Monday, April 02, 2007

Suffrage in Sandusky

Woman suffrage was slow to gather momentum in Erie County. It’s popularity waxed and waned over several decades, and never had the strong support here that it did in other areas of the nation. From time to time, the cause was taken up, and formal organizations to promote suffrage were created.

Some notable names in the cause came to Sandusky to speak. In 1854, Amelia Bloomer lectured in Sandusky to a small crowd. The Register noted that she spoke on “the usual plea for the right of suffrage and a vote in the enactment of laws. As these arguments have long been before the public, any report of the lady’s remarks were, perhaps, useless.” Today, Amelia Bloomer is probably best remembered for her promotion of the Bloomer costume, which consisted of a knee length dress worn over loose trousers. The costume was controversial when it was first introduced.

In 1900 a suffrage convention was held in Sandusky. Carrie Chapman Catt was the main speaker. Catt was influential in the suffrage movement and in the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. Later that year, there was an Equal Suffrage Day at the fair, with speakers and a chorus singing patriotic songs.

In 1901, a two day Women’s Suffrage meeting was held in Sandusky, in the Methodist church.

In 1903 a state suffrage convention was held here. Not all of Sandusky agreed with the cause of suffrage. An editorialist in the Fram didn’t agree with women’s suffrage, saying “Women usually rule the world, anyway, for the most of them rule their husbands, and if they can’t do that they aren’t worthy to vote.”

Little to no suffrage activity took place in Sandusky until 1911, when a large rally for Northern Ohio was held at Cedar Point. 200 women gathered to show support for the vote.

In 1912, the local group changed its name from the Erie County Woman’s Suffrage Association to the Erie County Equal Suffrage League. In 1913, the group had many entries in the Perry Centennial Parade promoting suffrage.

Enthusiasm for suffrage waned until 1917, when the local woman’s suffrage group conducted a house to house canvas, hoping to secure support for a proposed amendment to the city charter, giving women the vote. The referendum was defeated.

Suffrage was slow to catch on in Sandusky, and as evidenced above, had many stops and starts. The Federation of Women’s Clubs in Ohio didn’t endorse suffrage, and thus the women of Sandusky were reluctant to do so.

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