Carrie Chapman Catt
Founder of The League of Women Voters
Born 1859 - Died 1947
Women's suffrage leader and two time president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), first in 1900 to 1904 and then later in the final years of the struggle from 1915 to 1920.
Born in Ripon, Wisconsin, spent most of her early years in Iowa. Became a teacher and later superintendent of schools in Mason City in 1883. No small feat for that day.
In 1885, she married a newspaper editor by the name of Leo Chapman, but he died shortly thereafter in California. Carrie was far from her midwestern roots with little or no resources to mention. she spent some time in the male working world and had the good fortune to marry one George Catt, a wealthy engineer. Their marriage was allowed her to spend a good deal of time on the road campaigning for woman's suffrage. This caused her to move quickly up the ranks in the movement.
While on the rise up the ranks, she became a colleague of Susan B. Anthony. In fact, Anthony selected her to succeed her as the head of NAWSA. Catt led the movement over the twenty years, struggling against great odds, suffering many setbacks but achieving some significant victories. Catt supervised dozen's of campaigns, mobilized volunteers, (about a million) and made hundreds of speeches.
Catt, along with here contemporaries such as Anthony and Jane Addams believed that it was a woman's natural right to participate in politics on an equal basis with men. Her argument was that if women could vote, they would become a force for world peace and would help improve the conditions of life for themselves and their children. She was most concerned with a woman's dignity and felt that participation in the political process would give them a voice in decisions and serve to enhance that dignity.
The two main overriding goals that Catt pursued throughout her her life were world peace and that the political process be rational, issue oriented, dominated by citizens and not politicians. It was the latter goal that led her to form the League of Woman Voters in 1920.