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Anti-Suffrage Views

In the early 1900s many North Carolinians thought that a woman’s proper place was in the home. Conservatives interested in preserving the status quo felt that granting women’s suffrage would upset southern political and social institutions and radically change the relationships between women and men. These anti-suffrage advocates argued that involvement in the “corrupting” world of politics would interfere with the duties of respectable middle- and upper-class wives and mothers.      

North Carolinians who opposed women’s suffrage used many of the same tools that suffragists used to get their message out, such as forming anti-suffrage organizations, giving lectures, talking to legislators, writing opinion pieces for newspapers, and distributing literature. Anti-suffragists became especially active after June 4, 1920, when the Nineteenth Amendment was passed in the US Congress and went to the states for ratification. 

These circulars were collected by the Cameron Family, anti-suffragists from Durham and Raleigh. A wealthy planter and industrialist, Bennehan Cameron and his wife Sallie favored the status quo for social and economic reasons. These are just a few examples of the literature that anti-suffragists circulated to stir fears about potential societal changes related to women's suffrage. 

The Woman Patriot: Dedicated to the Defense of Womanhood Motherhood, The Family and The State Against Suffragism, Feminism and Socialism.<br />
Washington, D.C.: The Woman Patriot Publishing Company, September 25, 1920

Southern Historical Collection

The Woman Patriot: Dedicated to the Defense of Womanhood Motherhood, The Family and The State Against Suffragism, Feminism and Socialism.
Washington, DC: The Woman Patriot Publishing Company
September 25, 1920. Bennehan Cameron Papers, 1866-1962, Southern Historical Collection #3623, Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Woman Patriot bimonthly newspaper of the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage (NAOWS) was published from 1918 until 1932. The newspaper continued publishing after the ratification of the Nineteeth Amendment, attacking feminism and progressive reform.

The News and Observer (Raleigh) Friday February 19, 1915

The News and Observer
Friday, February 19, 1915

"Senate Talks Equal Suffrage," News and Observer (Raleigh)
Friday, February 19, 1915.

When the NC General Assembly held a hearing on the Equal Suffrage Bill introduced by Senator F.P. Hobgood Jr. Gallatin Roberts in February 1915, most of the legislators were not ready to grant women the right to vote. Some, like Democratic senator T.T. Speight of Windsor, argued that women should not be "soiling their skirts" in "corrupt politics."

Letter:: Sarah Calhoun Winter to Mrs. Cameron

Southern Historical Collection

From Sarah Calhoun Winter to Sallie Mayo Cameron, ca. 1920. Bennehan Cameron Papers, 1866-1962, Southern Historical Collection #3623, Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Sarah Winter of the Southern Women’s League for the Rejection of the Susan B. Anthony Amendment wrote to enlist the aid of Mrs. Cameron in furthering the work of the League. The second page outlines the platform of the League. The group connects passage of a federal amendment to the potential growth of “Socialism, Boleshvism [sic], and Radicalism” in the US.

Common Sense Farm

Southern Historical Collection

From “I Wonder” to “Mr. Farmer,” ca. 1919-1920. Bennehan Cameron Papers, 1866-1962, Southern Historical Collection #3623, Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

In 1920 there were 269,763 farms in North Carolina, and 75% of the population was rural. This circular letter to farmers addresses the fear that farmers may have had about the loss of the essential work done by farm women if they were instead spending time on politics.