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Becoming Citizens

Becoming Citizens: The Emergence and Development of the California Women's Movement, 1880-1911

Gayle Gullett
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Becoming Citizens
    Book Description:

    In 1880, the California woman safeguarded the Republic by maintaining a morally sound home. Scarcely forty years later, women in the Pacific state won full-fledged citizenship and voting rights of their own. Becoming Citizens shows how this enormous transformation came about. Gayle Gullett demonstrates how women's search for a larger public life in the late nineteenth century led to a flourishing women's movement in California. _x000B_Women's radical demand for citizenship, however, was rejected by state voters along with the presidential reform candidate, William Jennings Bryan, in the tumultuous election year of 1896. Gullett shows how women rebuilt the movement in the early years of the twentieth century and forged a critical alliance between activist women and the men involved in the urban Good Government movement. This alliance formed the basis of progressivism, with male Progressives helping to legitimize women's new public work by supporting their civic campaigns, appointing women to public office, and placing a suffrage referendum before the male electorate in 1911. _x000B_Placing local developments in a national context, Becoming Citizens illuminates the links between these two major social movements: the western women's suffrage movement and progressivism._x000B__x000B__x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09331-9
    Subjects: Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    When California became the sixth state to grant women the right to vote in 1911, suffragists believed it marked a turning point for the national women’s movement. For the first time women had become voters in a state with a city, San Francisco, that mirrored eastern cities in size and immigrant working-class population. To gain the vote California women had developed innovative political techniques and cross-class alliances that attracted wide attention. National suffrage leaders, especially, hoped that the link between California suffragists and progressivism—clearly a reform movement of growing national importance—was a harbinger of future success.¹

    California was...

  5. 1 The Politics of Women’s Work: Building the California Women’s Movement, 1880–93
    (pp. 11-64)

    In the 1870s a few extraordinary pioneers for women’s rights entered California’s political arena, demanding women’s enfranchisement. They based their demand on a fundamental principle: fathers and husbands should not vote for women; women must speak for themselves. The suffragists envisioned that women, with the gain of citizenship, would become a powerful force that could greatly improve women’s position in society. Yet despite the hours these women spent organizing the suffrage movement, it remained small. Most women saw themselves as living private lives and did not see a relationship between angers many felt about their lives and the demand for...

  6. 2 The Politics of Politics: The California Women’s Movement Emerges and Campaigns for Women’s Suffrage, 1893–96
    (pp. 65-106)

    From all parts of the country activists of the late nineteenth-century women’s movement—club women, temperance advocates, settlement workers, philanthropists, labor activists, and suffragists—went to Chicago in 1893 for the World’s Columbian Exposition, one of the great international expositions of the era. They went to the fair to advance women’s public work. These women realized that the fair, which was attracting thousands of visitors and inspiring endless pages of comment, offered an unprecedented opportunity to make their views on women’s work known. The activists presented their message but not without opposition from the men who ran the exposition. As...

  7. 3 The Politics of Altruism: Rebuilding the California Women’s Movement, 1897–1905
    (pp. 107-150)

    For several years the 1896 suffrage defeat in California devastated the state’s suffrage movement. Suffrage organizations lost so many members that they were maintained by skeleton crews of stalwart souls. Other women’s groups were only minimally involved in public affairs. Although organized women from around the state had discussed at the California Women’s Congresses in the mid-1890s whether to take up urban reform, only a few clubs had taken steps toward doing so by the beginning of the new century. The Women’s Congress itself did not live to see that century.

    Yet by 1906 organized women—in particular, club women—...

  8. 4 The Politics of Good Government: The California Women’s Movement Helps Build Progressivism and Wins Suffrage, 1906–11
    (pp. 151-200)

    After 1906 affluent men and women reformers began working together as political allies in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Earlier, the women had persuaded men to support their various urban reform projects, such as juvenile courts and playgrounds, but both men and women saw these as civic—not political—efforts. The reformers joined forces in the political but nonpartisan good government movement, an urban forerunner of progressivism that promised to end corruption in city government. This alliance helped make possible the 1911 suffrage victory. After the men accepted the women as political allies, the male reformers as a group—eventually—...

  9. Epilogue: The Politics of Women’s Citizenship
    (pp. 201-206)

    California women pursued citizenship to make themselves powerful. As they struggled to make their voices heard in the public arena, they changed their lives and created new definitions of the appropriate relationship between women and power. They created these new understandings by borrowing from older notions of gender, power, and politics. Women became citizens who sought power but only, they declared, for the public good. They engaged in politics but only for nonpartisan goals. They developed an ideological agenda but only for civic righteousness. Such a borrowing from the old to create the new does not document any particular weakness...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 207-262)
  11. Index
    (pp. 263-272)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 273-274)