By Carol Cornwall Madsen
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Extra info for Battle for the Ballot: Essays on Woman Suffrage in Utah 1870-1896
In a brief overview of the relationship between Mormon women activists and the LDS Church in the latter part of the nineteenth century, Maureen Ursenbach Beecher, Carol Cornwall Madsen, and Jill Mulvay Derr have shown that those Utah women who spoke out on the woman question argued that both justice and the need for women's social contribution supported the expansion of rights for women. As the authors point out in "The Latter-day Saints and Women's Rights, 18701920: A Brief Survey," 49 advocates of woman suffrage believed that justice demanded women have a voice in the laws that govern them and that the good of society demanded women's participation.
It may be that, because the federal government had the power to set the terms of territorial and state organization, experimentation with woman suffrage in the West occurred to whatever degree arguments for experimentation persuaded the federal law makers. Certainly there was no groundwell of support for woman suffrage from Anglo settlerswomen or menin Wyoming or Utah during the 1860s. That support came from easterners whose motives were as varied as their backgrounds. Few scholars are willing to explain woman suffrage in the West through a Turnerian notion that an indigenous strain of Western democracy engendered it.
8 Hopeful of using collective action to remove the legal, political, and social constraints on women, a number of these activists, all experienced abolitionists, temperance workers, or lobbyists, organized the first women's rights convention. The place was Seneca Falls, New York; the time, July 1848. The event brought three hundred men and women together for the two-day meeting of speeches and debate on woman's civil status. The Declaration of Independence provided the model for the convention's written demand for social justice.