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August 2019 - "Being without votes"

Before the 19th amendment guaranteed women the right to vote, they struggled to exert political power. Topics seen as "women's issues" were often not given as much consideration, since women could not directly impact officials' reelection prospects. One example of women acknowledging their lack of influence comes in an 1899 letter from the City Federation of Women's Christian Temperance Unions appealing for stricter limits on where saloons could be located.

To the Honorable Mayor, and Common Council of the City of Seattle:

Gentlemen: -

The Federation of the W.C.T.U., being a combination of all of the local temperance unions of the City of Seattle, once more respectfully urge your Honorable Body a sacred cause. Though in your wisdom our last petition was denied, yet we, without malice or resentment, but strong in our faith in the justice of our cause, would plead once again. Though our organization numbers not among its members voters, yet it is composed of the wives of electors, and of the mothers and sisters of the boys who are to grow up and take their places in the battle of life, and who are to give our City rank and standing when you are gone.

We view with deep concern and solicitude the growing influence of the liquor evil and the constant increasing of the boundaries wherein the liquor traffic is permitted. We fail to understand why in so many instances the petition of the liquor influence is granted by the asking, while the prayers of the wives or mothers and sisters must fall upon deaf ears. Be pleased therefore, and deign to notice for one passing moment, a little band who being without votes must perforce depend on your generosity to protect us in our constitutional right to the pursuit of happiness. Though we be an organization of women only, and without political influence, yet among the fruits of our work are found no drunkards, no paupers, no wrecked homes or ruined souls.

Therefore, your petitioners, in the name of every mother on whose heart is the destiny of her boy, in the name of every sister, burdened with interest for the father or a brother, in the name or sobriety and decency, earnestly suggest that it is time that a halt be called in Seattle. Therefore, we most earnestly entreat that you will pass the Ordinance now pending before your Body, prescribing and narrowing the limits within which the liquor traffic can be carried on; and your petitioners, as they feel duty bound, will ever pray.

Signed by
The City Federation of the Women's Christian Temperance Unions,
Representing a body of two hundred women
(Miss) Heartie Wood, [Secretary]

The council bill they were supporting did not pass. It would be another 21 years before women obtained the right to vote and could exercise political power directly at the ballot box.