South Dakota


South Dakota


South Dakota became a state in 1899. Its motto: “Under God the People Rule.” National suffrage leaders converged on the state immediately to campaign for a doomed suffrage amendment. Its motto: “Women Are People.” A #StateOfTheWeek thread

White women in the Dakotas had sought the vote since at least 1883, but the territorial legislature worried it might hurt their chance for statehood. When North & South Dakota were admitted to the union, neither Native men nor any woman could vote.

Eleanor Flexner summarizes: ]“The South Dakota campaign in 1890 was one of the most rigorous that suffrage workers ever endured -- blazing hot all summer, while the 75-yo Susan B Anthony and the veteran Henry Blackwell (a mere 65) toured the state, and freezing cold during Mrs. Catt’s tour in the fall.

“In addition, living conditions were ‘primitive,’ and all the speakers had to cover immense distances. The decision for the newly united suffrage association to enter the campaign had hinged on pledges of support from farm and labor organizations."

But... “when the campaign was already under way, the Knights of Labor and the Farmers Alliance launched a 3rd party, which refused to encumber itself with the controversial issue of votes for women.

"The outcome was a defeat of almost 2-to-1, after a murderous campaign: “Mrs. Catt came down with typhoid fever immediately afterward and very nearly died, and when Miss Anthony returned to her home in Rochester, her sister Mary commented that for the first time she realized that Susan was growing old.”

A referendum the same day to enfranchise Native men failed too. The massacre at Wounded Knee took place two months later. #StateOfTheWeek #CenturyofStruggle 


Daily Suffragist




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Daily Suffragist, “South Dakota,” Daily Suffragist, accessed February 29, 2024,

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