these few words, in theory if not in practice, enfranchised African Americans, including former slaves, it also appeared to implicitly allow states to deny enfranchisement based on sex.

Suffrage In Sixty Seconds: Rights Of Woman Lecture

Mar 4, 2019

On September 28, 1869, the Arkansas Gazette published a notice from one Miss Louise F. Vickers inviting Little Rock citizens to hear her lecture on “The Rights of Woman.”

While Vickers avoids inflammatory suffrage language in her advertisement, she does say “the subject is justly creating much comment throughout the United States and will continue to exercise the minds of just men and thinking women until woman is admitted to her proper sphere in the orbit of society now unjustly withheld from her.”

Suffrage In Sixty Seconds: 1869 Arkansas Gazette Editorial

Mar 4, 2019

Even before Arkansas women began formally organizing women’s suffrage campaigns, the February 25, 1869 edition of the Arkansas Gazette ran an editorial lampooning the very notion.

It begins, “And are they serious in this movement in favor of woman’s rights?” and asks “Don’t [women] wield already the most absolute despotism on earth? .... are not all men slaves to their caprices?”

The only right of women the writer is willing to endorse is the “right to dress, to look as pretty as they please.”

Suffrage In Sixty Seconds: Letter To Susan B. Anthony

Mar 4, 2019

After attempting and failing to include women’s right to vote in the 1868 Arkansas Constitution, Arkadelphian Miles Ledford Langley wrote a letter to Susan B. Anthony, a leader of the national suffrage movement.

He told her that not only had the convention failed “to guarantee to woman her God-given and well-earned rights of civil and political equality,” his motion, he said, was met with “ridicule, sarcasm, and insult.”

Many may be surprised to learn that the first recorded demand for women’s suffrage in Arkansas was made in 1868.

Suffrage in Sixty Seconds: The Declaration Of Sentiments

Feb 5, 2019

Originally, the U.S. Constitution did not specifically deny women the right to vote; instead it deferred to individual state suffrage laws, allowing each state to determine who could and could not vote. Many states, including Arkansas, defined eligible voters as “male.”

In July 1848 at a convention in Seneca Falls, New York, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony issued the Declaration of Sentiments, calling for equal rights for women. It declared, “That it is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise.”

Suffrage in Sixty Seconds: Arkansas's 19th Amendment Ratification

Feb 5, 2019

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 will celebrate the centennial of Arkansas’s ratification and recount the long journey to women’s suffrage and the state’s role in that journey. We will travel from Seneca Falls, New York to Little Rock, and finally to Washington DC. We will commemorate the lives of the courageous and determined people, both men and women, in Arkansas and beyond, whose tirelessly work gave women a political voice.