The online tool for teaching with documents, from the National Archives

Why Did Women Want the Right to Vote?

Focusing on Details: Compare and Contrast

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

Introduction

The First Amendment protects the right to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Petitions can help us learn about issues that were important to people in the past. The following petitions were part of a petition drive organized by the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1877-78. Read each petition carefully and answer the discussion questions to discover reasons why women wanted the right to vote.

Complete the activity by answering the questions in the "When You're Done" section.

Note: For a transcript of each document, click on View Entire Document below the image. On the page that opens, scroll down and click on Show Transcript.



Name:
Class:

Worksheet

Why Did Women Want the Right to Vote?

Focusing on Details: Compare and Contrast

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


Read each document carefully and determine:
  • Who wrote it?
  • Who received it?
  • Where is it from?
  • What is is about?
What do you think the phrase "removal of her political disabilities" means?

Compare and contrast the documents.
  • Are there any similarities among the documents?
  • What are the different reasons women provide for wanting the right to vote?

Your Response




1

Activity Element

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




2

Activity Element

Petition of Ann F. Hosmer, Bedford, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, for Relief from her Political Disabilities




3

Activity Element

Petition of Lucinda F. Proebstel, Le Grande, Union County, Oregon, Praying for the Removal of her Political Disabilities




4

Activity Element

Petition of Eliza Jane Christie, London, Monroe County, Michigan for the Removal of her Political Disabilities




Conclusion

Why Did Women Want the Right to Vote?

Focusing on Details: Compare and Contrast

Summarize your list of similarities and differences among these petitions in the box below.

Next, examine the Petition of Clemence S. Lozier. Be sure to read the document description. Include your answers to the following questions with your response:

  1. How does the petition of Clemence Lozier add to our understanding of the petitions in this activity?
  2. Why do you think the National Woman Suffrage Association encouraged women to personalize their petitions to Congress?


Keep Exploring!

It would take another 42 years to ratify an amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote. Women and men continued to petition Congress during this time. You can explore these petitions here or even check out petitions from people against giving women the right to vote.

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, September 19, 2019]


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

Page 1



Document

Petition of Ann F. Hosmer, Bedford, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, for Relief from her Political Disabilities

2/1/1878

In this petition to Congress, Ann Hosmer requests a relief from her political disabilities. This petition was part of a petition drive organized by the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) calling for a constitutional amendment that would give women the right to vote. The petition closely follows a template provided by NWSA (an example of this type is the Petition of Dr. Clemence Lozier). The organization encouraged women to personalize their messages to Congress by including their personal reasons for desiring the the right to vote. In her petition, Ann Hosmer expresses how she has seen and felt the influence of one-sided and unjust laws and her belief that righteous government must include equal rights for all.

This petition was referred to to the Committee on the Judiciary in the House of Representatives on February 1, 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 this one from Ann Hosmer show how women exercised their rights to bring about change in the decades-long fight for the right to vote.

 


Transcript

Petition
of
Ann F. Hosmer
for
relief from political disabilities.

To the Senate and House of representatives
in Congress assembled.

Ann F. Hosmer, a citizen of the United States, and a resident of the state of Massachusetts,
& county of Middlesex, Town of Bedford, hereby respectfully petitions your honorable body for the removal of her political disabilities & that she may be declared invested with full powers to exercise her right of self-government at the ballot box, all state constitutions or state laws to the contrary notwithstanding.

Ann F. Hosmer

I ask of Congress this recognition of my right to the franchise, first, because it is my right, and I should be false to freedom, and Humanity, as well as to my own conscience, if I failed to claim it, and secondly, because I have both seen & felt the influence of the one-sided, masculine, & unjust character of many of the laws that men have made for the government of women, & again because there can be no hope of righteous government till it shall have justice, and equal rights for all, as its foundation.


Petition of
Ann F. Hosmer

For relief from
her political
disabilities
[illegible] Butler of
Mass
Feby 1878
Referred to the Committee [crossed out] the
Judiciary
This primary source comes from the Records of the U.S. House of Representatives.
National Archives Identifier: 117874767
Full Citation: Petition of Ann F. Hosmer, Bedford, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, for Relief from her Political Disabilities; 2/1/1878; Petitions and Memorials, Resolutions of State Legislatures, and Related Documents Which Were Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary during the 45th Congress; 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/petition-of-ann-f-hosmer-suffrage, September 19, 2019]


Petition of Ann F. Hosmer, Bedford, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, for Relief from her Political Disabilities

Page 1



Petition of Ann F. Hosmer, Bedford, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, for Relief from her Political Disabilities

Page 2



Document

Petition of Lucinda F. Proebstel, Le Grande, Union County, Oregon, Praying for the Removal of her Political Disabilities

2/7/1878

In this petition to Congress, Lucinda Proebstel requests a relief from her political disabilities. This petition was part of a petition drive organized by the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) calling for a constitutional amendment that would give women the right to vote. The petition closely follows a template provided by NWSA (an example of this type is the Petition of Dr. Clemence Lozier). The organization encouraged women to personalize their messages to Congress by including their personal reasons for desiring the the right to vote. In her petition, Lucinda Proebstel expresses that she wants to vote because in the state of Oregon, women are classed with minors and persons of unsound mind.

This petition was referred to to the Committee on the Judiciary in the House of Representatives on February 7, 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 this one from Lucinda Proebstel show how women exercised their rights to bring about change in the decades-long fight for the right to vote.

 


Transcript

Petition
OF
Lucinda F Proebstel
For
Relief From Political Disabilities

To the Senate And House of Representatives
Of The United States, In Congress Assembled:

Lucinda F. Proebstel, a citizen of the United States and a resident of the State of Oregon, County of Union, hereby respectfully petitions Your honorable body 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.

My reason for wanting to vote is that according The Statute of Oregon, women (and married women in particular) are classed with minors And persons of unsound mind. 


Petition
of
Lucinda F. Proebstel
a citizen of
Le Grande
Union Co.,
Oregon
Praying for the removal of her political disabilities.

Hon. Richard Williams
Oregon
Comt on the Judiciary
Feby 7 1878
Referred to the Committee on
the Judiciary
This primary source comes from the Records of the U.S. House of Representatives.
National Archives Identifier: 117874774
Full Citation: Petition of Lucinda F. Proebstel, Le Grande, Union County, Oregon, Praying for the Removal of her Political Disabilities; 2/7/1878; Petitions and Memorials, Resolutions of State Legislatures, and Related Documents Which Were Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary during the 45th Congress; 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/petition-of-lucinda-f-proebstel-suffrage, September 19, 2019]


Petition of Lucinda F. Proebstel, Le Grande, Union County, Oregon, Praying for the Removal of her Political Disabilities

Page 1



Petition of Lucinda F. Proebstel, Le Grande, Union County, Oregon, Praying for the Removal of her Political Disabilities

Page 2



Document

Petition of Eliza Jane Christie, London, Monroe County, Michigan for the Removal of her Political Disabilities

2/6/1878

In this petition to Congress, Eliza Jane Christie requests a relief from her political disabilities. This petition was part of a petition drive organized by the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) calling for a constitutional amendment that would give women the right to vote. The petition closely follows a template provided by NWSA (an example of this type is the Petition of Dr. Clemence Lozier). The organization encouraged women to personalize their messages to Congress by including their personal reasons for desiring the the right to vote. In her petition, Eliza Jane Christie expresses some of her political beliefs, including that there should be an educational qualification to the right of suffrage. This serves as a reminder that while many women believed they should have the right to vote, they did not necessarily believe in universal suffrage.

This petition was referred to to the Committee on the Judiciary in the House of Representatives on February 6, 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 this one from Eliza Jane Christie show how women exercised their rights to bring about change in the decades-long fight for the right to vote.




 


Transcript

To the Senate and House of Representatives of The United
States in Congress assembled.

Mrs. Eliza Jane Christie, a citizen of the United States and a resident of the State of Michigan County of Monroe Township of London, hereby respectfully petition your honorable body 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 and all state constitutions or statute laws to the contrary notwithstanding. I want no sectarian idea of God in the Constitution, Taxation without representation is tyranny, am opposed to licensing houses of ill-fame. I want no license for the sale of intoxicating liquors as a beverage; Church property should be taxed as other property; I think education should be compulsory and after eighteen hundred eighty five, there should educational qualification to the right of suffrage, these are a few of the reason why I wish to have the right of suffrage.

Petition of
Eliza Jane Christie of
London, Monroe
Co. Mich. for the
removal of political
disabilities

Com.
Judiciary
Feby 6 1878
Referred to the Committee on the
Judiciary.

[illegible] Willits
[illegible]

This primary source comes from the Records of the U.S. House of Representatives.
National Archives Identifier: 117874770
Full Citation: Petition of Eliza Jane Christie, London, Monroe County, Michigan for the Removal of her Political Disabilities; 2/6/1878; Petitions and Memorials, Resolutions of State Legislatures, and Related Documents Which Were Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary during the 45th Congress; 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/petition-of-eliza-jane-christie-suffrage, September 19, 2019]


Petition of Eliza Jane Christie, London, Monroe County, Michigan for the Removal of her Political Disabilities

Page 1



Petition of Eliza Jane Christie, London, Monroe County, Michigan for the Removal of her Political Disabilities

Page 2