Roosevelt on Women's Suffrage
In 2020, we will also be observing the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote. Theodore Roosevelt’s position on women’s rights evolved in early years of the 20th century. By his own admission, he followed the lead of the suffragist movement of the time.
“Personally, I feel that it is as much of a right of women as of men to vote. But the important point with both men and women is to treat the exercise of suffrage as a duty, which in the long run, must be well performed to be of the slightest value. I have always favored women’s suffrage, but only tepidly, until my association with women like Jane Addams and Frances Kellor, who desired it as one means of enabling them to render better and more efficient service, changed me into a zealous, instead of a lukewarm adherent to the cause – in spite of the fact that a few the best women of the same type did not favor the movement. Women should have free access to every field of labor which they care to enter, and when their work is as valuable as that of a man should be paid as highly. Of all species of silliness the silliest is the assertion sometimes made that the woman whose primary lifework is taking care of her home and children is somehow a “parasite woman.” It is such a ridiculous inversion of the truth that it ought not to be necessary even to allude to it. I believe in women’s rights – I believe even more earnestly in the performance of duty by both men and women; for unless the average man and the average women live lives of duty, not only our democracy but civilization itself will perish! Women have the vote [here in New York,] and they should be given it at once in the nation at large.”
Dakota Datebook: Remembering Theodore Roosevelt is written and performed by Steve Stark. Funding provided by the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation.