Scope and Contents
The collection consists of the form letter sent from Thomas W. Hotchkiss regarding the effects of women's suffrage, as well as the responses from public officials in states that had previously adopted the measure. The form letter, dated September 27, 1915, was sent to public officials in hopes of soliciting responses to the opposition to suffrage. Hotchkiss' letter asked if women began to neglect their homes, if the social fabric had been damaged, if undesirable women are active, and how one should respond to the argument that voting women should be expected to defend her country.
Twenty-seven public officials responded, including the Governor of Alaska, the Executive Secretary of California, the Governor of Illinois, the Attorney General of Utah, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Colorado, the Secretary of State and the Chief Justice of Washington, and the Governor, Chief Justice, and Secretary of State of Kansas. From Montana, the Governor, Chief Justice, Secretary of the Department of the Attorney General, and the Secretary of State all responded. In Nevada, the Governor, Chief Justice, Attorney General, and Secretary of State also sent responses, as did the Governor, Chief Justice, Secretary of State, and State Librarian of Oregon. The Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, and Deputy Secretary of State of Wyoming also wrote in response to the survey. The responses, which were of varying length and enthusiasm, were all in support of women's suffrage.
Thomas W. Hotchkiss, a lawyer, editor, magazine writer, and professional researcher, was a member of the Campaign Committee of the Men's League for Woman Suffrage of the State of New York, which was active in promoting the passage of a women's suffrage amendment to the state constitution. In November of 1915, referenda for women's suffrage were on the ballot in four eastern states, including New York, but the opposition was strong. Many claimed that if given the right to vote, women would neglect their homes, and the fabric of society would be destroyed. The opposition also argued that undesirable women would flood the polls, and that a woman should not be allowed to vote if she wasn't willing to fight for her country. To help organize a response to the arguments against women's suffrage, Hotchkiss sent a form letter, dated September 27, 1915, to public officials in the states that had already adopted women's suffrage. While the response from the public officials was favorable, suffrage for women was again denied in the November 2, 1915 election. The New York Men's League for Woman Suffrage continued to campaign until New York passed the measure in 1917, three years before a national Constitutional Amendment granted suffrage to all American women.