Primary Source

Pamphlet: Attorney Gilbert E. Roe Cites 15 Ways the Laws of New York Discriminated Against Women in 1914

Gilbert E. Roe. "Discriminations Against Women in the Laws of New York." National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1914.

Era: Suffrage Era | Media: Pamphlets, Speech

In 1914, New York attorney Gilbert E. Roe, a stalwart of the New York Men’s League for Woman Suffrage, cited in an address to that group 15 different ways in which New York’s laws discriminated against women. The text of Roe’s address (shown as a download below) was published in pamphlet form by the National American Woman Suffrage Association in cooperation with the Men’s League. R.C. Beadle, who wrote the introduction to the pamphlet (and occasioned Roe’s remarks), was the Men’s League’s executive secretary at the time, having succeeded Max Eastman.

Adapted from page 140 of The Suffragents: How Women Used Men to Get the Vote (2017) by Brooke Kroeger:

At a Men’s League meeting that winter, the attorney Gilbert E. Roe laid out all the ways New York law discriminated against women, a presentation the league turned into a pamphlet because of the “wide interest” his disquisition generated. For a reason no known documentation helps to explain, Beadle included a note with the published text to tell readers that the League was a “cooperating organization” in the Empire State Campaign Committee. Had the men of suffrage begun to get too much publicity? “While it is apparent that most of the campaigning will have to be done by the women,” Beadle’s note read, “still the interest and support of men, if only to the extent of a large membership list for the Men’s League, is of immense value.” Roe cited more than fifteen ways the law worked against women. He started with income and property, and the Men’s often-made point that the government taxed women as it did men even though women had no vote in determining either the tax rates or how tax revenue might be spent. He also mentioned inheritance rights; under the law, when husband and wife had joint earnings, women got a much worse deal.

If you’re interested in reading more about the role that men played in the movement for women’s voting rights, see Brooke Kroeger’s The Suffragents, Henry B. Blackwell’s essay “Objections to Woman Suffrage Answered,” and W.E.B. Du Bois’ writings on suffrage


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