p. 1




Status: Indexed

Biographical Sketch
M. G. Peck, 1941

Two American women have displayed genius in building up great
mass movements of women demanding better ^social^ condition. The first
in point of time was Frances Willard, founder of the Woman's
Christian Temperance Union. The second is Carrie Chapman Catt,
who led the woman suffrage movement for thirty years in a fight
to the finish with a powerful, organized opposition in Congress
and throughout the nation. The struggle ended August 26, 1920,
with the writing of the Nineteenth Amendment into the constitution
of the United States, giving votes to women. Having seen
the triumph of one cause, Mrs. Catt turned without pause to
devote her energies to another, - the cause of peace and disarmament.

In origin and up-bringing, Mrs. Catt follows a typical American
pattern. She was born in Ripon, Wisconsin, January 9, 1859,
the second of three children, her parents being descended from
ancestors who came from England to Massachusetts in the early
days of the colony. Her father's name was Lucius Lane; her
mother's, Maria Clinton. When Carrie Lane was seven years old,
the family moved to a farm near Charles City, Iowa, where she
went to a district school and had a healthy outdoor childhood.
She attended high school in Charles City, riding horseback five
miles thither and back each day. She had a hungry mind and read
every book she could get hold of during these early years, among
them Robert Ingersoll's lectures and Darwin's Origin of Species.
She taught a country school to earn money to go to College, took
a four-year course at Iowa State College at Ames in three years,
paying her way by washing dishes at nine cents an hour the first
year, and assisting in the college library at ten cents an hour
the last two years.

After graduation in 1880, she studied law for awhile, then
became principal of the high school in Mason City, Iowa, and
later was made Superintendent of Schools there. In 1885, she
married Leo Chapman, editor-owner of the Mason City Republican,
and helped him run the paper. After his death, a year later,
she engaged in the newspaper business in San Francisco. There
she came up against the bad conditions surrounding women in the
business and industrial world. Before the year was over, she
decided to do what she could to improve them and, with that
purpose in mind, she went back to her home state of Iowa and
began to lecture on feminist subjects.

As she pondered the problem of women's inferior status in
society, seeking a definite point of attack, she became convinced
that lack of political power was at the bottom of it,
and allied herself with the Woman Suffrage Association of Iowa,
becoming State Organizer in 1887. She was a good speaker and
soon rose to prominence. In 1890, she was invited to address
the National Woman Suffrage Convention In Washington, D. C.,
and there she met Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
Julia Ward Howe, and other famous women who had grown old in
the cause to which she was a newcomer. From that time on, she
was identified with the national movement to enfranchise women.

Following the convention of 1890, she married George W. Catt,
a successful hydraulic engineer, who was in complete sympathy
with her chosen career. The same year, she went into her first
state suffrage campaign in South Dakota. It was a grim
experience in a newly settled region burnt by a five years
drought. During the next ten years, campaign followed campaign,
four states granting full suffrage, others giving partial
suffrage, still others refusing every concession.

Notes and Questions

Nobody has written a note for this page yet

Please sign in to write a note for this page