The battle over rights for women has a long history. In America, proponents of equal rights took a huge step when a small group of women met in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. Leaders such as Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Candy Stanton came together and adopted a Declaration of Sentiments. This document was based on the Declaration of Independence and listed the rights women felt were being denied to them in an unjust legal system. High on their list of priorities was the right for women to vote — women’s suffrage.
Little did they know that winning the right to vote would take another 70 years.
Gradually, the movement for suffrage gained some success. Limited voting rights laws in individual states were adopted in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Nebraska was not one of these states. For a variety of reasons, Nebraska was one of the last states west of the Mississippi River to grant women the right to vote. One of the reasons for the delay was that suffrage got tangled up with the prohibition issue.
It is difficult to discuss the women’s suffrage movement in Nebraska without also discussing the prohibition movement. The two debates are joined together like Siamese twins. Opponents of the women’s suffrage movement were convinced that if women received the right to vote, prohibition would become the law of the land. In fact, women were among the most ardent supporters of prohibition, and anti-prohibition organizations, such as the National Brewers’ Association, were among the most vocal anti-suffragists.
Because voting is such a fundamental right, the fight over suffrage was long and hard, both nationally and in Nebraska.