Too often, the struggle for any form of legal equality is reduced to a shorthand of dramatic conflict between those seeking and opposing a change.
Of course, it is the demographic forced to exist at a disadvantage (be it based on their race, gender, sexual preference, physical ability, date and place of birth, employment, marital or economic status), that must first personally and poignantly make the case.
Early on in the struggle the leaders of any equality movement, however, recognize the necessity of seeking and gaining support from those in power within the establishment. In American history that demographic has usually been white men.
But sometimes white men didn’t need to be coaxed into it.
In the case of two very different fellows, one northern, one southern, one Republican, one Democratic, they led a regional movement ensuring that women had an equal right to vote for the first time in the United States.
Why don’t most Americans know this?
There’s some suggestion that a few women’s suffrage leaders may have discouraged it being articulated and widely disseminated because it might have reduced their own influence. At the very least there seems to have been some obfuscating of the role of these two men so that women could more fully claim the victory.
Considering how insistently and repeatedly the real role of women’s contributions to American history have ben ignored, dismissed or denied, certainly this one transgression is forgivable.
The end of August has increasingly become a time across the country where various types of events are organized to focus on the saga of how American women were granted an equal right to vote.
These often take place around the date of August 26 when, in 1920, a constitutional amendment finally ensured this.
Inevitably, the telling of this tale is told like a three-act play.
Of course, there’s the big dramatic opening of the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention when the American women’s movement was first organized.
A second act focuses on the long decades that women’s suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony then fought to make a woman’s right to vote part of the national consciousness, including her arrest and trial for attempting to vote, and the inane sexism often uttered by male political leaders who considered it a threat to the nation’s stability.
The final part is built upon the romanticized stories of suffragist squadrons marching in parades, or even on horseback like Joan of Arc, wearing the white, purple and yellow sashes or carrying banners.
It culminates in victory as they finally press Presidents and Congress and gain their right to vote.
The sweeping versions inevitably fail to give focus to the colorful characters whose fates intertwined in remote Wyoming Territory, blending egalitarian idealism and political expediency in a way that, when the dust of hardscrabble Old West lore finally settled, led up to the very first American women stepping up to the ballot box.
This Carl Anthony Online article from the archives has no mention of “Dogs” or “Jackie Kennedy” (its two most popular topics according to search engines), but it was extensively researched at the cost about a week that could have been spent relaxing a few summers back, so its worth raising up again.
Here’s the link to it: The Scruffy Dudes Who Got Wyoming Women the First Vote & Got Forgot