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We Must Not Lose Kansas Now

I attended a fabulous presentation from a few ladies of the Topeka-Shawnee County League of Women Voters this morning, who distributed an account of women’s suffrage in Kansas including this brilliant quote from Susan B. Anthony

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Yeah, so I needed to make that a button ASAP. Kansas was a key battleground for women’s suffrage. In 1867, advocates including Susan B. Anthony trekked across the state stumping in favor of a constitutional amendment allowing women and black men to vote in Kansas. Anthony wrote in a letter to her friend:

“Mrs. Stanton and I start for Kansas Wednesday evening, stopping at Rochester just to look at my mother and my dear sister, sick so long, and I devoting scarce an hour to her the whole year.  How will the gods make up my record on home affections?”

“You see our little trust fund—­$1,800—­of Jackson money is wrenched from us.  The Hovey Committee gave us our last dollar in May, to balance last year’s work, and I am responsible for stereotyping and printing the tracts, for the New York office expenses, and for Mrs. Stanton and myself in Kansas, in all not less than $2,000.  Not one of the friends wants the Kansas work to go undone, and to do it, both tracts and lecturers must be sent out.  We need money as never before.  I have to take from my lean hundreds, that never dreamed of reaching thousands, to pay our travelling expenses.  It takes $50 each for bare railroad tickets.  We are advertised to speak every day—­Sundays not excepted—­from September 2, one week from today, to November 6.  What an awful undertaking it looks to me, for I know Kansas possibilities in fare, lodging and travelling.  I never was so nearly driven to desperation—­so much waiting to be done, and not a penny but in hope and trust.  Oh, if somebody else could go and I stay here, I could raise the money; but there is no one and I must go.  We must not lose Kansas now, at least not from lack of work done according to our best ability.”

– Passage from The Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony 

They lost Kansas. That time. They did not give up.  On November 5, 1912, Kansas voters finally approved the Equal Suffrage Amendment to the state constitution, ensuring full suffrage for all Kansans.

Later civil rights advocate Martin Luther King Jr. explained it well: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

 

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