Citizenship – Emma Guy Cromwell

January 26, 2013 in 1920s-30s, Political history, Primary source

Emma Guy Cromwell wrote Citizenship to explain to teach recently franchised peoples the process and importance of voting. She believed that with the right to vote came great responsibility – the responsibility to vote with intelligence, to understand one’s rights and to exercise them with logic, reason, and intelligence rather than with blind passion. While Cromwell respected the passion of new voters and old voters alike, she recognized that passion can inhibit people’s rationale, and can be dangerous when spread to wide audiences. By combining the logic of suffragist groups and maternalist groups, Cromwell appealed to a larger audience and was able to reach more people.

Cromwell wrote this manual for the everyman (and everywoman). With clear language and great care, she explains what it means to be a citizen of the United States. She details how this nation functions, as well as the importance and qualifications for voting. She is unbiased, and gentle in her writing. She clearly has the best interest of the people at heart, and is dedicated to helping the people of the United States best serve their nation. Citizenship is exactly the thing she advertises – a manual for being a conscientious, dedicated, and proper citizen. In this manual, she explains how one can best make use of the rights, freedoms, and liberties provided to us by our government.

My father, a Veteran of the United States Air Force, has always expressed to me the concept of civic duty. I grew up knowing how important it was to pay your taxes in full, take your turn for the most insufferable stints of jury duty, and especially to vote. While my father stresses the importance of voting, he, much like Cromwell, passionately believes that the best kind of voter is an informed voter. If one is ignorant of their own rights, as guaranteed in the Constitution, they cannot, with due conscious, make decisions as important as voting. A voter must be informed, not only about their rights as citizens of this nation, but they also must be informed about current issues and policies in order to make the best possible decisions as they enter the voting booth.

Today, many young people are ignorant of the issues that plague our nation daily, and many are unconcerned with the infrastructure of our government. Emma Guy Cromwell fought against people like this – she fought for intelligent, informed, and passionate people who were dedicated to understanding the system they had the chance to be a part of. Today’s youth are both ignorant and indifferent to the fact that they have the right, and the responsibility, to take interest in the governing of our nation. Disinterested and misinformed or uninformed voters are a detriment to our nation, even today, and Cromwell’s Citizenship is a guide and a plea to these people to educate themselves and take part in the democratic system by which we are privileged to be governed.

4 responses to Citizenship – Emma Guy Cromwell

  1. I really like how you interpreted today’s voter in the context of cromwell’s idea of citizenship. Sort of sharp, but accurate….unfortunately.

  2. Young people are most certainly the most uninformed when it comes to politics. It’s disheartening to hear such a fact, and it could be detrimental to our country’s well-being once the baby boomers die off and we are to assume their places in society. Low participation in voting could lead to bad decisions and could possibly make our leadership less effective or even less trustworthy.

  3. I appreciate that you recognize how important it is to vote as an informed voter!

  4. I really appreciate the personal annecdote here. It is extremely relevant to the content and is an excellent portrayal of citizenship as you choose to define it.

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