Document 9: Caroline Nichols Churchill, “Women at School Elections,” The Colorado Antelope, 2 (March 1881), p. 28.
Caroline Nichols Churchill (1833-1926) founded Denver’s earliest women’s rights newspaper, The Colorado Antelope, in 1879. Born in Canada and a schoolteacher, wife, mother, and widow by the 1870s, Churchill moved to Colorado in 1879 and, under the motto “The Interests of Humanity, Women’s Political Equality, and Individuality,” began agitating for women’s rights in her paper.
This editorial, focused on getting women out to vote in local school elections--a right guaranteed in the Colorado Constitution--is just one example of how Churchill used her journalistic platform to advance her political agenda. Making arguments from both equality and difference, she urged her women readers to claim and exercise their citizenship rights, with the aim of both securing broader voting rights in the State and disproving the anti-suffragist contention that women did not want the franchise.
WOMEN AT SCHOOL ELECTIONS. ________
The first Monday in May is election day in all the School Districts in Colorado. All men and women twenty-one years of age, married or single, having resided thirty days in the District, and six months in the State, not a prisoner, nor insane, nor non compos mentis[A], are permitted to vote on all questions pertaining to schools, whether such questions relate to the special taxation of property, improvement of school buildings or other educational interests on which men have a vote. Women may also hold any office voted upon at such election.
The hour for opening the polls will be 9 o’clock a.m., unless otherwise specified in the notice which is posted up at least six days prior to the election, and the polls close at 4 o’clock p.m.
It is hoped that the women of the State of Colorado will be up and doing and make this election day their May-day. The first day of May this year is Sunday; the next being Monday is the day for the School Elections; and what could be more appropriate than for women to turn out and vote upon the interests of schools, making it a holiday, and an occasion of interesting ourselves in the most important institution connected with a Republican form of government, the public schools?
If single, but interested in driving out ignorance and crime from the land, go alone or with a gentleman friend and lend practical help. If a wife, take a share in what should and doubtless does interest your husband and is of vital importance to the State and nation. If a mother your duty is to secure the most complete possible educational system. A mother’s duty is as imperative in this direction as it ever was in securing food and clothing for her loved ones in the earlier stages of civilization.
If a tax-payer your right and duty is to lay a proper tax for school purposes. Take an interest in knowing what disposition is to be made of the money for which your property is taxed.
Men should be convinced that we are interested in things political, and really want the ballot and will use it if we have the privilege. Let women be chosen judges of the election, if there is a vacancy in any of these offices. We expect them to come with flowers in their hands, joy upon their lips, and hope in their hearts for better things with the perfection of woman’s power upon earth, proving that she has but good-will for all mankind.
A. Mentally incompetent.
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