Grassroots activism in California played a key role in establishing the “states’ rights” approach to suffrage. During the early 1900s, suffragists argued that their cause, getting the right to vote, was a reform measure born out of democracy, and they developed visual culture to reinforce this idea. Suffragists held up states in the West and California in particular as models for an awakening of democracy, one that they hoped would influence the rest of the country.
In this illustration for Puck, an allegorical figure representing liberty holds a torch as she strides across a map of the country, symbolizing the movement’s state-by-state progress. Starting in the western states that already had granted women full suffrage, Lady Liberty advances toward the East Coast, enfranchising women as she crosses the nation. Underneath is a poem by Alice Duer Miller, a critic for the New York Times, which includes the lines: “Forget the strife; remember those who strove.”