On the Trail of America’s First Women to Vote

from NYTs

It has long been seen as one of the flukes of American political history: For three decades after the American Revolution, the women of New Jersey had equal voting rights with men.

The state was the first — and for a long time, the only — to explicitly enfranchise women, in laws passed more than a century before the 19th Amendment enshrined the principle of gender equality at the polls in the United States Constitution. But this being New Jersey, things quickly came to mischief.

There were charges of rampant fraud and corruption, as newspapers filled with tales of elections thrown into chaos by incompetent and easily manipulated “petticoat electors,” to say nothing of men who put on dresses to vote five, six, seven times.

And so in 1807, New Jersey — which also had no racial restrictions in voting at the time — passed a law explicitly limiting the franchise to white men.

More here.

Posted in Ideas, Leadership and tagged , , .


  1. I find this article so intriguing. I just wish I could go back in time to witness with my eyes exactly how things went and what caused the direction of change. Women voting in New Jersey before and 19th Amendments. Can this be true? According to this article women had the right to vote after the American Revolution for a short period of time. Allegedly there is documentation that is going to be exhibited in the upcoming future. Hypothetically two hundred twenty-three years later and we are still fighting for a form of equal rights. Although we have come a long way from the coverture (legal doctrine) era. It just seems like it’s a constant battle, that never ends. We as women are still battling a form of equal rights. If its not a battle over our bodily integrity and autonomy, it is that we are fighting in the professional sector for fair wages or equal pay. And to be perfectly honest, it is exhausting. It is quite relevant that this battle isn’t going to end anytime soon. After reading this article, it just reassures my opinion.
    The history that this article represents is so informative. As quoted by George Santayana “Those Who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. “


  2. I was never taught that women had the right to vote for thirty years after the Declaration of Independence was signed. It does not make any sense to me that at a time when sexism was so prevalent that women would have had equality – especially in a nation whose foundation is discrimination.

    I recently watched a Ted Talk on Mark Charles’ explanation of the “We the People” doctrine. He states that the founding fathers had a very narrow definition of who was actually considered to be a human, and that is why women and African Americans have never gained the same rights as white men. With that ideology, it really surprises me that women were actually given this right this early on in our country. However, as stated in the article, New Jersey had a state constitution that apparently had a broader concept of who was considered to be “man” – anyone who was a citizen, of age, and had at least 50 pounds of accumulated wealth.

    The only reason why they eventually lost the right to vote was because of the election of 1808, to give the Democratic-Republican Party an advantage (“Did”). To me, it seems as if they originally wanted to sway the vote but wound up eliminating women’s and African American’s votes instead – like they strategically made this decision so the Federalist Party would not win the election. This whole idea is very interesting to me that in one place, women were actually permitted to vote before the ratification of the 15th Amendment – stating that race cannot exclude people from voting. I was taught that African Americans were permitted to vote before women which was clearly not the case in NJ.

    I think this concept can be applied to today when it comes to women’s rights. We still do not receive the same pay as men for doing the same job, politicians are trying to take away our right to choose, we are victimized, we have a higher risk in poverty – the list goes on. But in the government sector, rights we have had, now more than ever are subject to be stripped from us. I think the one that scares me the most is if Roe v. Wade is overturned. If I was abused, the government would force me to carry a child, deliver the child, then hold the child that would always remind me of the worst experience of my life. Throughout the history of this country, women have always been stripped of their rights and it continues today, especially with the current political climate.

    Source: https://www.nps.gov/articles/voting-rights-in-nj-before-the-15th-and-19th.htm

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