Woman Suffrage: The Black Spot on the Map

Woman suffrage won easily in the 1914 referendum with 10,936 votes (60%) to 7,258 (40%). The tendency of innovations to spin outward from progressive states in each region clearly played a role. The suffragists recognized this in their band wagon approach featuring posters, banners, and ads showing Nevada as a black spot on a map entirely surrounded by woman suffrage states. During the nineties, it had gained momentum throughout the West. Washington held referendums (1889 and 1898), Oregon (1900), California (1896), Colorado (1893), Idaho 1896) and Utah and Wyoming became states keeping the suffrage provisions they enacted as territories. Nevada and Montana were the only black spots in the Far West that had neither adopted woman suffrage nor held a referendum. The vote gives some clues to this belated success. All Nevada’s sixteen counties had voted favorable excepting Eureka and those in the conservative old West region clustered around the Comstock, Storey, Washoe, and Ormsby. In the mining cities of Tonopah and Goldfield, both heavily working-class, woman suffrage was approved in every ward. Notable, in Sparks, a new community of railroad workers where Socialism had strength, it gained one of its few substantial victories in the western region. Woman suffrage in
Nevada owed much to the progressive minded, often transient miners of the eastern region and to Socialism.

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