Today in Boston by Ethan Underhill: 3/29/1880 — The Vote 🗳

Their rationale was imperfect, but ultimately, the men of the Massachusetts legislature had made the right call by passing an 1879 bill to grant women the right to vote... in school committee elections… because, ya know, girls only knew about education.

Like I said, imperfect rationale.

But 101 years after the Constitution’s ratification, it was high time for women’s long list of contributions to the American Experiment to be rightfully recognized with the ballot.

So, today in 1880, into the Concord Town Meeting walked @todayinboston friend Louisa May Alcott and 19 other women to cast their votes for the School Committee. Alcott herself had gone door to door to rally women to attend — and she still wasn’t satisfied with a mere 20!

Now, the women of Massachusetts — and of the United States for that matter — had a long road ahead to full suffrage. If you’ve been following this little Bostonian experiment of mine since the beginning, you’ll remember that in 1850, activists still convened the first woman’s rights convention in Worcester (see 10/24) and that in 1915, Beacon Hill killed a measure that would’ve given women the vote (see 11/2).

This is to say nothing of the voter suppression tactics that to this day target women, people of color, and those damn kids who won’t get off your lawn.

But the vote in Concord today remains a critical milestone in the history of this country and its never-ending pursuit to make good on the promises that we made from its inception.

After all, we can only truly say that all persons are created equal; that our purpose remains to form a “more perfect Union” if and when everyone of age and agency to vote, can vote.
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So, as we approach the most important election of our lifetime, make sure you do your part to get people to the polls.
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And @dirtyoldboston, as if we needed another candidate right now, please let this post serve as a formal request for an “Alcott in ‘80” t-shirt in your online store. You have to admit: it has a nice ring to it.

4 comments

Lauren

And bumper stickers and campaign buttons. Thanks for the important history lesson. So much of our history has been ignored for so long.

Lauren
Sammy B.

Great piece, Ethan rocks, love Today in Boston and love DOB. Also, as a Concord resident, great to see a piece on Concord history highlighting powerful women!

Sammy B.
Andrea Underhill

I will buy that TShirt and 20 more. Please make it!

Andrea Underhill
Debbie M.

Refreshing to see an interesting piece like this on local women’s history. (Ethan has my vote.)

Debbie M.

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