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HISTORY OF San Antonio Republican Women

     The National Republican party was founded in 1854, but no woman could say that she was a Republican until 1920 until the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.  In September 1920, one month after the amendment was ratified, four San Antonio women approached a local attorney asking that he assist them in the formation of a Republican women's club.  The ladies were members of the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and the National Women's Suffrage Party.  

     From these beginnings, the group became the Republican Women's Club of Bexar County.  The first meeting was held in the home of Miss Eleanor Brackenridge.  Her brother, Colonel George Brackenridge, the owner of the San Antonio News, was instrumental in giving publicity to the blossoming GOP in Texas.  Another influential support of the club was Mr. Harry M. Wurzbach, the future Republican Congressman from Texas (1921-1931, 14th Congressional District). 

     Even though it operated informally until the 1950's, the club ultimately boasted a membership of 600 women.  At the time of the election of General Dwight D. Eisenhower as the 34th U.S. President under the Republican banner, the club name was changed to Bexar County Repulican Women's Club.  By-Laws and Objectives were formally adoped.  

     Other organizations sprang from this original group as diversity and geographic growth of our city and county dictated.  Today, there are more than a dozen Republican clubs in Bexar County, both men and women, as well as student organizations in area high schools and local universities.  

     In 1979, Republican Business Women of Bexar County was formed.  The club was renamed in 2012 and became San Antonio Republican Women.   This new name and identity widened the Club's outreach to potential members geographically and economically attracting a more diverse group of women.  

     We are proud SARW is among the many local organizations promoting Republican values and philosophy. 


History of Women's Suffrage and the Republican Party

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Elizabeth Cady Stanton ~ 1815-1902

Abigail Adams writes to her husband, John, who is attending the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, asking that he and the other men--who were at work on the Declaration of Independence--"Remember the Ladies." John responds with humor. The Declaration's wording specifies that "all men are created equal."

1820 to 1880
Evidence from a variety of printed sources published during this period--advice manuals, poetry and literature, sermons, medical texts--reveals that Americans, in general, held highly stereotypical notions about women's and men's roles in society. Historians would later term this phenomenon "The Cult of Domesticity."


Susan B. Anthony ~ 1820-1906

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Carrie Chapman Catt ~ 1859-1947

The women's rights movement splits into two factions as a result of disagreements over the Fourteenth and soon-to-be-passed Fifteenth Amendments. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony form the more radical, New York-based National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA). Lucy Stone, Henry Blackwell, and Julia Ward Howe organize the more conservative American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA), which is centered in Boston. In this same year, the Wyoming territory is organized with a woman suffrage provision. In 1890, Wyoming was admitted to the Union with its suffrage provision intact.

A Woman Suffrage Amendment is introduced in the United States Congress. The wording is unchanged in 1919, when the amendment finally passes both houses.


The NWSA and the AWSA are reunited as the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) under the leadership of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. During this same year, Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr found Hull House, a settlement house project in Chicago's 19th Ward. Within one year, there are more than a hundred settlement houses--largely operated by women--throughout the United States. The settlement house movement and the Progressive campaign of which it was a part propelled thousands of college-educated white women and a number of women of color into lifetime careers in social work. It also made women an important voice to be reckoned with in American politics.


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Elizabeth Cady Stanton publishes The Woman's Bible. After its publication, NAWSA moves to distance itself from this venerable suffrage pioneer because many conservative suffragists considered her to be too radical and, thus, potentially damaging to the suffrage campaign. From this time, Stanton--who had resigned as NAWSA president in 1892--was no longer invited to sit on the stage at NAWSA conventions.


Mary Church Terrell, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Margaret Murray Washington, Fanny Jackson Coppin, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Charlotte Forten Grimké, and former slave Harriet Tubman meet in Washington, D.C. to form the National Association of Colored Women (NACW).


Mary Dreier, Rheta Childe Dorr, Leonora O'Reilly, and others form the Women's Trade Union League of New York, an organization of middle- and working-class women dedicated to unionization for working women and to woman suffrage. This group later became a nucleus of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU).


The National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage (NAOWS) is organized. Led by Mrs. Arthur Dodge, its members included wealthy, influential women and some Catholic clergymen--including Cardinal Gibbons who, in 1916, sent an address to NAOWS's convention in Washington, D.C. In addition to the distillers and brewers, who worked largely behind the scenes, the "antis" also drew support from urban political machines, Southern congressmen, and corporate capitalists--like railroad magnates and meatpackers--who supported the "antis" by contributing to their "war chests."


Theodore Roosevelt's Progressive (Bull Moose/Republican) Party becomes the first national political party to adopt a woman suffrage plank.


Alice Paul and Lucy Burns organize the Congressional Union, later known as the National Women's Party (1916). Borrowing the tactics of the radical, militant Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) in England, members of the Woman's Party participate in hunger strikes, picket the White House, and engage in other forms of civil disobedience to publicize the suffrage cause.


The National Federation of Women's Clubs--which by this time included more than two million white women and women of color throughout the United States--formally endorses the suffrage campaign.


NAWSA president Carrie Chapman Catt unveils her "winning plan" for suffrage victory at a convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Catt's plan required the coordination of activities by a vast cadre of suffrage workers in both state and local associations.


Jeannette Rankin of Montana becomes the first American woman elected to represent her state in the U.S. House of Representatives.


1918 to 1920
The Great War (World War I) intervenes to slow down the suffrage campaign as some--but not all--suffragists decide to shelve their suffrage activism in favor of "war work." In the long run, however, this decision proves to be a prudent one as it adds yet another reason to why women deserve the vote.


August 26, 1920
The Nineteenth Amendment is ratified. Its victory accomplished, NAWSA ceases to exist, but its organization becomes the nucleus of the League of Women Voters.

The Republican Party begins


The Party of Firsts!

     It began in a little schoolhouse in Ripon, Wisconsin, in 1854.  A small group of dedicated abolitionists gathered to fight the expansion of slavery giving birth to a Party dedicated to freedom and equal opportunity.  The name "Republican" was chosen, alluding to Thomas Jefferson's Democratic-Republican Party and conveying a commitment to the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 

     The Party was formally organized in July 1854, by thousands of anti-slavery activists at a convention in Jackson, Michigan.  And it was no accident that two years later, in 1856, the first Republican National Convention took place in Philadelphia, where the Constitution was written. 

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     Though popularized in a Thomas Nast cartoon, the GOP's elephant symbol originated in 1860 as a symbol of Republican strength.  Republicans envisioned "free soil, free speech, free labor."  Under the leadership of President Abraham Lincoln, the GOP became the Party of the Union.  President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, but it was the entire Republican Party who freed the slaves.  The 1864 Republican National Convention called for the abolition of slavery, and the Congressional Republicans passed the 13th Amendment unanimously, with only a few Democrat votes. 

     The early women's rights movement was solidly Republican, as it was a continuation of abolitionism.  They were careful not to be overly partisan, but as did Susan B. Anthony, most suffragists favored the GOP.  The 19th Amendment was written by a Republican senator and garnered greater support from Republicans than from Democrats. 


     Low taxes, sound money, and regulatory restraint:  these were among the common-sense economic policies established by the GOP that brought about decades of prosperity after the Civil War.  

Important Links

NFRW (National Federation of Republican Women) -

TFRW (Texas Federation of Republican Women) -

Republican Party of Bexar County -

Republican Party of Texas -

Republican National Committee -

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