Decision 2024: What Remember The Ladies Tells Us About the Fight For Women at the Ballot Box

David B Morris
11 min readMay 18, 2024

And How Some of the Stories Show Links To So Many of The Problems That We Face Today

One of the many, many contradictions about those among the left’s coalition is how they view so many of those who vote among the Republican party as basically sheep. Because they live in red states, because of the news they consume, because of their basic stupidity, they mindlessly vote Republican in every election without thinking. The implication being, of course, that if they were more educated, watched the right news programs or lived in the right places, they would mindlessly vote Democrat in every election instead.

It is the logic of so many of the leftists in the Democratic party that how you identify politically surpasses other parts of your identity, even the ones you were born with. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio may have been born in Latin American countries but because they chose to follow the Republican banner, they are not actually Latino. Clarence Thomas and Tim Scott are conservative first and not really African-Americans because of course no rational African American would identify as Republican. But of course the biggest traitors of all are, of course, every woman who is Republican. Not just the Republicans who serve in Congress or in elected office across the country but every single woman who looks herself in the mirror and votes Republican.

There’s a list of statistics on the back of Remember the Ladies related to the 2016 election. It points out that a greater proportion of women have voted then men have voted in every Presidential election since 1980 and that 53 percent of the voters in 2016 elections were women. It also tells us that 47 percent of white women voted for Trump and that 4 percent of black women did the same. The book also points out that ever since women were granted suffrage in 1920 they have never voted in vast numbers for one party over the other: even in 1972 Richard Nixon did immensely better with woman than George McGovern, the more ‘female friendly’ candidate did. In the last pages of the book Angela Dodson makes it very clear: “women have generally not voted as a bloc… (and) it turns out they have divergent interests and ideologies just like men.’ This is the greatest sign of equality possible — and it has to infuriate those on the left who can only see things in a binary lens.

Remember the Ladies takes a very clear view at the long and complicated history of the generations of women who fought for freedom and equality at the ballot box. It talks about the pioneers in the front and the names that so many women hold dear — Lucretia Mott, Eliabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony in the first wave; Carrie Chapman Catt and Alice Paul in the second — and it goes into great details about the fights they fought for more than a century, the toxic sexism they had to overcome and the long struggle. But this is not a book that paints either the woman involved as saints or that the battles they found were well intentioned. Indeed, the great strength of Dodson’s narrative is that it makes clear as to how flawed these women were and how many times they got in their own way.

Lucrecia Mott

The battle for women’s rights for Mott and Stanton began in the movement for abolition. Many of them were among the Quakers and for most of the battle was for equality rather than suffrage. Indeed Mott famously rejected political participation as a remedy or even a goal to relieve women’s oppression. When she learned of Stanton’s demand for suffrage Mott’s reaction famously was: “Lizzie, thee will make us ridiculous.”

The battle for women’s rights was early on seen as part of the battle for African-American rights. Frederick Douglass was among the attendees of the Seneca Falls convention and wrote about it eloquently in his publication The North Star. Douglass would be an ally in the fight for women’s suffrage for much of his life, though that sentiment would frequently not be returned among women towards blacks.

The book deals with how the movement was, from the early days, viewed with scorn and sexism by the male-dominated press and most politics. But it also shows how some of the movements that women were involved in were also involved in a more controversial one — the temperance movement. While built out of an understandable reason to deal with the rampaging nature of alcoholism in society, it was build an often fractious alliance with suffragettes for half a century. The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union was the most powerful woman’s organization in the nation, but many of its members were never thrilled about allying with suffragists. It also led to the liquor lobby becoming one of the chief enemies to woman’s suffrage for the next half-century out of fear that the woman’s vote would lead to the national prohibition of alcohol. Many female leaders would later attribute the struggle being far longer because of this alliance — and when the original leader died in 1896, the WCTU would basically abandon women’s rights in favor of temperance.

The Civil War led to a pause in the woman’s suffrage movement and after Appomattox a division flared up. When the Fourteenth Amendment was proposed, the Anti-Slavery Society became divided between those who believed the ‘Negro Vote’ needed to take priority and those who like Stanton and Anthony who believed universal suffrage needed to be enacted.

When the Women’s Right Convention met in 1866, a new organization was founded to gain women’s suffrage. Almost from the start there was division. Stanton would become vocal in her opposition to black men received the vote ahead of women, while women like Lucy Stone and Abby Kelley Foster thought the rights of black men were more urgent. After the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment was passed Stanton and Anthony were outraged. Republicans had made the decisions as a political one thinking (correctly) that former slaves would reward Republicans with votes and that they could not guarantee the same if women got the vote (also correct). As a result Stanton began to deliver both racist and nativist commentary in her writing and speeches, as demonstrated by a December 1868 editorial:

“Think of Patrick and Sambo and Hans and Yung Tung who do not know the difference between a monarchy and a republic, who never read the Declaration of Independence…making laws. Would these gentlemen who, on all sides, are telling us ‘to wait until the negro is safe’ be willing to stand aside and trust all their interests in hands like these? The educated women of this nation…are as sure that the highest good of all alike demands the elevation and impression of the women.”

Few remember Frederick Douglass’ support for women’s suffrage.

This would lead to several critical abolitionists, including Douglass, scorning Stanton. Anthony publicly defended her friend and suggested that as downtrodden as black were Douglas would not switch places with a woman. This public alienation of their abolitionist allies not only showed little respect for the black men that many had spent decades speaking in favor of as slave but isolated them as allies in the cause. Douglass would be loyal to the cause until the day he died but Stanton became increasingly rigid and spent years isolated from Douglas. When Anthony and Stanton formed the National Women Suffrage Association three days later, they furthered the split by making sure the leadership was entirely female because of their belief of betrayal from their male allies. Lucy Stone formed a separate organization, the American Woman Suffrage Association with Julia Ward Howe. This division in the ranks and a refusal to reconcile between the leadership no doubt did much to hinder the cause, particularly as members of the former group did much to undermine the latter in the early struggles.

The NWSA focused on an amendment for women’s suffrage and opposed the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment. The AWSA would focus its energy on state referendums. This competition hindered the struggles for decades. The groups would not unify until the early 1890s, well after most of the first generation of suffragists had died. Stanton would be a bugbear to the generation even after with her publication of the so-called Women’s Bible which challenged religious orthodoxy as the major stumbling block to women’s rights. While no doubt the right idea it was so controversial it was disavowed not long after it was published by the suffragettes.

Even after reunification the suffragettes squandered an opportunity when they adopted their own ‘southern strategy’ in which they tried to appease the segregationists. In order to appease the Southern states whose votes they would need; suffragettes chose to ignore the reality of Jim Crow and began to distance themselves from black supporters. They would argue that literacy tests, a way to suppress the black vote for nearly a century, would be helpful to the causes. Anthony herself made her position clear when she turned down a request from black women to form their own chapter of the NAWSA. Some black members were accepted but discouraged from attending the organizing conventions in the South. This appeal not only did not prevail, it led to a gap between African-Americans and suffragists nationwide.

It was not until the 1910s that women finally began to win victories at a statewide level and the momentum regained steam. Yet again there was division between women Alice Paul, who had seen the violent struggles in Great Britain work for women there and believed the same strategy could work in America, and Carrie Chapman Catt who was unconvinced they would work.

Paul would led another split in 1913 when she insisted in targeting the Democrats, who had taken control of both the White House in Congress with Woodrow Wilson’s election. While the leadership thought they should stay non-partisan, she would find the National Woman’s Party in 1916. Its goal was to defeat Wilson’s bid for reelection and Democratic congressional candidates — even those who supported women’s suffrage.

It is worth noting that at one point the NAWSA would have anywhere to 2 million members, Paul’s never had more than ten thousand. In the summer of 1917 in a series of pickets at the White House 218 women were arrested and 97 went to prison. Many went on hunger strikes and were, like those in Britain, force fed by their jailers. Wilson would pardon all the prisoners, including Paul in November but her actions appalled many, including those of the NAWSA, who went out of their way to distance themselves from Paul. More importantly that fall New York became the biggest state to pass an amendment in favor of women’s suffrage.

Victoria Woodhull, the ‘first’ woman to run for President.

It is not only women like Paul who were in favor of being spectacles as much as advocates. In 1872 Victoria Woodhull became the first suffragist to get a hearing before Congress, something Stanton and Anthony had been unable to do. Later that year she would become the first female candidate to run for President on the Equal Rights Party Ticket.

Woodhull, to say the least, was a controversial figure. She was not even 34 when she ran for office and named Fredrick Douglass her vice president without his consent. (He learned about it weeks later and may never have acknowledged it.) She believed in free love, an idea that suffragettes did not want part of their movement. A few days before the election, she and her sister were arrested for mailing obscene materials — her newspaper. In it she excoriated Henry Ward Beecher, an ally of the woman’s movement but an enemy of her movement of free love, by exposing an extra-marital affair he was having. This case also involved Stanton herself and no doubt caused more damage to the cause then helped it.

There are a series of appendixes at the end of the book who pay tribute to many of the women who served in Congress in the last century. Some of the names such as Nancy Pelosi and Carol Moseley Braun are well known, some like Shirley Chisholm and Geraldine Ferraro are historic, and some such as Margaret Chase Smith, the first woman Senator who boldly condemned Joe McCarthy when her male counterparts refused to, are examples of profiles in courage.

Shirley Chisholm

It is difficult, frankly, to look at some of the women who represent Congress to day and do anything but shudder, not only in comparison to the suffragists battles but also so many of these brave woman who served in national office and took courageous stands. The battles they fought mattered and they remembered they were elected to serve the nation, not just the people who voted for them, and certainly not just the women in the country. Yes many of them including Bella Abzug were prominent voices for the ERA but many took even braver stands. After the attempt on George Wallace in 1972, Shirley Chisolm was among those who visited him in his hospital bed. This created controversy but Wallace remembered it. Years later when Chisholm worked on a bill to give domestic workers the right to a minimum wage, Wallace used his influence to help gain votes from Southern congressman to push the bill through the House.

I can’t be the only person who thinks that Marjorie Taylor Greene and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are just two sides of the same coin, believing more in spectacle and self-promotion than any actions towards compromise and legislation. Far too many of the female congresswomen in the House are more about spectacle agendas and this is a both sides issue, from Ilhan Omar to Lauren Boebert. And let’s not forget one of the last occasions of bipartisan unity was when every single member of the squad joined eight Republicans — among them Nancy Mace of South Carolina — to remove Kevin McCarthy as Speaker. And there is no unity among women even among the partisan lines: the Squad spent much time chafing against Pelosi’s leadership and Boebert and Greene had a screaming match about whether to vote for McCarthy as Speaker in the first place. Somewhere Mott might be thinking these are the women who made Stanton ridiculous.

I don’t speak to cast aspersions on the fight for woman’s suffrage because I admire it. It’s hard not to. For nearly a century, generations of women fought a long battle against the odds, society and frequently each other to empower themselves and generations afterwards. I point out their flaws mainly because we must not have a ‘great woman’ version of history any more than a ‘great man’ one. I also think of the level of struggle that they were willing to undergo to fight and win their rights and not despair at so many of today’s so-called activists who believe in spectacle but refuse to use this very right to bring about the change they claim to want.

As I’ve written before the right for suffrage is something I hold sacred and am flummoxed by so many of those who write about it on this sight with something close to indifference. In a sense, this dates back to so many of their activist ancestors who believe that political power is either irrelevant to the struggle at hand or too limited in order to bring among the change that’s needed. The fact that by making these stands they are cutting of their noses to spite their faces shouldn’t come as a shock: principles always will seem to matter more to some that tangential achievement.

But Remember The Ladies reminds us that these battles are winnable if we are willing to play the long game and willing to focus on the future rather than the present. That is impossible to comprehend for so many who believe progress should come yesterday if not sooner and care little for who they hurt along the way. But that’s not how real change takes place and we need to remember that even in a more urgent time.



David B Morris

After years of laboring for love in my blog on TV, I have decided to expand my horizons by blogging about my great love to a new and hopefully wider field.