Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Vote Because You Can

From the 1911 book,
Women’s Part In Government by William Allen

The subtitle for this 1911 book was (Whether She Votes Or Not).  I was thrilled to find it in my searches for old books. I’m going to reproduce most of the Preface, as a way to remind all of us–women and men–that voting is a privilege we would desperately wish for if it was denied us. It also reminds us that some things about politics never change–chiefly, the desire to win at almost any cost.

Interestingly, you’ll notice in the very first sentence and at the last, some assumptions about women’s role in society that may surprise you if you think the idea of women in the workplace is relatively new.

Woman’s fundamental part in government is to do efficiently what her position requires of her as an individual member of society: mother, sister, wage-earner, wage-payer, purchaser. No woman has the right to be a problem or a problem creator, no matter how usefully occupied with other people’s affairs.

Woman’s obligation to serve is measured by her opportunity to serve. I state candidly my belief that the time is coming when women will not only be permitted but will be expected to vote, however irksome or disillusioning the duty and privilege may prove.

Even if both political parties were convinced and remained convinced that woman’s entrance into the political field as voter would be injurious to government and to woman’s progress, party expediency would still bring woman suffrage.

Whatever else political parties have before them, their chief aim is to win. In balancing possible good against possible evil any uncertain evils of suffrage are bound to seem relatively slight when compared with the certain benefits of winning next year’s election and the next.

Any woman who can run a charity organization, a home, a suburban home, a typewriter, a boarding house, a sales counter, a loom with one hundred spindles or a class room with sixty children, will find voting so easy and so simple that she will wonder at the anxiety of many women to do it. 

The final line in Chapter One of this great old book is also very true for all of us:

But women must do more than vote, they must also task those for whom they voted to get the right things done after they are elected.

As the old Mob advice goes, “Vote early and vote often.”  Please avoid chortling if your person (or party) wins and avoid pouting until the next election if your person (or party) doesn’t win. Instead, keep in contact with whoever wins and let them know how you feel about issues of the day.

November 1st, 2010 Posted by | Life and Work | 4 comments


  1. I’m using this in class today! Thank you for this unique look at the thoughts of a century ago! Great stuff!

    Comment by teachermom | November 2, 2010

  2. This is really interesting! I loved the part about what political parties will do to win. Still true for either party.I’ll be SOOOOOOOOO glad when this election is over!

    Comment by denisek | November 2, 2010

  3. My grandfather was active in politics. He used to say his party (I won’t identify it here) would promise anything it took to get a vote, then drive the voters to the polls, buy them a beer on the way and watch them vote. After that, those same people were a d***d nuisance.

    I sometimes wonder how we’ve made it as a country. But, this was another winning post with an interesting history lesson! Blessings on you this week, Tina.

    Comment by Don R. | November 2, 2010

  4. I just now found your website and really have enjoyed reading it. I notice you refer to old books in several posts. If you’re ever in Chicago visit Chicago Rare Books on Washington street or Printer’s Row. (I hadn’t thought about the Rowe and Row connection!)

    Comment by earlybird2 | November 11, 2010

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