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Mrs. Bloomer's 'Political Disability'

Focusing on Details: Discussion Topic

All documents and text associated with this activity are printed below, followed by a worksheet for student responses.

Introduction

Carefully read this letter to the United States Congress, written by Mrs. Amelia Bloomer . Pay attention to the argument she constructs and consider what she is asking for. After you have read the letter, answer the discussion questions provided.


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Class:

Worksheet

Mrs. Bloomer's 'Political Disability'

Focusing on Details: Discussion Topic

Examine the documents included in this activity and write your response in the space provided.


  • Why is Amelia Bloomer writing to the U.S. Congress?
  • What evidence does she provide to support her argument?
  • What is Amelia's "political disability?"
  • Do you find Amelia's argument convincing? Why or why not?

Your Response




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Activity Element

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Conclusion

Mrs. Bloomer's 'Political Disability'

Focusing on Details: Discussion Topic

Women's suffrage advocate Mrs. Amelia Bloomer penned this letter in 1878. Many 19th century women also petitioned the government for the right to vote - a battle that they would not win until 1920.

Imagine that you are the U.S. government in 1878. How would you answer Miss Bloomer's letter? Write her a response.

Note: For additional information about anti-suffrage arguments that suffragists like Amelia Bloomer would have to argue against, read the Memorial of Alice Wadsworth of the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage.

Your Response




Document

Petition of Mrs. Amelia Bloomer for Relief from Taxation or Political Disabilities

1878

In this petition to Congress, Amelia Bloomer requests that Congress grant her either relief from taxation or from her political disabilities. This petition was submitted to Congress as part of a petition drive organized by the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) calling for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing women’s right to vote. The petition closely follows a template provided by NWSA (for example, the Petition of Clemence Lozier).

NWSA encouraged women to personalize their messages to Congress by including their own reasons for desiring the vote. In her petition, Bloomer asserts that she endures taxation without representation: she pays taxes on property she owns and but cannot vote for her representative in Congress.

Bloomer was a temperance and women's rights advocate who also published The Lily, the first newspaper for women. She is also remembered as an advocate for changing the way women dressed, popularizing an outfit consisting of pantalones worn under a shorter dress, later called bloomers. At the time of this petition drive, she was a vice president of the NWSA. Amelia Bloomer’s petition was introduced in House of Representatives and referred to to the Committee on the Judiciary on January 15, 1878.

On January 10, 1878 Senator Aaron Sargent first introduced the joint resolution for an amendment to the Constitution that would ultimately extend the right to vote to women as the 19th Amendment, 42 years later. Petitions like Amelia Bloomer’s show how women acted to bring about change through their decades-long fight for the right to vote.

Transcript

Petition of Mrs. Amelia Bloomer for relief from taxation or political disabilities.

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States, in Congress Assembled.

Mrs. Amelia Bloomer, a citizen of the United States, and a resident of Council Bluffs, County of Pottawattamie and State of Iowa _ the owner of real and personal property amounting to several thousand dollars, on which she is taxed without representation, hereby respectfully petitions your Honorable Body for relief from this burden of taxation _ or for the removal of her political disabilities, and that she may be declared invested with full power to exercise her right of self-government at the ballot box all state constitutions, or statute laws to the contrary notwithstanding.
This primary source comes from the Records of the U.S. House of Representatives.
National Archives Identifier: 5752699
Full Citation: Petition of Mrs. Amelia Bloomer for Relief from Taxation or Political Disabilities; 1878; Petitions and Memorials, Resolutions of State Legislatures, and Related Documents Which Were Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary during the 45th Congress; (HR45A-H11.7); Petitions and Memorials, 1813 - 1968; Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, ; National Archives Building, Washington, DC. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/bloomer-petition, October 15, 2021]


Petition of Mrs. Amelia Bloomer for Relief from Taxation or Political Disabilities

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