Susan B. Anthony to Mary McHenry Keith on Non-Partisan Campaign, 20 March 1896
As published in the
Selected Papers, Volume 6
© 2013 Rutgers State University of New Jersey
1630 Folsom St   San Francisco Mch 20/'96
My Dear Mrs Keith 1
Dr. Elizabeth Sargent brings me your note and the News Letter clipping— How can I state our position as to the political parties—so as to be understood—
Women can belong to no party—in the sense that men belong— We stand outside of each and all alike—and plead with the leaders of all—alike—to put Suffrage Amendment resolutions in their platforms—thereby making their party editors—and party stump orators free to advocate the amendment without being told they are going outside their platform of principles and policies—
What we try to do is to keep our women from saying they'll belong to—or work for—any political party—until after they are enfranchised— Now—we are beggars of each and all—to declare they'll help carry the amendment—
If one, or all, of the parties—puts a plank in platform—they will not only tolerate men's advocating the amendment—but will be likely to invite women to speak at their party rallies—all over the State—and our speakers are implored to speak only on the one plank—that of Suffrage amdt— For instance—if any one of the State Committees should invite me to speak at one of their party meetings—I should say yes—I shall be happy to do so—provided I may speak only on the W.S. amdt plank—but that I should say nothing on their other planks—whether gold or silver—free trade or tariff—etc— You see our policy is—and will be not to be partisan—but to help the amendment by speaking for it anywhere and everywhere we can get the opportunity to do so. Of all the other points—or plots—in the article, you can deal better blows than can I.
If such men could only believe in Nature's Laws—that neither men nor women can change their sex—that to allow women's opinions to be counted at the ballot-box, will no more interfere with their wifehood and motherhood—than voting now interferes with men's husbandhood or father-hood.
The great fact of woman-hood is over and under all the incidents of life—as manhood is over and above all the incidents of his life—
Isn't it sickening that these old flimsey objections are thrust before us today—just as they were a half century ago when our claim was first made   Sincerely Yours
Susan B. Anthony
Enclosed is the last Republican Convention's W.S. plank—I do hope they will re-affirm it–2 S. B. A–
Transcript in unknown hand, AF 26(1), Anthony Family Collection, The Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif.
Prepared for the Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, vol. 6, An Awful Hush, 1895 to 1906, ed. Ann D. Gordon (New Brunswick, N.J., 2013). ©Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.
1 Mary McHenry Keith (1855-1947) grew up in San Francisco, graduated from the University of California, and became the first woman to graduate from the Hastings College of Law. In 1883, she married the artist William Keith and made her home in Berkeley. From there, she emerged as a hardworking and thoughtful advocate of woman suffrage as well as a donor to the state's campaigns. She remained active for decades to come. (Guide to the Keith-McHenry-Pond Family Papers, C-B 595, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley; Noel Wise, "An Uncommon Journey: Reflections on the Life of Mary McHenry Keith," 2002, Women's Legal History Biography Project, Law School, Stanford University, on-line.)
2 Enclosure missing. Susan B. Anthony may have sent the plank from the California Republican platform of 1894: "Believing that taxation without representation is against the principles of the Government, we favor the extension of the right of suffrage to all citizens of the United States, both men and women." (San Francisco Call, 3 May 1896.)