This dissertation describes the development of the suffrage movement in New Jersey and places the movement in the context of state politics as well as the national suffrage movement. It focuses on the various suffrage associations that developed over the history of the movement and on the people within the movement, both men and women, who helped to shape the course of events.
New Jersey was unique among the original states in allowing women of property to vote under the state's constitution of 1776, but when they voted in noticeable numbers the legislature limited the franchise to white men in 1807. Although protests against that limitation arose as early as 1844, it was not until 1867 that a statewide woman suffrage association was formed by a small number of radical reformers who believed in woman suffrage as a matter of justice and religious conviction.
The persistently dominant sentiment in New Jersey was anti-suffrage. Suffragists struggled to effect change in the New Jersey Constitution of 1844, but except for a brief period from 1887 to 1894 when the legislature granted women in rural districts school suffrage, they made little headway. With the growth of separate women's associations in the later nineteenth century, especially the Women' s Christian Temperance Union and the early women's clubs, moderate middle-class women with diverse reform goals embraced suffrage as a useful political tool. Suffragists achieved a constitutional referendum to reinstate rural school suffrage in the mid-1890s, only to see the measure defeated at the polls in 1897.
By the twentieth century, women in New Jersey were involved in a plethora of reform activities which encouraged women' s political activity and spurred the growth of several suffrage associations, moderate and militant, diversifying the movement on one hand, and prompting organization by anti-suffragists on the other. These suffrage organizations mounted a major campaign in 1915 to achieve full suffrage under the New Jersey Constitution. Though the measure failed at public referendum, the effort transformed the New Jersey suffrage associations into professional, broad-based organizations. New Jersey women continued work for the federal amendment and in 1920 were able to pressure a reluctant state legislature to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment. The demand for suffrage drew thousands of women into public life before 1920, changing the nature of New Jersey women's role in state and local politics.
|School:||Rutgers The State University of New Jersey - New Brunswick|
|School Location:||United States -- New Jersey|
|Source:||DAI-A 58/07, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||American history, Womens studies, History|
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