How Did Women Lose the Right to Vote?

Many people are not aware of it but in the early federal period, in the thirty years between 1777 and 1807, women actually lost the right to vote one state at a time. New Jersey was the last state to revoke women’s right to vote in 1807.

I’ve known that for the last 50 years but I’ve never known how it happened, the circumstances, the reasons. Does anyone know?

4 comments… add one
  • steve Link

    Dont know either. Will ask the history professors at church. Would guess it was hangover from England where sometimes rich women from the aristocracy could vote. Probably repealed due to religious pressure of some sort.


  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    Before slurring a whole religion – best to do some research.

    It is implied that it was done to give Madison an advantage in the 1808 Presidential Election.

  • PD Shaw Link

    The short answer is that when voting rights transitioned from an economic to a social concept, the requirement of property ownership was eliminated by vesting the right in all white, adult males. Blacks lost the right to vote during the same period.

    In any event, its not clear many women voted during this period since women wouldn’t meet the property requirement. And if the voting law did not expressly mention a gender requirement, it would not always be clear whether that meant women could vote. In NJ, the law CuriousOnlooker cites, had no gender requirement, but then the phrase “he or she” was added.

  • PD Shaw Link

    Similar thing happened in the UK. The laws didn’t specifically contain any gender restriction, so few women voted, but in the Reform Act of 1832, which primarily addressed changing the voting districts and eliminating rotten boroughs, the restriction against females was expressed.

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