26. A Crude Joke to Make Women’s Participation in Politics Look Ridiculous
American women were not guaranteed the right to vote until the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified in 1920. However, women had been able to vote for decades before that in at least some states, where female voters were given the franchise in whole or in part. Kansas was one such state. There, the protracted struggle for women’s right to political participation earned a partial victory in 1887, when women won the right to vote in municipal elections. For many opponents of women’s suffrage, that heralded the world going to hell in a handbasket.
Some such in the town of Argonia, Kansas, set out to demonstrate their contempt for the concept of women in politics with a prank. They would place a woman’s name on the mayoral ballot. She would of course lose, and everybody would get a laugh at the absurdity of females floundering about in the manly world of politics. Their chosen mark was Susanna M. Salter, born in 1860 into an Ohio Quaker family that moved to Kansas when she was twelve years old. Karma decided that she, rather than the pranksters, would get the last laugh.
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