Elizabeth Cady Stanton once gave a fiery speech urging all women to refuse to pay taxes until they got the vote. But that didn’t really happen. Listen to hear why “No Taxation Without Representation” really wasn’t the main argument for American suffragettes and why even after the 19th amendment, some American women couldn’t vote because of a tax.
Women mentioned include Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Julia Smith, Abby Smith, Margaret Thatcher, and Evelyn Butts.
This episode is part of Series 3: Women and Money Matters.
Sources and Images
I had two major sources for this episode:
- Juliana Tutt, “No Taxation Without Representation” in the American Woman Suffrage Movement, Stanford Law Review, Volume 62, Issue 5, Page 1473. Available at http://www.stanfordlawreview.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2010/05/Tutt.pdf
- Ronnie L. Podolefsky, Illusion of Suffrage: Female Voting Rights and the Women’s Poll Tax Repeal Movement after the Nineteenth Amendment, 73 Notre Dame L. Rev. 839 (1998). Available at: http://scholarship.law.nd.edu/ndlr/vol73/iss3/16
Julia and Abby Smith were two sisters who refused to pay their taxes without representation. You can read more about their story at Connecticut History.
Some Alabama women made the direct connection to the Revolution, but this was not the most common argument in the woman’s suffrage movement.
This clever poster forgot to mention “Taxpayer” as one of the things a woman could be without gaining the right to vote.
Image by The Suffrage Atelier, CC BY 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Even after suffrage was granted, some states required payment of a poll tax before voting. This poster reminded Texas women to pay it, but that didn’t help if you couldn’t afford it.
Image from The Story of Texas
Poll taxes were not finally declared to be illegal until the 1966 Supreme Court decision Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections. That case had combined several smaller cases together, but civil rights activits Evelyn Butts was one of the original plaintiffs.
Image from Wikimedia Commons
Feature Image from Wikimedia Commons
You make history SO interesting! Thank you for sharing your research.