Theodore Roosevelt Changes His Mind About Suffrage

September 8th marked the 96th anniversary of the historic day that Theodore Roosevelt invited suffrage leaders to his home at Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay to reiterate his whole-hearted support for the woman suffrage movement. New York women had lost their bid for the vote in 1915, and were 1912harpertoon5gearing up to work for passage of an amendment to the State’s Constitution in 1917. So an invitation by Roosevelt and his wife Edith to visit Sagamore Hill was much appreciated.

The 26th President was not always so inclined. In 1898 he told Susan B. Anthony that woman suffrage was “not that important,” and when, in 1904 he and First Lady Edith held a reception for 400 suffrage leaders at the White House, it was still not clear that either of them supported granting women the vote. Edith was definitely noncommittal, and Theodore was probably concerned with offending his male constituency. When Sands Point resident Harriet Burton Laidlaw visited him in 1907 he still refused to back the movement. But by 1912 when he ran for President again on the Bull Moose ticket his stance was softening; by 1915 he had changed to whole-hearted support, and never wavered. Unfortunately, he did not live to see the Federal Amendment passed; he died January 6, 1919.

For the full story of Theodore Roosevelt and the woman suffrage movement, plus some delightful images, check out Chapter 10 in my book.

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