New York State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage

In 1893, Susan B. Anthony and other suffragists traveled across the state in preparation for the upcoming Constitutional Convention, convened partly to determine if the word “male” should be removed from the wording of the constitution. Someone in the audience asked Anthony if New York women wanted the right to vote. She responded that they did not oppose it. Soon after, women who did oppose their enfranchisement realized that there was a distinct chance that the ability to vote would be forced on them if they did not take action. They organized temporary committees in preparation for the convention, collecting signatures in opposition to the removal of the word “male.” Delegates to the convention decided not to submit the decision to the people, and the committees disbanded. But a year later, as suffrage agitation increased, anti-suffragists decided to establish a permanent organization. Anti-suffragists disagreed with each other over how best to oppose enfranchisement. Some wanted to be entirely independent of men; those women made up the New York State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage. Others, such as Helen Kendrick Johnson, felt that men should either be in the organization, or should serve in an advisory capacity. Eventually male anti-suffragists founded the Men’s League Opposed to Woman Suffrage to keep women from voting.  Women opposed to suffrage believed women should remain in the domestic sphere as much as possible, and their public activities had to be compatible with the “Home, Hearth, and Mother Party,” a term Anna Howard Shaw used in a derogatory way, but anti-suffragists liked and appropriated.

Photograph (1911) showing men looking at material posted in the window of the National Anti-Suffrage Association headquarters; sign in window reads "Headquarters National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage". Courtesy of Library of Congress.

Suffrage postcard with poem and illustration satirically depicting the “Anti-Suffrage League.” The card reads, "There was an old dame in a huff; 'Women don't want the vote,' she cried; 'Stuff!' When they said, 'But we do,' she answered, 'Pooh pooh!' I don't - and let that be enough!” Courtesy of The Dovie Horvitz Collection, part of The Gender and Women's Studies Collection in the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections.

An anti-suffrage booth at the 1915 Old Home Days in Skaneateles, NY, showing the “Home, Hearth, and Mother Party” sign. Courtesy of Skaneateles Historical Society.

Photograph of an anti-suffrage sign in Buffalo, 1915. Sign reads, "Stand by the Women. Woman's Right is the right of Freedom from Political Duties. Vote NO on Woman Suffrage Nov. 2." Courtesy of New York State Library.