Previous Page  11 / 20 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 11 / 20 Next Page
Page Background


Votes for Women

This Saturday, November 4,

there are two events that might

be of interest. First, there is an

antique show at the American

Legion. The proceeds from the

tickets at the door will help the

Historical Society. The project

we have designated is the

repair of the steampipe in the

basement of LeRoy House. The

repairs have already been done

and the bucket on the floor has

been moved just in time for our

school programs. So stop by

the American Legion and see

if there is some little treasure

that might find a new home, or

might be a Christmas gift for


The other event is at

Genesee Community College.

It is a Heritage Fair and

features exhibits by several of

the museums and organizations

in the area. The theme for the

event is Presidential Elections

and the LeRoy Historical

Society is focusing on the

events that led up to the 1920

election, which was the first

presidential election in New

York in which women could

vote. The road to women’s

suffrage was long. In July

1848, the first women’s rights

convention was held in Seneca

Falls. During the next twenty

years, Susan B. Anthony,

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and

many others attempted to

keep the issue of women’s

rights on the national agenda

as well as the state level. In

1867, Elizabeth Cady Stanton

and Lucy Stone addressed

the New York Constitutional

Convention, with a proposal

to allow suffrage to women.

In the meantime, Susan B.

Anthony was in Kansas, trying

to get support for women’s

suffrage. It was defeated.

But there was success in the

Territory of Wyoming where

in 1869, women were not only

given the right to vote, but also

to hold public office. (Other

states allowed women to vote

in local school elections, but

none in federal elections.) In

1870, Utah Territory granted

full suffrage to women. On

November 5, 1872, Susan B.

Anthony and fourteen other

women voted in the national

election in the Eighth Ward

of Rochester. Anthony was

arrested and judged guilty.

She never paid the fine.

Colorado joined Wyoming

and Utah, granting women

universal suffrage. In some

states, it was necessary to

amend their state constitution.

Idaho adopted a constitutional

amendment in 1896 and

Washington voted for women’s

suffrage in 1910 followed by

California in 1911. In 1912,




defeated proposed suffrage

amendments, but Kansas,

Oregon and Arizona approved



Illinois became the first state

east of the Mississippi to vote

for women’s suffrage in 1913.

Then in 1914, Mississippi,

Nevada and Montana accepted

women’s suffrage. But suffrage

was rejected in New York,

New Jersey, Massachusetts,

and Pennsylvania in 1915.




women’s suffrage in New

York State, presented a

suffrage measure to the State

Legislature every year (with

the exception of the Civil War)

from 1854 until 1917. In 1880,

the Legislature undertook to

give women the right to vote

at school meetings, but the

law could not be enforced.

At that time, all efforts were

attempts to change the state

constitution which required

a voters referendum (which

meant that only men would

vote on women’s rights). In

1901, Governor Theodore

Roosevelt, a proponent for

women’s suffrage, advised the

suffragists to abandon their

constitutional strategy, and to

look for other ways to secure

partial suffrage. But after five

years, State leaders decided

to return to the original effort

for the submission to the male

voters of a constitutional

amendment.. In 1908, Senator

Percy Hooker of LeRoy (who

lived in the house, we now

known as the Creekside Inn)

introduced the resolution.

In 1915, the men of New

York voted against women’s

suffrage. The state vote was

553,348 for suffrage and

748,332 against. Finally in

1917, the referendum was

passed. (It should be noted that

in LeRoy, the men defeated the

proposal by 38 votes.)

Women in LeRoy voted in

their first election in March

1918. Ninety-one year old

Miss Delia Phillips of Myrtle

Street, cast the first vote at the

Municipal Building. She was

first in line and was not only the

first women to vote, but also

the first person to cast a ballot.

The second ballot was cast

by Mrs. A.C. Upham. It was

noted that the last two votes of

the day were cast by women

– Mrs. B.W. Logan and Miss

Sarah Bissell. The newspaper

article read: “Practically all the

interest attached to the election

was the voting of women. They

seemed to enjoy it thoroughly,

many of them coming down

from the Red Cross rooms in

their caps and aprons to vote.

(Because of World War I, the

LeRoy Red Cross was actively

involved with projects at the

Municipal Building.) They

apparently had little trouble

in working the machine, and

the percentage of votes lost is

no larger than before women

voted.” There were 134 votes

cast and 58 of those votes were

cast by women. It was noted

that the Republican slate of

officers for the Village was


The 19th Amendment of

the U.S. Constitution, which

would give all women the

right to vote was submitted

to Congress on June 4, 1919.

New York’s Senators split

their vote. Senator William

Calder voted in favor. Senator

Wadsworth (from Geneseo,

who had always opposed

women’s suffrage) voted no.

Of NewYork’s Representatives

in Congress, 35 voted in favor;

five were absent; three voted

against – including Archie

Sanders of Stafford. The

19th Amendment was finally

ratified in 1920 which gave

women throughout the United

States the right to vote.