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The Weight of Their Votes: Southern Women and Political Leverage in the 1920s
     

The Weight of Their Votes: Southern Women and Political Leverage in the 1920s

by Lorraine Gates Schuyler
 

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After the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, hundreds of thousands of southern women went to the polls for the first time. In The Weight of Their Votes Lorraine Gates Schuyler examines the consequences this had in states across the South. She shows that from polling places to the halls of state legislatures, women altered the political landscape

Overview

After the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, hundreds of thousands of southern women went to the polls for the first time. In The Weight of Their Votes Lorraine Gates Schuyler examines the consequences this had in states across the South. She shows that from polling places to the halls of state legislatures, women altered the political landscape in ways both symbolic and substantive. Schuyler challenges popular scholarly opinion that women failed to wield their ballots effectively in the 1920s, arguing instead that in state and local politics, women made the most of their votes.

Schuyler explores get-out-the-vote campaigns staged by black and white women in the region and the response of white politicians to the sudden expansion of the electorate. Despite the cultural expectations of southern womanhood and the obstacles of poll taxes, literacy tests, and other suffrage restrictions, southern women took advantage of their voting power, Schuyler shows. Black women mobilized to challenge disfranchisement and seize their right to vote. White women lobbied state legislators for policy changes and threatened their representatives with political defeat if they failed to heed women's policy demands. Thus, even as southern Democrats remained in power, the social welfare policies and public spending priorities of southern states changed in the 1920s as a consequence of woman suffrage.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Offers a new perspective on key historical questions, and this influential study should guide many future projects.--The American Journal of Legal History

A superb and engaging book of historiographical significance.--American Historical Review

Presents a highly original and convincing look at the contested right to vote.--Virginia Quarterly Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807876695
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
09/15/2008
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
File size:
707 KB

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
It's about time. For years we have been waiting for just this kind of study of southern women and political leverage after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. Schuyler argues that the suffrage amendment did not erode the power of women's political activism at the end of the 1920s, as many scholars have proposed, but that it instead opened a passage for women to further implement voting, political party activism, and office holding. Schuyler's study is both challenging and important.--Elizabeth Hayes Turner, author of Women, Culture, and Community: Religion and Reform in Galveston, 1880-1920

A detailed and lively account of women's activism in southern politics in the early twentieth century. . . challenges--successfully--the exceptionally long-lived thesis that the post-suffrage women's movement in the United States was a flop. Rarely does a book reach so many audiences so substantially.--Arkansas Historical Quarterly

Meet the Author

Lorraine Gates Schuyler is chief of staff in the Office of the President at the University of Richmond.

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