Document 19: “Anti-Woman Suffrage: Don’t Fail to Read This,” Leaflet, 1893 (Women. Suffrage. Newspaper clippings), Western History Collection, The Denver Public Library, Denver, Colorado.
Opposition to the 1893 Colorado referendum campaign came too little, too late. Organized primarily by the Denver Brewers' Association (one anti-suffrage pamphlet included a brewery advertisement), anti-suffragists found the majority of Colorado newspapers already committed to female enfranchisement. So, they got their word out primarily through printed leaflets and pamphlets.
This leaflet encapsulated the major arguments of the Colorado anti-suffrage effort: that granting women the right to vote would upset gender relations in society and the family, fail to achieve any reforms, and even prolong Colorado’s economic crisis. It also included an error about how the process of extending suffrage to women worked in Colorado.
ANTI-WOMAN SUFFRAGE. ________________________________________
DON’T FAIL TO READ THIS.
At the election to be held November 7th, an amendment to the State Constitution conferring the right of suffrage upon women, will be voted on. The attitude of the press leaves those not in favor of the amendment no other way of reaching the people, except by a general distribution of these circulars, which we hope will have the effect of calling the attention of voters to the dangerous consequences of this measure to society, home and government and that he will not fail to put an X against the words on his ballot--
EQUAL SUFFRAGE NOT APPROVED.
History does not show a single instance in which woman suffrage has improved society or government; on the contrary, the municipal affairs of towns in Kansas where women have voted and were elected to office, are in worse shape than ever before.
After a trial of twenty-four years in Wyoming, it is conceeded that it has failed to bring about reforms of any kind, but has resulted in engaging women in the very laudable work of packing caucuses, primaries and conventions-in lowering women to the depths of all that low politics imply.
Utah furnishes us with the most striking example of what women cannot do. There the right to vote was early conferred upon women by the territorial assembly and if there ever was a magnificent opportunity offered women to assert herself at the ballot--it was there. But instead of abolishing polygamy or lending her influence in that direction, she became a powerful agency in upholding that evil and Congress, after repeated efforts to crush it, found that it could only be done by abolishing Woman Suffrage, which was accordingly done by the Edmund’s Act of 1887[A]. Polygamy is now a thing of the past.
The great cry of our female agitators, “Taxation without representation,” may be a very good argument if rightly applied, but as the percentage of women paying taxes is much smaller than that of men, and as there are 100 women who pay no taxes where there is one woman who does, we utterly fail to see how equal suffrage will increase the representation of tax paying women. In fact the result will be exactly the reverse. It is such women as Mrs. Lease[B], Helen Gauger[C], Susan B. Anthony and Miss Willard who are making all this clamor for the ballot. Most of these women have no children and therefore few family ties to keep them at home. In the absence of woman’s proper occupations, they run the country over, reviling everything in general and men in particular, and such women as these are the ones who would rule under a regime of woman suffrage.
Young man, if you don’t want a female lawyer, doctor or politician for a wife, but would prefer a woman who will be a good companion, home maker, wife and mother, than vote and induce all your friends to vote against EQUAL SUFFRAGE.
This is a fight for our homes, for our families and for our personal liberties. We appeal to all fair minded voters to consider that should this amendment be adopted, only a few notoriety seeking women will be benefitted, while a great majority of citizens will be injured. The already weakened credit of our State will sink lower, for capital will not invest a dollar in our commonwealth, if a new element is thrust forward to make or unmake laws which would affect its security.
Do not depend upon others to cast their votes against this innocent looking but dangerous experiment, but see that your vote is cast against it. After reading this circular, please hand it to some friend. We want every voter to be made aware that this measure will come up, and we hope that every liberal minded man will oppose same by placing his X against the line
EQUAL SUFFRAGE NOT APPROVED.
A. With passage of the Edmunds-Tucker Act in 1887, designed to eliminate plural marriage as practiced by the Mormons, the U.S. Congress disenfranchised women in the Territory of Utah.
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B. Helen Gaugar or Gougar, a suffragist and Indiana native, worked for the Prohibition Party, after suffrage was won in Colorado.
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C. This referred to national Populist leader Mary E. Lease, famous for her call to farmers to “raise less corn and more hell.”
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