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(suffrage icon)1921

So the cause advanced, with no appearance of advancement sometimes, from one year's end to another. However, by the opening of the year 1911 suffrage leaders were convinced that they had a better chance than ever before for the passage of a suffrage measure. Many men known to be friendly were included in the membership of the legislature, among them David G. James in the senate and J. H. Kamper in the assembly, both of whom introduced bills to give women of the state full suffrage, contingent upon the approval of the electors. A number of well-known women were about the legislature that winter in behalf of various measures concerning the welfare of women and children. They interested themselves in the suffrage situation and their efforts were seconded by those of Miss Mary Swain Wagner of Poughkeepsie, New York, an active propagandist. These women made a thorough canvass of the senate and assembly, and a joint hearing was attended by a large group of speakers and a crowd of sympathizers. Facing this array of numbers and talent--there were thirteen prosuffrage speakers--was one lone antisuffragist, Assemblyman Carl Dorner, whose address, it was said, called forth "roars of laughter" and later hisses from the audience.

Wisconsin Assembly Voting Record

The suffrage bill passed the senate March 31 by a vote of 16 to 4, and the assembly April 26 by a vote of 59 to 29. It was signed June 2 by Governor Francis E. Mc Govern, on the ground that it was the sort of problem which should be solved by the common sense of all the voters.22

Francis E. McGovern

Many women who continued active in suffrage work until success crowned the cause first enlisted in the movement in the campaign of 1912. On account of diverse opinions as to the manner in which the campaign should be conducted, a new state organization, the Political Equality League, came into existence with Miss Ada L. James as president and Crystal Eastman Benedict of New York as campaign manager. Miss Wagner, who had first appeared as a lobbyist at the legislature, was instrumental in organizing the Political Equality League but did not long remain with it. Later she organized the American Suffragettes, a short-lived society limited to Milwaukee members.

Crystal Eastman
The Wisconsin Woman's Suffrage Association and the political Equality League, working separately, waged the campaign for woman suffrage in 1911-12. The older organization already had affiliated societies in many parts of the state. The Political Equality League made active effort to organize branches in every county; it also organized a Political Equality League among colored people, and a Men's Political Equality League.

Belle Case LaFollette

Miss Harriet Grim pleading for political freedom

Miss Harriet Grim at Mineral Point

That campaign was as lively as we--some trained, some untrained, in suffrage campaigns--could make it. In general we followed the suffrage styles of other states and imitated the stunts of those who had passed that way before. Suffrage speeches were scattered over this long-suffering commonwealth as a brisk wind scatters dry leaves in autumn. Mass meetings were held at points of vantage. Suffrage automobiles toured many counties, and the native Badger experienced the destructive shock of seeing a woman stand up in an automobile on a street corner and plead for political freedom. The great air pilot, Lincoln Beachey, scattered suffrage flyers from the airship which he took up into the clouds at the State Fair in 1912. A "Votes for Women" tour up the Wolf River was also a feature of the campaign. The little launch Mary E, carrying its burden of suffrage speakers and literature, made a trip of fifty miles up the picturesque Wolf, stopping at every available landing for such suffrage propaganda as seemed most fitting to the situation.

"Up the Wolf for votes for women"

Lincoln Beachy

22 The referendum measure was not, as generally assumed, an amendment to the constitution, but a statutory law extending suffrage as provided for by Article III, Section 4 of the state constitution.