Document 30: Martha Wentworth Suffren, letter to the Editor of the New York Times, 24 June 1912, printed as “Suffrage in Denver: Women’s Vote Has Achieved a Great Reform, Says Mrs. Suffren,” New York Times (25 June 1912), p. 10, col. 7.


       As did anti-suffragists, advocates of votes for women used the case of Colorado to make their arguments. In this instance, a reprinted letter from Judge Ben B. Lindsey, Colorado juvenile court judge and reformer, demonstrates women’s reform contributions--the argument from difference--while author Suffren also mentions the argument from equality.


Women’s Vote Has Achieved a Great
Reform, Says Mrs. Suffren.

       To the Editor of The New York Times:

       Please allow me to reply to a few of the queries in the letter of “An Unreconstructed Voter,” whatever such may be. “Has equal suffrage any platform?” she asks. Presumably she means to inquire what will be the women’s political leaning-toward the Democratic Party, the Republican, the Socialist, &c.--to which I would reply that no class of men seeking enfranchisement were ever expected to pledge support to any party, nor will women.

       The next question, with regard to the state of things in Denver, may be replied to by extracts from a letter from Judge Ben B. Lindsey, received by me two weeks ago:

       The entire Citizens’ ticket won by ten thousand majority over the bi-partisan machine candidates, and the result is due largely to the fact that women vote in Denver. I do not believe such a victory would have been possible had it not been for this fact. Here in Denver there is no question or doubt that the great victory--the greatest in the history of American politics-over corrupt politics was due primarily to the women’s vote. It was the biggest single factor in the result. I suppose it would be impossible to get some of the anti-suffrage papers to publish the facts about it; however, if they will publish this statement from me, you are more than welcome to it.


       The taunt given to the women of Denver, in that they allowed Denver to go “wet” at last year’s election, is scarcely a fair statement. There were twenty reform measures to be voted upon then, and, thanks to the women, nineteen of them were carried. The prohibition measure failed, leaving Denver as it was, neither better nor worse in respect to liquor selling. The record for equal suffrage here is certainly good, even if it did not bring heaven on earth all at once.

       “What five things are there,” she asks, “which women can only obtain with the vote, and which they cannot obtain without it?” First, the abolition of war; second, the abolition of child labor; third, the control of the white slave traffic; fourth, the expression of the woman’s point of view in changing old laws and building up new ones; fifth, the restoration of that complete equality with man which was woman’s originally, and of which she has been robbed.

       Finally, she asks if men should not “protect” women from the ballot “if they do not want it.” No, it is not necessary, since the right to cast a ballot is not mandatory, but only permissive. The lady seems to be trying to turn the mill with the water that has passed the wheel.


       New York, June 24, 1912.


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