The 1881-1882 Campaign

In 1881, suffragists from Thayer County and elsewhere across the state, many of whom had been corresponding and sharing ideas for many years, established the Nebraska Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) in Lincoln.

Almost immediately after establishing their organization, NWSA workers began lobbying the state legislature in support of Erasmus Correll's proposed Impartial Suffrage Amendment. Harriet Brooks, Orpha Dinsmore, and Clara Colby were NWSA officers and among the supporters who spoke in front of the legislature; several remained in Lincoln for several days to garner support for action on the proposal. Speeches in the legislature carried the familiar themes of many other suffrage debates. Senator Church Howe declared, “I would like to see the moral influence of women at the polls, but I would not like to see the immoral influence of politics in the home circle…Her life is almost necessarily a home life; it should be largely occupied in rearing and training her children to be good men and pure electors. Therein her influence is all-powerful.” And Representative Turner voiced his sentiments: “Our wives, mothers and sisters having an equal interest with us in the welfare of our commonwealth, and being equal to ourselves in intelligence, there appears no good reason why the right to vote should be withheld from them.”

In the face of opposition, Correll encouraged other legislators to consider matters beyond woman suffrage, urging them to regard the amendment as an important political step in the state's history. Correll reminded ambivalent politicians, “The bill does not enact woman suffrage; it only proposes to submit this question, according to the provisions of the Constitution, in the form of an amendment to be decided by a majority of the electorate…do you care to say in effect by a negative vote, that you will not permit the people to have an opportunity of amending their Constitution?” When Governor Albinus Nance, not a suffrage supporter, signed the order adding the amendment vote to the November 1882 ballot, suffragists all over the state rejoiced.

“For The Ladies” from the Omaha Daily Republican, April 10, 1881

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