History in the Making

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California reorganized their efforts and in 1911 campaigned for a state constitutional amendment guaranteeing women the franchise. In order to combat fierce opposition and to increase public awareness of the proposed amendment, California suffrage advocates developed new forms of campaign literature and tactics. An analysis of 1911 suffrage campaign literature uncovers that the campaign was based upon the core arguments of innate womanly virtue and the need to create an inter-class coalition of women dedicated to the suffrage cause. The campaign to gain the franchise was considered a radical movement at the time, and an attempt to alter fundamentally the traditional gender ideologies of the era. To combat this assumption, California suffrage advocates adopted a tactical campaign that was highly visible and aggressive. In doing so, women were able to present a united front to the California public and enlighten the electorate to the notion of females being active participants in the political realm. In suffrage literature, arguments often conformed to traditional philosophies about gender and the separate-spheres mentality. Thus, California suffragists attempted to make the contentious idea of woman suffrage palatable to the public and to elicit greater support for the cause. The 1911 California woman suffrage campaign had a profound effect on the way gender and political equality were perceived within the state, and suffrage advocate’s successful victory was a crucial advancement for the legitimization of women as active citizens within the state and for the future movement toward greater gender equality.