One Woman, One Vote (1995)

One Woman, One Vote (PBS, 1995) This is an exceptional account of the long and rocky road in ultimately winning the vote for women. It commences with Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s call for women’s rights at Seneca Falls in 1848 and continues through the Perils-of-Pauline final constitutional amendment struggle in 1920.

    Mrs. Stanton and a more aggressive and feisty Susan B. Anthony are an effective ‘odd couple’ during the initial stages of the struggle for the women’s vote. Initially, some success was experienced in the West, where suffragettes teamed up with prohibitionists. A major set back was when women were excluded from the 15th Amendment, which accorded the vote to males. (It took another 50 years for the 19th Amendment, granting the vote to women).

    Alice Paul represented a new generation of suffragettes who chose confrontational tactics and civil disobedience that, on occasion, resulted in jail. Some of the most horrifying scenes occur outside the Wilson White House where, with President Wilson’s acquiescence, women were dragged off to jail, where they were mistreated.

    Granting women the vote was a state rather than a federal responsibility. Before the 19th Amendment was enacted, a majority of women had already received the vote. Ironically, Alice Paul’s efforts, in the 1916 presidential election, to have women vote against Wilson were unsuccessful. It turned out that women were more influenced by Wilson’s “he kept us out of war’ than by his objections to a 19th Amendment.

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