Washington women win and lose the vote between 1883 and 1888.

  • By Mildred Andrews
  • Posted 2/16/2003
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 5215

In 1883, Washington women win the vote. In the next election they tip the balance for law and order, closing down saloons and brothels in local communities. Legal challenges follow. One emotional argument holds that women who serve on juries are being exposed to "sordid facts of life." In the conventional opinion of the time, women were too delicate and pure to know such facts.

On February 3, 1887, the Washington Territory Supreme Court ruled that women could not serve as jurors, basing its decision on a technicality. It declared the suffrage law unconstitutional. On January 16, 1888, the territorial legislature enacted a new law that restored women's right to vote, but excluded them from juries. On November 14, 1888, the territorial Supreme Court again nullified the women's vote, arguing that Congress had not intended to enfranchise women.


Sources: Mildred Tanner Andrews, Washington Women as path Breakers (Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt, 1989), 3; T. A. Larson, "The Woman Suffrage Movement in Washington," Pacific Northwest Quarterly Vol. 67, No. 2 (April, 1976), 42.

Related Topics:   Firsts | Government & Politics | Women's History

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