In 1880, the California woman safeguarded the Republic by maintaining a morally sound home. Scarcely forty years later, women in the Pacific state won full-fledged citizenship and voting rights of their own. Becoming Citizens shows how this enormous transformation came about. Gayle Gullett demonstrates how women’s search for a larger public life in the late nineteenth century led to a flourishing women’s movement in California.
Women’s radical demand for citizenship, however, was rejected by state voters along with the presidential reform candidate, William Jennings Bryan, in the tumultuous election year of 1896. Gullett shows how women rebuilt the movement in the early years of the twentieth century and forged a critical alliance between activist women and the men involved in the urban Good Government movement. This alliance formed the basis of progressivism, with male Progressives helping to legitimize women’s new public work by supporting their civic campaigns, appointing women to public office, and placing a suffrage referendum before the male electorate in 1911.
Placing local developments in a national context, Becoming Citizens illuminates the links between these two major social movements: the western women’s suffrage movement and progressivism.