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THE WOMAN SUFFRAGE MOVEMENT IN TEXAS * BY A. ELIZABETH TAYLOR In the summer of 1848, when most Americans were discussing the recent war with Mexico and the coming presidential election between the Democrats and the Whigs, a small but determined group of men and women met at Seneca Falls, New York, to hold the world's first woman's rights convention. At this meeting a series of resolutions was adopted, demanding for women a larger sphere of action than the laws and customs of that day allowed. Since one of the resolutions called for enfranchisement, this meeting is usually considered the beginning of the woman suffrage movement. After the convention adjourned, the delegates returned to their homes to form woman's rights societies. For many years, however, the agitation was confined almost entirely to the North. The Old South was not in sympathy with the philosophy of feminism, and it was not until after the Civil War that the woman's movement reached the South. The first apparent interest in woman suffrage in Texas came at the constitutional convention of 1868. On July 8 of that year T. H. Mundine of Burleson County offered a declaration stating that all persons meeting age, residence, and citizenship requirements be deemed qualified electors "without distinction of sex." A motion to reject this declaration was tabled, and it was referred to the committee on state affairs.1 Several weeks passed without the committee's reporting. Finally on July 30, it recommended the adoption of Mundine's declaration in a * Reprinted from: The Journal of Southern History, vol. 27, No. 2, May 1951, 194-215. Copyright 1951 by the Southern Historical Association. Reprinted by permission of the Managing Editor. 1 Journal of the Reconstruction Convention, Which Met at Austin, Texas (2 vols., Austin, 1870), I, 245. I wish to thank Mrs. Jane Y. McCallum who graciously made her woman suffrage collection available to me. From 1927 to 1933 Mrs. McCallum served as secretary of state for Texas. She was the first person to hold that position for longer than four years. 13 14 CITIZENS AT LAST report which stated that woman bore "her reasonable portion of the burdens of government" and therefore should not be "denied the right of aiding in the enactment of its laws."2 A minority report, however , urged the rejection of Mundine's declaration. Its signers stated that although they did not consider women less capable than men, they believed that women's influence would not be increased through enfranchisement. They declared that voting was "unwomanly" and that a "true" woman would shrink "from mingling in the busy noise of election days."3 The minority opinion ultimately prevailed, and in January, 1869, the convention rejected woman suffrage by a vote of 52 to 13.4 After this rejection, the issue remained dormant until the constitutional convention of 1875, during which two woman suffrage resolutions were introduced and were referred to the committee on suffrage.5 The committee recommended that voting privileges be extended to all male persons except minors, paupers, lunatics, felons, soldiers, and sailors. All other male persons could vote after meeting residence, age, and other requirements. Aliens could vote if they had lived in the state for one year and had declared their intention of becoming citizens . The report failed to mention women and therefore disposed of the question of woman suffrage by ignoring it.6 On October 7, 1875, the convention adopted this report by a vote of 61 to 20.7 A few days before the report's adoption the convention received from Mrs. Sarah G. W. Hiatt a petition in behalf of women's enfranchisement . Her petition was referred to the committee on suffrage, but the committee took no action on it.8 Concerning her petition, one member of the convention wrote Mrs. Hiatt that he knew of only two men in the convention who openly favored votes for women and that only "the fear of ignoring the right of petition, and gallantry toward her sex on the part of a few, prevented the memorial from being summarily rejected."9 In the decade that followed little interest was shown in woman 2 Journal of the Reconstruction Convention, I, 578-79. 3 Ibid., 580. 4 Ibid., II, 414. 5 Journal of the Constitutional Convention of the State of Texas, Begun and Held at the City of Austin, September 6th, 1875 (Galveston, 1875), 92, 192. 6 Ibid., 238. 7 Ibid., 308. 8 Seth Shepard McKay (ed.), Debates in...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781623493684
Related ISBN
9781623493653
MARC Record
OCLC
954671611
Pages
268
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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