19th at 100: Commemorating the Suffrage Struggle and Its Legacies in Northeast Ohio Main MenuIntroductionThe Road to SuffrageThe Struggle at CWRUNotable FiguresAfter SuffrageEinav Rabinovitch-Fox2e56e3d6b4b5f137a53bf7f9d80912f3b70a7958Lauren Dostal628641db4e19e9efe2242726f29ce1860e9c6baeIsabel Fedewa20dc403a88a0fde6c4856bc25beccbae49174777Jewel Yoder Kuhns34ffc591dd6b165c1079a95ab2c0ba1ad4aecf01Kellyn Toombsef2469033dbca72962b50fe7dea33c71c0a45069Abbey Wellsef2cda5c08d1ad75ae8532e3f202032ddc31cee0
Cartoon on women's dependence
12020-04-02T21:27:29+00:00Jewel Yoder Kuhns34ffc591dd6b165c1079a95ab2c0ba1ad4aecf0182from The Vote, published by the Women's Freedom League, Feb. 1911plain2020-04-02T23:46:04+00:00Spartacus EducationalJewel Yoder Kuhns34ffc591dd6b165c1079a95ab2c0ba1ad4aecf01
Ohio women saw a culmination of a struggle for equality in women’s property rights when the state legislature passed the Married Women’s Property Act in 1887. Though Ohio women had been able to write their own wills since 1809, this meant little for wives, whose property and wages became their husbands at marriage.
Woman’s rights activists successfully pushed for an 1845 act that protected wives’ property from being seized to pay their husbands’ debts. Frances Gage included discussions of property rights in the conventions she organized and led in the early 1850s, and she testified before the Ohio Senate Committee on Woman’s Rights with Mrs. Hannah Cutler and Mrs. J. Elizabeth Jones (from Salem, Ohio) in 1861. Jones’ electrifying speech, in which she “asked the legislators to imagine themselves with the legal rights of a woman” and begged them to protect women from being impoverished, met with enthusiastic support in the public hearing. Legislators passed a law that gave wives limited rights to contract and profit from property as well as control over her wages.
Continued petitions kept pressure on legislators until all legal limits on women’s control of property were removed in 1887. That women had to fight for decades just to be able to control what they earned and owned made it clear to suffragists just how much women were at the mercy of male politicians. Their fight for suffrage was driven by this sense of vulnerability, and while they fought for women’s rights in many fronts, leaders like Gage and Frances Casement believed that suffrage could gain the political voice they needed.