To the editor:
In any baseball game, three strikes and you’re out. But in the Kansas Legislature, it was different. Kansas women made three attempts to gain suffrage — the first in 1867, the second in 1894, and the third in 1912. The first two times the Kansas suffrage amendment was defeated, but not the third.
In 1867, suffragists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, along with others, took a trip through Kansas to win support for women’s suffrage. (In fact, Anthony gave a rousing speech at Fraser Hall in Lawrence.) There were two proposed amendments running concurrently — one for negro suffrage and one for women’s suffrage, and both were defeated. In 1894, women such as Carrie Chapman Catt, who would later head the National American Women Suffrage Association, ran ads and gave speeches throughout the state. After the amendment’s defeat, more women joined the ranks of the Kansas Equal Suffrage Association, continuing to hold its annual conventions. In 1910, KESA’s president, Catharine Hoffman, along with her officers, set up headquarters in the Kansas State Historical Society. Working tirelessly through a legislative committee and with the encouragement of Gov. Stubbs, the resolution for suffrage was introduced in 1912, passed by both the House and Senate, and became law that same year.
These heroic struggles made me wonder why the media is not celebrating this important centennial. That’s why I persuaded the Kansas Legislature to pass a resolution, which they did earlier this year, naming it the Kansas Angels at Sunset Centennial Resolution, in recognition of my book celebrating these wonderful women.