Aaron Beede on Women’s Rights in North Dakota Circa 1915

Aaron McGaffey Beede, Digital Horizons collection,  State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Aaron McGaffey Beede, Digital Horizons collection, State Historical Society of North Dakota.

In the last couple weeks I took a day to visit the special collections and manuscript room at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks. While sifting through one box and folder after another, I came across a 1915 excerpt where the Episcopalian Reverend Aaron McGaffey Beede, PhD, opined on the way the North Dakota legislature treated women at the state capitol. Beede was disgusted with the legislature. The local story, as Beede set it down, is as follows in his February 19, 1915 journal entry:

…The House voted for ‘Equal Suffrage’ to get rid of the mob of women at the capitol… then when the women have gone and scattered from the city to their homes celebrating, the House recalled the bill, to get rid of the bill. I call that ‘double crossing.’ I am fully in favor of allowing all women to vote, not withstanding some heroic ‘suffragettes’…

Thank you Beede for calling out legislative double crossing. Women’s suffrage required individuals at all levels to make that kind of difference. And sometimes local state legislators were not with the times. In this case, a national amendment eventually brought them up to speed. (A pertinent John Stuart Mill 1869 link here.)


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