Women's Suffrage 1870

Unfinished History

by Mae Silver, excerpted from The Sixth Star


Photo: San Francisco Chronicle

These unflattering pictures of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (similar to criminal wanted posters) on their one and only trip together to San Francisco in 1871, showed the Chronicle’s early anti-suffrage position. While labeled champions of suffrage, they were also called female agitators. Hurt and disappointed at the poor response from her first speech in the city, Susan B. Anthony cancelled the rest of her city speeches. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, however, had the city eating out of her hand. In those early times, even a charismatic orator like Mrs. Stanton could not convince the Chronicle that suffrage was a matter that all citizens, even women, aspired to and needed.

Woman Suffrage (From the San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 4, 1870)

Fiddle faddle! What’s the use?
You can’t make her a man;
The great Creator fashioned her
On quite another plan.
Man’s joints are strong and firmly knit,
His thews and sinews tough;
But woman is of daintier mould,
And formed of finer stuff.

Men are the prose—the timber half
Of this sad world of ours,
And women are the poetry
The sweet fern and the flowers.
Throughout the blessed Book this thought
Runs beautifully and clear,
That woman lives to sanctify,
To grace and to endear.

Don’t let her, then; be smirched and soiled
By mingling in the fray,
But keep her free from grosser acts
To win her own sweet way.
Let purity remain her shield,
Without a blot or stain,
To guard her mental bloom from taint
Or touch of hand profane.

Forbid it, Heaven. Forbid it, Fate!
Forbid it, men of sense,
That she herself should aid the plot
To shame her own defense.
She is all glorious as she is—
Why should the fretting few
Conspire to banish from her soul
The fragrance and the dew?

Why take away her chiefest charm—
The crown that’s hers by right,
The quiet influence that compels
Proud man to her own right?
She knows her power—why can’t the sex
Remain contented, then,
To rule us in the good old way?
Lord love us all—Amen!


Photo: San Francisco Chronicle

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