“Why We Women Must Vote in November: An Inspirational Story from the California Suffragists” by filmmaker Martha Wheelock

When we women vote for U.S. President this November, we mark the 100th anniversary of California women’s first vote for president, an election when 90 per cent of the rest of American women could NOT vote. While I was researching the story of California suffragists’ victory for the documentary film, California Women Win the Vote, I learned how they won the vote, and why this early suffrage victory made a difference in women’s lives. So, women voters, take heed of the lessons they showed us for this election season.

As we learn some much-needed women’s history, we know that women were not given the right to vote by founding fathers or by beneficent statesmen. Women had to WIN their right to vote in hard-fought campaigns over a 72 year period, beginning in 1848 at Seneca Falls, NY, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton pronounced that women have the right to vote! And Iron-Jawed Angels (from HBO- a must see!) demonstrates what suffragist Alice Paul and the White House pickets underwent to attract support for our suffrage cause –through hunger strikes.


The story of California’s suffrage campaign is less known as an early victory and as the inspiration for the rest of the country. When California women lost their first suffrage referendum in 1896 by 20,000 votes, they were not defeated, but resolute and probably darn mad. They energized the California legislature to place a suffrage amendment on the 1911 ballot. This action meant that the male voters of California would determine whether their mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters should have the right to vote. Think of the challenge that the women faced: to persuade men, who wanted their women at home, caring for their needs and families that women were suitability and importance to the society as voting citizens. An added challenge was that most women did not even know themselves why they should have the right to vote. . .

MORE OF THE ARTICLE More information about the film.

If you write Martha Wheelock directly, mwheelock@sbcglobal.net, she will take 25 percent off the DVD with free shipping. Total price is $19.95. Available on the website: www.wildwestwomen.org

For information about Suffrage Wagon News Channel.

4 Responses

  • Sharmin

    When it comes to women’s suffrage, this site is the best. Kudos for putting great articles together for us ladies!

  • Ned

    Man or woman, it’s great to have the right to vote. Now, if only there were good candidates… Maybe in 2016?

  • Bailee

    God bless those women trailblazers. I’m proud of my right to vote! So excited for the political season!

  • Allie

    I’m thankful for the women trailblazers in California. Though, I feel there is much to be said for women’s rights today, I’m glad I got the right to vote to keep President Obama in office this year. I feel he is the right man to move this country forward, socially and economically. Four more years, baby!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.