Connecticut Suffragists, 1919

Connecticut Suffragists, 1919 - Connecticut State Library

Despite the fact that the women in this well-known photograph are unidentified, Connecticut was home to many important figures in women’s struggle for equal rights. One of the most prominent early suffragists in Connecticut was Isabella Beecher Hooker, sister of Harriet Beecher Stowe.  Hooker was one of the founders of the New England Woman Suffrage Association in 1869. In 1871, the group helped to sponsor a suffrage convention in Washington, DC Hooker also testified with Susan B. Anthony at various Congressional hearings, supporting a Constitutional amendment to grant women the right to vote.  Advocates in Connecticut, as well as across the nation, stepped up their campaign for equal rights in the years immediately following World War I. These efforts paid off handsomely, and Congress passed the 19th amendment erasing gender discrimination in voter eligibility. The amendment was ratified in 1920.  Connecticut’s Republican political boss, J. Henry Roraback, urged Connecticut’s congressional delegation not to support the amendment.  He also rejected all calls for a special legislative session  to ratify it, in fear that 200,000 new voters would disrupt the Republican control of the state.  Only after the necessary 36 states had ratified did Connecticut act. In 1920, five women were elected to the Connecticut House of Representatives, and four years later, one was elected to the Senate. The state has made significant progress since then, offering dozens of women the opportunity to serve both in the House of Representatives and in the Senate.

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