Anna Howard Shaw

Address at the Boone, Iowa, Suffrage Parade - Oct. 29, 1908

Anna Howard Shaw
October 29, 1908— Boone, Iowa
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Shaw, then president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, gave this address at the Boone, Iowa, suffrage parade, one of the first suffrage parades in the United States. The Woman's Standard, a newspaper published by the Iowa Woman Suffrage Association from 1886-1911, reported that Shaw "…held the breathless attention of her hearers, wit, humor, pathos, sentiment and clear, hard logic from one to the other she passed, naturally, entirely without self-consciousness, with the greatest sincerity of manner and at time with much dramatic fire."

The principles upon which our government rests are the most sublime ever conceived, but the men who framed them have been unable to make practical application of them. They said, 'Governments gain their powers from the consent of the governed,' yet they did not grant to many classes of the governed right to have a voice in the government. One class at a time has been enfranchised. Men voted first because they were church members; second, because they held property, then because they were white. Not until the negro was enfranchised did they vote because they were men.

This is not a republic, because republican government is government by the people. The last step toward making it a republic would be the enfranchisement of the women. Some on e asked Wendell Phillips, 'Isn't Christianity a failure.' 'I don't know,' he replied, 'it has never been tried.' So I reply to the question, 'Is not the republic a failure?' 'I don't know. It has never been tried.'

In Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand women have full suffrage; in Denmark, Sweden, Iceland and the British Isles they have a vote; in Finland they are on absolute equality and 25 women sit on the parliament; in Natal, South Africa, they have been granted the franchise within the year. They have it in some cities of Austria; even in Russia by proxy. I believe in time the men of America will be as just to their women as the men of those countries.

Never has we had in our history a year when we had so much zeal as this year. This is largely due to our English sisters. From the city of New York 19,000 working women have joined the national suffrage association. Fifteen college associations have joined. In New York the young men are about to organize a young men's woman suffrage association. The movement has been endorsed by 550 organizations, including the Federation of Labor, the Letter Carriers' association, the Bricklayers association, etc. Our cause is moving on.

Miss Shaw's Address. (1908, November). The Woman's Standard, 1. Retrieved from