To the Home Page of the National Humanities Center Web Site National Humanities Center Toolbox Library: Primary Resources in U.S. History and Literature  contact us | site guide | search 
Toolbox Library, primary resources thematically organized with notes and discussion questionsOnline Seminars, professional development seminars for history and literature teachersThe Gilded and the Gritty: America, 1870-1912
The Gilded and the Gritty: America, 1870-1912
Topic: MemoryTopic: ProgressTopic: PeopleTopic: PowerTopic: Empire
Topic: Power: Taming the Octopus
Toolbox Overview: The Gilded and the Gritty: America, 1870-1912
Resource Menu: Power
Text 1. Images of the Octopus, five cartoons
Text 2. Standard Oil
Text 3. The Octopus in the West
Text 4. The Populist Party Platform [Omaha Platform]
Text 5. The Pullman Strike
Text 6. Jack London, South of the Slot
Text 7. The Boss and the Reformer
Text 8. Images of Big City Politics
Text 9. Social Policy: Social Darwinism vs. the Social Gospel
Text 10. Theodore Roosevelt, The New Nationalism
Text 11. African American Strategies
Text 12. Women and Power
» Reading Guide
•  Link

RESOURCE MENU » Reading Guide Link

Reading Guide
Woman's Journal, 1913
Women and Power
- Jane Addams, "If Men Were Seeking the Franchise," Ladies' Home Journal, June 1913
- Marie Jenney Howe, "An Anti-Suffrage Monologue," 1913
- Anti-Suffrage Associations: 1894 broadside (national), 1909 letter (Illinois)

"If Men Were Seeking the Franchise" is both a clever attack on anti-women's suffrage arguments and a reflection on the nature of power. In it Jane Addams imagines a parallel universe in which women rule, and men, denied political power, petition for the vote. Marshalling her arguments against letting such belligerent, irresponsible, greedy creatures like men share power, she touches upon many of the issues discussed in this section of the toolbox and looks ahead to the section on empire. According to Addams, power governed by a different sensibility would not have permitted industry to advance with complete disregard for worker safety, would not have exalted profit above all other concerns, and would not have rushed to war for uncertain reasons. She offers a vision of what society might be like if different values ruled. Addams further notes that the case she makes—reasoned, coherent, and based on evidence—stands in sharp contrast to the case typically made against extending the franchise to women. Marie Jenney Howe, a feminist writer and editor, satirizes the typical case in her monologue, which she wrote for the New York Woman's Suffrage Party. In it she spoofs the stereotypes that anti-women's suffrage campaigners deployed against the cause and along the way gets in a few good shots at mush-headed political thinking in general. At times you may think you are reading Mark Twain. A good text to use with students. 12 pages.

Discussion questions
  1. Who is Addams's audience?
  2. How does her vision of the state differ from that Roosevelt posits in "The New Nationalism"?
  3. How does she project domestic values upon government and the state?
  4. Why does she call attention to sexual exploitation and prostitution?
  5. What, in the end, is her overarching criticism of men?
  6. Is Addams dealing in stereotypes?
  7. How does Howe's monologue parallel Addams's article?
  8. How does she portray men?
  9. According to Howe's satirical portrait, what characteristics make women unfit to vote?
  10. How effective is her monologue?

» Link

Topic Framing Question
  •  How did Americans respond to the shifts in economic and political power that occurred during this period?

Toolbox: The Gilded and the Gritty: America, 1870-1912
Memory | Progress | People | Power | Empire

Contact Us | Site Guide | Search

Toolbox Library: Primary Resources in U.S. History and Literature
National Humanities Center
Web site comments and questions, contact:
Copyright © 2005 National Humanities Center. All rights reserved.
Revised: May 2005