Man, One Vote; One Woman, One Throat":
Women in New York City Politics, 1890-1910
by Jo Freeman
in American Nineteenth Century History, Vol. 1, No. 3, Autumn 2001,
pp. 101-123. In this article I use the words "Mrs." and "colored"
because those were the proper terms for their time. I used a married woman's
given name when I could find it, but that was not always possible.
"In the approaching municipal campaign in New York", the New
York Herald observed in 1897, "women politicians are to play
an important part. About 1,000 of them, representing the Women's Republican
organizations of New York, are already sharpening their scalping knives
and preparing to work havoc in the ranks of the Tammanyites." (Sept.
19, 1897, V:1:1)
it is commonly assumed that women went into politics after getting the
right to vote, in New York City at least, it was the other way around.
Indeed, one could argue that it was regular experience with political
women that eventually convinced men that women were capable of, and indeed
entitled to, exercise the franchise, a prerogative of Nineteenth Century
men. But this didn't happen quickly; the women who worked in political
campaigns did not demand suffrage as their reward. They deliberately avoided
the issue of suffrage in order not to antagonize men. Instead the two
movements proceeded on parallel tracks until at least 1912, with some
organized women demanding the right to vote, and others acting to influence
the men who could vote. Among the latter, there were also two tracks.
On one were the "good government" reformers who rode the train
of nonpartisanship. On the other were party women, who were no less passionate
in their partisanship than were party men.
By the time New York women won the right to vote in 1917, among them was
a large cadre of trained political workers; some with a quarter century
of experience. Although New York City was still dominated by the Democratic
Party, most of the women active in politics were Republicans, because
the Republican Party began organizing women in the 1890s while the Democratic
Century New York City was run by Tammany Hall. Founded in 1789 as a fraternal
and social organization, the Hall became synonymous with the Democratic
Party Central Committee for New York County (Manhattan) because the leaders
of both groups were the same. It maintained its power among voters through
the liberal use of patronage and welfare, while taking bribes, providing
"protection" and dipping into the public treasury. In the 1880s
a growing class of business and professional men challenged Tammany's
control. Theodore Roosevelt organized the City Reform Club of New York
in 1882, though it barely scratched Tammany's hide for reasons he himself
analyzed when he ran for Mayor in 1886 (Roosevelt 1886). In 1890 some
of the more prominent citizens of New York City organized a People's Municipal
League to challenge Tammany Hall, and convinced some independent men in
both parties to run a slate of opposition candidates. They wanted to take
politics out of municipal government and run it on a business like basis,
without corruption or patronage. They were aided in this by a Ladies Committee,
which raised funds and sent out letters soliciting men's votes for the
League candidates. (NY Times, 1890: Oct. 22, 5:2, Oct. 27, 4:2,
NY Herald, Oct. 27, 3:4) They lost.
Democratic Party celebrated its success in the 1892 elections by shifting
control of important jobs and contracts to party bosses throughout the
state. This power grab, combined with a major recession in 1893, prompted
public outrage at dishonesty and revived the urban reform movement. Reformers
demanded once again that municipal government be sundered from partisanship.
Nonpartisanship was not only tactical -- Democratic votes were needed
to win -- but ideological. Only a nonpartisan municipal administration,
reformers argued, would offer "cleanliness, peace, and order rather
than special favors and franchises." (McCormick 1981, 49).
Hall was only one of several urban Democratic machines in New York State.
Hugh McLaughlin ran Brooklyn, the big city across the East River. In the
1893 Brooklyn election, reformers joined with dissident Democrats and
Republicans to elect Charles A. Schieren, the Republican candidate for
Mayor (McCormick 1981, 43-44). This effort was aided by the Brooklyn Woman's
Health Protective Association (BWHPA). Organized in 1890 to keep the streets
clean and the health laws enforced (Brooklyn Eagle Almanac, 1891,
138), the women found the Democratic administration to be more of a hindrance
than a help. As the fall campaign took off, the BWHPA "added its
voice to the general cry of denunciation against the corrupt municipal
administration of the ring." (NY Times, Oct. 7, 1893, 8:3).
It called a mass meeting of Brooklyn women for October 19, where the BWHPA's
founder and President, Mrs. James Scrimgeour, said that "it was time
women's influence was felt in municipal affairs." She went on to
note that the Republicans had nominated good men and "it was the
duty of the women to urge the Republicans along." (NY Times,
Oct. 20. 1893, 9:3) After endorsing Schieren, the BWHPA distributed 8,000
copies of an "Appeal to Voters" and asked women to "arouse
indifferent citizens to a sense of their duty as voters." (Brooklyn
Eagle, June 8, 1894, 12:5)
election was the first sign of a major electoral shift favoring the Republican
Party, nationally and statewide. It, and other Republican victories in
the state split the Democratic Party into quarrelling factions. Across
the river, reformers formed a Committee of Seventy, "drawn from the
city's commercial, financial, and legal elite" to wrest city government
from Tammany Hall (McCormick 1981, 47). One of these was the Rev. Charles
H. Parkhurst of the Madison Square Presbyterian Church, who preached regularly
against police protection of crime and Tammany protection of police. Impressed
with women's work in the Brooklyn election, and the amount of talk generated
by the agitation for woman suffrage at the New York State constitutional
convention the previous summer, he repeatedly and publicly asked the "wives,
mothers, sisters, and daughters of our city ... to take a hand in the
regeneration. There is no politics in the matter," he went on to
say. "It is a question of right against wrong, of righteousness against
trickery, and our women ought to feel proud to be able to help the movement
onward." Parkhurst was an outspoken anti-suffragist, but saw no inconsistency
between this position and his call to women to help cleanse the city and
curb corruption. The role of women, he felt, was to shape public sentiment.
(NY Times, Oct. 5, 1894, 8:1; Marshall, 1997, 84; Edwards, 1997,
Parkhurst first asked Mayor Schieren, who also opposed woman suffrage,
how helpful the women had been, and then published both letters in the
New York Times, (Sept. 25, 1894 9:7; Sept. 26, 1894 2:7). Schieren
confirmed that the BWHPA took the lead among the several women's organizations
that "were very active during the campaign, and enlisted their
husbands to active duty and in various ways aided the reform movement
by holding public meetings, and asking women of the city to influence
their husbands to work for reform." Furthermore, "the women
were also very careful not to bring up the suffrage question in the
reform movement of last year, which would have met with antagonism and
hurt the movement." Indeed, at the BWHPA's first mass meeting,
several women speakers had reassured their audience that they were opposed
to woman suffrage, but said it was patriotic for women to use their
influence to remove from government "people who care more for spoils
than for the honor of serving the city." (Brooklyn Eagle,
Oct. 20, 1893, 2:1)
In October, Parkhurst made several speeches throughout New York City,
on "The Condition of Our City and Woman's Relation to It."
He urged women to hold parlor conferences and mass meetings, to talk
to women and talk to men. (NY Times, Oct. 5, 1894, 8:1; Oct.
13, 1894, 9:4; Oct. 20, 1894 9:5; Oct. 25, 1894, 9:3). He also looked
for a woman to organize and lead women in the aid of his crusade, eventually
settling on Josephine Shaw Lowell, a wealthy and respected charity worker
(Lowell 1898, 465). Lowell, herself a suffrage supporter, called a meeting
of women on October 12 to work for the reform candidate, William L.
Strong. Invited were "women interested in philanthropy and reform
and society women of different religious sects and various political
opinions" including those for and against suffrage. In deference
to her sponsor, Lowell represented the Woman's Municipal Purity Auxiliary
as non-partisan, non-political, and definitely not interested in suffrage.
(NY Times 1894: Oct 7, 4:6; Oct. 11, 9:7; Oct. 13, 9:4)
The new organization soon changed its name to the Woman's Municipal
League (WML) and organized 17 public meetings. (NY Times, Nov.
4, 1894, 18:1) At one of these Mrs. Alfred Bishop Mason spoke on "The
Woman's Part in American Politics." She said:
old English saying is: "One man, one vote; one woman, one throat."
That means that one man can cast only one vote, while one woman can make
many right votes by talking when it will do the most good.
What we must do is to inaugurate a system of meetings which will not be
all talk, but which will instruct the ignorant people of the slums what
right and purity of politics are. (NY Times, Oct. 31, 1894, 5:1)
it was in existence for only a short time before the November election,
the WML was much lauded for rousing voters otherwise indifferent to
municipal reform. Not only was William Strong elected Mayor in 1894,
but the Republican Party captured a majority of the seats on the Board
of Aldermen. A few days after the election, Mrs. Charles Parkhurst announced
that the WML would continue. "It is to be a thoroughly feminine
work," she told the New York Times, "and will not be
conducted in any way along the lines of a man's club. The fundamental
idea is educational -- to educate women in regard to all lines of municipal
affairs. We have found that their knowledge of such things is very limited."
(NY Times, Nov. 4, 1894 18:1; Nov. 9, 1894, 9:3,4)
of the anti-Tammany meetings were held under the auspices of the Woman's
National Republican Association (WNRA) founded by J. Ellen Foster in
1888. (NY Times, Oct. 25, 1894, 9:3; Oct. 27, 1894, 5:3) Foster
was an Iowa lawyer who was active both in the Republican Party and the
temperance movement. In July of 1888, after the Republican Convention,
she met with the Republican National Committee and agreed to organize
women for the party. (NY Tribune, July, 12, 1888, 2:6) She and
her husband moved to Washington, D.C. where he was given a patronage
job by the Benjamin Harrison administration and she embarked on a twenty
year career as a traveling organizer, lecturer and campaigner for the
Republican party. (NY Times, March 8, 1891, 3:3) Foster remained
President of the WNRA until her death in 1910, when it was taken over
by her protege, Helen Varick Boswell. The WNRA did not have members.
It operated as the women's committee of the RNC during campaigns, and
as an advisory body in between.
the election of 1892, the RNC set aside several rooms for women's work
on the top floor of the Hotel Savoy with Foster in charge. (NY Herald,
Sept. 4, 1892, 11:2,3) While she gave speeches urging men to vote for
Republican candidates and women to get men to vote, Boswell supervised
the women workers. (Brooklyn Eagle, Oct. 4, 1892, 8:5) Boswell
had been raised in Baltimore in a Democratic household where discussion
of "woman's rights" was taboo; her association with Foster
made her a true believer in Republicanism. (Boswell, NR, Nov.
23, 1918, 7). By the 1894 Congressional campaigns Boswell had complete
charge of women's work. She hired women speakers for "the political
mass meetings at which women are becoming so interested", and focused
her efforts on "the wage earning women, the girls in the factories,
shops and large stores, holding meetings among them during the noon
hour, to enlist their interest as rapidly as possible." (NY
Herald, Oct. 11, 1894, 12:2).
attended several of the WML's meetings, and after Strong won the election
she asked the Republican Party leader if she could form a club for Republican
women. On December 13 the "first auxiliary of the Woman's Republican
Association was organized ... in the West Side Republican Club rooms,"
choosing as its President Mrs. Clarence Burns, a well known charity
worker. (NY Tribune, Dec. 14, 1894, 5:5,6; Boswell, NR,
Nov. 23, 1918, 8). Soon called the West End Woman's Republican Association
(WEA), within six years it would be "the most widely known political
club in the State." (NY Tribune, Sept. 8, 1900, 7:1).
the best known, the WEA was not the first permanent women's Republican
club in New York City. In 1892 Foster had helped Mary Hall and "thirty-one
colored women of the Eleventh Assembly District" found a Colored
Woman's Republican Association (NY Herald, Sept. 27, 1892, 6:5).
Hall had come from Georgia where she had escorted colored men to the
polls to vote Republican. In the early 1880s she became the political
apprentice to the colored boss of her district until she found he was
jealous of her ability to turn out votes. With Boswell's encouragement,
she put together her own organization of women, and proceeded to become
a "power" in her district. (NY Times, Oct. 18, 1895,
8:1; Boswell, NR, March 8, 1919, 8:6.)
1895 Boswell organized clubs in New York City, including a Business
Women's Republican Club, one for working women, and a variety of "neighborhood
influence clubs" of 12 to 20 women. These were permanent clubs,
not just temporary campaign organizations. At regular meetings club
members gave papers on current events and discussed such issues as health,
schools, and Sunday closing of saloons. Often they were addressed by
distinguished guests. Sometimes socials or outings were held. During
campaigns, club members provided a core of experienced workers ready
to work for Republican candidates and their meetings discussed election
mechanics. Club women were instructed how to get men to vote and held
classes for men on how to mark a ballot. One meeting discussed whether
it was OK for women to give soup and coffee to Democrats as well as
to Republicans waiting in the cold to vote. (NY Herald 1895:
May 28, 11:1; July 2, 7:2; Nov. 6, 5:6; NY Times 1895: May 23,
8:3; May 28, 9:4; Oct. 5, 2:7; 1896: July 12, 8:1; Aug. 22, 2:3)
June of 1895 Boswell was selected to be the only woman among 149 New
York delegates to go to the national convention of the League of Republican
Clubs where she was thrilled to meet party women from western states
where women could vote. She also went to the State convention in September,
and reported back that the men now wanted to meet with women rather
than separately. There were 17 Republican women's clubs in upstate New
York. (NY Herald, 1895: May 28, 11:1; June 15, 7:1, Sept. 11,
11:1.) In 1896 she went to the Republican Convention as an observer,
where "The women were treated as distinguished guests although
they had no part in the proceedings." (NY Herald, June 27,
1896, 10:1) By 1897 she was the "recognized head of the Women's
Republican movement in New York" and "the only woman in the
direct employ of the Republican County Committee." (NY Herald,
Sept. 19, 1897, V:12:1).
eagerness to join Republican women's clubs came from many sources. By
the 1890s there were large numbers of middle class women, especially
in the cities, with time on their hands. Many were educated, and, if
married, were not expected to engage in gainful employment. But neither
were they "willing to become simply social butterflies" (Lockwood
1893, 385). Reform was within woman's sphere and forming and joining
women's clubs was quite the thing to do. The municipal reform movement
invited women in and simultaneously gave them a rationale for political
work. Indeed they were told by leading men, many of whom opposed woman
suffrage, that working to clean up the city by electing good men was
their duty. (NY Times, Oct. 25, 1894, 9:3; NY Tribune,
Oct. 31, 1894, 7:1).
was partisanship a problem. Strong party loyalties were the norm in
the late Nineteenth Century. Boswell felt that "Women have ever
been partisan" because "[a]ll healthy, intelligent persons
are partisan by nature." (Boswell, NR, Dec. 7, 1918, 8)
Kate Bostwick, who described herself as a "rabid Republican"
explained in 1896 that the prospect of taming the Tammany tiger prompted
many women to become active Republicans: "The fever of reform was
coursing through the veins of these women, and they formed the first
regular Republican club ... of college women and others of ability and
executive knowledge." (Bostwick 1896) This was echoed by Mrs. Jane
Pierce, a school teacher from New England. "I had never taken more
than a general interest in politics," she told the New York
Herald, "until the pressure came for fighting Tammany."
(Oct. 10, 1895, VI:9:1) Four years later Mrs. Clarence Burns, first
President of the West End WRA, wrote:
thing Tammany ever did was to drive women into politics. I was born
a republican, but if it had not been for Tammany I probably never would
have taken a prominent part in politics, nor would any other of the
conservative women of this city. (NY Herald, Oct. 7, 1900, 7:2)
involved in political work women stayed because they found it to be pleasing,
demanding both social and organizational skills. In 1896 Bostwick started
her own club in Brooklyn, the Woman's Republican Union League. Among its
founders were Mrs. James Scrimgeour, who was still the President of the
BWHPA. (Brooklyn Eagle, Sept. 17, 1896, 7:6) Quite a few were the
wives of Republican politicians. (Brooklyn Eagle, Sept. 23, 1896,
7:7; NY Herald, Sept. 19, 1897, V:12; NY Tribune, June 21,
1899, 7:3.) It is not surprising that political wives and daughters would
want to campaign in organizations analogous to those of their husbands
and fathers, even when the latter were not public or party officials.
These women in turn would bring in their friends. Indeed the party clubs
had more staying power than women's nonpartisan organizations because
recurring campaigns created a permanent need for women political workers.
After winning in 1894, the reform committees and the WML lapsed, while
women's Republican clubs expanded for the 1896 Presidential campaign.
(Lowell 1898; Monoson 1990, 106)
The Election of 1897
women's loyalties were sorely tested in 1897, when voters would elect
the first Mayor of Greater New York City to govern the five boroughs.
Consolidation was the pet project of state Republican leader Thomas
C. Platt. After the Republican electoral sweep in 1896 gave his party
full control of the state government, the legislature mandated it. The
new State constitution required that municipal elections be held in
odd-numbered years. (McCormick 1981, 90-94, 54-5) Mayor Strong declined
to run, and reformers, regular Republicans and dissident Democrats could
not agree on a candidate. The reformers organized into the Citizens'
Union (CU) and drafted Seth Low, former Mayor of Brooklyn and current
President of Columbia University, to be their candidate. Low was a Republican,
but independent of Boss Platt's machine. Although Platt had helped reformers
to elect Strong, he received few benefits from doing so, and concluded
that he could probably get more patronage from Tammany than from Low.
The Republican convention nominated his good friend Benjamin F. Tracy,
a "stalwart among stalwarts". (McCormick 1981, 123-4: Kurland,
1971, Chapter V).
women were painfully conflicted. An axiom of reform was that municipal
politics should be separated from state and national politics. Parties
and partisanship were fine in their place, but cities should be run
like a large business, guided by the principles of efficiency and competency,
not party loyalty. (Kurland 1971, 85) As part of New York City's social
and economic elite, Republican women were cut from the same cloth as
reformers Reform men, like Low, were much more likely to vote Republican
than Democratic. In 1894, it did not matter if one was partisan or non-partisan;
there was a common candidate for whom to work. In 1897, the clash between
party loyalty and reform sentiments was profoundly disturbing to many.
The West End WRA discussed and debated what to do at several meetings.
exhorted them to party loyalty, bringing in speakers to talk on "The
Interdependence of National and Municipal Politics". Some members
claimed that Low was not really a Republican, and therefore not deserving
of the support of Republican women. They attacked Low for not always
voting Republican, for not favoring tariff protection, and even for
his disapproval of suffrage and higher education for women. Several
prominent women, such as Mrs. James G. Wentz, said they did not see
what tariff protection had to do with Greater New York City. Unless
everyone united behind Low, she said, Tammany would win and the City
would lose. Finally J. Ellen Foster was brought in to convince the women
that city, state and national politics "cannot be divorced";
adherence to principle required party loyalty at every level. She urged
the WEA to support Tracy because he was the Republican candidate.
It did. (NY Tribune: Oct. 2, 1897 5:5; Oct. 16, 1897 9:7; Oct
30, 1897 5:1).
loyalty did not triumph everywhere. In Low's home town of Brooklyn the
Woman's Republican Union League endorsed Low over the objections of
its founder and President, Kate Bostwick, as did some of the Brooklyn
men's clubs. (Brooklyn Eagle, Oct. 27, 1897, 7:3; NY Times,
June 21, 1899, 3:6) The women split so badly that club officers were
in court two years later fighting over the remains. (NY Tribune,
Sept. 28, 1898 5:3; June 21, 1899 7:3). But the Low campaign united
antagonists as well as dividing allies. At one large Low meeting the
presidents of the suffrage association and the anti-suffrage society
sat side by side on the stage. When asked what they were doing there,
the antis replied "Oh, but this is for Mr. Low." (NY Tribune,
Nov. 15, 1897 5:5.)
enthusiasm among women was even higher in 1897 than in 1894. Reform
women raised money, distributed circulars and held meetings. One piece
titled "The Women of Manhattan to the Voters of Manhattan"
stated that "the women of every city have a stake as great in its
just and enlightened government as the men" followed by five reasons
why the women supported Low. (NY Times, Oct. 26, 1897, 2:2) Even
in meetings not specifically aimed at women they were 35 percent of
those attending. (NY Times, Oct. 27, 1897, 2:3) In Brooklyn,
the BWHPA brought 3,000 women to a large hall to hear Low speak. Reported
the New York Times:
Seth Low told
the Brooklyn women, to great applause:
that was presented in the hall where they met was unique -- and yet
it was very like the politics of men, with the shouts and the applause,
and all the other things that carry the latter from their equilibrium
in time of political excitement, for these members of the feebler sex,
young and old, cheered at the mention of Low's name, stamped their feet,
waved their handkerchiefs in the air,... (NY Times, Oct. 23,
my last campaign (in 1883) one woman said that she had gained twenty-two
votes for me, and I told her that was twenty-one more than she would have
gotten if she had been a man. Mrs. Scrimgeour (BWHPA President) has said
that each woman represents twenty votes, but I think, from looking at
this audience, that each of you represents forty votes, at least. (NY
Times, Oct. 23, 1897, 2:5)
"forty votes" weren't sufficient to overcome the crowded field
of candidates. Lack of unity was fatal to Low's campaign. He came in second
and Tracy ran third. Tammany Hall retook City Hall.
Activity in the Interim
CU attributed their loss to their lack of continuity. After considerable
debate over whether to disband or remain as a non-partisan political party,
it chose the latter, though not without much dismay and dissention. Some
reformers felt that a permanent political organization would inevitably
become more concerned with its own welfare than that of the city and slowly
become corrupt. They argued that the principle of nonpartisanship
would be pre-empted with permanent organization. This position lost to
those who felt that until reformers "met the social needs of the
masses" the masses would not support reform. (Kurland 1971, 108-111)
The WML had reconstituted itself for the 1897 campaign. In March of 1898
it adopted a formal constitution which declared its objective to be: "To
secure active support for such movements and candidates as may give promise
of the best government for the city without regard to party lines"
(Lowell 1898). For the next four years it worked to expand its membership
among younger women, though its meetings were rarely reported in the press.
(Monoson 1990, 109) It organized independently of the CU but never strayed
far from its parent, publicly affirming its support for whomever the CU
the Woman's Municipal League and the women's Republican clubs avoided
the issue of suffrage, which was widely debated in the 1890s. The WML
was constrained by its close association with suffrage opponents, who
were prominent among the male leaders in the anti-Tammany movement (e.g.
Parkhurst, Elihu Root, Everett P. Wheeler, see Marshall 1997, 66, 76),
and served on the WML Board (e.g. Mrs. Parkhurst). Even when suffrage
agitation lapsed, the WML carefully kept its distance. In 1904 its Bulletin
said that "Most of us are content to work, nay, prefer to work, without
the suffrage." (WLMB, July 1904, 2). In 1911, as public discussion
of suffrage was reviving, its Yearbook reassured its 1,800 members
that "It has no part whatever, either for or against, in the suffrage
movement." (WML Yearbook, Nov. 1911, 3).
women were constrained by their priorities. To emphasize that party
loyalty eclipsed issues, Article VI of The Constitution and Bylaws
of the West End Auxiliary declared: "Let it always be clearly
understood that this organization is for the study of simple republicanism,
that it is contrary to its design to attempt any diversion of the organization's
work or influence to such reform movements as temperance, woman suffrage
&c, with which many republican women are individually associated."
Even though the Republican Party occasionally let woman suffragists
use their meeting hall for suffrage meetings (NY Tribune, April
28, 1894 7:4), Boswell told a meeting of Republican men that "I
am not crying out for a vote just now. I can generally influence three
or four votes, at least, and I think it is better to have these votes
cast as I wish them than to cast a solitary vote myself." (NY
Times, Oct. 18, 1895, 6;2) In 1903, newer members of the West End
WRA wanted to take a position on suffrage. After a heated debate, a
majority voted to bar it. (NY Tribune, Dec. 18, 1903, 7:3.) Mrs.
Wentz, who later became active in the Woman Suffrage Party, estimated
that five percent of the members of the early Republican women's clubs
actively opposed woman suffrage. (NY Mail, June 10, 1918)
were the suffrage women interested in party work. Susan B. Anthony and
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, both of whom lived in New York, had become increasingly
alienated from the major political parties since 1884 when they urged
"earnest and conscientious support of the Republican National ticket"
(NY Tribune, Aug. 1, 1884, 2). In 1897 Anthony criticized New
York women for working in the municipal elections without first getting
a party commitment to woman suffrage. By 1900 she was counseling women
to stay out of political parties and work only to enfranchise themselves.
(Harper 1898, 928; Anthony 1900) In 1894 Stanton wrote approvingly to
Lowell of women's work for municipal reform, even though none of the
men running for Mayor supported woman suffrage. (NY Times, Oct.
11, 1894, 9:7) In 1900 she wrote that "It is not of the slightest
consequence to me whether McKinley or Bryan is elected... [because it]
will not make the least difference in the present position of women,"
(Stanton 1900). This attitude by the leaders was reflected in the resistance
of active suffragists to joining in party work. Boswell tried to recruit
those from Republican families into her women's Republican Clubs in
the 1890s, and was quite surprised when they told her "No, the
Republican party has never done anything for us, so we shall not do
anything for the Republican party." (Boswell, NR, March
1, 1919, 7)
by "other" issues, Republican women perfected their campaign
techniques, adding door-to-door canvassing to literature distribution
and meetings. In the 1896 Presidential campaign Republican women opened
their own headquarters at 1473 Broadway in August. They prepared campaign
literature in German, Bohemian and English, and divided up the tenement
districts, which were Tammany strongholds. Within a week, 1,500 women
had literature and instructions on how to canvass. (NY Tribune,
Aug. 22, 1896 2:2; Aug. 29, 1896, 4:5) Mrs. Clarence Burns, director
of the canvassing, wrote of their experience: "During the first
McKinley and Bryan campaign we distributed two hundred thousand booklets,
and interviewed as many women, endeavoring to instruct them in the awful
effects of the 16 to 1 policy should Bryan be elected." (NY
Herald, Oct. 7, 1900, 7:2) Boswell later recounted their mixed reception:
"Our women were often met with derision and with threats of boiling
water poured over them, and a few potatoes were thrown by the irate
Irish ladies, but no one was ever hurt." (Boswell, NR, Dec.
7, 1918, 8)
1898 the WNRA headquarters was in Washington, D.C. New York City Republican
women worked to elect Col. Roosevelt as their Governor. (NY Times,
Sept. 30, 1898 3:6; NY Tribune, Oct. 5, 1898, 5:1). Roosevelt
had been the New York City Police Commissioner under the Strong Administration.
His attacks on police graft propelled him into the governorship, while
his vigorous enforcement of the Sunday closing law (of saloons) alienated
the German vote, contributing to the reform movement's loss of the Mayoralty
in 1897. (Kurland 1971, 86, 105, 114)
election of 1900 was widely called a "petticoat" campaign
because unprecedented numbers of women came to meetings, gave speeches
and otherwise worked for candidates, even in states where they could
not vote. McKinley headquarters was in Chicago, but the "Woman's
Republican Headquarters" opened its doors at 139 Fifth Ave. in
New York City, even though there was no official women's bureau as there
had been in the 1896 campaign. From here women were deployed to intensively
canvass the tenement districts of Manhattan, particularly Tammany Hall
strongholds where Republican men were not welcome. Boswell explained
to one reporter that "This tenement house work necessitates tact
and energy on the part of the participants." The men readily conceded
that women were better at it. Boswell described their approach:
house or room is invaded without the invitation of the inmates, but
the universal experience of the visiting women has been that the dwellers
in tenements are glad to see them and hear what they have to say in
reference to the opportunities which the Republican party affords the
laboring man in the way of work, high wages and sound money." (NY
Tribune, Oct. 21, 1900, II:6 )
newspapers wrote lengthy stories on women in the election of 1900. In
its regular column on women's work the Evening Post wrote that:
in this campaign the State committee apportioned the lower part of the
city among the members of the West End Women's Republican Club,... Their
districts once assigned, with plenty of "literature" on hand,
they pursue their own methods....
Visits are made to the Russian and Polish Jewish quarters, to Little
Italy, Little Syria, and other foreign settlements. The number of men
old enough to vote and the number of the unnaturalized are learned.
The women of the Republican Club get this information from their foreign
sisters rather than from the men themselves who are less approachable.
But sometimes a wife does not know her husband's politics, and protests
that he would beat her should she ask. The visitor inquires whether
he would beat herself if she put the question, and usually receiving
a negative answer, returns at meal-time. If she can gain his confidence,
he will listen to her respectfully, and even seek enlightenment upon
questions of the day, which it would lower his dignity in his own eyes
to ask from another man. Literature is left, and knotty points explained
in subsequent interviews. A daily report is sent to State headquarters,
whence agents are dispatched to the addresses of unnaturalized men to
urge them to take out their papers, and to facilitate the metamorphosis
of the alien into the citizen by explaining the legal formalities that
seem too formidable to the ignorant. His naturalization accomplished,
it is easy enough to persuade the regenerated foreigner to register
and vote -- and "to vote right" from his sponsor's view point.
Meanwhile the feminine campaigner is making herself agreeable to the
woman of the tenement... [and] explains the doctrines of her party.
Mrs. Cornelia S. Robinson, president of the West End Club, says that
the women of the poorer classes are much quicker than the men to grasp
the importance of the monetary question, accustomed as they are to handling
all the money earned by the family. In the case of a sick baby a doctor
may be sent, if the mother agrees, or at any rate an ordinary prescription
is ordered from some neighboring pharmacy. If want is apparent, it is
met with temporary relief, and then called to the attention of the authorities.
A women with half-a-dozen small children in need of food or clothing,
will use all her influence for the first person who alleviates her sufferings,
and can usually be counted upon to control her husband's vote.
... the three hundred members in the Women's Republican Club ... [also]
labor among clerks and factory hands of their own sex; handicapped,
however by the attitude of employers, who fear that the girls might
use their organization, even if ostensibly political, to make a united
demand for better pay.
... In general, the women do all the tedious preliminary work in the
wide area referred to, and the men follow up their efforts after the
way has been opened. (The Evening Post, (New York) Oct. 18, 1900,
the 1900 campaign, New York Republican women had become a force to be
reckoned with. The Tribune reported that "The Republican women
of New York City have been most effective helpers to the Republican party,
whose leaders have been glad to utilize the women's services." (NY
Tribune, Sept. 8, 1900, 7:1)
|| The Campaigns
of 1901 and 1903
the four years that Robert A. Van Wyck was Mayor of Greater New York City,
he ran "a brilliantly ineffectual, superbly corrupt, and downright
malevolent administration," as the puppet of Tammany boss Richard Croker.
(Kurland 1971, 114). Tammany coffers were filled from payoffs to police
for protecting brothels and gambling dens, augmented by shakedowns of municipal
employees. Judgeships were sold and city franchises auctioned to the highest
bidder. Public schools were starved; thousands of students were denied entrance
due to lack of seats. By 1901 reformers and Republicans once again saw the
virtues of fusion. They jointly agreed to run Seth Low for Mayor, and, in
hopes of pulling votes away from Tammany, ran independent Democrats for
the other citywide offices. (McCormick 1979, 134; Kurland 1971, 136)
Woman's Municipal League held meetings as it had before, Ten days before
the election it released what became the central piece of campaign literature.
A sixteen page pamphlet, Facts for Fathers and Mothers, described
how the police protected vice, especially the luring of young girls into
prostitution. The WML raised $20,000 (including $100 from the anti-suffrage
society) to print hundreds of thousands of copies, but relied on many others
for distribution. (Villard 1902, 79) The relationship between the WML and
the women's Republican clubs was captured by a headline: "Municipal
League Working Hard to Secure Campaign Fund -- Two Hundred Thousand Leaflets
Distributed by Republican Women." (NY Tribune, Oct. 25, 1901,
women were much better organized than the WML. In April of 1901, they organized
a state association. It took official responsibility for women's work for
the party in the municipal campaign, under Boswell's general direction.
After conferring with the Republican leader of New York County, the women
opened two headquarters "in the heart of the districts that have been
considered hopelessly Democratic" and commenced canvassing. Mrs. Burns,
"who understands the districts in New York better than any other woman
in the organization" laid out the routes. When the Kings Co. Republican
leader asked for help, the presidents of the two Brooklyn clubs, Kate Bostwick
and Mrs. C.W. (Emma) Fisk, were assigned to take charge of the Brooklyn
work; they opened their own headquarters in Brooklyn. (NY Tribune,
April 24, 1901, 5:1; Oct. 9, 1901, 7:2; Oct. 17, 1901, 5:3; Brooklyn
Eagle, Oct. 18, 1901, 1:4.)
boss Croker craftily tried to beat the reformers at their own game by running
Edward M. Shepard, an independent Democrat from Brooklyn, who had denounced
Tammany and ardently supported Low in 1897. (Kurland 1971, 137) While Low
won, he did so with a bare 52%, running behind the independent Democrats
on the ticket. "Low took the mayoralty by over thirty-one thousand
votes, and his election was made possible because Democrats by the tens
of thousands, especially on the Jewish Lower East Side, abandoned Tammany
for fusion." (Kurland 1971, 139) This was precisely the area in which
the Woman's Republican Clubs had been canvassing in every election since
1896. Only the year before Boswell had explained that they were canvassing
in an "almost solid Tammany district" in hopes that "they
will sow a seed which will result in the reduction of the usual Tammany
majority." (NY Tribune, Oct. 24, 1900, 3:1) Seth Low was the
beneficiary of that work.
Low only served for two years because the Republican State legislature had
cut the Mayor's term of office in half in 1900 in hopes of limiting Tammany's
control. When Low ran for re-election in 1903 the fusion coalition dissolved
along party lines. After losing in 1901, Croker retired to his baronial
estate in England, leaving Tammany Hall in the hands of a triumvirate. By
1903 Charles Frances Murphy, an owner of several saloons, "was in absolute
command" and proceeded to woo the independent Democrats away from the
reform coalition by convincing them that the national party needed a Democratic
Mayor in New York City. (Kurland 1971, 185). The fusion Democrats elected
in 1901 ran for re-election on the same as ticket the Tammany nominee for
Mayor, Cong. George B. McClellan Jr., the son of the Civil War general.
While the Republicans nominated Low, they were unhappy at his failure to
reward their 1901 support with patronage and unenthusiastic in campaigning.
(Kurland 1971, 192).
women did not sit on their hands. The Herald reported that women
were more active than ever, largely through three organizations: the Woman's
Municipal League, the Woman's Republican Club and the West End Woman's Republican
Club. "They represent 1,500 New York women, many of them women of wealth
and social prominence." The WML raised $1,000 a day for Low's campaign,
organized several mass meetings with men and women speakers and published
"campaign literature in Italian and Hebrew newspapers". Its 800
members spent their time writing letters to friends asking for money and
other support, and mailing circulars. The Republican women's clubs also
sent "out campaign literature to the wives of men who we know are Tammany
men and who live in the tenement districts," and organized their own
meetings. (NY Herald, Oct. 25, 1903, II:4:1)
the work of the women did not make up for the lethargy of the men. The Democrats
won with 55 % of the vote.
losing the 1903 Mayor's race, the municipal reform movement declined. It
would be another ten years before reformers could agree on a candidate for
Mayor, let alone elect him. The non-partisan organizations that it spawned
continued, but concentrated on nonelectoral solutions of urban problems.
After 1893 the BWHPA no longer involved itself directly in a political campaign.
Instead it campaigned against spitting on the sidewalks and monitored the
enforcement of street sanitation, pure milk and food laws until it dissolved
in 1927. However, Mrs. Scrimgeour, its President until she died in 1903,
actively worked for several Republican candidates. The CU became a municipal
watchdog, exposing the underside of city politics when Tammany became too
Shaw Lowell died in 1905 (NY Tribune, Oct. 14, 1905, 5:1) but the
WML continued until it merged with the CU in 1923. Between 1902 and 1911
the WML published a monthly Bulletin on its activities, branches
and committees, except during the summer. It concentrated on neighborhood
problems, such as better parks and cleaner streets, and promoting protective
legislation, such as bills to regulate employment offices. Its only venture
back into the world of elections was in 1905, when it backed William Travers
Jerome's race for re-election as District Attorney. That year it raised
and spent $9,000 on 350,000 copies of "Why New York Women Stand Back
of Jerome" which it distributed at meetings and published in German
and English newspapers. (NY Tribune, Nov. 7, 1905, 5:1; Arthur, WLMB,
Jan. 1906, pp. 6-9) In 1906 it obtained a building at 19 W. 26th St., which
it hoped would be come a "real women's building." (NY Tribune,
April 13, 1906, 5:1)
interest in municipal reform revived in 1913, but when the "Women's
Fusion League for Good Government" opened its headquarters on Fifth
Avenue, it was women in the three political parties (Boswell for the Republicans,
Mrs. J. Borden (Daisy) Harriman for non-Tammany Democrats and Ann Rhodes
for the Progressives), not the non-partisan WML, that were behind it. (Boswell,
NR, April 5, 1919, 8; NY Sun, Aug. 19, 1921) However, women
were not consulted on the choice of fusion candidates until 1921, the first
mayoralty election in which women could vote. (NY Sun, Aug. 24, 1921)
women's clubs continued but their activities were less frequently reported
in the press. Mrs. Wentz, who had campaigned for Harrison in 1892 but spoken
out for Low in 1897 when the WEA supported Tracy, formed her own Woman's
Republican Club in 1900 to appeal specifically to society women (NY Tribune,
Nov. 9, 1900, 8:2) and remained its President until 1931. The club dissolved
in 1940. Although she actively supported woman suffrage in the New York
referenda of 1915 and 1917 her other causes were quite conservative. (NY
Times, July 29, 1945, 39:3) Mrs. Burns returned to philanthropic work.
(NY Sun, March 2, 1900) Republican women worked for Republican candidates
in state and national races, continuing to build their presence in the party.
Helen Varick Boswell graduated from Washington (D.C.) College of Law in
1902, but made her permanent home in New York and dedicated her life to
working for the Republican Party. In 1908 she and Foster were once again
in charge of mobilizing Republican women for the Presidential campaign.
They gave speeches, organized meetings, and oversaw the mailing of 1,000
circulars a day. (NY Sun, Oct. 25, 1908, 6:1) When the party split
over Theodore Roosevelt's candidacy for President in 1912, she directed
women's work for Taft. (NY Times, Sept. 1, 1912, 5:9:1; NR,
March 1, 1919, 7) In December of 1917 she was appointed Republican vice
chairman of New York Co. with responsibility for organizing women. By March
she had appointed women leaders in all Assembly Districts, and by April
half the election districts had female captains. (NY Times, March
24, 1918, 24:1; April 18, 1918, 12:8) The fates of other individual Republican
women are harder to trace, but some are mentioned in newspaper stories on
Republican activities decades later. When New York women gained suffrage
in 1917, there was already an organizational framework for women who wanted
to work for the Republican Party and quite a few women with years of political
experience to induct them into the Party. It took little adjustment to incorporate
women into the formal party machinery.
New York Democratic Party contributed little to the movement of women into
politics, waiting until 1918 before taking women seriously as party workers.
In 1897, as Republican and reform women were holding meetings and distributing
literature, the New York Journal, a Democratic newspaper owned by
William Randolph Hearst, asked editorially "Where are the Democratic
Women?" It called for "some Democratic Woman's Clubs" (Sept.
19, 1897, 50:2), and only a week later claimed one had been organized by
Mrs. Dorothy Harrington Mason, with headquarters at the Hotel Bartholdt.
(Sept. 27, 1897, 4:3). However, when the New York Times reported
on a Woman's Tammany Club meeting held the following month it said "[O]f
the four hundred persons present, only about fifteen were women." (Oct.
28, 1897, 2:2).
there are dozens of newspaper stories about the work of Republican women
between 1892 and 1910, there are few on Tammany women. Most are interviews
with Mrs. Julius Harburger, "wife of the Assemblyman and Tammany leader
of the Xth District" who said she was President of the Women's Democratic
Club of the East Side. In 1901, as women were organizing for Low, Mrs. Harburger
only said that "active campaign work" had begun. (NY Tribune,
Oct. 9, 1901 7:2). But when journalist Oswald Garrison Villard reported
on the 1901 campaign to the 1902 national suffrage convention he observed
that "no body of women worthy of notice has yet been got together to
campaign for Tammany Hall,..." (Villard 1902, 78) In a 1903 interview
Harburger claimed that "we had the largest mass meeting of women exclusively
ever held" (NY Herald Magazine, Oct. 25, 1903, 8), but there
is no newspaper report of such a meeting of Democratic women. A 1904 story
was aptly headlined "Women Helping in the Campaign" as the five
Democratic women interviewed were helping their fathers, sons and husbands.
(NY World, Aug. 28, 1904, 7:1) One of these was Barbara Porges, who
had a reputation as a "boss" on the lower East Side. But while
she helped people in her district, all she asked in return was that they
support her husband's re-election as Alderman. She did not organize women
into a political force, and when suffrage became an issue, urged men to
vote against it because the women weren't ready for the vote. (NY Sun,
Oct. 21, 1931)
were a few attempts by women to organize Democrats but not by the Party
itself. In the 1880s several suffragists who were also Democrats tried to
organize New York voters to support the Democratic Presidential ticket (The
Daily Picayune of New Orleans, Nov. 2, 1880, 6:1). While local campaign
clubs for women appeared during national elections, not until 1912 did the
Democratic National Committee authorize an organization of women to support
a presidential campaign. In 1892 Mary Frost Ormsby started a Democratic
Influence Club for women in New York City which was publicly disapproved
of by Presidential candidate Grover Cleveland (NY Tribune, July 10,
1892, 8:2), and disappeared in 1893 (NY Herald, Feb. 15, 1893, 10:6).
In 1905 the New York Tribune announced that Mrs. J. S. Crosby would
organize a Democratic Club because there were no women working for the Democratic
Party. Eventually incorporating as the Woman's Democratic Club of New York,
it held its first meeting in September. (NY Tribune, Sept. 15, 1905,
5:1; NY Times, Feb. 9, 1912, 6:4)
Crosby's political loyalties were independent of the Democratic machine.
She and her husband had followed Henry George, a radical but non-Marxist
social theorist who twice ran for Mayor of New York City and once for Secretary
of New York State. George campaigned for the CU candidate in 1894, but ran
himself in 1897. His candidacies attracted labor votes and thus were threats
to Tammany hegemony. George died right before the 1897 election but his
legacy lived on. In 1901 Mrs. Crosby became President of the Henry George
League of Women. (NY Times, Jan. 14, 1901, 7:2) During the 1903 Mayoral
campaign the City Federation of Women's Clubs almost endorsed Seth Low,
and Mrs. Crosby decided it was time to organize Democratic women. When she
finally did so two years later, she acknowledged that she had no plan of
action, would not do house to house canvassing, and didn't expect to "purify
Tammany Hall." The members of her club were from the same social elites
as Republican women. (NY Tribune, August 15, 1905, 5:1).
its lack of purpose or program, the club survived, and stayed loyal
to the Democratic Party. It held its collective nose and endorsed Tammany
candidates for public office. (NY Tribune, Oct. 7, 1905, 5:4)
It ridiculed "reformers and googoos" at its first dinner a
few months later (NY Times, April 6, 1906, 6:3). It endorsed
William Randolph Hearst in 1906 after he was nominated for Governor
by the State Democratic convention, but without enthusiasm. "It
doesn't make any difference anyway, said Mrs. Wood. 'The Party does
not know that we are in existence, and doesn't care what we think one
way or the other.'" (NY Tribune, Sept. 29, 1906, 10:2).
In the 1908 Presidential campaign Mrs. Crosby raised several hundred
dollars to support her club's work for Bryan, who was a family friend
as well as the Democratic Party standard bearer. But still her Democratic
women did not canvass, speak, or mail. They gave literature to their
friends and prodded their men to vote. (NY Sun, Oct. 25, 1908,
Crosby was the permanent president of her club for many years but Tammany
Hall remained in control of the New York City Democracy, and except
for 1913-1917, the New York City government. After women got suffrage
in 1917 Tammany women took over her Woman's Democratic Club, electing
as its President the sister of Tammany boss John Curry. (NY Times,
April 13, 1918, 22:1) In 1920 Mrs. Crosby took the radical step of supporting
the Republican ticket and was expelled. (NY Herald, Oct. 22, 1920, Oct.
23, 1920) Nonetheless, when she died in 1924 she was eulogized as the
"mother of New York Democrats." (NY Times, Jan. 31,
1924, 15:6) Over twenty years after the Republican Party welcomed women
into the ranks of party workers, the New York City Democratic Party
began to make a place for party women, at least those who would stay
loyal. By the time Tammany brought women into the Democratic tent, it
had long forgotten the woman who served as district leader and a member
of the General Committee in the 1890s. Until she died in 1901, everyone
thought Murray Hall was a man. (NY Times, Jan. 19, 1901, 3:4)
movement of women into active participation in politics in New York
City was largely independent of the movement for woman suffrage. The
two movements rose to prominence about the same time, in the early to
mid 1890s, but kept their distance until at least the second decade
of the Twentieth Century. While there was some overlap in personnel,
judging from names in the newspaper reports there was not much. Active
suffragists did not campaign for specific candidates for public office,
and women's political organizations, whatever the interests of individual
members, avoided suffrage. These organizations found a place for both
suffragists and anti-suffragists, partisans and nonpartisans, in their
campaign for better municipal government.
women who occupied these places generally came through two routes: Some
were invited in and others "glided" in. The New York Times
editorialized its pleasure in the "substantial service" rendered
by the women in the 1890 election, as "logical, proper, and justified."
(Oct. 27, 1890, 4:2) The Rev. Dr. Parkhurst invited women to join in
the 1894 campaign to elect a good man as Mayor of New York. As a respected
clergyman with conservative views on women, his invitation legitimated
political activity by women by labeling it as moral, not political.
Other respectable men did the same. In 1901, women of the Civitas Club
of Brooklyn heard a lecture on the "Civic Duty of Women" to
get their male friends and relatives to vote for "decent, clean
men." (Brooklyn Eagle, Nov. 29, 1901, 12:1)
Republican men did not initiate women's participation in the local party,
they did welcome them. In an 1897 article on "Leaders of the Women
in Politics", the Herald reported
County Committee] Chairman Hatch is a thorough believer in the efficiency
of women's work in politics, and speaks in flattering terms of the results
achieved by them three years ago and also in the last Presidential campaign.
[State Party Chairman] Thomas C. Platt coincides with his lieutenant.
He cordially approves of the work done by the Women's Republican clubs
and favors any plan tending to widen their opportunities and add to
their influence. (NY Herald, Sept. 19, 1897, V:12).
1900 the Herald published another full page spread on "The
Woman in Politics" with comments by two party leaders. Platt affirmed
"I have always regarded with great favor the activity of the ladies
whose names you submit in matters political. I think that their influence
has been very wholesome, and it is my conviction that their work in
the present campaign will be potential." (NY Herald, Oct.
7, 1900, V:2)
contrast, Tammany Hall boss Richard Croker's statement equated political
activity with suffrage, and expressed his ambivalence:
I do not approve of women going to the polls, and I think there are
very few men who would like to see their wives attending mass meetings
and being jostled about by crowds surrounding the booths. In many cases
I can see where women might be of valuable assistance in a political
Of course, I believe that a woman should have a voice in the election
of our representatives, and I think that the time will come when we
may have to confer with them.
I respect woman too much to ever wish to see her at the polls."
Murphy proved to be a more liberal and enlightened boss than Croker, there's
no evidence that he was any warmer toward women's political work until
women could vote. He made overtures to independent Democratic men, but
ignored the one independent Woman's Democratic Club. If Tammany women
organized or worked in campaigns, they were largely unnoticed by the press
and contemporary observers. It is more likely that Murphy arranged for
Mrs. Harburger to lead a "paper" club and give interviews to
the press to maintain the image of the Party as open to all, but did little
to encourage women's participation.
all women waited for an invitation. Boswell said in 1918 that women
had "glided" into politics through the study of political
issues (NR, Dec. 7, 1918, 8). Others also made this observation.
In 1893, attorney Belva Lockwood, who had run for President on the Equal
Rights ticket in 1884 and 1888, wrote that "Women have come into
politics in recent years, not only because there has been a demand for
them there, but because they have been forced by a logic of events beyond
their control." She saw education, not suffrage, as "paving
the way" for women's movement into politics (Lockwood 1893, 386).
Mrs. Joseph Mumford of Philadelphia told the BWHPA that women, much
more than men, had the leisure to study municipal problems and propose
solutions. "Education and enlightenment" had shown them their
responsibility to "come into politics." (Brooklyn Eagle,
April 18, 1894, 9:2.) Journalist Ida Husted Harper wrote in 1912 that
women had moved from church work to club work to civic improvement and
into political work. (L.A. Examiner, Sept. 15, 1912)
in 1902, also observed the gradual acceptance of women's participation
in politics even without the ballot.
years ago such a thing as a woman's headquarters, distributing pamphlets,
raising money, getting up meetings, supplying speakers, and furnishing
one of the most effective arguments of the entire campaign, would have
aroused a storm of indignation and scorn...; and indeed in 1894 there
were not a few protests.... In 1897 the women workers for the CU were
heartily welcomed..., but they were still regarded as curiosities....
In the campaign of 1901 public sentiment had been so far educated that
[I] was unable to find a trace of a protest against women's taking part
in the battle against Tammany." (Villard 1902, 79)
have argued that because Nineteenth Century political parties were essentially
male social clubs, nonpartisan politics was the only way women could work
in campaigns. (Monoson 1990) While 1890s municipal reformers believed
nonpartisanship was the best way to select a city government, there is
no evidence that they believed that partisanship was acceptable for men
and not for women. Nor is there any evidence that party men believed this,
at least not Republican party men. While Republican women did emphasize
that they were there for service and did not expect pecuniary rewards,
there is no evidence that being a party loyalist made them feel unwomanly.
In the 1890s party loyalties were intensely felt, often defining people's
identities and determining their close associates. Women felt these passions
as much as men. The multiple campaigns and numerous political organizations
in New York City in the 1890s and 1900s presented them with many choices.
Women worked in all of these, partisan and non-partisan. Their organizations
were separate from men's, but not their principles. Nor was partisanship
viewed as a radical departure from woman's proper role. Some of the women
who worked in the Republican Party of the era were progressives; many
were conservatives, and became more so over time. None were radicals.
To judge by women's party activities and the statements to the press of
party men and women, woman suffrage was radical; women in politics, including
party politics, was not.