Four Voters

Life magazine suffrage cartoon by Orson Lowell

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“Four Voters,” a pro-suffrage cartoon by illustrator Orson Lowell (1871–1956), showcases the racist, elitist, and nativist arguments that were typical of the suffrage movement’s leading organizations.

Lowell’s cartoon is a carefully-crafted message about the power struggles at play in the early 20th century, not only between men and women, but between rich and poor, upper-class and working-class, white and black, nonethic and ethnic. The cartoon is titled “Four Voters,” but there are five people in the scene. A virtuous, well-dressed woman in an elegant white dress stands in stark contrast to the four dubious voters menacingly surrounding her. The question, clearly, is how these four men could possibly deserve to vote more than the well-dressed, educated, poised woman.

Lowell was known for his cartoons with a social message. Educated at the Chicago Art Institute, he was a cartoonise for Life magazine by 1907. Over his long career he illustrated for Scribner'sCenturyThe Saturday Evening PostMcClure'sEverybody's, CosmopolitanMetropolitan LifeLadies Home JournalJudgeWoman's Home JournalLeslie's WeeklyPuckVogueDelineatorMcCalls, and Redbook.

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