Suffrage Attempt and Non-Suffrage Organizing | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Suffrage Attempt and Non-Suffrage Organizing

Apr 17, 2020


Yet another attempt at women’s suffrage was made in 1913 during the Legislative Assembly in Bismarck. Those who were pro-suffrage were more organized this time. The legislature actually did pass the bill—but rather than granting immediate suffrage, it left the issue up to voters … all male … in the general election of 1914. 


Women campaigned throughout the state to get the bill approved. An ad published in the Fargo Forum stated: 


“MEN: Remember Your Mothers, Wives, and Sisters. Vote the Suffrage Ballot FIRST and BE SURE you VOTE YES! We, Women from 200 Towns and Cities in North Dakota, EACH Representing from 10 to 500 Working Suffragists Ask You for Equal Rights. … No such large body of disfranchised people ever yet asked for the ballot and were refused. North Dakota Men, Be Fair!” 


However, not all women supported suffrage, and they began to organize. They invited Minnie Bronson of New York, secretary of the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, to visit Fargo.


Bronson gave multiple speeches in the area, and on this date, much was reported about a presentation she gave on “some of the eventual perils of equal suffrage.” She said women operating “as a separate and non-political force as they now existed” could “wield more power than through the ballot.” She also felt “only the good and better class of women” took part in public matters now. If given the vote, she felt “both good and bad women would vote, thus only doubling the present ratio of good and bad forces.” She indicated that the majority of states had laws that protected women in ways that they didn’t protect men, and also indicated concern over the “perils of the feminist movement,” or “woman’s absolute independence of man.”


Though her speeches were well-received, the Fargo Forum reported that “the sentiment for suffrage in Fargo and throughout the state is considered so strong, that it is already predicted that equal suffrage will win at the fall election.”


But this was not to be—the measure didn’t pass in 1914. Yet the suffragists rallied, and began work to try again. Published in the Devils Lake newspaper: “True, it seems a huge task, but we now have them on the run, they felt our fire in the campaign just closed, and we must keep up the fight, win or lose.” 


Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker



Williston Graphic, March 20, 1913, p5

Devils Lake Weekly World, February 7, 1913, p1

Weekly Times-Record, February 13, 1913, p5

Fargo Forum and Daily Reuupiblican, Oct 31, 1914, p13

Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, April 16, 1914. P12

Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, April 17, 1914, p6

Grand Forks Daily Herald and the Evening Times, April 10, 1914, p2

Devils Lake inter-ocean, November 13, 1914, p6