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The Maine Story

​New Strategies for a New Century

“Some things in the future can be confidently predicted. Few are more certain than the coming of the ballot to women. Ira G. Hersey, 1911

From 1901 to 1915, pro suffrage groups of women and men petitioned the legislature each session — seven times — often with the support of the Maine Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and the Grange. All were unsuccessful.

To increase public awareness of and support for woman suffrage, suffrage clubs throughout the state, most aligned with the National American  Woman Suffrage Association, held lectures, debates, parades, and educational and inspirational sessions.

Lewiston Daily Sun, February 15, 1913

Opponents organized as well. The Maine Association Opposed to Suffrage for Women formed in 1913 as a chapter of a national group. They too argued their views with petitions, pamphlets, newspaper articles, and in public forums.

In March 1913, 8,000 suffrage supporters — including some Mainers — marched on the streets of Washington, D.C. A month later, a new group, the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, formed to pursue a more militant style of lobbying that focused on pressuring President Woodrow Wilson and his Democratic Party.

Pro suffrage groups increasingly disagreed about appropriate tactics.

In Maine, suffragists felt close to victory — especially in 1913 when, at a hearing attended by hundreds, no one opposing suffrage appeared, and the Judiciary Committee voted that the suffrage bill “ought to pass.” A Lewiston Evening Journal headline proclaimed “Prospects of Victory Never So Bright.”

The bill was defeated. In 1915, women were sure they were nearing their goal, but again, the legislature said no.

ca. 1915 (Maine State Museum Collection)

Kennebec Journal cartoonist Tom Clancy captured the reality of generations of Maine women locked out of legislative processes and unable to participate in debates and votes that affected them.

Maine State Museum