If I were asked what are the greatest obstacles to the speedy enfranchisement of women I should answer: There are three; the first is militarism.... The second obstacle is the unconscious, unmeasured influence upon the estimate in which women as a whole are held that emanates from that most debasing of our evil institutions, prostitution.... [ellipsis in source] The third great cause is the inertia in the growth of democracy which has come as a reaction following the aggressive movements that with possibly ill-advised haste enfranchised the foreigner, the Negro and the Indian. Perilous conditions, seeming to follow from the introduction into the body politic of vast numbers of irresponsible citizens, have made the nation timid.
Carrie Chapman Catt (1859–1947), U.S. suffragist. As quoted in History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 5, ch. 1, by Ida Husted Harper (1922).
Responding implicitly to a paper submitted to the thirty- third annual convention of the National Woman Suffrage Association by Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) and read aloud by Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) on the opening day: May 30, 1901. Stanton had focused on alleged contributions of theology and organized religion to the suppression of women's rights, a view not shared by many of the conventioneers. At the time Catt said this, typical attitudes toward immigrants and African American men, many of whom were former slaves or the children of former slaves, were considerably different than they are today. This statement would not have sounded as illiberal in 1901 as it does now. Most suffragists had been staunch foes of slavery and had supported the Union during the Civil War; many were still bitter that, despite this record, they remained disfranchised even after African American men were granted suffrage by the 15th Amendment to the Constitution (1870).