Unraveling the Origins of 1838 School Suffrage in Kentucky

Rachel B. Tiven's picture

On the eve of ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, American women’s voting rights were literally a patchwork of half-measures. Suffrage maps used cross-hatching to indicate states where women could vote for president but not local offices, stripes for states where women could vote for local officials but not federal, stars for voting in primaries but not general elections, and on and on. The most common partial suffrage measure was “school suffrage”—women’s right to vote on local school matters. The National Woman Suffrage Publishing Co. created a 1919 “Victory Map,” states where school suffrage was the highest franchise available appeared black with white polka dots.

Before the Nineteenth Amendment, thirty-two states allowed women to vote for school board or superintendent, and/or to have a say in school bond and tax proposals. All of these opportunities developed after the Civil War, with one notable exception.1 Kentucky allowed widows and single women to vote for school board and school taxes beginning in 1838. The statute covered rural school districts only, and married women were excluded—but however limited in application, the Kentucky law was hailed by suffragists as the first expansion of women’s voting rights in the nineteenth century.2

Kentucky’s early adoption of school suffrage was an oddity whose origins are still unknown. This paper will review how suffragists invoked the Kentucky law during the suffrage movement and how historians have described it since, then examine the circumstances of its passage in the context of voting rights and school policy in 1830s Kentucky. I will evaluate the available evidence, hypothesize about the origins of women’s inclusion, and unravel a small mystery about the scope of the 1838 law.

A Dual “First”

Lacking votes to cast for their own enfranchisement, suffragists across eight decades built political strategy with the tools at hand. School suffrage was a modest exercise of political power that nineteenth-century suffragists hoped would function as a proof of concept: women could demonstrate their ability to vote responsibly, and the sky would not fall. A handful of states passed school suffrage measures even before local women organized to demand them, suggesting that they might be relatively easy to pass. That was not ultimately the case, and though Susan B. Anthony had championed school suffrage in the late 1870s, by the 1890s she came to see it as too much effort for too little progress.3 Still, rhetorically it was evidence—and better than nothing. 

In making their case, suffragists frequently invoked Kentucky’s first-in-the-nation status. It was cited in the first volume of the History of Woman Suffrage, published in 1881.4 In 1891, speaking at a commemoration of the first National Woman’s Rights Convention, Lucy Stone noted that forty years earlier, Kentucky had been the only school suffrage state.5 In 1899, the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) noted the Kentucky law in its appeal to Congress for a law that would require Hawaii and other territorial possessions to mandate women’s enfranchisement.6 In 1903, Belle Kearney's keynote speech at the NAWSA convention in New Orleans, “The South and Woman Suffrage,” noted that Kentucky was the next state after New Jersey “to allow women to vote in any degree.”7 In 1911, Lucy Stone’s daughter Alice compiled a timeline titled “Gains in Equal Suffrage,” featuring Kentucky at the top of the page.8

Outside of the movement, historians of suffrage frequently noted the Kentucky story. It was a dual ‘first’: both the first in what became a long line of school suffrage measures, and the first advancement of women’s voting rights in the nineteenth century. It appears in sources across the decades: in Eugene Hecker’s 1910 volume, A Short History of Women’s Rights; in Eleanor Flexner’s definitive 1959 Century of Struggle; and in contemporary suffrage scholarship like Lisa Tetrault’s The Myth of Seneca Falls.9 None of these historical treatments, nor any of the suffrage movement texts, explain why Kentucky enfranchised some women in 1838. Kentucky suffrage historians cannot explain it either.10 

Curiously, many sources disagree about exactly who was enfranchised in 1838, frequently describing the bill as covering “widows who had children of school age.”11 Eleanor Flexner referred to “widows in country districts who had children of school age.” Flexner was citing the appendix of NAWSA’s 1940 valedictory volume, Victory: How Women Won It, which used the same language.12 Yet the text of the 1838 bill is not limited to widowed mothers. The bill covered rural school voters, because the three largest cities in Kentucky had already set up a school system—so the “country districts” reference is accurate. But the language of the bill is broader, covering all unmarried women, and perhaps even children themselves. 

Sec. 37. Be it further enacted, That any widow or feme sole, over twenty-one years of age, residing and owning property subject to taxation for school purposes, according to the provisions of this act, in any school district, shall have the right to vote in person or by written proxy; and any infant residing and owning property, subject for taxation for school purposes, according to the provisions of this act, in any school district, shall have the right to vote by his or her guardian.13

Nothing in this language limits participation to women with children in the school system, though that is how the bill is frequently described in nineteenth and twentieth-century sources. Additionally, the law seems to allow property-holding orphans to cast proxy votes. To unravel the meaning and origins of these provisions, let us begin by examining the context of voting rights in 1830s Kentucky. 

Early Kentucky

Until 1792, much of modern-day Kentucky was part of Virginia. Before and during that time it was controlled by Shawnee, Cherokee, Yuchi, Chickasaw, and other Native people.14 After the Revolution, Virginia organized the Kentucky territory into its own judicial district with justices, county clerks, and delegates to the Virginia House of Representatives. Kentucky settlers began discussing separation from Virginia in the 1780s; among the motivations was their frustration that the state was not acting aggressively enough against the Shawnee.15 Separation negotiations with Virginia began before the Constitution was adopted and concluded afterward, stretching nearly a decade. On June 1, 1792, Kentucky became the fifteenth state; the second post-Revolution state to join the Union after Vermont.

For white men, Kentucky’s political structure differed from Virginia’s in a significant way: no property qualification was required to vote. Virginia required white men to own at least fifty acres of unimproved land to be eligible, a requirement that persisted until 1850 and was notably high even in the earliest years of the Republic. Virginia barred between one-quarter and one-third of white men from voting. More white men were disenfranchised there than any other state save New York.16 Free Black men were barred from voting in Virginia even if they owned fifty acres. Kentucky initially permitted its small population of free Black men to vote, but a 1799 constitutional revision explicitly barred them from the ballot box.17

Kentucky was the first state to enfranchise all white men while protecting and endorsing slavery.18 Kentucky’s legal and cultural attitudes about slavery were directly inherited from Virginia. Though large plantations were not common in the Kentucky territory, in 1790 seventeen percent of the non-indigenous population was enslaved. After the Kentucky constitution enshrined slavery, importation of human beings into the territory grew; by 1830 one quarter of non-Indian Kentuckians were enslaved.19 

Kentucky’s anti-slavery Congressman Cassius Clay blamed slaveholders for the poor quality of the state’s elementary education system. He called the persistent underfunding of schools “a systematic effort on the part of the slave-holders to prevent the people from education,” which they knew was “incompatible with the institution of slavery.”20 Put another way, Kentucky’s tepid embrace of public schooling may also have been attributable to its cultural roots in Virginia, which did not establish public schools even for white children until after the Civil War.21

Tepid though Kentuckians may have been, they began efforts to educate white children much earlier than most southern states. The legislature discussed the issue through the 1820s, even seeking counsel from Thomas Jefferson in 1822.22 In 1830 the legislature authorized the creation of a system of common schools, but the bill was unfunded and nothing came of it. Then in 1836 the federal Deposit Act distributed surplus tariff revenue to the states, and Kentucky’s legislature pledged more than half of its share to the school fund.23 The money was galvanizing, and in the 1837-38 legislative session, state House member William F. Bullock introduced a new bill to create a common school system in the state. That bill is where the unusual inclusion of widows, feme soles, and orphans appears. 

The 1838 Bill

The law did not create a school system outright; it authorized a process by which local communities could organize themselves into districts that would educate “white children over seven and under seventeen years of age.”24 In order to qualify for matching funds from the state’s coffers, property-owners in each district needed to vote to tax themselves to generate enough revenue to secure a school building and hire teachers. Each county’s local court was to organize a meeting at which “the citizens authorized to vote, by this bill” in each school district would decide by majority vote “as to the expediency and propriety of adopting the system in such district, and of the propriety of levying a sum upon the taxable estate in such districts, sufficient, when added to the proportion to which said district shall be entitled out of the State fund, to defray the expenses of a common school in said district...”25 If the property-owners of the district did not agree to tax themselves, no money from the state would be forthcoming, and thus no common school for their district.

One portrait of a wealthy Kentucky family illustrates how completely the 1838 system relied on parental initiative. Elizabeth and Robert Scott had nine children, and thus a vested interest in creating a school. The state would not establish the schools directly, rather: “This responsibility was left squarely up to local communities and concerned parents.” Robert Scott’s biographer continued: “In the light of the law of 1838 the busy young father at Locust Hill took time out from livestock breeding, planting and harvesting crops, tending gardens and orchards, building fences and gates, and digging a fish pond to take an active role in the organization of a public school supported by local taxes on property in the eastern end of Franklin County.”26 It would be the second public school district organized under the law. 

The law exempted Kentucky’s three largest cities—Louisville, Lexington, and Maysville—which had already set up their own school systems. Note that in 1838 very few Kentuckians lived in cities: only five percent of the white population. Louisville, the largest city, had 21,210 inhabitants in 1840. Though a law that applied only to those in “country districts” may have sounded marginal to late-nineteenth and twentieth century ears, when enacted it applied to nearly the entire state.27 

The inclusion of widows, single women, and the guardians of propertied orphans as voting members of each potential school district does not appear to have been discussed publicly. It was not mentioned in the legislative records of the bill, nor in the two newspapers I have consulted from that year, the Kentucky Gazette and the Frankfort Argus. Frankfort is the capital of Kentucky, and the Argus covered more legislative news than the Gazette.28 Surviving legislative records for this period are limited to the published Journal of the Senate and Journal of the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth, detailed but not verbatim summaries of proceedings. Those journals note discussion of the common schools bill in January and February, but with scant substance. (Moments of significant debate on other topics are described in more detail.)

Rep. Bullock’s floor speech on behalf of the common schools bill is not contained in the legislative journal, but the Frankfort Argus printed it in full.29 He urged the legislature to adopt the whole system as designed, without modification, and described the importance of its constituent parts, namely: the creation of a Board of Education and a superintendent with oversight of the whole state; the division of counties into school districts as determined by the county courts; and the election of school commissioners in each district by the people.  

Bullock's speech does not mention that widows and orphans are included among those people. He summarizes the process in some detail, as follows: “The bill further provides, that five commissioners of common schools shall be elected by the people. It is a part of the duties of the commissioners to organize the system in their respective counties. And for this purpose they are required to call district meetings, in which the people determine on the propriety and the amount of the tax which is necessary to carry out the system. In these meetings are also elected trustees and other necessary officers.” Nothing in his speech, nothing in the legislative record, and nothing in the Argus or the Gazette notes the enfranchisement of women.30 

Other than printing the text of Bullock’s speech, the papers had little to say about the bill as it was being debated in the legislature. The Argus offered brief updates, reporting on January 18, 1838 that “The bill to establish a system of common school, occupied the attention of the House to-day, to the exclusion of almost every thing else. There was able discussion in favor of the system and on the propriety of the several parts of the bill—but no final action.” The House Journal entry for that day is unrevealing, affirming that the bill was reported out of committee without amendment.31

A few weeks later the Argus published a brief item dated February 2: “The school bill was taken up and after much discussion, and the rejection of all amendments the bill was passed, we expect to be able to give this bill next week with the action of the Senate upon it.”32 Here the House Journal is more robust, recounting that spirited debate took place over Rep. Bullock’s amendment to his own bill to preserve the character of the self-organized districts even in years that some districts failed to participate in levying their own taxes. At issue was whether funds for non-participating districts would be reallocated among localities that did participate, which Bullock wanted to prevent. His amendment passed, an attempt to table the bill until the spring failed, and after its third reading the school bill passed the House by a vote of 69-18.33

The House sent the bill to the Senate on February 3; its first and second readings are recorded in the Senate Journal. Its third reading on February 12 refers to unspecified amendments being approved; the bill then passed the Senate 32-4.34 Governor James Clark was already supportive of the plan; in his message to the legislature at the beginning of the session he had encouraged the creation of a system that would attract and retain young men to the state.35 Clark was a Whig, as were most Kentucky politicians in the 1830s.36 After the bill became law, both the Kentucky Gazette and Frankfort Argus ran laudatory editorials. Neither mentioned the opportunity for women’s participation.37 William Bullock was reelected and served in the House until 1841.38 No contemporaneous records yet found discuss the unusual inclusion of women in the bill. 

While the legislature did not record any debate over who was included in the common schools law, they were very comfortable discussing who should be omitted. The provision for women’s participation in school district elections did not specify that the women must be white, but the school system was only open to white children. Free people of color were few in Kentucky—numbering 7,317 in the 1840 census—and enslaved people accounted for twenty-three percent of the non-Indian population. That some children would be educated and not others was acknowledged by the legislature directly. In the middle of the 1837-38 legislative session, the House journal recorded a lengthy memorial from the citizens of Mercer County vehemently objecting to the existence of private Sunday schools for enslaved people. The writers decried the “inexpediency, inutility, and mischief, growing out of the practice of educating slaves.” They called it “a practice fraught with much evil, and calculated more than any other, to engender discontent, insubordination, and mischief on the part of said slaves, and a consequent loss of value, as well as uncertainty of personal safety on the part of their owners, and other free white persons residing in their vicinity.”39 The Mercer memorialists directly referenced the pending creation of a common school system for poor whites, asking: “Can it be right to educate the slaves of the country, while the children of the poor are famishing for lack of knowledge, and that class of our fellow citizens is becoming every year more deeply sunk in ignorance, and more and more degraded? Is it proper to elevate the slaves above the level of any portion of the free-born citizens of this Commonwealth?” Kentucky politicians were not of one mind about slavery in 1838—or thereafter—and a motion to table discussion of the memorial passed narrowly, 46-43.40

With few clues in the record, how are we to understand why unmarried women and orphan children of any sex were included as decision-makers in the creation of local school districts? Their property was needed to generate revenue for the school district, but taxing widows and single women without representation would have been unremarkable. Were women included because school matters were presumed to be particularly relevant to women’s interests, which Kathryn Nicholas describes as common in later school suffrage bills?41 Nothing in the 1838 bill suggests this, unlike the explicit maternalism in the 1852 revision discussed below. The structure of the legislation provides one possible explanation. In his History of Kentucky, historian Z. F. Smith emphasized that the self-organized structure of the school system was intended to rally public support for the idea of common schools. In drafting the bill, William Bullock drew on the 1830 report to the legislature, which had emphasized the necessity of local enthusiasm to the success of the school system. The School Fund was intended to incentivize locals "to impose a sufficient voluntary local tax upon themselves to educate the children of their own districts."42 In other words, state funding was conditioned on raising local money; the whole structure depended on a district's taxpayers committing themselves first in order to qualify for matching funds.

Without the approval of a majority of the district’s property-holders, that district would get no money at all. Perhaps Rep. Bullock sought to include property-owners who would otherwise have no voice in the creation of the school district because he thought those women would vote for the system, which needed the support of a majority of its participants. Including widows may have seemed a likely way to generate more yes voters, without which the entire system would never get off the ground. Bullock spoke publicly of the democratic value of the system he proposed, that it relied on the approval of “the people,” and that the system was a coherent whole that should not be dismantled. Further research is required to determine whether Bullock referred in private correspondence to the inclusion of women as a way to support his aim.

Propertied Children

The inclusion of “any infant residing and owning property, subject for taxation for school purposes” in the 1838 law provides another possible clue to the law’s origins. In her book By Birth or Consent, historian Holly Brewer demonstrates that children retained legal power in many areas of law—especially in colonial Virginia—late into the eighteenth century and even into the early nineteenth century. She argues that bright-line rules excluding minors from the ability to consent to contracts or indentures, to serve in the military or on a jury, or to vote or hold office all developed gradually over the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as proxies for the ability to reason.43 Before that, children could judge others on a jury, marry themselves off, and sign away their labor at any age. Women with property could sometimes benefit from their birthright privilege despite their sex. Brewer explains that the gradual creation of a category of adult males as the only persons capable of consent eliminated the legal status of children and those compared to children: women of all colors and non-white men.  

Brewer describes a long tradition of voting rights being attached to property ownership, not age, which persisted in English law during the seventeenth century and echoed through colonial law in early America.44 She notes the persistence of entail and primogeniture in colonial Virginia, where bloodline and birthright mattered more than formal qualifications like age.45 Kentucky broke with its Virginia heritage in determining who was eligible to vote in the new state, but its legal doctrine continued to rely on Virginia law well into the nineteenth century. A thorough search of Kentucky inheritance and property cases could unearth late reliance on children—especially teenagers—as decision-makers. In other words, it is possible that rather than understand the 1838 common schools bill as a very early instance of women’s school suffrage, we might see it as a very late remnant of the legal status of women and children with property. Of course, the law could reflect both of these explanations. Perhaps Representative Bullock sought a way to include voters he thought would be supportive of the school system, and he relied on traditional language to do so. 

The 1852 Bill

Regardless of why unmarried women were included as decision-makers in the 1838 school system, they were included without any requirement that they be mothers. Yet many nineteenth- and twentieth-century references to Kentucky school suffrage ascribe that limitation to the 1838 law. The error stems from the conflation of subsequent revisions of the common school system. The elements of the 1838 law intended to incentivize local investment in the system were mostly a failure. Few districts mobilized to levy and collect the funds, and the resistance to additional taxes was so great that in 1843 the law was changed to require that the school tax be approved by two-thirds of each district’s voters, instead of a simple majority.46 

Between 1845 and 1852, local school taxes were eliminated, and in 1852 the common schools law was thoroughly overhauled. The changes made schools free to all eligible students, protected schools’ funding, and limited that funding to elementary education, not universities. It also restricted women’s voting to only those women who were widows with (white) children in the school system.47 No contemporaneous sources I have yet found note the narrowing of women’s voting eligibility; likewise it is unmentioned in the histories of the Kentucky educational system written between 1882 and 1938.48  

If my theory above is correct—that the drafters of the 1838 law intentionally included women as potential supporters of the system—once self-taxation was no longer required, women's enthusiasm would no longer be necessary. Thus it is notable that Kentucky did not remove women as voters in elections for school trustees. This could mean that few women exercised their right to participate, or that enough women did who would object to losing it. Records of women’s participation in these elections have not yet been found, so it is impossible to say. Regardless, the change meant that women’s eligibility was tied to their status as mothers, not their status as local property-owners. 

The school system laws were revised again after the Civil War, and an 1870 revision specified for the first time that the female voter must be white.49 However, the system had been limited to white children from the first, and the reduction to widows-with-children wasn’t new then, although some sources attribute it as such.50 The long game of “telephone” regarding the Kentucky law conflated the 1838, 1852, and 1870 versions. The first law was not limited to widowed mothers; the latter not restricted to country women. The 1838 law covered all rural unmarried women with property, regardless of whether they were mothers. The 1852 law created a statewide school system, including the Louisville, Lexington, and Maysville school districts that were separately constituted in 1838. The result was that women’s eligibility was no longer geographically limited nor tied to property-holding, but only women with school-age children could participate. 

One reason the 1838 law was misdescribed for so long may owe to the timely visit of a prominent suffragist. Lucy Stone toured Kentucky in 1853, speaking throughout the state for several weeks in November.51 Stone was a renowned abolitionist who frustrated her movement colleagues by insisting on speaking about women’s rights as well as slavery. In the 1850s Stone traveled as far west as Missouri, north to Canada, “and even in the South,” lecturing on suffrage and women’s equality.52 Speaking to audiences that were largely composed of men, her bloomers and bobbed hair drew as much commentary as the substance of her remarks. Some Kentuckians were charmed; others appalled.53 The Louisville Daily Journal was smitten: “Miss Lucy is undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary women and one of the most delightful orators in our country . . . Possibly there may be no getting along with the Louisville ladies when they shall have heard her exposition of their rights, but we are not afraid to risk the result. Go and hear her, ladies, if your husbands will let you, and, if they won’t, go anyhow.”54

I have not yet found any mention of Kentucky’s school suffrage law in Stone’s correspondence during or after that trip, part of a thirteen-city speaking tour.55 Surely she learned of the law during her stay in Louisville, where she would have understood it as it was then constituted, and repeated that version thereafter. Whether the legislative history was known to Lucy Stone or not, it would not have changed the credit due the Kentucky legislature: fifteen years after the original law passed, Kentucky was still the only state in the Union where women had the opportunity to vote for any level of government. By the time Indiana followed its neighbor’s lead and allowed widows with children to vote for school board in 1861, a movement for women’s rights was established and visible.56 

When Kentucky included women as community decision-makers in 1838, women’s civil and political rights were at a nadir. The “Revolutionary Backlash” Rosemarie Zagarri describes had taken hold; the optimism of Judith Sargent Murray, Mercy Otis Warren, and other American followers of Mary Wollstonecraft had faded from view. Women’s abolitionist activity was just beginning to be noticed, and the Grimké sisters were starting to articulate a feminist agenda, but they were outlying iconoclasts. Among slaveholding women, Stephanie Jones-Rogers has shown that coverture was not ironclad and married white women were able to hold on to separate property in human beings.57 But Married Women’s Property Acts and Earnings Acts had not begun to be passed, and there was not yet any organized movement for women’s political participation or property rights. The reasons for Kentucky’s recognition of citizenship for some women—white women only, and only if unrepresented by a husband—remain obscure. But whether an early advance or a late holdover, the decision provided generations of activists a spark they used to ignite a larger movement.

Endnotes

1 Kathryn A. Nicholas, “Reexamining Women’s Nineteenth-Century Political Agency: School Suffrage and Office-Holding,” Journal of Policy History 30, no. 3 (2018): 452-489.
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2 After New Jersey stripped them away in 1807.
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3 Nicholas, "School Suffrage," 468.
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4 Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Matilda Joselyn Gage, eds., The History of Woman Suffrage, Volume I, 1848-1861 (Rochester, NY: 1881), 869-70.
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5 Lucy Stone, “The Gains of Forty Years,” Woman Suffrage Leaflet (Boston: Woman's Journal, February 1891). Gale Nineteenth Century Collections Online. Note that the 1891 commemoration reflects Stone’s desire to push the Seneca Falls convention off its pedestal and elevate the Worcester convention of 1851, which was far larger. For twenty years Stone led a rival faction of the movement that in 1890 merged with Stanton and Anthony’s faction. As Lisa Tetrault explains in The Myth of Seneca Falls, Stanton and Anthony built a mythology around that gathering as the movement’s sole origin point.
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6 National American Woman Suffrage Association, “On Behalf of Hawaiian Women,” in American Women’s Suffrage: Voices from the Long Struggle for the Vote, 1776-1965, ed. Susan Ware (New York: Library of America, 2020), 246-48.
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7 Belle Kearney, “The South and Woman Suffrage,” Keynote address to the National American Woman Suffrage Association convention, March 25, 1903, in Ware, Voices from the Long Struggle, 264. The 1903 convention in New Orleans was the apex of NAWSA’s attempt to leverage southern racism to their advantage.
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8 Alice Stone Blackwell, “Gains in Equal Suffrage,” [National American Woman Suffrage Association], n.d. Gale Nineteenth Century Collections Online.
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9 Eugene A. Hecker, A Short History of Women’s Rights: From the Days of Augustus to the Present Time, with Special Reference to England and the United States (New York: G.P.Putnam & Sons, 1910), 167; Eleanor Flexner and Ellen Fitzpatrick, Century of Struggle, 2d ed. (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1996), 168; Lisa Tetrault, The Myth of Seneca Falls: Memory and the Women’s Suffrage Movement, 1848-1898 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014), 86.
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10 Melanie Beals Goan notes that historians know little about the origins of women’s inclusion, nor how many women actually used it. A Simple Justice: Kentucky Women Fight for the Vote (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2020), 13-14. Kentucky historian and co-creator of the Kentucky Woman Suffrage Project Randolph Hollingsworth confirmed that little is known. Conversation with the author.
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11 Stone, “The Gains of Forty Years.”
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12 Flexner, Century of Struggle; National American Woman Suffrage Association, Victory: How Women Won It, A Centennial Symposium 1840-1940 (New York: H.H.Wilson, 1940), 165.
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13 “An Act to establish a system of Common Schools in the State of Kentucky,” Chap. 898 in Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, December Session, 1837. James Clark, Governor. (Frankfort: A.G. Hodges State Printer, 1838), 282.
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14 James C. Klotter and Craig Thompson Friend, A New History of Kentucky (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2018), 7-19.
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15 Klotter and Friend, A New History, 53.
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16 Donald Ratcliffe describes the varying estimates of actual voter participation in post-Revolutionary Virginia, which range from fifty to seventy-five percent. “The Right to Vote and the Rise of Democracy, 1787-1828,” Journal of the Early Republic 33, no. 2 (Summer 2013): 224-25 and note 11.
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17 Ratcliffe, “The Right to Vote,” 247; Alexander Keyssar, The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States (New York: Basic Books, 2000), 306-18.
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18 Klotter and Friend, A New History, 72.
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19 U.S. Census, 1790, 1830; Klotter and Friend, A New History, 52.
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20 Z. F. Smith, The History of Kentucky; From Its Earliest Discovery and Settlement to the Present Date (Louisville: Courier-Journal Job Printing, 1882), 719.
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21 Smith, History of Kentucky, 710; Marianne Julienne and Brent Tarter, “Public School System in Virginia, Establishment of the,” in Encyclopedia Virginia, (December 13, 2021).
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22 Frankfort Argus, February 9, 1838. Newspapers.com.
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23 Frank F. Mathias, “Kentucky’s Struggle for Common Schools, 1820-1850,” Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 82, no. 3 (Summer 1984), 222.
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24 “An Act to establish a system of Common Schools in the State of Kentucky,” Section 18, p. 278.
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25 “An Act to establish a system of Common Schools in the State of Kentucky,” Section 9, p. 276.
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26 Thomas D. Clark, Footloose in Jacksonian America: Robert W. Scott and His Agrarian World (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1989), 137.
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27 U.S. Census, 1840.
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28 The Louisville Daily Journal published in 1838, but that year’s editions do not survive. Filson Library, https://filsonhistorical.org/wp-content/uploads/Newspapers-on-Microfilm-at-the-Filson-Library.pdf
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29 The exact date of the speech is not recorded, but probably February 3, 1838. The Frankfort Argus printed the full text in its February 16 edition, which refers to the bill as having been discussed and passed on the 3rd.
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30 Frankfort Argus, February 9, 1838; Legislative Journals.
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31 Kentucky. General Assembly. House of Representatives, “Journal of the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, December 4, 1837 - February 16, 1838” (1837). Journals of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, January 18, p. 256.
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32 Frankfort Argus, February 9, p. 3.
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33 “Journal of the House of Representatives,” February 2, pp. 374-78.
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34 Kentucky. General Assembly. Senate, “Journal of the Senate of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, December 4, 1837 - February 16, 1838” (1837). Journals of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, February 12, p. 384.
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35 "Journal of the Senate," December 5, 1837, p. 17.
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36 E. Merlton Coulter, “The Downfall of the Whig Party in Kentucky,” Register of the Kentucky State Historical Society 23, no. 68 (May 1925): 162-74.
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37 Kentucky Gazette, March 8, 1838; Frankfort Argus, March 23, 1838.
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38 "William Fontaine Bullock" in Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition, Kentucky Historical Society, accessed May 30, 2022.
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39 “Journal of the House of Representatives,” January 9, 1838, pp 174-76.
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40 "Journal of the Senate," January 9, 1838, p. 176.
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41 Nicholas, "School Suffrage."
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42 Smith, History of Kentucky, 698.
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43 Holly Brewer, By Birth or Consent: Children, Law, and the Anglo-American Revolution in Authority (Chapel Hill: UNC Press, Omohundro Institute, 2005), 1-12.
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44 Brewer, By Birth or Consent, 40-44.
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45 Brewer, By Birth or Consent, 39.
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46 Smith, History of Kentucky, 718-19.
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47 Kentucky Revised Statutes, 1852, Chapter 88, Article 6, Section 1.
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48 Smith, History of Kentucky, 706; Barksdale Hamlett, History of Education in Kentucky (Frankfort: Kentucky Department of Education, 1914); H. W. Peters, A Century of Education in Kentucky, 1838-1938 (Frankfort: Dept. of Education, 1938).
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49 Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, 1870. Chapter 854, “An Act to revise, amend, and reduce into one the laws relating to the Common Schools of Kentucky,” Article VI, Sect. 1, p. 125.
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50 Randolph Hollingsworth, “March 21, 1870: Kentucky Legislature Limits 1838 School Suffrage Law to White Widows,” Kentucky Woman Suffrage TimelineH-Kentucky (December 20, 2018): https://networks.h-net.org/node/2289/discussions/3414167/kentucky-legislature-limits-1838-school-suffrage-law-white-widows. Accessed May 30, 2022.
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51 Goan, A Simple Justice, 8-10.
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52 Louis Filler, "Lucy Stone," Notable American Women 1607-1950 3 (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1981), 388.
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53 (Franklin) Kentucky Yeoman, October 20, 1853; Louisville Daily Journal, November 12; November 18, 1853. Readex.
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54 “Miss Lucy Stone’s Lecture To-Night,” Louisville Daily Journal, November 2, 1853. Readex.
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55 Lucy Stone Letters, 1850-1893; item description, dates. A/S878. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. https://id.lib.harvard.edu/ead/sch01790/catalog. Accessed May 30, 2022.
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56 Nicholas, "School Suffrage," 458.
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57 Stephanie Jones-Rogers, They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019).
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