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Thursday, 13 June 2019 09:08

Janesville played pivotal role in women’s suffrage movement

Written by Staff Writer
To the editor,
The suffrage movement to gain women’s voting rights is said to begin with the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. However, if one looks closer to back in 1848, when Wisconsin was a territory, there were discussions of women’s suffrage being put into the state constitution. But, with the politics of the time, it was not included.

What Seneca Falls was to the national suffrage movement, Janesville was to women’s suffrage in Wisconsin. It was in Janesville that in 1867 the first universal suffrage convention was held. It was at this event that letters from Susan B. Anthony and Lucy Stone recommended a “permanent state organization” for the purpose. The development of this organization was supported by A. M. Thomson, editor of the Janesville Daily Gazette.
Two Janesville residents deserve special recognition as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Wisconsin becoming the first state to ratify the 19th Amendment. Frances Willard, a schoolteacher who became head of the national Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and Lavinia Goodell, the first woman lawyer in Wisconsin, were crucial to the victory of women’s suffrage in Wisconsin.

Anthony came to Janesville a number of times to speak on the issue. In 1878 she spoke at the All Souls Unitarian church in Janesville.

Wisconsin (celebrated) the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment on June 10, but it could not have been possible without the contributions of those in Janesville.
As our nation honors the millions of women who fought for decades to win the right to vote, we should reflect how one city in Wisconsin helped make the 19th Amendment a reality.

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States on account of sex”.

— 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, certified Aug. 26, 1920.

Tom Mortenson
Detroit Lakes, Minnesota

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