THE LIZ LIBRARY: Women's Movement Documents Section

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1918 - League of Women Voters Formed

Even before Carrie Chapman Catt led the 3.5 million member American-National Woman's Suffrage Association to victory, she was concerned about educating women to USE their vote - to reconstruct the nation. Two years before suffrage for women became a fact, Mrs. Catt's clear foresight was in evidence. In 1918 when she issued the following call at the National American Woman Suffrage Association:

"Every suffragist will hope for a memorial dedicated to the memory of our brave, departed leaders, to the sacrifices they made for our cause, to the score of victories won... I venture to propose one who benefits will bless our entire nation and bring happiness to the humblest of our citizens - the most natural, the most appropriate and the most patriotic memorial that could be suggested - A League of Women Voters to 'finish the fight' and to aid in the reconstruction of the nation.

"What could be more natural than that women having attained their political independence should desire to give service in token of their gratitude? What could be more appropriate than that such women should do for the coming generation what those of a preceding did for them? What could be more patriotic than that these women should use their new freedom to make the country safer for their children and their children's children?

"Let us then raise up a League of Women Voters, the name and form of organization by the members themselves; a league that shall be non-partisan and non-sectarian and consecrated to three chief aims:

1. To use its influence to obtain the full enfranchisement of women of every State in our own republic AND TO REACH ACROSS THE SEAS IN AID OF THE WOMAN'S STRUGGLE FOR HER OWN IN EVERY LAND. [Emphasis added -- IS.]

2. To remove the remove the remaining legal discriminations against women in the codes and constitutions of the several States in order that the feet of coming women may find these stumbling blocks removed.

3. To make our democracy so safe for the nation and so safe for the world that every citizen may feel secure and great men will acknowledge the worthiness of the American republic to lead."

The following ten points covered by Mrs. Catt in her address were adopted later as the first aims of the League of Women Voters and made the plan of work for the Committee of American Citizenship:
      1. Compulsory education in every state for all children between six and sixteen during nine months of each year. (Bet you didn't know that feminists led the fight for mandatory public education for all, regardless of color, creed, or financial means.)
      2. Education of adults by extension classes of the public schools.
      3. English made the national language by having it compulsory in all public and private schools where courses in general education are conducted.
      4. Higher qualifications for citizenship and more sympathetic and impressive ceremonials for naturalization.
      5. Direct citizenship for women, not through marriage, as a qualification for the vote.
      6. Naturalization for married women to be made possible.
      7. Compulsory publication in foreign language newspapers of lessons in citizenship.
      8. Schools of citizenship in conjunction with the public schools, a certificate from such school to be a qualification for naturalization and for the vote.
      9. An oath of allegiance to the United States to be one qualification for the vote for every citizen native and foreign born.
      10. An educational qualification for the vote in all State after a definite date to be determined.

[Historical NOTE: Please remember the state of the union in 1918 and the huge, new immigrant wave. Irene Stuber's grandparents and parents were part of that wave. They had to learn to read and write ENGLISH before they could become citizens and thought it was the right thing to do.]




© 1990-2006 Irene Stuber, Hot Springs National Park, AR 71902. Originally web-published at
We are indebted to Irene Stuber for compiling this collection and for granting us permission to make it available again.
The text of the documents in the women's history library may be freely copied for nonprofit educational use.

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