John Knott depicts the Illinois senatorial primary election of 1930 in his cartoon, “It Was That Kind of Fight”, which was published in the Dallas Morning News on April 10, 1930. Just one decade prior, women had been given the right to vote, but the fight to gender equality was just beginning. The two candidates in the Illinois senatorial primary race were Ruth Hanna McCormick and Charles S. Deneen, and she came out victorious. There had never been a woman elected into the Senate, so the Illinois senatorial primary of 1930 was a major stride for women. McCormick came from a prominent political family. Her father, Mark Hanna, as well as her first husband, Joseph Medill McCormick, both served as U.S. Senators during her lifetime. The state of Illinois thought McCormick was sure to go on to win the general election because of her qualifications and experience in politics. Although she did not go on to win the general election, the victory of Ruth Hanna McCormick over Charles S. Deneen in the Illinois senatorial primary election of 1930 depicted in Knott’s cartoon, was still a tremendous stride for women in the fight for gender equality.
In 1930, the state of Illinois made history by electing the first woman in a senatorial primary election, Ruth Hanna McCormick. She came from a prominent political family centered around her father, Mark Hanna, who served as a United States Senator from the state of Ohio from 1897 to 1904 (Glass, “Ruth Hanna McCormick”). Her father worked closely on managing the presidential campaigns of William McKinley in 1896 and 1900 (“Mark Hanna in the Senate”). Her first husband, Joseph Medill McCormick, also served on the Senate for the state of Illinois but failed to be reelected in 1925. Thus, her familial political connections made her a promising contender in the 1930 senatorial primary election.
Even before women earned the right to vote in 1920, Ruth was a prominent advocate for the suffrage movement. Once women received the right to vote, she joined the Republican Party and became so influential that she was nominated as an outstanding member of the National Committee (Woolf, “Mark Hanna’s Daughter Chooses to Run”). After the death of her first husband, her work continued, and she began to create women’s clubs in order to increase voting turnout among GOP women (“McCormick, Ruth Hanna”).As a result of her tremendous influence in the Illinois Republican party, her announcement of candidacy in the Illinois senatorial primary elections left very few people surprised.
The principles of hard work and commitment that Ruth learned by working on her father’s campaign at the age of 15 became the building blocks of her campaign. She ran on the platform that “she wasn’t coming into this as a woman but instead as a politician” (Woolf, “Mark Hanna’s Daughter Chooses to Run”). The days of fighting for women’s suffrage were in the past for her now that women had the vote (Woolf, “Mark Hanna’s Daughter Chooses to Run”). She expressed the idea that she was more than qualified for this position despite her gender.
The election was a fight for Ruth as she was an unconventional candidate in a number of ways, the most prominent being her gender. However, she came into the primary election strong and challenged her competitor, Charles S. Deneen, who was a prominent public figure in Illinois. He served as governor for two terms and had been undefeated in 38 years of public service (“Ladies First”). Deneen had also defeated her late husband in the election for the senate. McCormick campaigned in all 102 counties of Illinois and when the election results were announced, she had defeated Deneen by over 200,000 votes (“McCormick, Ruth Hanna”).
This primary election was illustrated in Knott’s cartoon through the three prominent characters depicted. The main character, who is the winner, Ruth Hanna McCormick, was one of the candidates of the Illinois senatorial primary. The next character who is depicted as an older man who looks defeated and surprised represents Charles S. Deneen, McCormick’s running mate in the election. The last character is an old, plump referee who represents the state of Illinois. McCormick appears delighted and has her arm being lifted overhead in victory by the character representing the state of Illinois. The character representative of Deneen has been knocked out and looks defeated and confused. They are standing in a boxing ring that is representative of the actual election that was seemingly a fight between McCormick and Deneen with the state of Illinois announcing the victor.
The elements and results of the senatorial primary election of 1930 are further outlined in the editorial “Ladies First” published in conjunction with Knott’s cartoon in the April 10, 1930 edition of the Dallas Morning News. The author described the public’s reaction to the announcement of candidacy by McCormick did not come as a surprise (“Ladies First”). The author also described her campaign as an intense and furious campaign, which is clearly illustrated in Knott’s cartoon through the injuries sustained by Deneen. The author also highlighted that McCormick was extremely qualified for a political position such as this and that the “Illinois voter evidently believes that the lady is the better man” (“Ladies First”). The editorial made it clear that the opinion of the author was that it was time for a woman to hold such a position, and Ruth Hanna McCormick was extremely likely to win the general election, giving her a seat in the Senate. However, McCormick then went on to face defeat in the general election.
Although women have made immense progress in the fight for gender equality since the 1930’s, particularly in the area of politics, today the fight continues as we have not seen a woman elected to the office of President of the United States. In recent years, our country has come very close to seeing this goal come to completion, but it is still something that must be aimed for in the future.
Knott, John. “It Was That Kind of Fight.” Dallas Morning News, p. 16.
“Ladies First.” Dallas Morning News, 10 Apr. 1930, infoweb.newsbank.com/iw-search/we/HistArchive/?p_product=EANX&p_theme=ahnp&p_nbid=H5EF45CBMTUyMjI5NDgzMi4zODI4NzQ6MToxMzoxMjguNjIuMjIuMTI4&p_docref=v2:0F99DDB671832188@EANX-104D233CE309F8F9@2426077-104D233D488952B3@15.
“MARK HANNA IN THE SENATE.” New York Times (1857-1922), Feb 22, 1897, pp. 6, ProQuest, http://ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/95452919?accoaccou=7118.
Miller, Kristie. “McCormick, Ruth Hanna (1880–1944).” Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia, edited by Anne Commire, vol. 10, Yorkin Publications, 2002, pp. 722-727. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX2591306400/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=fe60902a. Accessed 28 Mar. 2018.
“Ruth Hanna McCormick Simms Born in Cleveland, March 27, 1880.” POLITICO, Capitol News Company, LLC, 28 Mar. 2012, advance.lexis.com/document/?pdmfid=1516831&crid=d959f33d-0db2-4e57-b4cd-d1a02e4303c3&pddocfullpath=%2Fshared%2Fdocument%2Fnews%2Furn%3AcontentItem%3A558P-HK31-F118-92RJ-00000-00&pddocid=urn%3AcontentItem%3A558P-HK31-F118-92RJ-00000-00&pdcontentcomponentid=334576&pdteaserkey=sr0&pditab=allpods&ecomp=Ly_k&earg=sr0&prid=3890bd93-a50f-4a9e-a46b-13cdefbbb7bd.
S.J. WOOLF. “MARK HANNA’S DAUGHTER CHOOSES TO RUN.” New York Times (1923-Current file), Oct 16, 1927, pp. 2, ProQuest, http://ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/103935821?accountid=7118.
WINIFRED MALLON Photograph, by H. “ANOTHER HANNA LOOKS TO THE SENATE.” New York Times (1923-Current file), Jun 09, 1929, pp. 2, ProQuest, http://ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/104966225?accountid=7118.