Fighting Chance: The Struggle over Woman Suffrage and Black Suffrage in Reconstruction America

Overview

The advocates of woman suffrage and black suffrage came to a bitter falling-out in the midst of Reconstruction, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton opposed the 15th Amendment because it granted the vote to black men but not to women. How did these two causes, so long allied, come to this?

Based on extensive research, Fighting Chance is a major contribution to women's history and to 19th-century political history—a story of how idealists descended to ...

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Fighting Chance: The Struggle over Woman Suffrage and Black Suffrage in Reconstruction America

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Overview

The advocates of woman suffrage and black suffrage came to a bitter falling-out in the midst of Reconstruction, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton opposed the 15th Amendment because it granted the vote to black men but not to women. How did these two causes, so long allied, come to this?

Based on extensive research, Fighting Chance is a major contribution to women's history and to 19th-century political history—a story of how idealists descended to racist betrayal and desperate failure.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[A] nuanced analysis...Dudden's reexamination of this crucial moment in American politics is a welcome addition to the historiography of the woman suffrage movement and a significant contribution to the history of movement in politics." —Kansas History

"The strength of [Dudden's] book lies in the depth of her analysis. Historians usually skip over these years, depicting events in a well-rehearsed and too-often schematic way. Few have taken the time to plumb the sources as thoroughly as Dudden does, or to situate Stanton and Anthony as effectively in the political moment of which they were a part." —Women's Review of Books

"An important and riveting history of the struggle for women's rights in the Civil War era, which illuminates the tumultuous political context for the split between suffragists and abolitionists. Essential reading for anyone interested in women, race, and American politics in the nineteenth century." —Carol Faulkner, author of Lucretia Mott's Heresy: Abolition and Women's Rights in Nineteenth-Century America

"Tackling one of the most difficult and debated stories in American history, Faye Dudden succeeds in clearing the deck and starting afresh. From a vast array of sources and with remarkable courage, she crafts something wholly new. None of us at work in this field comes through her hands unscathed, but more important, Fighting Chance will influence the history of Reconstruction for years to come." —Ann D. Gordon, Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, Rutgers University

"A closer examination and a more nuanced interpretation of these shifting alliances, the economic disabilities of female reformers, and the political maneuvering than other studies have given us, this book explains, though does not apologize for, the positions of these otherwise well-regarded feminists. Likely to be a classic study, it is recommended for all readers in American studies and Reconstruction history." —Library Journal

"Historian Dudden's meticulous scholarship details events that led women, in what she calls a 'massive' moral failure, to oppose a Fifteenth Amendment that did not enfranchise women along with black men... Using newly available correspondence, newspapers, and details of little-studied resources earmarked for women's rights activism, Dudden challenges readers to take a clear-eyed view of the 'founding mothers of suffrage feminism.'" —CHOICE

Publishers Weekly
In a nitty-gritty account of the struggle for suffrage in the years before, during, and especially after the Civil War, Dudden charts the gradual splintering of the initially united feminist and abolitionist movements, transforming women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony from proponents of universal suffrage into partisans for women's voting rights alone, even opposing the 15th Amendment. Dudden, a history professor at Colgate University (Serving Women: Household Service in Nineteenth-Century America), addresses the ugly racism employed by some in the women's suffrage movement, in particular Stanton, in a late bid for support of racist Democrats. Dudden finds the split's roots in a bitter fight over priorities and over money. Abolitionist Wendell Phillips, who controlled vital funds slated for woman suffrage, declared it to be the "Negro's hour" in 1865, and rejected Stanton and Anthony's arguments that the Reconstruction represented (in Henry Ward Beecher's words) the "favored hour" for all. Without trying to justify Stanton and Anthony's racist tactics, Dudden explains how infighting and differences over the chance to gain universal suffrage crippled the women's suffrage movement, and drove its leaders to racist invective. Photos. (July)
Library Journal
Prior to the Civil War, women's rights activists such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were also devoted to the abolitionist cause and worked collaboratively with those whose main focus was abolition to advance women's rights. When the war came, they supported the war effort and advocated for emancipation, fully believing that they had a fighting chance of achieving both abolition and universal emancipation. In this book, Dudden (history, Colgate Univ.; Serving Women: Household Service in Nineteenth-Century America) closely examines the evolution of the political activity and rhetoric of Stanton and Anthony from the antebellum years of solidarity with those who advocated for black rights to their feminist employment of racist arguments in the postwar period, when former allies broke apart over the enfranchisement of black men and a delay in enfranchisement of women. VERDICT A closer examination and a more nuanced interpretation of these shifting alliances, the economic disabilities of female reformers, and the political maneuvering than other studies have given us, this book explains, though does not apologize for, the positions of these otherwise well-regarded feminists. Likely to be a classic study, it is recommended for all readers in American studies and Reconstruction history.—Theresa McDevitt, Indiana Univ. of Pennsylvania Lib.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199376438
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/1/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 298
  • Sales rank: 1,108,849
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Faye E. Dudden is Professor of History at Colgate University. Her previous books include Serving Women: Household Service in Nineteenth-Century America and Women in the American Theatre: Actresses and Audiences, 1790-1870, which won the George Freedley Memorial Prize.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
1. The Age is Ripe for the Woman Question
2. Black Rights, Woman's Rights, and Civil War
3. The "Negro's Hour"
4. The Struggle for Equal Rights
5. Kansas
6. Revolutionary Journalism and Political Opportunism
7. The Fight Over the Fifteenth Amendment
Conclusion
Notes
Selected Bibliography
Index

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