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(suffrage icon)1921

1919 Badger Yearbook Cover

Mrs. Emanuel Philipp

Gov. Philipp addressing State Fair crowd, Milwaukee 1917

The World War undoubtedly hastened the enfranchisement of the women of this country. Political parties indicated the splendid war work of women as reason for favoring political equality. Woman suffragists, being suffragists because of their interest in citizenship and good government, realized to the full the great issues at stake and supported the government with all their powers. The National American Woman Suffrage Association was the first national association to tender its services to the government when war became imminent, and almost immediately after Congress had declared the existence of a state of war the Executive Board of the Wisconsin Woman's Suffrage Association took action favoring vigorous effort in several specified lines of war activity and proffering its allegiance and its services to the state--the first Wisconsin organization to take such action. An appreciative reply to this message was received from Governor Emanuel L. Philipp.

The Wisconsin Woman's Suffrage Association and some of the county associations appointed committees on registration, food, Americanization, child welfare. Many members became state and local leaders in the councils of defense, Red Cross, Fatherless Children of France, food conservation, Liberty Bond drives, and all sorts of war and relief organizations. Their interest in citizenship impelled them to give a friendly hand to alien women when the law made it necessary for these to register, and to promote Americanization wherever possible. Notably the pioneer work in teaching American ideals to the foreign born was done by our members. The Wisconsin Woman's Suffrage Association raised $1,453.85 for the Women's Oversea Hospital, U. S. A., the especial relief unit of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

Wisconsin had an antisuffrage organization which regularly sent speakers to take part in the legislative hearings on suffrage bills. However, the most pretentious arguments against suffrage at these hearings were for several years made by a representative of the German-American Alliance. Only these two organizations openly opposed our cause. Other opponents worked in secret.

A Wisconsin branch of the National Woman Suffrage Party came into existence two or three years before the final victory.

The success of a movement like ours depends first upon education, and second upon legislation effected by this educated public opinion. Our work was done through standing committees, Congressional, Legislative, Finance, Educational, Literature, Press, Organization, and Headquarters.

Not the least important was the committee on finance, whose business it was to raise the money necessary for our work. I have always been proud that during my administration--I have no knowledge of earlier treasuries--our modest budget was always adequate and our bills were promptly paid. We even secured legal advice, when we needed it, without fee. Because we were sure we were working for a righteous cause we believed other people should be willing to help along, and so they generally proved to be. Our outlay was small according to the standards of present-day propaganda. Our greatest expenditure for any one year after 1912, including the annual contribution of $1,000 to the National American Woman Suffrage Association, was about six thousand dollars. Usually we had a budget of four or five thousand. The money was raised by voluntary subscription, each local organization being asked to contribute a stated sum based on its size and resources. These local organizations also had small treasuries of their own. Money was usually contributed in small sums, our Dollar Campaigns being especially featured. Occasional large gifts inspired general rejoicing.23

23 One Wisconsin woman, whose name I am not permitted to give, contributed most generously to our cause.