NEW HAMPSHIRE'S ANTI-SUFFRAGE MOVEMENT...
...and the signature of the wife of the future governor!? Long before she would become one of the most active members of the New Hampshire League of Women's Voters, Mrs. Francis P. Murphy was part of Newport, New Hampshire's anti-suffrage movement...a fact that didn't appear until last week. This scroll of 206 signature of some of Newport's most prominent wives was drafted on July 7th, 1913 and sent to Washington, D.C. to be entered into record on the floor of the U.S. during the 1st session of the 63rd Congress.
Surprisingly, it was women who were driving the movement to oppose suffrage, generally women of wealth, privilege, social status and even political power. Central to the movement was the then-prevalent notion that in order to be functional, prosperous and pleasant, American society required men and women to operate in separate spheres of influence: public life for men, and domestic life for women. Through the lens of today, women of the late 19th and early 20th century were not the 1950's cook and clean housewife. They were considered nurturers, moral guardians, and peacekeepers, expected to guide the moral development of the next generation by presiding over family, the home and the community as a whole.
After the 19th Amendment was passed and women were granted the right to vote, Mrs. Francis P. Murphy and many of New Hampshire's women took the energy they were investing and transferred it into supporting the platform of the Republican party. Ironically enough, the activism and "thrill" of leaving the private sphere of hearth and home and entering the public sphere was a difficult thing to give up. Some of the most ardent organizers for rallies nationwide to get out the vote were the very women who didn't want to do it in the first place!
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