Don't get in bed with racists


Don't get in bed with racists


At the turn of the century, leading white suffragists deluded themselves into thinking that colluding with racists would help their cause.

Spoiler alert: it didn’t.


The new generation of suffrage leaders - with the blessing of the old guard - fantasized that they could break new ground in the south. Western state victories had petered out, and they’d suffered painful losses in NY & Calif.

Maybe southern white men would support the cause...

...though they never had before. Maybe women could expand local suffrage, add a state or two, and build support for a federal amdt.

How? By appealing to white solidarity. Southern men might be willing to support votes for women IF only “educated” (read: white) women could vote.

State leaders like Laura Clay of Kentucky and Kate Gordon of Louisiana pushed this idea. (More TK on their eye-popping legacy.)

ElizCadyStanton and Susan B Anthony approved it.

Stanton & Anthony’s successors, Carrie Chapman Catt & Anna Howard Shaw, thought it was a good idea.

At the NAWSA conference in Atlanta, the one where they cheered for the President of the Confederacy, Catt said: “There is a race problem everywhere. In the North and the West, it is the problem of the illiterate immigrant; in the South it is the problem of the illiterate negro.

"The solution of the race problem is the same everywhere, the enfranchisement of women with an educational qualification.”

This wasn’t a brand new idea. Stanton had been sympathetic to it a long time, and she wasn’t alone. Way back in 1867, Lucy Stone’s husband Henry Blackwell addressed a broadside to the leaders of the former slave-holding states: “Your four millions of Southern white women will counterbalance your four millions of negro men and women, and thus the political supremacy of your white race will remain unchanged.”

Yup, the same Henry Blackwell who co-founded the American Woman Suffrage Assoc, the faction that supported the 15th Amdt. For supporting voting rights for Black men, Stone & Blackwell have been awarded undeserved anti-racist cred.

Tomorrow:Jim Crow doesn’t need help from a girl.


Daily Suffragist




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Daily Suffragist, “Don't get in bed with racists,” Daily Suffragist, accessed June 20, 2024,

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