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North Jersey History Center Online Exhibits

The New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association and the National Woman's Party

Mrs. Woodhull asserting her right to vote, 11.25.1871.jpg

Woodhull asserting her right to vote.

Harper's Weekly, November 25, 1871

Upon forming in 1867, the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association (NJWSA) dedicated itself to educating women on why the vote was necessary to attain economic and social parity. Early protest votes began as early as 1868 in New Jersey, although poll workers discounted ballot requests because individuals were not properly registered.

Banner urging men of New Jersey to reject Women_s Suffrage, 1915, Morristown, NJ - MO7877.jpg

Banner urging men of New Jersey to reject women's suffrage. 

Morristown, NJ, 1915. North Jersey History & Genealogy Center photograph collections

The movement splintered in 1869 between the National Woman’s Suffrage Association (NWSA) which was led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony  who advocated for a federal amendment, and the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA; later the National Woman’s Party) led by Lucy Stone and Henry Blackwell who pursued state-based referenda.

The suffrage movement was widely ignored throughout the 1800s, and faced powerful opposition from the liquor industry that opposed Prohibition advocates (many of whose strongest voices were women), Southern conservatives heavily invested in black disenfranchisement, and eastern business leaders interested in preserving child labor practices and unregulated workplaces.

Police arresting party demonstrators outside Senate Office Building, Oct. 1918 - LOC.jpg

Police arresting party demonstrators outside of the Senate Office Building.

October 1918. Library of Congress photograph

Because it utilized public protest to gain media attention as a tactic, the National Woman’s Party of New Jersey was more radical and militant compared to the New Jersey Woman’s Suffrage Association. During the 19th century, respectable upper and middle class women did not appear unaccompanied in public, and any action taken to disturb the peace would have injured one’s social standing and the honor of their friends and family. Traditional social norms also dictated the public sphere was reserved for men and the domestic sphere remained the women’s domain; to insist otherwise was to challenge the natural order. 

The American Suffragette, by James Flagg - Harpers Weekly - 8.10.1907.JPG

The American Suffragettes by James Flagg 

Harper's Weekly August 10, 1907