Life of Emma Smith Devoe
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In early American history, the right to vote was considered as an important part of liberty, but only men had that power. On the other side women consider as second-class citizen, who has no rights and most of the women spent their lives as housewife. As the time passed, women got united and created American suffrage movement and demanded their right. In 1856, when Susan B. Anthony asked Illinois audience, who among to support the female suffrage? Eight-year-old Emma Smith found her self-standing alone. Emma later remembered, “Everyone looked at me and laughed” she added, “I was embarrassed and red with the conspicuousness of it, and though my older sister was mortified to death and tugged at my skirt to make me sit down”(pg. 3). Later few adult rose and Anthony than said to the audience “A little child shall lead them”(pg. 3). It was not until she was in her forties, when she fully involved in the women suffrage. Emma DeVoe came from a Baptist, abolitionist family in Illinois and at a young age took she took interest in music and public singing. Author Jennifer M. Ross-Nazzal narrates and analyzed Emma DeVoe’s life as a suffragist in American West and explain the problem and difficulties she faced while work with women suffrage movement to achieved the women right to vote in the west and at the federal level form 1880 to her death in 1927.
Emma father support her daughter courage, he was glad that “his daughter had the courage to stand up what she believed”(pg.3). Through out childhood days Emma learned to stand up for her belief, regardless of what other might think. Author Ross-Nazzal claim that Emma committed her self for women suffrage at the early age. Author also argues that “Emma’s career provided a unique lens through which to understand the suffrage reform movement” she begin with the local women movement in South Dakota and witnessed the creation of National American Women Suffrage Association (NAWSA)(pg.6). Later she played important role in secure the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. Because of her major efforts involvement in women suffrage author argues that “Emma’s career is a microcosm of women struggle to achieve the vote”(pg.6). Although DeVoe’s career clearly proved that women suffrage movement was far from it solid position, as she face difficulties with other leader to find the common ground over movement strategies and money issues.
Ross-Nazzal discussed that DeVoe was not radical or confrontational feminist, she used a “feminine approach” to draw people to support the women suffrage. She believed that it was important to use “sweetness” to appeal the male voters. (pg.7) Devoe emphasized her presentation appearance and arguments that highlight the difference between men and women. The image of DeVoe in the book clearly support that people described her as “young , good looking, extreamely [pleasing] in her manner….every body like her”(pg. 9) Author makes clear that DeVoe and her feminine tactics were very effective in the term of both gender, for that reason it help to raising money, drew the support of politicians and bringing respect to women suffrage movement. DeVoe significant contribution to women suffrage in the west and all around the nation and her role promoting women’s political right as an important member of GOP in 1920’s. In all of these progress author tells the historical importance of how western “regionalism played a Significent role in the campaign for a federal amendment”(pg. 12)
DeVoe slowly became an important personality in the western suffrage during her time in South Dakota in 1880’s. Her role in the west became the reason for here lifelong suffrage activist. The rough and tumble world of Huron, South Dakota included gambling den’s, saloon and prostitution houses. DeVoe got involved in efforts of moral reform to eliminate these social ills. She also played music and sing to various reform to audience in local church. DeVoe also learn how to organize a campaign and appeal the voter. During the
time of South Dakota statehood movement, which involved the question of weather the territory should reconginized as a Union State. Author drew this period of DeVoe life as an essential part of her career to expand her role in reform and the path to nation recognition. She stared working for women suffrage in late 1880’s, when she realized that women role in politics would help the society to get rid the social ill like she witnessed during her time in Huron.
In 1890 South Dakota voted on state constitutional amendment toward women suffrage and DeVoe put her feminine tactics to work and organized the South Dakota Equal suffrage Association (SDESA). She spoke frequently supporting the amendment using patriotism, civil war memories, and peacemaking methods to both genders to persuade audiences. As DeVoe and Susan B. Anthony became friend DeVoe focused more and more upon suffrage and separate her previous involvement in other reform. Some of her colleagues blame her of being “Self serving…ambitious and selfish”(pg.57-58). Although DeVoe hard work and extra effort, the measure failed in South Dakota.
In 1905 DeVoe moved to Washington State, DeVoe had forgot a national reputation, but her skills of fundraising and speech making secure her position of nation speaker for NAWSA. She traveled wildly through out that west to organized state and local suffrage club and bringing in money. Her responsible role of national speaker for NAWSA, proved that she continuously traveled around the nation to promote the women suffrage. She spend significant amount of time to organizing and raising funds in Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho and Nevada.
DeVoe also “dabbled” in farmer alliance but separated from the order to maintain Strict non partisanship because throughout her entire suffrage career DeVoe remained committed to the belief that “suffrage lectures should not touch upon politics or any other subject beside suffrage”(pg. 61). In state like Colorado populist helped to passed to women suffrage amendment but in other stats it delayed the movement. DeVos biggest victory was the winning the female suffrage in Washington state in 1910. As a president of the Washington Equal Suffrage Association, She met farmers Organization, the governor and the press to persuade them to support the suffrage and amendment passed by a wide range. Later DeVos created the National Council of Women Voter (NCWV), its goal was to support and assist other states suffrage movement.
According to the author (NCWV) played an important role in the passage of Nineteen Amendment, which grants all US women citizen full right to vote. In the state level the NCWV help women movement in Nevada and Montana and at the federal level the organization convinced a hearing in front of the House committee on the issue of creating a committee on women suffrage in the House. DeVoe also called for a national suffrage demonstration in 1914. In the end of her life long career, she served as an important member of Washington State Republican Committee as an appointee to the national GOP committee on polices and platform. Although the Republican Party never made her full member of Republican National Committee, which show that even after the achieving the suffrage, women had long way to go in male control political world. DeVoe also published many articles that opposed the Democratic policies and emphasized the GOP’s agenda of small government and tight spending characteristics. Author also claims that DeVos article “played and important role in the party effort to regain control of the White House in 1920” (pg. 171). After year of effort towards female suffrage and female political participation in Republican Party, Emma Smith DeVoe died of cancer in 1927.
Author Ross-Nazzal wrote Winning the West for Women to show how the women suffrage develop through out the American history and what difficulties that they faced to reach to their ultimate goal of suffrage. Author also tells about real experience of suffrage organizer, who struggle of suffrage and the relationship between Eastern and Western suffrages as they work together to achieved their right to vote. Ross-Nazzal wrote in detail about the significant role of Emma DeVoe and the western women in securing Nineteenth Amendment of United State Constitution. Author also reviled information about women in party politics and their fight to achieved equal representation with Republican Party in the 1920’s. Author narrate the life of Emma Smith DeVoe as an inside story of 19th century women political culture, the western women suffrage and 1920’s party politics.