Reading the Silences: Suffrage Activists and Race in Nineteenth-Century Settler Societies

  • Patricia Grimshaw

Abstract

In December 1894 a majority of men in both houses of the legislature of the colony of South Australia passed an Act granting women 21 years and over the right to vote and stand for Parliament. This was without doubt progressive liberal legislation, through which South Australian women became among the first women in the world to enjoy full political rights. Since the 1894 Act had no race bar, Aboriginal women received the vote along with white women, just as Aboriginal men had in effect been enfranchised in 1858 when South Australia brought in universal male suffrage. The vote had done nothing to improve Aboriginal men’s situations, nor the life chances of their families. Aborigines’ problems were multiple; they were by far the most disadvantaged people in the colony though a small group of Chinese, Indian and other non-white immigrants also suffered from white settler racism. The Aborigines, the survivors and children of survivors of the early tragic acts of colonial dispossession, had become increasingly marginalized and impoverished as white settlement flourished.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    See J. Chesterman and B. Galligan, Citizens Without Rights: Aborigines and Australian Citizenship (Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1997);CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. T. Clarke and B. Galligan, “’Aboriginal Native” and the Institutional Construction of the Australian Citizen 1901–48’, Australian Historical Studies, 26, 105 (October 1995) pp. 523–43;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. P. Grimshaw, ‘A White Woman’s Suffrage’ in H. Irving (ed.), A Woman’s Constitution? Gender and History in the Australian Commonwealth (Sydney: Hale and Iremonger, 1996) pp. 77–97.Google Scholar
  4. 2.
    For fuller development of comparative and detailed suffrage see P. Grimshaw, ‘Women’s Suffrage in New Zealand Revisited: Writing from the Margins’ in C. Daley and M. Nolan (eds), Suffrage and Beyond: International Feminist Perspectives (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1994) pp. 25–41.Google Scholar
  5. See also R. Grimshaw, ‘Gender, Citizenship and Race in the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union of Australia, 1890 to the 1930s’; Australian Feminist Studies (October 1998) pp. 199–214;Google Scholar
  6. R Grimshaw, Women’s Suffrage in New Zealand, revised edition (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1987);Google Scholar
  7. P. Grimshaw, ‘Suffragists Representing Race and Gender in the American West: The Case of Colorado’ in P. Grimshaw and D. Kirkby (eds), Dealing With Difference: Essays in Gender Culture and History (Melbourne: Melbourne University Monographs, 1997) pp. 67–91.Google Scholar
  8. 3.
    See P. Hulme and L. Jordanova (eds), The Enlightenment and Its Shadows (London: Routledge, 1990);Google Scholar
  9. P. Grimshaw, Colonialism, Gender and Representations of Race (Melbourne: Melbourne University History Occasional Papers, 1994).Google Scholar
  10. 4.
    I. Tyrrell, Woman’s World, Woman’s Empire: The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union in International Perspective, 1880–1930 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991).Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    I. H. Harper, The Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony. Volume 1 (New York: Arno, 1969) p. 490.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Patricia Grimshaw 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patricia Grimshaw

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