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Epilogue: The Politics of Women’s Citizenship California women pursued citizenship to make themselves powerful. As they struggled to make their voices heard in the public arena, they changed their lives and created new definitions of the appropriate relationship between women and power. They created these new understandings by borrowing from older notions of gender, power, and politics. Women became citizens who sought power but only, they declared, for the public good. They engaged in politics but only for nonpartisan goals. They developed an ideological agenda but only for civic righteousness. Such a borrowing from the old to create the new does not document any particular weakness in women and their movement; it verifies the way all social movements create meaning. California women’s enfranchisement changed the political landscape of national su√rage, California politics, and the state’s organized womanhood. Because of the California victory both su√ragists and antisu√ragists rethought their respective national campaign strategies. Both sides agreed that progressivism had helped California women gain the ballot. Some su√ragists found the western relationship between su√rage and progressivism significant for additional reasons. It confirmed their belief that women progressives would take women into politics and that most Americans would accept these actions because the women were making the social order more humane and democratic and thus more stable. Women in California found that citizenship did not give them political power but that they could use it to gain more power. They attempted to do so in two di√erent arenas, within organized woman- 202 Epilogue hood and within partisan politics. Such a strategy enabled them to achieve a remarkable slate of legislative victories during the 1913 session of the legislature , both because the women had put together a highly representative , nonpartisan women’s political lobby and because so much of organized womanhood overlapped with the party in power, progressive Republicans. Although the political power of the women’s movement subsequently declined —as social movements always do—it left behind numerous legacies. Perhaps the greatest was the much larger number of women who saw themselves as citizens. v National observers of the su√rage movement, those who supported votes for women and those who did not, agreed that the victory in California marked a turning point in the campaign to enfranchise women. Antisu√ragists had become worried when women in Washington State won the vote in 1910, after a fourteen-year stretch of su√rage defeats. But when women in the much more populous state of California gained their enfranchisement the following year, the alarmed antisu√ragists decided that they must unify their various state societies into one national organization. A few weeks after the California victory, they formed the National Association Opposed to Woman Su√rage.∞ Su√ragists perceived California as a turning point too; however, they debated which strategy they should use to best take advantage of the new situation . Some, particularly the leadership of the National American Woman Su√rage Association (NAWSA), felt that the California victory, like the one in Washington the previous year, demonstrated the validity of struggling for the vote state by state. But other activists read the two victories di√erently. They argued for a new emphasis on securing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution . Women voters in the six western states—California and Washington as well as Wyoming (1869), Utah (1870), Colorado (1893), and Idaho (1896)— represented a political resource that could make a significant di√erence in achieving women’s national enfranchisement, thanks in part to the large number of voters in California. Reflecting the changing, albeit still controversial , sentiment within the organization, in 1910 NAWSA created the Congressional Committee to push for a federal amendment. In 1912 su√ragist Alice Paul took over the committee. Energized by her radicalizing experience in Britain, the 1911 California win, and the subsequent western su√rage victories that brought the number of su√rage states up to nine by 1913 (with the 1912 wins in Arizona, Oregon, and Kansas), Paul called upon women voters in the Epilogue 203 West to vote as a bloc for women’s su√rage. Her call transformed the women’s movement and helped make the su√rage amendment, the Susan B. Anthony Amendment, as it was known, part of the U.S. Constitution in 1920.≤ National su√ragists read the California victory in yet another way: they interpreted it as a victory of women progressives. Alice Stone Blackwell, editor...


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