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Amelia Bloomer's Petition for Suffrage—Historical Document

Below is part of a petition, or formal request, which suffragist Amelia Bloomer sent to the United States Congress in 1878. This historical document gives one of the arguments in favor of suffrage, or the vote, for women.


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There is an image of Amelia Bloomer's Petition for Suffrage

Petition of Mrs Amelia Bloomer for [relief] from taxation or political disabilities.

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States, in Congress Assembled.

Mrs Amelia Bloomer, a citizen of the United States, and a resident of Council Bluffs, County of Pottawattamie and State of Iowa—the owner of real and personal property amounting to several thousand dollars, on which she is taxed without representation, hereby respectfully petitions your Honorable Body for relief from this burden of taxation—or for the removal of her political disabilities, and that she may be declared invested with full power to exercise her right to self-government at the ballot-box—all state constitutions, or statute laws to the contrary notwithstanding.

Source: National Archives.


Background

A historical document is a report, story, or other paper written in the past. Historical documents can help us understand what was important to the author or society at the time they were written. The document above is a petition to Congress. A petition is a formal written document requesting a right or a benefit from a person or group in authority.

In the late 1800s, women in the United States did not have the same rights as men. Amelia Bloomer spoke out in favor of women's rights, including the right to vote. Bloomer wrote this petition to the United States Congress in 1878. She argued that because she had to pay taxes on her property, she should be able to vote for leaders. This was similar to the argument that colonists used when they declared independence from Britain, that people should not be taxed unless they are represented in the government.