Carrie Lane Chapman Catt
Carrie Lane Chapman Catt was a suffragist and peace activist whose most important lifework was winning the vote for American women. She directed the mainstream National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) to victory, and founded the League of Women Voters (1920) to bring women into the political mainstream. A brilliant political strategist, suffrage organizer and fund-raiser, she formed NAWSA’s powerful Organization Committee to direct state suffrage campaigns. Elected president of NAWSA in 1900, she retired in 1904 to care for her dying husband. Later, she consolidated New York city suffrage groups into the Woman Suffrage Party, greatly contributing to the NY state suffrage victory in 1917. Resuming leadership of a faltering NAWSA in 1916, she devised the “Winning Plan,” which carefully coordinated state suffrage campaigns with the drive for a constitutional amendment – the plan which brought final victory. She helped found the Woman’s Peace Party (1915) and, after the horrors of World War I, organized the Committee on the Cause and Cure of War (1925).
Raised in Iowa, Catt was a lecturer and newspaper editor prior to suffrage work. She married twice, but both husbands died. George Catt’s death left her wealthy and able to devote full time to suffrage. Realizing that national stability enhanced women’s integration into political life, she devoted herself to world peace. She was the driving force behind the International Woman Suffrage Alliance, spreading the democracy of suffrage around the globe. Concerned at Hitler’s growing power, she worked on behalf of German Jewish refugees, one of the few to speak openly on their behalf, and was awarded the American Hebrew Medal (1933). She died at her home at age 88.
Reprinted from NWHM Cyber Exhibit "Rights For Women"
Author Kristina Gupta
- PHOTO: Carrie Lane Chapman Catt, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division (LC-USZ62-109793)