Why Early Twentieth Century Women Made their Splash in Arizona Politics

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Why Early Twentieth Century Women Made their Splash in Arizona Politics Since the beginning of Arizona history, women were confined to the traditional roles of housekeeping and child rearing due to the conditions of life on the frontier. At this time, Arizona was a land of chaos and therefore lacked a civilized community. In effect, women’s most important responsibility remained within her home to create a comforting and refined atmosphere which would ultimately raise the standard of living in Arizona (Fischer 47). These ideas continued to emerge in the twentieth century and left women with few choices and opportunities. However, two women, Josephine Hughes and Isabella Greenway, were able to free themselves from the constraints of society and undertake influential roles in the political realm because of the extraordinary but favorable circumstances in their lives. Both women were wealthy, courageous, persistent, or associated with powerful and influential men. Josephine Hughes amazingly rose above societal norms and played an active role in political movements because of her privileged financial status. Because she was a woman of means, her home had all of the modern conveniences of the time. For instance, her home was the first in the Tucson area to be illuminated with candlesticks while her neighbors used a burning rag in a saucer of grease as a means for lighting. Most importantly, the Hughes’ were the first to obtain a cistern which was considered a luxury because they no longer had to buy their drinking water from peddlers who sold it a very high price (Boehringer 99). These conveniences eliminated the monotonous, time-consuming activities necessary for a woman to sustain a household. Therefore, she had more time and energy to dedicate herself to various causes such as the suffrage and temperance movements. However, Josephine Hughes was able to surpass the restraints imposed by tradition because she possessed a quality that simply could not be bought: courage. She manifested such inner strength especially in situations when the odds were against her. In 1892, she made the treacherous journey from Pennsylvania to the West with her infant daughter. At this time, the Apaches conducted a series of violent raids that left many white settlers in the area dead. Because of the obvious danger, Josephine carried her baby in one arm and a loaded rifle in the other (98).

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