Monday, November 7, 2022

BOOK REVIEW: The Long Campaign: A Biography of Anne Martin by Anne Bail Howard

With election day just around the corner, I read The Long Campaign: A Biography of Anne Martin by Anne Bail Howard. Anne Martin was a suffragist from Nevada who campaigned tirelessly in the sparsely populated state for women’s right to vote in the early 1900's. At the time, this was a state-by-state issue and Western states were more receptive to women voting than Eastern states. The campaign succeeded, largely due to her efforts.

However, her next endeavor, running for state Senator, was pretty well doomed from the start. Aside from the fact that she was female, and there had never been a female U.S. senator, Martin had made enemies (or at least, detractors) because of some of her earlier work (more militant suffragist work in England and a couple of arrests for protesting) as well as her pacifist stance in the lead-up to WWI. She had hoped the newly enfranchised women of Nevada would recognize the significance of electing a female senator and vote as a bloc, but they did not.

Frustrated by this and by the lack of progress of the national movement for women’s suffrage, Martin turned her attention to writing and her political efforts toward the peace movement.

The biography focuses on her early life and influences, her political awakening, and her activism. It discusses her various connections and friendships, those that were long-lasting and those where she and the friends eventually fell out, usually over politics. Martin could be charming and inspiring, but she was also a hard taskmaster and bull-headed in her opinions.

The book is an interesting look at a woman who was a pivotal figure in her time, but who is largely forgotten in ours. Currently, it’s hard to wrap our minds around the fact that women were excluded from the democratic process when it is so self-evident that women are every bit as deserving of the vote as men. The hard work and sacrifices of the women (and men) who fought so hard for equality a century ago should not be forgotten. And the right to vote should not be taken for granted.

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