FEMINISM AND SUFFRAGE: The Emergence of an Independent Women's Movement in America, 1848-1869 by Ellen Carol DuBois

FEMINISM AND SUFFRAGE: The Emergence of an Independent Women's Movement in America, 1848-1869

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

The suffrage movement again? it was more than the crusade for a particular institutional reform, maintains historian DuBois (State University of New York at Buffalo); it was the beginning of the feminist social movement. DuBois' version of pre-Civil War connections between the early women's rights movement and the anti-slavery campaign is not new. But in the postwar period, she focuses not on internecine struggles (as previous histories of woman suffrage have done), but on the movement's relation to other political forces. The failed efforts of the Equal Rights Association to link woman suffrage to black suffrage during the fight for the Fourteenth Amendment are illustrated in DuBois' careful study of the disastrous Kansas Campaign of 1867. She follows Anthony and Stanton's ""search for [new] allies"" through the backrooms of the Democratic Party and the National Labor Union, and their attempt to build their own constituency by starting their own labor union, The Working Women's Association. Finally, in DuBois' view, the infighting of Reconstruction politics cuts old dependent ties with abolitionists; woman suffrage comes into its own as a systematic ""mass movement of women for their own enfranchisement."" From this broader perspective, even the ideological conflict between the two national woman suffrage organizations, each marshaling support, advances the feminist cause. This thoughtful and highly readable analysis is a valuable contribution to both the history of feminism and the history of 19th-century America.

Pub Date: June 15th, 1978
Publisher: Cornell Univ. Press